Dr. George Barna fills an important role in our Christian culture. In 1984 he founded the Barna Research Group and helped it become a leading marketing research firm focused on the intersection of faith and culture [before selling it in 2009]. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, which recently published the results of their survey in its American Worldview Inventory 2020 (AWVI 2020). Sadly, it is not encouraging news. The following is a report by the Cultural Research Center (CRC) on what this survey revealed.
No surprise, the report stated that "American Christianity is undergoing a post-Christian Reformation -- with the nation's major Christian groups rapidly replacing traditional theological beliefs with the culture's secular values." The CRC took a look at Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics, mainline Protestants, and Catholics and found that they are all "creating new worldviews that are only loosely tied to the Biblical teachings that have traditionally defined them." Instead of the Church influencing the culture, it is as I have stated many times before, the culture influencing the Church. And to state the obvious ... that's not how it should be! The survey revealed some disturbing trends among these faith groups and here is a simplified view of how it breaks down:
Evangelicals: More than half (52%) reject absolute moral truth; 61% do not read the Bible on a daily basis; 75% believe that people are basically good. The study found that between one-third and one-half embrace beliefs and behaviors that are counter to Biblical teaching and long-standing Evangelical beliefs. My Note: I think we should take a harder look at that statistic, because they could be people like me, who don't necessarily agree with the man-made doctrines which have been corrupted from the original teachings of the Bible. In other words, what are those long-standing beliefs?
Pentecostals and Charismatics take secularism a step further: Two-thirds (69%) reject absolute moral truth; 54% are unwilling to define human life as sacred, with half claiming that the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching on abortion; and 69% say they prefer socialism to capitalism. A full 45% did not qualify as born-again Christians. My Note: I would like to understand if we are all in agreement on what "born-again Christian" means. Does that mean those surveyed don't believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and do not accept Him as their Savior? Or that He died, was buried and rose again? I would like a little more information on what their "qualifications" for born-again are.
Mainline Christians were the most secular of the four faith groups: 60% of this group's beliefs directly conflict with Biblical teaching. The CRC found that three key values define this group: truth and morality are relative; 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. Only 41% of Mainline Protestants are born-again.
Catholics are increasingly secular and permissive. This group's beliefs align sharply with Mainline Protestants, but differ substantially from Evangelicals and Pentecostal/Charismatics. They are most likely to believe in salvation through works (or living a good life), and least likely (28%) to be born-again. They are more permissive than the other groups, being most likely to accept sexual relations outside of marriage, and seeing lying, speeding, and refusal to repay a loan as morally acceptable behaviors.
It is time that we American Christians face the reality that "the modern Church" has done a poor job of safeguarding and protecting the legacy of the First Century Church. I can look back over my lifetime and see the moral decay that is rotting the foundation of what was established in the Book of Acts. Instead of our Christian churches educating an unbelieving citizenry about morality, values, meaning and purpose, we let the unbelievers influence and impact our worldview so that it is no longer Biblical. We now look like the world, instead of influencing the world to look like Jesus.
It makes me cringe when I hear this phenomenon called a "Post-Christian Reformation". That title tells me that the impact of Christians in the culture is in the past, and this "reformation" looks nothing like Martin Luther's, which was motivated by a desire to restore Biblical truth and purity to the Church. Our Churches seem to have shifted from focusing on the redemptive and supernatural work of Jesus Christ to a focus on personal efforts and how to be a "good" Christian, instead of an authentic follower of Christ. And in case you think I am over-stating the seriousness of the Church's failings to impact the world, consider some of these statistics from the survey:
• 48% believe a person who is good enough or does enough good works can earn salvation
• 44% do not believe history is the unfolding narrative of God's reality
• 44% claim the Bible is ambiguous on its teaching about abortion
• 43% maintain that when Jesus was on the earth, He sinned
• 43% do not believe our purpose is to know, love and serve Him who created us
• 42% seek moral guidance from sources other than the Bible
• 42% do not identify or confess their sins on a daily basis
• 40% do not believe that human life is sacred
• 40% believe that lying is morally acceptable if it advances personal interests or protects reputation
• 39% identify the people they always respect as having the same beliefs as they do
• 36% prefer socialism to capitalism
• 36% fail to seek God's will and purpose for their life every day
• 34% reject the idea of legitimate marriage being between one man and one woman
• 34% say that abortion is morally acceptable if it spares a mother from financial or emotional hardship
• 32% do not thank or worship God every day
Shocking, isn't it? So, in conclusion, I want to once again, exhort the Ekklesia to rise up and change the direction of our nation and the Body of Christ. We need to lead the Church away from secularization and stand for Biblical relevancy in our culture. Do not compromise and do not fear the rebuke of those who do not agree with you. It is quite apparent that we are a society who has strayed far from Biblical truth and it will be our destruction if we don't return to the righteous path of our Savior. Let us show the culture how powerful the faithful remnant can be!
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.