GLENDALE, Ariz. — The eighth installation of the nationwide “American Worldview” survey conducted by Dr. George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that most Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than following a specific religion. The outlet was disheartened to find that more than half of those who identified as Christian also held to this view.
“If you step back and look at the big picture painted by all of the outcomes in this research project, it seems to suggest that people are in an ‘anything goes’ mindset when it comes to faith, morals, values, and lifestyle,” Barna lamented in a statement.
“Americans appear to be creating unique, highly customized worldviews based on feelings, experiences and opportunities rather than working within the boundaries of a comprehensive, time-tested, consistent worldview.”
As previously reported, the Center surveyed 2,000 adults at random in January for its American Worldview Inventory study, interviewing those of all ages, ethnicities, beliefs and political persuasions on the telephone or online.
Participants were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “Having faith matters more than which faith you have.” 63% agreed.
But the Center was shocked to find that 68% of those who professed to be Christian affirmed the notion. Of those, 56% of Evangelicals agreed with the statement, as well as 62% of Pentecostals. 67% of those who attend mainline Protestant houses of worship agreed, as did 77% of Catholics.
The survey then asked whether the person “consciously and consistently [tries] to avoid sinning because [they] know [their] sins break God’s heart.” Just over half, or 56%, said yes.
48% of respondents said that they believe if a person is “generally good” and “does enough good things for others” they will go to Heaven. Only 35% disagreed. Again, 52% of those who identified themselves as Christian agreed with the statement.
“That includes close to half of all adults associated with Pentecostal (46%), mainline Protestant (44%), and Evangelical (41%) churches,” the report states. “As expected, a much larger share of Catholics (70%) embrace that point of view.”
Participants were also polled about their views on their eternal destination. 54% said they would go to Heaven, and out of those, only 33% said it was solely because they have repented of their sins and trusted Christ as savior.
15% said that they don’t know what happens after death. 13% they don’t believe in an afterlife. An equal 8% each said that they will either be reincarnated or will go to a place of purification (purgatory). Only 2% of respondents said that they would go to Hell.
The Center was similarly discouraged to find that not many — 49% — feel a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, although the figure was significantly higher — 71% — for those who attend Evangelical churches.
“This lack of understanding of basic Christian theology is stunning, with potentially devastating consequences for individual souls — and really — for all aspects of American life and culture,” ACU President Len Munsil said in a statement.
“It’s a wakeup call for the church, and for leaders in all areas of influence, to speak, teach, and work to restore biblical truth,” he continued. “Many souls will be lost if people are misled by the false notion that we can earn our way to Heaven, rather than recognizing the truth that Christ alone and His righteousness are the basis for our salvation.”
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
He likewise taught in John 10:7-9, “I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.”
Jesus also exhorted in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”