The doctor wonders how he can tell her the truth without destroying their relationship.
Perhaps she will reject his prognosis and claim he is only
trying to "scare up" business. He looks at the thermometer and
shakes his head. The nurse looks at him expectantly - she has relatives
in the Church. Her quivering voice breaks the silence, "doctor -
"But how is that possible? She seems healthy. Church attendance is up from last year, 43% of Americans go to church. And 84% of Americans want to be identified as "Christian, so that means that evangelists are doing a good job, doesn't it?"
"Yes nurse, it all looks good on the outside, which makes it all the harder to tell her the truth. Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that 83% of Protestant Pastors describe their congregations as Evangelical and conservative. That looks good on paper. But my tests show conclusively that only 10% of American Protestants really are Evangelical, and that's only 5% of Americans."
"But doctor, what does it all mean?"
"It means we've got a very sick woman on our hands. Not only is she sick, but also, because she thinks she's healthy, she keeps doing the very things that are keeping her sick. It means I need to grab her by the arms, shake her body, wake her up and try to knock some sense into her."
"Doctor, control yourself!"
"I'm sorry, nurse, that's what I'd like to do, but I know I'll have to break it to her gently. But no matter how it happens, she needs to completely change her way of living or she'll never become whole and bear healthy children. "
This scene at General Hospital should have taken place when George Barna released his book, State of The Church 2002.
Here's a snapshot from his book:
It is likely that the vast majority of Americans have responded at least once to an evangelist's plea for them to repeat a salvation prayer. According to a recent poll, 65% of Americans believe they "have made a commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life." 1 ( It sounds like they've repeated a formula "salvation prayer" and consider it still in effect, but by their other answers, it's obvious the majority are lost.)
"Born Again Christians"
Despite their ability to choose the correct doctrinal statements, Barna considers the vast majority of this group to actually be "notional Christians." He gives us the benefit of almost 20 years of objective research when he says, " Our research shows that few "born again" (his quote marks) Christians, despite having some appropriate doctrinal notions and having said the requisite prayer, never experienced the deep spiritual brokenness that enabled them to realize Jesus Christ was, is and will forever be their only hope of experiencing genuine meaning, purpose and salvation.
Instead of broken people eternally grateful for the sacrifice and grace extended to them, we have millions of people who have simply tried to exploit God - people for whom salvation is little more than a fire insurance policy they won't think about until the Devil comes knockin'. In the interim we witness a "born again" (his quote marks) population that is indistinguishable from the rest of the nation - and has very limited credibility when it comes to promoting genuine Christianity." 4
and stadiums with massive numbers of the lukewarm "Christians" (his quote marks) that Jesus promised to spew out of His mouth. (Rev 3;16)? What might cause us to acknowledge that, yes, faith in God is good, but even the demons believe in God - and it takes more than a naïve, inch-deep faith in Christ to become part of a Church that truly honors God?" 5.
In order to be statistically called an evangelical Christian, they needed to agree with nine doctrinal statements.
1) They have made a commitment to Jesus Christ that is still
important in their life today.
Just agreeing with these doctrinal statements doesn't mean that a person is saved, but not agreeing with them is a pretty good indication that a person isn't saved. Only 5% of Americans agree with these doctrinal statements, and the numbers are falling. This is the core group who make up American Biblical Christianity.
The bottom line: Evangelical Christians, only 5% of the American population, are the only group you can confidently say are truly Christian. Most of the 79% of Americans who are not evangelical and think they are saved, are not concerned about their salvation because someone led them in a salvation prayer and told them their names were written in the Lamb's book of life. This is the scandal of modern evangelism. Not only are we not saving the lost, we are telling them they are saved, thus effectively inoculating them from the Gospel.
American Pastors are understandably concerned about the "backsliden" state of the Church. But the greater issue is the millions of precious souls that are being lost to Hell.
The common prognosis is that the Church needs to be
taught how to be Christian.
1 State Of The
Church 2002, George Barna, pg 66