Here is the Yale theologian yesterday on Twitter:
It was a rough week for conservative evangelicals in the United States. The president of the largest Christian university in the country resigned after a sex scandal. A popular evangelical radio host and author was caught on tape punching an anti-Trump protester. The vice-president of the United States gave a speech in which he replaced the words of the New Testament with references to American nationalism. The president of the United States, in an attempt to appeal to his evangelical base, gave a speech that celebrated Christian participation in Manifest Destiny.
None of this is new. Evangelical leaders have been part of sex-scandals before. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, and Bill Hybels come immediately to mind. Fundamentalist churches have a history of sexual abuse. In the early 1970s, Billy James Hargis was accused of having sex with male and female students at his American Christian College.
Evangelicals and their fundamentalist heirs have acted violently toward their enemies before. Texas fundamentalist J. Frank Norris was charged with murder when he shot and killed a lumber worker who came to his office to complain about something Norris wrote in his religious newspaper.
Ministers and politicians have been twisting scripture to serve political ends since the American Revolution. I wrote an entire chapter about this in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.
Finally, presidential candidates have often blown racist dog-whistles, sometime disguised as history, to rally their white supporters. Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon all come to mind.
How will conservative evangelicals, especially those who support Donald Trump, respond to all this? Rather than seeing what happened this week with Jerry Falwell Jr., Eric Metaxas, Mike Pence, and Trump as part of a long history of hypocrisy and moral failure, I am afraid most conservative evangelicals will ignore these issues, fail to see the continuity between past and present, and reject any claim that these events reflect deeper, more systemic problems within evangelical Christianity. Instead, they will continue to believe that another four years of Donald Trump, a president who has exacerbated and exposed the darkest parts of American evangelical history, will somehow bring revival to the church and restore America to a golden age that probably never existed in the first place.
Not all Christian colleges are the same. Some of you may recall a post in which I compared Messiah University to Liberty University. If you have a child considering a faith-based college I encourage you to read that post.
Liberty University recently established something called the Falkirk Center. In previous posts I called it a “think tank,” but after watching this organization develop over the last several months I now think it is more of a propaganda machine for Christian Trumpism.
In the last few days, the Falkirk Center Facebook page has been posting on race in America.
Here is a post from last night:
Woke Christianity is a manipulation of the Gospel. It intentionally twists the Bible to accommodate and achieve leftist political aims and purposes. This has been evidenced in past cries of “Jesus was an illegal immigrant!” Or “Jesus was a socialist!” Now, it is shifting to an idea that Jesus would have praised and been part of the Black Lives Matter organization. The Gospel is the free offer of salvation based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross at Calvary. The Gospel tells us we are all sinners and we will all likewise perish unless we repent and believe in Christ. As Christians, we must preserve the Gospel and proclaim the truth until his coming. We must also speak out against heresy both inside and outside the church which includes Woke Christianity, Social Justice, Critical Theory and Intersectionality.
- There is no such thing as “woke Christianity.” The Christian scriptures do not endorse a particular political program–Left, Center, or Right. The Christian scriptures do not endorse capitalism or socialism. Fair-minded Christians around the world have used the scriptures to argue for both of these economic systems.
- Would Jesus have been a member of Black Lives Matter? I have no idea. But Jesus would have certainly endorsed the idea that black lives matter. Do you see what the politically-charged Falkirk Center is doing here? They focus all of their attention on the official Black Lives Matter movement as a way to avoid talking about why black lives matter. If they can convince everyone that Black Lives Matter is a direct and immediate threat to our democracy they can get Trump re-elected and advance their political agenda. Don’t let Jerry Falwell and Charlie Kirk manipulate the teachings of Jesus for political gain. Don’t let them take the New Testament and filter its teachings through a Christian Right lens. It’s all politics.
- The Falkirk Center says, “As Christians, we must preserve the Gospel and proclaim the truth until his coming.” Amen. So how does a belief in the proclamation of truth relate to the Falkirk’s support for the pathological liar in the Oval Office? How can an organization with a platform such as Liberty Univeristy fail to speak out about this? How long will evangelicals send their tuition money to a place whose leadership remains silent on this most basic moral issue? The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love, justice, and compassion. The citizens of this kingdom–the scriptures call them a royal priesthood– are in the business of announcing the arrival of this Kingdom to those in power.
- Don’t be fooled by all these references to “Woke Christianity,” “Social Justice,” “Critical Theory,” and “Intersectionality.” They are big words used to scare ordinary Christians. Followers of Jesus Christ, as citizens of his Kingdom, will always fight for justice in the world. They will oppose both individual acts of injustice and systemic acts of injustice. They will fight for the poor and oppressed. American history teaches us that there white people have always oppressed Black people and stomped on their human dignity. This oppression is now embedded in our social institutions and it must be considered when Christians think about how to engage the world. We can uphold these things without necessarily embracing every dimension of “critical theory” or “intersectionality.” Frankly, I think these words are just distractions. They prevent Christians from getting-on with the business of building the Kingdom. But let’s remember that they are meant to be distractions.
Here is another Falkirk Center post from yesterday:
The founding fathers worked tirelessly to create the most just and free nation in human history. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for their ingenuity. Rather than be grateful for America and appreciate her system of government, however, the left has chosen to spite the founding fathers and all that they created, showing no appreciation for the price that has been paid for them to live in America and use their very freedoms to destroy the country that protects them. Leftist thinking is detrimental to a free and just society and is rotten at its core. We must do everything in our power to preserve the true story of the founding fathers, the noble history of America, and teach future generations of the sacrifices necessary to preserve, protect, and defend freedom and liberty in America.
- The nation that the founders created in 1776 was not just. It was built upon universal Enlightenment principles such as “liberty,” but these principles were not applied to all people. In this sense, it is very difficult to say that the founders wanted to establish some kind of “Christian nation.”
- The nation’s founders left a legacy of freedom and liberty that was eventually applied to most citizens. But by the time American leaders got their act together and started applying these ideals to African Americans and others, certain systemic injustices were already baked in the national cake, the product of decades of failure.
- All of this has led to much debate among historians. No good historian would reject the idea that the founders were products of their time. The debate is over how rapidly the ideals of the white male American Revolution found their way into the mainstream of national life. Some say that the American Revolution was “radical” because it set the stage or prepared the way for women’s rights, the emancipation of slaves, civil rights, etc. Others argue that the Revolution was not radical because it failed to apply these ideas immediately. The founders made deliberate choices to keep injustice in place when they could have chosen the opposite course. These debates are good for American democracy. Let’s keep having them. Neither of them should be “canceled.”
- This is our country. Let’s tell the story honestly.
And then there is this from a day or two ago:
Unfortunately, the faith that used to unite our country and carry it through its darkest hours, is now viewed as superstition and a detriment to society. Secular leftists are working, daily, to to infringe on religious liberty by prohibiting religious exercises or expressions and forcing groups to hire people whose beliefs do not align with that group’s religious convictions. As Christians- now more than ever- we must be attentive to and engaged with political and cultural events. Failure to do so is an abandonment of our duty to be good citizens of our country and it leaves the liberties this country was created to protect at risk of being taken away by those whose end goal is tyranny.
- The first sentence presumes that the founders were trying to found a nation united by Christian faith. This is a problematic assumption that I have spent the better part of my career as an American historian trying to address. Start here.
- Many white evangelicals are very upset that governors are shutting down churches due to the prevalence of COVID-19. These evangelicals believe that these local officials are curbing their right to worship. Is the prevention of Christian worship in a time of pandemic a violation of the First Amendment? That is an issue for the courts. But many of the founders thought that republics survived when people were willing to occasionally sacrifice their “rights” for the greater good of their neighbors. This is one of those moments when Christians can lead by example. Instead, many evangelicals, like the Falkirk Center, have chosen to mount a rights-based attack on masks, social distancing, and science that most of the founding fathers would fail to recognize. I don’t think the first-century church would recognize it either. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship: “In the right confrontation with the world, the Church will become ever more like to the form of its suffering Lord.”
- I am sympathetic to some of the religious liberty concerns mentioned in this post. I hope the Supreme Court will continue to defend religious institutions to hire according to their deeply-held theological convictions. This, it seems, is a mark of a healthy pluralism.
Court evangelical Tony Perkins joins several other evangelical Trump supporters to talk about the 2020 election:
A few quick comments:
15:58ff: Perkins says that Christians “have a responsibility” to vote along “biblical guidelines” and “biblical truth.” He adds: “if you notice lately, truth is under attack.” As I said yesterday, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Trump supporters try to defend truth. When will they speak truth to Trump? If Perkins wants to talk about biblical principles he should read about Jesus before Pilate in John 18 or Nathan’s words to King David in 1 Samuel 12. How dare Perkins sit there and say that “it is the truth that will make men free.”
Shortly after Perkins finishes speaking, the host shows a video comparing the GOP and Democratic platforms. The GOP platform, Perkins believes, is biblical. The Democratic platform, he believes, in unbiblical. “It’s like oil and water,” Perkins says. This is what we call the political captivity of the church.
And then comes the fear-mongering. Perkins implies that if evangelicals do not vote for Trump, the Democrats will come for their families, their religious liberty, and their “ability to worship God.” Listen carefully to this section. It begins around the 17:40 mark. I wonder what the earliest Christians would think if they heard Perkins say that unless America re-elects a corrupt emperor they would not be able to worship God. I wonder what the early Christian martyrs, those great heroes of the faith, would say if they heard Perkins tell the audience that “your ability to share the Gospel in word or in deed” rests on a Trump victory. As Bonhoeffer says in The Cost of the Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
20:00ff: The audience does not start applauding until conservative pastor-politician E.W. Jackson tells them that Black Lives Matter is a “Marxist ploy to get people to buy into some sort of socialist, communist world view….” See what’s going on here. An African-American evangelical politician gives an audience full of white people the freedom to cheer against an anti-racist organization.
27:00ff: William Federer, probably known best in certain white evangelical circles for publishing a book of quotations from the founding fathers, implies that the CIA, Department of Justice, and FBI are planning a “coup” against Trump.
36:00ff: Tony Perkins says that if one believes human beings are created in the image of God, it will “direct all of your other policy.” He adds that the violence in the streets after George Floyd’s death was fomented by people who did not believe that women and men are created in the image of God. Was their unnecessary violence in the streets? Of course. But most of what happened in the streets after Floyd was killed had everything to do with the kind of human dignity Perkins is talking about here. How could he miss this?
41:35ff: Perkins notes the high levels of abortions among African-American women and blames the problem on Planned Parenthood. He fails to see that there is a direct connection between systemic racism, poverty, and abortion in Black communities. Of course, if one does not believe in systemic racism, then it is easy to blame Planned Parenthood and continue to ignore the structural issues of inequality and racism in our society.
1:30:00ff: Federer starts talking about the Second Great Awakening and how it led to abolitionism. This is partly true, but Frederick Douglass offers another perspective on this. When his master got saved during the Second Great Awakening, Douglass said that he became more brutal in his beatings. Why? Because he was now following the teachings of the Bible as understood by the Southern preachers who led him to God. Don’t fall for Federer’s selective history. It is a selective understanding of the past used in service of Trumpism. The 17th, 18th, and 19th South was loaded with white evangelicals who owned slaves and embraced white supremacy.
1:32:00: Perkins makes a connection between the Democratic Party and the French Revolution. He sounds like Os Guinness here.
There is a lot of other things I could comment on, but I think I will stop there.
And in other court evangelical news:
The Falkirk Center at Liberty University is tweeting a quote from Jerry Falwell Sr.
As Christians, we must re-engage in politics, or we will be controlled by those who are. The radical left wants to destroy western civilization and America’s foundations, which were born from the Judeo-Christian ethic and tradition. We cannot sit idly by and let them prevail. pic.twitter.com/Hhol2P0BmM
— Falkirk Center (@falkirk_center) July 2, 2020
In case you can’t read the quote:
The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country. If there is any place in the world we need Christianity, it’s in Washington. And that’s why preachers long since need to get over that intimidation forced upon us by liberals, that if we mention anything about politics, we are degrading our ministry. —Jerry Falwell Jr.
I will counter with a quote from C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape (Satan) is giving advice to his young minion Wormwood:
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism…as part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the state at which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause,” in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce…Once [he’s] made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.
Samuel Rodriguez is holding a 4th of July prayer meeting at his church. The meeting is built upon his “prophetic decree” that America is “one nation, under guide, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” I wonder if he would have received the same prophetic decree prior to 1954, the year the words “under God” were added to the pledge.
James Robison tweets about the founders as if slavery did not exist.
Our nation’s founders acknowledged & exalted a benevolent and righteous God and affirmed the worth and dignity of humanity, unlike the brand of liberty exalted by some today which rejects the values on which this nation was built. The absolute truth is: ideas have consequences.
— James Robison (@revjamesrobison) July 2, 2020
Ralph Reed seems to think that Donald Trump’s “sins” are only sins of the “past.”
Not condemning someone with a sinful or imperfect past. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” John 8:7 https://t.co/OR2nueN5Rz
— Ralph Reed (@ralphreed) July 2, 2020
Robert Jeffress is ready to prove it:
Today on Pathway to Victory, I prove that “America is a Christian Nation.”
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) July 2, 2020
Until next time.
This semester, for the first time in my eighteen-year career at Messiah College, I will not be teaching any history courses. Instead, I will be teaching three sections of a required first-year seminar titled “Created and Called for Community.” This course, which uses a common syllabus, is designed to introduce a Messiah College liberal arts education to first-year students. It focuses on the writing, close reading of texts, biblical and theological reflection on human dignity and community, and the meaning of Christian vocation.
I will be teaching these texts:
Stanley Hauerwas, “Go With God“
John Henry Newman, “What is a University?“
Ernest L. Boyer, “Retaining the Legacy of Messiah College“
James Weldon Johnson, “The Creation“
Bruce Birch, “The Image of God“
J.R.R. Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle“
Alice Walker, “In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens“
Harold Bender, The Anabaptist Vision (excerpt)
Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone“
Augustine, Confessions (excerpts)
Robert Frost, “Mending Wall“
Desmond Tutu, “God Believes in Us“
Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave” (excerpt)
Albert Schweitzer, “I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor“
Henri Nouwen, “Adam’s Peace“
Jerry Sittser, “Distinguishing Between Calling and Career“
Jerry Sittser, “What We’re Supposed to Do”
Dorothy Sayers, “Why Work?“
I will probably blog about these texts as the semester moves forward. Feel free to read or follow along.
Over at Baptist News Global, Rob Sellers, professor of theology and missions emeritus at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, Texas, offers a nice overview of the way that Trump’s evangelical supporters use biblical typologies (King Cyrus, King David, Caesar, Jesus) to advance their political agenda. (Click here for some background on the image above. For some reason Bob Smietana’s byline is on this article).
Here is a taste of Sellers’s piece:
Efforts to give Trump the standing of Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan are strained, if not nonsensical, yet they don’t come close to matching the illogical contortions required to compare the president to positive, or even heroic, models in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. This growing tendency should concern all Americans who claim to revere the Bible and desire to live into its vision.
These biblical comparisons to Trump fall into two categories. One, not surprisingly, is those human figures who in their lifetime were a king, emperor or even a queen. Is it only coincidental that all of these counterparts are elite, wealthy and powerful royalty? Where are the ordinary, middle-class citizens, much less the impoverished, marginalized and powerless commoners, with whom this president is identified?
As if to correct the perception that Trump can only reflect the “top one percent” of ancient society, the other, much more startling typology is Jesus himself – a suffering servant “despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53:3), yet whose person and work were acclaimed in messianic phrases, both confessional and laudatory. These references especially satisfy Trump, who sees himself, especially during the impeachment proceedings, as a persecuted victim who is absolutely worthy of adoration and praise.
Read the entire piece here.
The following exchange takes place between Jesus and the Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22: 16-22.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.[b] 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[c] 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Several Trump evangelicals are using this verse to justify their support for the POTUS.
Over at the Anxious Bench, Chris Gehrz asks a question about coins:
So how might we hear Matthew 22:21 differently if we’re looking at the metallic relief of a long-dead president who held limited power for a relatively short period of time, rather than that of a living emperor with the hubris to believe himself a figure of unimpeachable power?
Gehrz, a history professor at Bethel University, adds:
Perhaps we’d then hear “render unto Caesar” as a reminder that, if American Christians owe limited allegiance to any secular authority, they owe it to no one person, but to the American people, who govern themselves through elected representatives sworn to protect the Constitution. The same Constitution that keeps even presidents from benefiting financially from their position, from obstructing the work of those who investigate lawbreaking, or from inventing fake national emergencies in order to subvert the work of those who make laws.
So render to God what is God’s: your image-bearing self commanded to love other image-bearers. And render to Trump what is Trump’s: your responsibilities as an American citizen to dissent from unwise and unjust uses of American power and to hold American demagogues accountable for their attempts to play Caesar.
Here is a taste:
Yet the lines have consistently been deployed to check opinions and activity running against the powers that be. As Thomas Kidd wrote on the religion blog Anxious Bench in 2014, Romans 13 was “the most commonly cited biblical text in Revolutionary America.”
The lines were championed by both colonists agitating for rebellion and loyalists. According to Anxious Bench’s Chris Gehrz, a history professor at Bethel University, the latter camp included clergymen such as New York’s Charles Inglis, who cited the scripture as proof that Christians “who really believe in a divine Revelation” should “make no Conscience of dishonouring the King, and rebelling against him” because it would be “knowingly trample on the Law of God.”
Pro-independence advocates, however, often followed the instruction of preacher Jonathan Mayhew, who “insisted that submission was contingent upon a ruler being just,” according to Kidd.
Following the American Revolution, Romans 13 became a frequent topic of sermons as the country debated slavery.
“The second spike you see is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong,” John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, told The Post on Thursday. “I mean, this is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made.”
According to Gehrz, the passage largely disappeared from American pulpits after the Civil War. It did, however, make appearances overseas in the darkest moments of the early 20th century. Romans 13 was reportedly favored by Adolf Hitler and pushed by the Nazis to legitimize their authoritarian rule in 1930s Germany.
Nice work all-around!
Last night I noted that the most popular Bible verse cited in American newspapers between 1840 and 1920 was Luke 18:16. Read my post here.
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Several of you have asked why Luke 18:16 was so popular. On Twitter I asked Lincoln Mullen, the man behind America’s Public Bible, why Luke 18:16 appears so many times. in newspapers during this period.
Here is his answer:
Luke 18:16 or its equivalent in the other Synoptics was so popular because newspapers often published Sunday school lessons with that verse as a banner across the top. They also reported on Sunday schools which were a new institution in the 19th century.
— Lincoln Mullen (@lincolnmullen) June 15, 2018
Here is my section on Sunday Schools in The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society:
Evangelicals concerned with moral reform of American life concentrated much effort on the religious education of children and young people through Sunday Schools. Some of the earliest Sunday Schools in America were formed in the eighteenth century to provide biblical instruction to the children of the urban poor, many of whom spent their Sundays roaming city streets looking for trouble. Children would gather in churches to sing hymns, pray, read the Bible, and hear a short sermon. They were rewarded for regular attendance and their hard work memorizing Biblical passages. If records of enrollment in Sunday school classes are any indication, the efforts of these schools were successful. By 1832 there were over 300,000 boys and girls attending Sunday schools in the United States, or about 8 percent of the young people eligible to attend such classes. The numbers were even higher in urban areas. For example, in the same year, close to 28 percent of Philadelphia children were attending Sunday Schools. Because these schools focused on reading and writing, many of them drew large numbers of free blacks–both children and adults. Starting in 1824 a benevolent organization called the American Sunday School Union was formed to stimulate the movement across denominations and provide literature for Sunday Schools operating around the country. (See Anne Boylan, Sunday School: The Formation of An American Institution, 1790-1880).
The American Bible Society and the Sunday School Movement shared many of the same activist convictions. In 1827 the ABS authorized the publication of a “small testament” for Sunday Schools with the goal of meeting the spiritual needs of the “thousands of poor children…in our large towns.” From this point forward, the Society supplied Bibles to any Sunday School organization in need. For example, in 1831, the ABS provided the American Sunday School Union with 20,000 copies of the New Testament in support of a massive effort to establish schools in the Mississippi Valley. In the 1830s the ABS distributed over 14,300 Bibles and over 57,700 Testaments around the country, with most of them going to the American Sunday School Union and the Methodist Episcopal Church. In the 1850s these numbers rose to 27,729 (Bibles) and 134,237 (Testaments). Rev. Charles McIlvane of Brooklyn, in a message to the annual meeting of the ABS, compared the Society’s education outreach to Cambridge University in England. The only difference was that “our University is in the business of benevolence.”
Through much of the antebellum period ABS headquarters in New York received constant reports from Sunday Schools in need of Bibles and moving letters from agents about their rapid growth. One of the more sentimental requests came in 1847, when the ABS received a small tin savings bank filled with $2.17 in change. It was sent by a small girl requesting three dozen Bibles for her Sunday school class. The money enclosed in the bank did not cover the cost of the Bibles, but the ABS sent them anyway. In 1854, H.W. Pierson, the ABS agent in Southern Kentucky ,visited all seven of the “Coloured Sabbath Schools” in Louisville. He was impressed with slaves and free blacks of all ages attending these schools and noted that a great majority of the teachers were black, but he lamented the general lack of teachers and Bibles.
A couple of images:
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
This verse, which seems to have some relevance to our current immigration mess, was:
- The third most quoted Bible verse in the 1840
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1850s
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1860s
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1870s
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1880s
- The second most quoted Bible verse in the 1890s
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1900s
- The third most quoted Bible verse in the 1910s
- The most quoted Bible verse in the 1920s
Thanks to Lincoln Mullen for creating the tool that enabled me to write this post and make this point.
According to Barna, 51% of churchgoers have never heard of the Great Commission.
Here is a taste of Barna’s research:
In partnership with Seed Company, Barna conducted a study of the U.S. Church’s ideas about missions, social justice, Bible translation and other aspects of spreading the gospel around the world, available now in the new report Translating the Great Commission. When asked if they had previously “heard of the Great Commission,” half of U.S. churchgoers (51%) say they do not know this term. It would be reassuring to assume that the other half who know the term are also actually familiar with the passage known by this name, but that proportion is low (17%). Meanwhile, “the Great Commission” does ring a bell for one in four (25%), though they can’t remember what it is. Six percent of churchgoers are simply not sure whether they have heard this term “the Great Commission” before.