Of an estimated 176 million American adults who identify as Christian, just 6% or 15 million of them actually hold a biblical worldview, a new study from Arizona Christian University shows. The finding was published by the Cultural Research Centre of Arizona Christian University in its recently released American Worldview Inventory, an annual survey that evaluates the worldview of the U.S. adult population.
The study shows, in general, that while a majority of America’s self-identified Christians, including many who identify as evangelicals, believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is the Creator of the universe, more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.
Strong majorities also errantly believe that all religious faiths are of equal value, people are basically good, and that people can use acts of goodness to earn their way into Heaven. The study further showed that majorities don’t believe in moral absolutes; consider feelings, experience, or the input of friends and family as their most trusted sources of moral guidance; and say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue. “Too often, it seems, people who are simply religious, or regular churchgoers, or perhaps people who want a certain reputation or image embrace the label ‘Christian,’ regardless of their spiritual life and intentions,” George Barna, the lead researcher at the Cultural Research Center, explained in a statement.
Some 62% of self-identified born-again Christians contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity.
Another 61% say that all religious faiths are of equal value, and 60% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into Heaven.
“As the groundbreaking American Worldview Inventory surveys have demonstrated, just 6% of U.S. adults possess a biblical worldview. Labelled ‘Integrated Disciples’ for their demonstrated ability to assimilate their beliefs into their lifestyle, this group consistently, albeit imperfectly, comes closest to reflecting biblical principles into their opinions, beliefs, behaviours, and preferences,” Barna explained.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
More than 99% of this group “believe that the Bible is the accurate and reliable words of God, believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful and just Creator of the universe who still rules the universe today” and “say they have a unique, God-given calling.” Significant minorities still held beliefs that challenge the biblical worldview. These include: 25% say there is no absolute moral truth; 33% believe in karma; 39% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity; 42% believe that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue, and 52% argue that people are basically good. “The survey results clearly demonstrate how careful you have to be when interpreting data associated with a particular segment of people who are labelled as Christians,” Barna warned.