Minister of Education Reports
Only 4% Have a Biblical
A Biblical Worldview
Makes a Radical Change in a Person's Life
suggests that a large share of the nation's moral and spiritual challenges is directly attributable to the absence of a biblical worldview among Americans. This goes a long way toward explaining why America has so many moral and spiritual problems.
George Barna described the outcome of the lack of proper perspective like this. "If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus. Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think - our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. 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. We're often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance."
Everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview - even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life. The numbers were even lower among other religious classifications: Protestants (7%), adults who attend mainline Protestant churches (2%) and Catholics (less than one-half of 1%). The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches (13%), Pentecostal churches (10%) and Baptist churches (8%).
(The full content of this report can be read on the Barna website, or a longer summary can be found at the Jonsquill website.)
Among the most prevalent alternative worldviews was postmodernism, which seemed to be the dominant perspective among the two youngest generations. A biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.
One of the most striking insights from the research was the influence of such a way of thinking upon people's behavior. Adults with a biblical worldview possessed radically different views on morality, held divergent religious beliefs, and demonstrated vastly different lifestyle choices. People's views on morally acceptable behavior are deeply impacted by their worldview. Upon comparing the perspectives of those who have a biblical worldview with those who do not, the former group were 31 times less likely to accept cohabitation (2% versus 62%, respectively); 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness (2% versus 36%); 15 times less likely to condone gay sex (2% versus 31%); 12 times less likely to accept profanity 3% versus 37%); and 11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable (4% versus 44%). In addition, less than one-half of one percent of those with a biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39% of other adults), and a similarly miniscule proportion endorsed abortion (compared to 46% of adults who lack a biblical worldview).
Among the more intriguing lifestyle differences were the lesser propensity for those with a biblical worldview to gamble (they were eight times less likely to buy lottery tickets and 17 times less likely to place bets); to get drunk (three times less likely); and to view pornography (two times less common). They were also twice as likely to have discussed spiritual matters with other people in the past month and twice as likely to have fasted for religious reasons during the preceding month. While one out of every eight adults who lack a biblical worldview had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse during the prior month, less than one out of every 100 individuals who have such a worldview had done so.
Adults who have a biblical worldview possessed a somewhat different demographic profile than those who did not. For instance, individuals who attended college were much more likely than those who did not to have this perspective (6% versus 2%, respectively). Married adults were more than twice as likely as adults who had never been wed to hold such a worldview (5% versus 2%). Whites (5%) were slightly more likely than either blacks (3%) or Hispanics (3%) to hold this ideology. One of the largest gaps was between Republicans (10% of whom had a biblical worldview), Independents (2%) and Democrats (1%).
Residents of Texas and North Carolina were more likely than people in other states to have a biblical worldview. Among the states in which such a worldview was least common were Louisiana and the six states in New England. The nation's largest state - California - was average (i.e., 4% of its residents had a biblical worldview).
The research found that one of the most effective methods of enabling people to develop a biblical worldview is by addressing seven critical questions that consistently lead to beliefs and behaviors that are in tune with biblical teaching. Outlining that process in a new book he has written as an outgrowth of the research, entitled Think Like Jesus, Barna also noted that many churches are already helping their congregants to implement such a way of addressing daily challenges and opportunities. "The emphasis of these churches is to not only teach biblical perspectives," according to Barna, "but also to help people connect the dots of the core principles taught. Rather than simply provide people with good material and hope they figure out what to do with it, these are churches whose services, programs, events and relationships are geared to weaving a limited number of foundational biblical principles into a way of responding to every life situation. The goal is to facilitate a means of interpreting and responding to every life situation that is consistent with God's expectations. These are not perfect people, but once they catch on to the critical principles found in the Bible and train their minds to incorporate those views into their thinking, their behavior varies noticeably from the norm."
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