I read with concern the latest research findings from a project the Barna Group conducted for Summit Ministries. The report, Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians, is alarming to say the least. The research project was trying to determine how non-biblical worldviews are influencing today’s practicing Christians. In very simple terms, the findings show that today’s Christians have developed a very syncretic Christianity that does not reflect biblical accuracy. Syncretism is the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures or schools of thought. In other words, a syncretic form of Christianity can be compared to one going through a cafeteria line and choosing the aspects of various religions that he/she finds pleasing and acceptable.
Is this really happening? According to this study, the following findings were reported.
- 61% of Christians agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality
- 54% resonate with postmodernist views
- 36% accept ideas associated with Marxism
- 29% believe ideas based on secularism
When I read about how almost 2 out of 3 practicing Christians agree with various ideas that are based on concepts found in New Spirituality, I found the following to be most disturbing.
28% of practicing Christians strongly agree that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.”
There were also disturbing results found concerning how postmodern thinking is influencing today’s Christians. Maybe two of the more dangerous beliefs now being held by a significant number of Christians are as follows.
19% of Christians believe that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life.”
23% of practicing Christians strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.”
In other words, many Christians don’t believe that there is a God-ordained purpose or will for one’s life and there are moral absolutes that are to guide our everyday lives. The underlying belief is that God is not sovereign and omniscient. It also means that these “Christians” really don’t believe God’s Word is absolute truth.
It seems hard to believe that more than 1/3 of practicing Christians accept ideas associated with Marxism since Marxism is an anti-God belief system. At the heart of this point is the belief that the government/state must take responsibility for regulating more and more of our lives – especially when it comes to economic issues.
Finally, there should be alarm over the finding that almost 1/3 of today’s Christians operate from a secular worldview. Even though the vast majority of Christians still believe that God created man, many also believe in materialism – that the material world is all there is. This is lived out by believing that meaning and purpose comes from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life. I find that this is the main driving force behind the majority of today’s educational philosophies and practices. I have found many Christian parents want their children to have a good education so that they can be accepted into a good college. The reason this is so important is because parents want their children to get good jobs and have a comfortable life.
There is a reason why so many Christians today have been heavily influenced by false worldviews. In this same study Barna noted that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview. This statistic is even more disturbing when one realizes that Barna’s definition for a biblical worldview is somewhat limited in its scope. Barna defines a biblical worldview as believing that 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; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
The above definition does not specifically address what the Bible says about creation, humanity, knowledge, purpose and the future. If these components are taken into consideration, the percentage of Christians that actually have a biblical worldview may be well below the 17% as reported in this study. This should not be a surprise to any of us when we consider that the majority of today’s Christians have received an education that was secular in nature and steeped in these false worldviews.
The reason why our society is in the condition that it is in can be understood by the findings of this research project. In fact, the researchers were surprised at the depth of influence that these false worldviews has on today’s Christians. They expected to see these influences in the lives of Millennials. However, they also found that Gen-Xers have been influenced to the same level as that of Millennials. This led them to make this statement.
It’s no surprise, then, that the impact we see today in our social fabric is so pervasive, given that these ideas have been taking root for two generations.
It has taken us several decades for the Western church to get to this point. To reverse these trends will not take place overnight. It will require that the home, church and school be committed to knowing, understanding and developing a biblical worldview. Then these three entities must unite together and be determined to give as many of their children as possible a biblical worldview education. If not, we will see tomorrow’s Christians fully embrace these and other false worldviews and biblical Christianity will become extinct in our country. What do these findings mean to you and what will you do to make a difference?
To read Barna’s full report click here.