Monday, June 8, 2009

Poll Cats

Are you fed up with polls yet? Sure, polls can be accurate indicators of what people are thinking, buying, watching, reading, and doing. They tell us all the ins and outs of public opinion.

They assist the market in recognizing trends. They help congress and the guy in the white house determine their day-to-day values. And they are the last frontier in America allowed to consistently break people into demographic categories of race, gender, geographic location, and age without anyone crying foul (even though they clearly reinforce the notion and existence of stereotypes).

Marvelous. But haven't we gone just a bit overboard? I sense a certain loftiness to the opinions of mankind that reeks of humanism. I expect to find humanism in colleges, universities, and uneducated actors of yesterday. But in the church?

As an evangelical, Bible-believing, Jesus-trusting pastor, I get to read polls that tell me what the average Christian in America thinks. About everything. All the time. Oh, happy day!

I get it. I really do. I don't need a lecture on how the information from these polls can show us where we are failing, where we are succeeding...yada, yada, yada.

But hear me out. My concern is in translation and differentiation. We read polls in secular society and change everything from marketing strategies to international policy based on what the people think. The assumption is, and rightly so in a democracy (like the one we used to have in America), that the majority rules.

However, crossing the bridge from the polls of the secular to the polls of the saints causes me to want to shout out a warning: CHRISTIANITY IS NOT BASED ON PUBLIC OPINION! Be careful how you interpret polls amongst the brethren. We're on different ground now. Holy ground. Christianity is not a democracy. It's a theocracy. You and I don't get to decide what is right or wrong -- true or false.

Choices? Yes. Decisions? No. There's a difference. We have a choice to make concerning what we are going to believe. But God isn't waiting on our final answer to make His. He's already decided. Not only has God decided, He's revealed it to us. Pick up a Bible. It's in there. Even if you don't like what it says, it doesn't alter the truth one iota.

When you read that 84% of American Christians believe God performs miracles, be careful how you process that. It doesn't matter what that number is. It doesn't change the truth. Even if 0.000001% of American Christians believe God performs miracles, God alone gets to do miracles if He wants to. Kapeesh?

If 65% of American Christians believe the Bible is true and 53% believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that is a reflection of our failure, not an indicator of reality. What you and I believe about truth doesn't make it any more or less true.

God isn't swayed by man's opinion. But man better be swayed by His. Isn't it time we started reading and paying attention to what God has to say?

Polls, by their nature, are impure. Whatever the numbers are, there will always be a certain percentage of opinions on one side or the other. 100% of the time, one side will be wrong. Sometimes, it will even be the majority who are wrong. And it's even possible for BOTH sides to be wrong.

How is that so? Because every opinion within a poll is a human opinion. And no human (Christ excluded) has ever been right every time.

So be warned. Churches and Christians who change policies and practices based on changes of interpretation of Scripture which are themselves based on political correctness or prevailing public opinion are likened unto houses built on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27).

Great will be the fall.

Read the Bible. If for no other reason than this: Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

Perry Crisp

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