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  • Micah Coate

Christians, “This is a Football!”

Updated: Apr 27

“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”

— Author of Hebrews (6:1-2)

The above verse is really the antithesis of this paper because I am convinced that whoever wrote it to the Hebrew church two millennia ago could not write it to the Evangelical church today.


Every two years, Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research team up to “take the theological temperature of the United States to help Christians better understand today’s culture and to equip the church with better insights for discipleship.” 1 The key findings below are from 2022 and taken from those who specifically identify as evangelical.


  1. 40 percent strongly agree that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”

  2. 48 percent strongly agree that “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.”

  3. 29 percent strongly agree that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”

  4. 34 percent strongly agreed that “The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.”

  5. 33 percent somewhat agreed and 22 percent strongly agreed that “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.”

  6. 14 percent somewhat agreed and 52 percent strongly agreed that "Everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God.”


The good news is that evangelicals answered these questions with a bit more accuracy when compared to other Christian traditions, but the bad news is that these findings are absolutely dismal. It blatantly reveals that a large portion of evangelicals have not learned the very basics of biblical Christianity concerning the fundamental doctrines of Christology (the nature of Christ), pneumatology (the nature of the Holy Spirit), anthropology (the nature of humanity), and soteriology, (the nature of salvation) — which is to say we don’t know the very rudiments about the very faith we proclaim to believe and intrust with our lives.

How are we evangelicals, along with the larger scope of the church, supposed to remedy this failure? I offer my unsolicited advise and say, “Christians, “This is a Football!”

In July 1961, football coach Vince Lombardi started the new season for his Green Bay Packers who had just been defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Championship Game the prior season. When all the players assembled at camp to build upon their standing as the 2nd best team in the league, their coach humbled them all by holding up a football and saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football!” Lombardi “then had everyone open up their playbooks and start on page one, where they began to learn the fundamentals – blocking, tackling, throwing, catching, etc.” 2


What was the result of their focus on the fundamentals? They won “the NFL Championship that season 37-0 against the New York Giants Vince Lombardi went on to win five NFL Championships in seven years. He never coached a team with a losing season after that and never lost a playoff game again.” 3


We should ask ourselves: If those professional football players were in need of the fundamentals, how much more are those young football players in high school and college now? Furthermore, if this metaphor is appropriate in highlighting the ignorance of the church in general, then shouldn’t all evangelicals return to the fundamentals of the faith? I don’t think this is too much to ask especially because church history has made evangelicalism nearly synonymous with fundamentalism. Despite the term having been highjacked by derogatory assumptions, (many, if not all, having nothing to do with the core doctrines of the faith) fundamentalism is not only good but something we must return to and embrace with heart and mind if we call ourselves followers of Jesus.


If you haven’t listen to the podcast on John G. Machen, please do. Referred to as the Dr. of the fundamentals, Machen, in the early 1900s was and still remains today a great example of outlining the fundamentals of the faith. Apart from the fundamentals there is no real and thus meaningful sense of Christianity, just a Judeo-Christian ethic that is moved by the winds of personal opinions as much as it is biblical truth. This subjective sense of theology is what I believe the survey sadly disclosed.


Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research concluded:


In the evangelical sphere…the 2022 State of Theology survey reveals…doctrines including the deity and exclusivity of Jesus Christ, as well as the inspiration and authority of the Bible, are increasingly being rejected. These results convey the ongoing need for the church to be engaged in apologetics, helping unbelievers by providing a well-reasoned defense of the Christian faith, and helping believers by strengthening their clarity and conviction regarding why they believe what they do.


I couldn’t agree more. The need for apologetics, especially an apologetic of the fundamentals is paramount and something I have felt personally called to make known. While Salvation and Stuff understands the many “grays" within the Christian faith, it has been and remains committed to helping to explain and defend its foundations. With that, I boldly proclaim, “Christians, “This is a Football!”


But what do you think?


Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff

  1. https://thestateoftheology.com/, Accessed on February, 19, 2023.

  2. https://edmondbusiness.com/2021/02/gentlemen-this-is-a-football/, Accessed on February, 19, 2023.

  3. https://edmondbusiness.com/2021/02/gentlemen-this-is-a-football/, Accessed on February, 19, 2023.

  4. https://thestateoftheology.com/, Accessed on February, 19, 2023.

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