The Christian Science Monitor landscapes two recent religious surveys and argues that American individualism has finally infiltrated theology. According to the article, we have become our own "theologians-in-residence" and "Cafeteria Christians." In the first study, conducted by the Barna Group, 71% of Americans say they are more likely to develop their own religious beliefs rather than accept the teachings of a particular church. For examples, nearly 50% don't believe in the existence of Satan, nearly 33% believe Jesus sinned while on earth, and nearly 40% don't believe in the necessity of evangelism. The other study by Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life we discussed earlier - a study in American's views on the afterlife, to which 65% of Americans believe that other religions can lead to eternal life.
American individualism, to me, is not the only factor at play here. Hyper-denominationalism is also a factor, where the severe fragmentation of church denominations during the last century have muddied the theological waters. With different churches on every corner preaching different theological emphases, the American public has murky understandings of theological orthodoxy. Let's also not forget our global and technological interconnectivity, where the exposure to different ideas and religions is a click away. I am sure other factors are at play, but these are off the top of my head.
This theological relativism can't be good for Christianity in the long-run.
Update: Tripp has some contempt for the surveys and argues for a theological conversation at the grassroots level.