Biblical Worldview

10 Mar

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.

Read more here:


Posted by on March 10, 2009 in Ministry, Theology



9 responses to “Biblical Worldview

  1. FaithMechanic

    March 10, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Great article. I liked the ‘More than that, I think we approach the Scripture too often for information and not transformation’ line very much.

    God Bless

  2. hbt

    March 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Do you feel Bible trivia has its place in fighting the good fight? Any suggestions to make it more meaningful. All for His glory. Amen.

  3. derekvreeland

    March 10, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    There is nothing wrong with Bible trivia per se. It is good to use creative means to teach the Scripture. The problem, as I see it, is when people only approach the Bible in order to “master it” in order to pass some kind of test. AT SOME POINT we need to allow the text to master us and transform us.

    I would say that there needs to be some kind of reflection on Scripture as we ask ourselves how is the text changing me. I don’t really know how to implement that into Bible trivia. I guess it would depend on the context.


  4. FaithMechanic

    March 11, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Information is great but it is not the end all of the Bible. Jesus said, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 (Holman) Truth is a Person…radical and crazy!

  5. hbt

    March 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you for the replys. HBT’s goal is to glorify God and present black and white scripture allowing the Holy Spirit for commentary/teaching. I will add a question referring to John 5:39-40 because it is to spread the Gospel, and encourage a closer relationship with the creator of heaven and earth! Always an open ear. Amen.

  6. brianvasquenz

    March 12, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Good article and I like your statement, “But our main participation with Scripture needs to be one where we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.” A biblical worldview is so important to Christ-followers and as believers we need to meditate on Scripture and allow the Word to transform us. You used the word ‘participate’ and I like how it relates to our willingness to let the Holy Spirit to minister to us. In an effort to maintain a biblical worldview, I often pray to ‘allow’ God to challenge me with His Word during a sermon or Bible reading.

    • derekvreeland

      March 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks for the comments Brian. Good to hear from you.

      We too often we try to master the text instead of letting the text master us. You see this attempt at mastery on both sides of the theological fence. Liberal theologians, inspired by Bultmann and his crones, want to demythologize the Scripture and strip it of it’s God-inspired ness. And we have “no FUN”-damentalists who want to pick through the Scripture for promises that they can “stand upon” and thus they strip the Scripture of it’s ability to really change us.


  7. FaithMechanic

    March 17, 2009 at 11:29 am

    In my business we write reports. One of my colleagues once made a statement on how when he writes he likes to ‘contend with the text.’ The phrase stuck with me, and I use it to describe how I read the Bible. I contend with the text, and I let the text contend with me.

    PS I also stand on the promises, but I agree with your point that we should not ‘pick through’ them. When you pick through them they no longer pick through you.

  8. brianfulthorp

    March 24, 2009 at 4:32 am

    This is a great post! It’s so true we have so much access to the Bible we hardly know what to do with it and yet we barely know it’s contents – even Pastors sometimes.

    We may read it but do read really read it?


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