GLENDALE, Ariz. — The 11th installment of the “American Worldview” survey conducted by Dr. George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has found that many professing Christians are being shaped by the culture instead of biblical truth.
“As Christians, we are called to be ‘salt and light;’ to transform the culture around us by sharing biblical principles and living according to God’s truth. This latest research shows just the opposite is occurring,” lamented university President Len Munsil in a statement.
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.
In its 11th report, “Churches and Worldview,” the Center analyzed the responses of those who identified as evangelical, Pentecostal/charismatic, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic. It found that between one-third to a half of evangelicals hold to beliefs that are antithetical to the Bible.
“A majority (52%) of evangelicals reject absolute moral truth; 61% do not read the Bible on a daily basis; 75% believe that people are basically good,” the report outlines.
And “[w]hile elevating the essence of man to goodness, they have also radically humanized Jesus Christ — 43% believe He sinned while on earth — and demoted the Holy Spirit to symbolic status (58%).”
Half do not believe sex before marriage is sinful, and 40% think lying is okay if done to protect one’s reputation or advance their personal interests. 34% agreed that abortion is acceptable if it spares the woman financial hardship or emotional discomfort.
Pentecostals and charismatics were likewise concerning, as “[t]wo-thirds (69%) reject absolute moral truth; 54% are unwilling to define human life as sacred, with half claiming the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion, and 69% say they prefer socialism to capitalism.” Further, the Center notes, “[a] full 45% did not meet the definition of born-again Christians.”
Not surprisingly, mainline Protestants showed the greatest departure from orthodoxy, as 60% of those surveyed held to beliefs that directly conflict with the Bible.
“Their customized belief system revolves around three key values: truth and morality are decided by the individual, not God or the Bible; life has no inherent value or purpose, so individuals should pursue personal happiness or satisfaction; and traditional religious practices are no longer seen as central or essential to their Christian faith,” the Center explains.
And for six common practices among Christians, such as the daily confession of one’s sins unto God, praying and reading the Bible every day, and seeking the Lord’s will for their lives, mainline Protestants didn’t generate even 50% in participation (13% said they read the Bible daily, 33% confess their sins each day, 49% pray every day, and 38% seek God’s will on a daily basis.)
Catholics surveyed held to mindsets that were more akin to mainline Protestants than evangelicals. 84% said that they believe that people are basically good, 84% opined that it doesn’t matter what kind of faith you identify with, and 69% rejected absolute moral truth.
“They are the segment of the Christian community most likely to believe that a person can earn salvation by being a good enough person or by doing enough good deeds throughout their lifetime,” the report also states. And, “[t]hey are the most likely to accept speeding, sexual relations outside of marriage, lying, and refusal to repay a loan as morally acceptable behaviors.”
“What we are seeing is an American Christianity that is rapidly conforming to the values of a post-Christian secular culture,” Munsil mourned. “As a nation we are in need of a reset first to change the direction of individual Christians, and, ultimately, to transform culture.”
“It’s one thing for Americans to be confused on the finer points or even hotly debated elements of theology,” Barna added. “But for Americans to misunderstand or to flat out reject the Bible as a foundational source of truth and moral guidance, to reject salvation by grace alone, and to reject core doctrines of the Christian faith points to a major crisis in our society.”
The late Princeton theology professor B.B. Warfield once stated, “If everything that is called Christianity in these days is Christianity, then there is no such thing as Christianity. A name applied indiscriminately to everything designates nothing.”