Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the Associated Press, May 10, 2004, with the headline, “Lutheran Minister Proclaims That There Is No God. Copenhagen, Denmark—The Lutheran minister who proclaimed last year that there was no God or afterlife was suspended for a second time Thursday for ignoring church orders not to repeat those beliefs from the pulpit. Helsingor bishop Lise-Lotte Rebel suspended the Reverend Thorkild Grosbøll, pastor of Taarbæk, and handed his case to the government, requesting that it take the necessary steps. In Denmark, Lutheran ministers are employed by the state and only the government can fire them and only with a recommendation from their presiding bishop. Rebel oversees the diocese that includes Taarbæk, a small town north of Copenhagen. Grosbøll has been under Rebel’s strict supervision since he first was suspended after a May, 2003 interview in which he said, ‘There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.’ About 85 percent of Danes belong to the State Evangelical Lutheran Church, though just 5 percent attend church services regularly. Grosbøll eventually retracted his statement and apologized for what Rebel had termed ‘provocative remarks.’ His suspension was lifted, yet he repeated those beliefs in past weeks. ‘I expected he would change his mind,’ the bishop said in a statement Thursday. ‘Grosbøll has again spoken in a strongly provocative, hurting, and confusing way,’ Rebel said. She cited an undated but recent sermon in which Grosbøll allegedly said, ‘God had abdicated in favor of His Son, hence in our favor. Therefore there is no longer a heavenly guarantee or an interfering Might. There is only the godly kingdom on earth that is achieved by us and between us. So if it fails, there is nothing.’”
Tom: Dave, one of the reasons we do this program, Search the Scriptures Daily, is to encourage one and all out there to not buy into whatever they hear out there spiritually, theologically, but search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are true to God’s Word. And maybe many of our listeners might think this is—“Oh man, this is so far-fetched. How could you have a Lutheran minister who’s anti-God, basically, anti-Bible—but that’s Copenhagen. That’s Denmark. It could happen there, but certainly not here.” Well, this is a church-state situation, which I’d like to talk about a little bit, but before we get into that, Dave, this is from the Barna poll, George Barna poll, and he’s researching worldviews, and he’s looking for a biblical worldview among Christians, and in 2003 in November, he surveyed 2,033 adults. Here’s some of the things that he found—well, before I get into that a biblical worldview: what did he mean by that when the question was asked? He meant someone who believed in the Bible—moral absolutes, okay, of the Bible—and then he listed six specific religious views: that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, He still rules today, salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned, Satan is real, a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people, and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings, so that would be, according to Barna, a biblical worldview. Four percent of adults surveyed have a biblical worldview. Four percent. Nine percent of born-again Christians surveyed have a biblical worldview.
Dave: Nine percent?
Tom: Nine percent. Seven percent of Protestants surveyed have a biblical worldview, 2 percent of mainline Protestants, .04 percent of Roman Catholics surveyed have a biblical worldview, 13 percent of non-denominational Protestants, 10 percent of Pentecostals, 8 percent of Baptists surveyed have a biblical worldview.
Dave: I thought you were going to get to the pastors.
Tom: I am going to get to the pastors.
Tom: Because Barna was so upset, he did another survey, and 59 percent of pastors surveyed who did not attend seminary have a biblical worldview. Forty-five percent of pastors who went to seminary have a biblical worldview. Forty-five percent. So in churches out there, you know…unbelievable. Forty-four percent of charismatic and Pentecostal pastors surveyed have a biblical worldview, 35 percent of pastors of black churches surveyed have a biblical worldview, 28 percent of mainline Protestant pastors surveyed have a biblical worldview, and 27 percent of Methodist pastors surveyed have a biblical worldview. It’s not looking good.
Dave: Tom, we have to have an authority. Of course, that’s why we get to the Bible. The Bible claims to be God’s Word. If it is, we have an authority. We have something we can rely on. If it isn’t, where is God’s Word? If we don’t have a revelation from God, we’ve got nothing. You don’t just—everybody come up with their own opinion—based on what? You’re going to decide what’s right and what’s wrong, you know, and so forth. That doesn’t work. So this pastor, why is he in this business? Well, they get a good salary…
Tom: Working for the state.
Dave: Yeah, but he just thinks he can come up with his own ideas? Where’d he get these ideas from? What does he base them upon? What is his foundation? What is his evidence? The people ought to rise up and rebel against this. Who does he think he is? Well, he’s playing God. He’s deciding what is right and wrong. He’s deciding the whole basis of man’s life and soul…
Tom: Dave, doesn’t that apply to these statistics that I just gave?
Dave: Yes, of course it does. And if only 5 percent attend church regularly, maybe that’s why, because they’re not really getting anything that they couldn’t get off the newspaper or from their own ideas, and if there’s no God, there’s no heaven, there’s no eternity, there’s no resurrection, what does he preach? What is the point of this? Tom…
Tom: Maybe a positive message, Dave.
Dave: Positive about what? How are you going to be positive…
Tom: [laughing] I know.
Dave: …when there is no hope? Now, of course the state church, that’s left over from the Reformation. Calvin founded a state church. There’s a state church…
Tom: …in Geneva.
Dave: …and so did Luther. So, in Europe today you have the Catholic, the Lutheran, or the Calvinist, and these are state churches, salaries paid by the state that comes out of taxes. People are unhappy. They’ve got to pay taxes but they don’t go to these churches because they don’t see there is anything significant in what the pastors say. Tom, it’s an incredible situation, and yet, from Barna’s poll, we’ve got a lot of people here in the United States that are not in a state church, they’re claiming to be Christians, and they don’t have a biblical worldview, either. How does this come about? And it’s getting worse, as the Bible said. Well, that’s what we are trying to combat: to get people to search the Scriptures daily so they will know God, they will know the gospel, they will know the truth.
Tom: Yeah. And anyone out there, if you’re attending a church, [and] your pastor doesn’t have a biblical worldview, if that’s the case, find a church, find a pastor who teaches from the Word of God. “Men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Dave: Well, before they do that, Tom, I think they ought to sit down with a pastor with an open Bible and try to reason with him, and if he’s not willing to go by the Bible, by what God says, then of course they’ll have to go elsewhere, take their children elsewhere, especially.