The Barna Group has recently review their survey data regarding contemporary Americans and whether or not they have a biblical worldview. They conducted surveys in 1995, 2000, & 2005 and their conclusion is that 9% of Americans have (what they define as) a biblical worldview.
So what is a worldview, you may ask.
A worldview is simply how you view the world. More specifically, a worldview is that set of core beliefs and values by which to interpret reality. We all do not perceive things the same way because we interpret what we see and experience through a certain worldview. By way of analogy, it may be helpful to see your worldview like a pair of glasses. I wear glasses. I wear the trendy, rectangular, black kind…how original, I know. My glasses help to shape what I see, because without them, most things far away would look blurry. Eyeglasses help make things clear and understandable. By the time we are adults, we have been formed by a certain set of values, a certain set of beliefs that functions as interpreters of life, as the criteria by which we distinguish right from wrong, and those core convictions we use to make decisions.
So what is a “biblical” worldview. The Barna Group defines a biblical worldview by these six convictions:
- absolute moral truth exists
- the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches
- Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic
- a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works
- Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth
- God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today
And only 9% of Americans have such a worldview.
And here is the kicker: of those who say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ (i.e. they claim to be a born again Christian, or evangelical Christian), only 19% have a biblical worldview.
I wonder which of these six beliefs causes them trouble. For me I think the belief in Satan is maybe of least importance. There other five are non-negotiable essentials for me. I would add something about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to the fifth statement. I may also add something about the Triune nature of God. Nevertheless, I concur that these six are a fairly good test to see if a person’s worldview has been formed by the Scripture.
Here are more stats from Barna:
- 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.
So what is the deal here? What is the breakdown?
Certainly there is a growing epidemic of bible illiteracy in the US. We are at an all-time high of media’s production of Scripture (both print and through digital media) and yet people know less and less about what the Bible teaches.
More than that, I think we approach the Scripture too often for information and not transformation.
The Scripture has been given as bread to eat and not a trivia book to be memorized. There is a place for Scripture memorization, but not when we are trying to memorize Scripture in order to kick butt at Bible trivia. What we need is to incorporate the Scripture into our lives and allow the text to wash over us and form us mind and soul. There is a place for in-depth, theological study of the Scripture, certainly. But our main participation with Scripture needs to be one where we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.