I’ll freely confess that I had serious hesitation about add this bit of news to the weblog. It’s not as if there isn’t enough bad news circulating around to cultivate a sense of cultural anxiety and spiritual nausea. But, just when I’ve been tempted to just turn off the news, I got the latest survey data from George Barna.
Since 1995, the Barna group has been monitoring the level of "Biblical Worldview" held by adult Americans through an exhaustive nationwide survey. When I read the results of his first survey, I was depressed. The latest results have taken my depression to a new and lower level.
Why? What’s the big deal? The reason, as Barna wrote in 2003 [Think Like Jesus, p. 56] is that "you become what you believe." Expand that axiom to a larger level, and the cultural consequences are staggering. We are becoming what we generally believe, and bit by bit, the data shows that the mind of Believers is being torqued in dangerous directions.
Consider some of the findings [you can read even more at: www.barna.org – March 9, 2009]:
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.
Differences among Demographic Segments
The research data showed that one pattern emerged loud and clear: young adults rarely possess a biblical worldview. The current study found that less than one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview, compared to about one out of every nine older adults.
The challenge facing an authentic, unapologetic, Biblical, Christlike ministry is immense, and imperative. The Gospel is more than a private affection. It is, in Jesus’ words, light and salt. And, I have to believe that it is the only reliable element standing in the way of "the complete demise of our culture, the loss of meaning and purpose in life, and the rejection of all that God holds dear and significant. [Think Like Jesus, p. 57] So, I take those thoughts to heart, and "gird my loins."