How many in America do you think actually hold a biblical worldview, defined as:
- Belief that absolute moral truth exists
- Bible is totally accurate
- Satan is really real
- Heaven isn't earned by good works
- Jesus lived a sinless life
- God created the world and now rules the universe today
Answer: only 9 percent, according to this Barna Survey.
Now then, the research also reveals that those labeled "born again Christians," were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. What does 'twice as likely' look like? That's saying that only 19% of born again Christians held the the above worldview in it's entirety!
Those in the born-again camp break down like this:
- 79 percent of those identifying as “born again Christians” firmly believe the Bible is accurate in all its teachings
- But only 46 percent of these “born agains” believe in absolute moral truth..
- only 40 percent believe Satan is real..
- only 47 percent strongly reject the idea that you can earn your way to heaven...
- only 62 percent of the born-again Christians surveyed strongly believe that Jesus was sinless.
It reveals, as Jared Wilson noted, that over the last generation, "not only has America become less Christian, but professing Christians have become less Christian." This is astonishing and sobering news that to me reveals opportunity.
Jared says the church is suffering terribly from theological bankruptcy, and I of course would agree!
My thoughts? I have four, for now:
1. Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). The problem is many are diluting the real Jesus! They are watering Him down. People aren't meeting the real Jesus who not only gives scandalous grace but also many demands, if we would call him friend.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Ray Ortlund was the first to introduce me to the idea of a "real Jesus" vs a "theoretical Jesus." He wrote:
The real Jesus. The historical Jesus. The biblical Jesus. The Jesus who stands over all of us and tells us to repent. That unsettling Jesus is the one we want. Without him, nothing will ever change. With him, our hearts can finally crack open to the love of God. How can we disconnect with the Jesuses of our own invention and reconnect with the real Jesus?"
For too long the American church has lifted up a theoretical Jesus, a one-sided Jesus, a Jesus of our own invention, a Jesus who is more like a product than a Person.
2. Paul said he determined to know nothing but Jesus and Him Crucified in the church of Corinth, and I'm sure he'd say the same to American churches. People not only need to see the real Jesus but they also need to know the cost of following Him, and then actual follow Him -- seeing the world as holding no treasure and Christ as the source of our satisfaction.
Jesus said: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily."
Piper says: "For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution."
Simply put we are not a cross-centered group of Christians in America. Too many think of the cross as a mere event in history, failing to see it as a way of life. Jesus said to take up our cross DAILY!
3. It shouldn't be surprising. Just as God softens hearts, we see the same gospel hardening hearts as well.
DA Carson says: "This is why gospel preaching is so amazing. We offer the gospel to all. We let the gospel-lion out of its cage to do its work in separating sheep from goats, vessels of mercy from vessels of wrath. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing (non-elect), but to us who are being saved (elect) it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18)."
Tim Keller says we only have four options before us: Jesus is one of the following: Lord, Lunatic, Liar, or a Legend. Only four possibilities. Many seem him as merely a legend...as a great moral teacher...some even recognize that he changed the world, but they wouldn't go so far as saying He is Lord: that he has the exclusive way to God. And I would say any view other than seeing Him as Lord is revealing a hardened heart toward Christ.
4. Which leads me to this thought: I'd be curious if there is a survey like this that would reveal how many believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Because if you believe he rose from the dead, then you'd have to accept all that he said. You'd have to see Him as Lord of all, and I think all the other biblical world-views would be easily embraced.
What are your thoughts on this survey? I'd love to hear them!