We might be at crisis stage in the American church after a new report has found the theology of the majority of Christians appears to be fundamentally flawed.
The report, compiled by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, shows the state of the nation when it comes to America’s Christians and what they do and don’t believe. And pastors may need to hold onto their hats, as the findings show that our churches may need to go back to some basic Biblical teaching.
The report states that “many in this group hold views clearly in conflict with traditional teachings and only 9% actually possess a biblical worldview”, according to George Barna, CRC Director of Research.
69% of Americans classify themselves as “Self-identified Christians”, which totals sum 176 million people, whereas those that call themselves ‘born again Christians” totals 35% of the population, or 89 million people. These are big numbers and thus sure to have diversified opinions, however not as diversified as the report has shown.
According to the report, “Not surprisingly, individuals who call themselves Christian are the largest of the various “Christian” segments evaluated and also include the broadest spectrum of theological points of view. In total, currently about seven out of every 10 adults (69%) adopt the label “Christian” to identify their faith. A large share of this population embraces various biblical principles and truths.
• 79% believe that God has a reason for everything
• 77% say they have a unique, God-given calling• 74% say they intentionally try to avoid sinning because they know it hurts God
• 72% claim that every moral choice either honors of dishonors God
• 62% agree that the universe was designed and created, and is sustained by God
• 61% believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect and just Creator of the universe who still rules the universe today
But this large group entertains a wide range of perspectives that are not in harmony with biblical teachings. Among the errant perspectives most widely embraced are:
• 72% argue that people are basically good
• 71% consider feelings, experience, or the input of friends and family as their most trusted sources of moral guidance
• 66% say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue
• 64% say that all religious faiths are of equal value
• 58% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into Heaven
• 58% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity
• 57% believe in karma
• 52% claim that determining moral truth is up to each individual; there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time
“Self-identified Christians are also likely to reject a number of biblical teachings and principles. For example, slightly less than half (46%) believe that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s plan for humanity, across all cultures; just 40% believe that when they die they will go to Heaven, but only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; only one-third (34%) believes that people are born into sin and can only be saved of the consequences by Jesus Christ; just one-third (32%) believes premarital sex is morally unacceptable; and about one out of every four (28%) believes that the best indicator of a successful life is consistent obedience to God.”
It appears that Christianity may be a simple term, rather than a deeply committed lifestyle, that many Americans may use to describe their faith. And with less and less people going back to church after the Covid lockdown, re-training the nation’s Christians on correct theology will be a major challenge.