Two years ago I attended a Christian Youth Event and asked 190 youth who said they were Christians this question: “Why did Jesus have to die a brutal death on the cross?” Only two could give me the correct answer given to us in the Bible. What might this tell us?
Jesus warned us that many who think they are going to heaven will be banished into eternal damnation. This morning we revisit a couple of surveys by George Barna and Associates that point out the fall into apostasy going on in our nation among many who consider themselves Christians. (details below)
In the first segment, we check in with James Walker of watchman.org to discuss some apologetics as well as a few challenging issues with the biblical illiteracy in the American church. James also gives us his take on President Obama’s controversial remarks at a Baltimore Mosque with connections to Muslim terrorists.
In the final two segments, we tackle some Barna research:
For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.
Overall, the current research revealed that only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview. Among the sixty subgroups of respondents that the survey explored was one defined by those who said they have made a personal to commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and that they are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Labeled “born again Christians,” the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.
The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.
Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:
- One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
- Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
- Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
- Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
- A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
- Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.
This survey indicates that when it comes to developing a biblical worldview, a good place to start may be with the people in the pulpit.
In a recent survey of Protestant pastors conducted by the Barna Research Group, only half (51%) passed the test on whether they possess a biblical worldview. Of the pastors surveyed, Southern Baptists scored the highest with 71% while United Methodists finished at the bottom with just 27%. In between were 57% of pastors of Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist), 51% of pastors of non-denominational Protestant churches, 44% of pastors of charismatic or Pentecostal churches, 35% of pastors of black churches, and 28% of pastors of leading mainline denominations.
“The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one,” Barna says. “In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches.”
Why is a biblical worldview important? According to Barna, everyone has a worldview, but few have a biblical worldview — which the researcher says has a radical effect on a person’s life. He says individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, values, and opinions determine their behavior.
“Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life,” he says. “We’re often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.”
Barna’s research indicates that adults with a biblical worldview possess radically different views on morality, hold divergent religious beliefs, and demonstrate vastly different lifestyle choices.