According to Chuck Colson, Muslims would make better theologians than most Christians. He cites an opinion survey that shows that many professing Christians cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments. How much the average Muslim knows of his religion is open to question. If you take him beyond the more radical shibboleths of Islam he may be as ignorant as the average professing Christian. But still, Colson's observation is interesting and we should take it seriously.
Colson's point is that the U.S. and Europe are under a twin threat, from secularism and Islam. He believes that historic, orthodox Christianity provides the only real defense of these nations against the threat. Yet there is a glaring and widespread ignorance about the core beliefs of the Christian faith.
I have no doubt that Colson is right. Ignorance is everywhere. The problem is in some ways less than he makes it out to be and in some ways even worse than he thinks. I say the problem may be less widespread than he reports because of how he and the pollsters whose report he relies on define a "Christian." They define the term in a way that includes many whom Bible believers would not see as Christians but as lost people who need to be saved. Perhaps "church members" or "church attenders" would be a better description of many of the people in the survey than "Christians."
Nevertheless, ignorance of core Biblical truths is a widespread problem. I said it may be worse than Colson claims for there are truths that many evangelicals know little or nothing about and yet according to Scripture they are foundational truths. Justification by faith alone, the Saviour's blood atonement and union with Christ are just three examples of truths about which most people who sit in church week after week know nothing or next to nothing.
So, who's to blame? I would say that preachers are the chief culprits. Some of them have never expounded such themes in all their ministries. If they do not teach the people it is a fair assumption that the people will not learn them. Preachers have become business executives, PR men, social directors, psychologists, entertainment agents and a host of other things. But in many cases they have forgotten their first calling. Many preachers spend little real time in studying God's word. They dredge up topics from current affairs or from preachers' manuals. Those who do study often feed their people dry husks instead of "the finest of the wheat." As a result, few Christians can really give an answer to those who ask of them a reason of the hope that is in them. That is sad, really sad for it takes away one of the surest and most Scriptural methods of spreading the gospel.