What members of the LCMS actually believe

That Pew Religious Landscape study we blogged about last month now has denominational breakdowns.  This includes information about demographics, political beliefs, religious beliefs, and moral beliefs.

Members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (categorized under “evangelical,” “Lutheran family”) are not as conservative as their church is (though the same could be said of other “conservative” church bodies).

After the jump, some surprises that pastors need to know about. [Read more…]

How many people can we know?

150.

See the explanation after the jump. [Read more…]

Democrats don’t trust the government either

A Pew Research study of people’s attitude towards the government has found that 89% of Republicans seldom trust the government.  But neither do 72% of Democrats.

Back in 1958, a similar study found that three-quarters of Americans did trust their government.  What happened since then, that both liberals and conservatives have become disenchanted with their government?  Has the government changed that much, or have Americans become more savvy about their leaders?  [Read more…]

The 1st use of the Law and the new commenting system

We theology nerds talk quite a bit about the Second Use of the Law (the theological use, the “mirror,” which convicts us of sin and drives us to the Gospel), and we argue about the Third Use of the Law (the didactic use, the “guide,” which shows Christians how to live).  We don’t usually say much about the First Use of the Law (the civil use, the “curb,” which enables sinners to live in societies).

The First Use of the Law concerns only external righteousness.  There is no merit to it, no question of earning salvation by external compliance.  Jesus teaches us that we violate the commandment against murder when we hate our brother, and we violate the commandment against adultery when we lust after someone in our hearts.  That inner state is where our status as sinners is evidenet, and it is this inner condition that the Gospel addresses.  But it is also important not to murder anyone externally or to actually commit adultery.  This external righteousness is absolutely necessary if human beings are to live together in families, nations, and societies.  Even someone boiling over with sinfulness on the inside can, on the outside, be a good citizen.

Our sinful nature has to be “curbed.”  The Law achieves this by means of things like parental discipline, the state’s legal system, and social sanctions.  The Law’s first use can make us feel guilt and shame.  We would be ashamed to actually do some of the things we fantasize about.  Many harmful enterprises are held back when the question arises, What if someone finds out?  Being held back by such considerations does not make us a moral person–we shouldn’t have had those fantasies in the first place–but they make civil society possible. [Read more…]

Atheists who believe in God & believers who don’t

According to recent studies, 21% of atheists believe in God.  10% of them pray.  A majority of atheists say that religion is somewhat or very important in their lives.  This is slightly more than the larger category of the “nones,” those who say they have no particular religious identity, nearly half of whom say that religion is important to them.

Then again, those who do claim a religious identity do not necessarily have religious beliefs.  Eight times as many religiously affiliated people doubt the existence of God than there are atheists and agnostics.

Douglas Laycock brings out these findings in his analysis of the recent Pew study of American religion and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

Less religion, but more commitment?

The latest Religious Landscape study from Pew Research, last conducted in 2007, shows a drop off in the religious affiliation of Americans, from 83% to 77%.  And yet, among those who are affiliated with a church or its equivalent, more read the Bible, share their faith, go to prayer groups or Bible studies,  draw on their religion for moral guidance, and believe in preserving traditional beliefs and practices. [Read more…]


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