Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center directed by George Barna released its findings of the American Worldview Inventory 2022 and had 6 distinct releases. It was broken into two parts, the first regrading parents and the second regarding pastors. In both cases the conclusions where at best discouraging. Regarding parents of pre-teens, the study found,
“New research from the American Worldview Inventory 2022, conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, shows that more than nine out of 10 parents of children underage 13 have a muddled worldview.”
They go on to write,
“Two-thirds (67%) of pre-teen parents claim to be Christian, but only 2% of all pre-teen parents actually possess a biblical worldview, according to the new research.”
We could speculate why this is the case but we don’t have to. The study goes on to observe,
“A biblical worldview, of course, emerges from accepting the Bible as a relevant and authoritative guide for life. However, a majority of current parents of pre-teens—almost six out of 10 — dismiss the Bible as a reliable and accurate source of God’s truth. Just four out of 10 pre-teen parents believe the Bible can be trusted as God’s accurate words for humanity. Even so, fewer than half of those individuals (45%) read the Bible at least once a week.”
The primary reason why parents of pre-teens have a muddled worldview? Almost 60% of said parents “dismiss the Bible as a reliable and accurate source of God’s truth.” Additionally, 60% of pre-teen parents do not believe the “the Bible can be trusted as God’s accurate words for humanity.”
Why should they believe otherwise? Evangelicals are proud to proclaim that 1% or 2% or 5% of the Bible is in question. Scholars determining the meaning and scope of “sufficiently reliable” are telling the people in the pew that according to their opinion, the Scriptures are sufficiently reliable and that there are errors in the text but according to scholarship no major doctrine is affected.
Given the numbers above and the fact that modern evangelical textual criticism has ruled the seminaries and divinity schools for the last 150 years, it seems in fact that major doctrine has been affected and particularly the doctrine of Bibliology in the Church.
The Cultural Research Center concluded in the second release,
“Levels of biblical worldview drop considerably when looking at parents’ understanding of the Bible, truth, and morals. Only 5% of pre-teen parents have a consistently biblical perspective on these issues.“
5% of Christian pre-teen parents have biblical perspective on the Bible. Maybe its time for a change in the current evangelical formulation of Bibliology starting with textual criticism and how we know we have the words of God at all.
In the third release showed what Ted Letis predicted decades ago, that the Church would fall prey to Bible-consumerism through expert marketing. The third release reads,
“There has been ample evidence of the nation’s Christian demise, but Church leaders have largely ignored those signs because other indicators (church attendance, Bible sales, donations, etc.) have remained sufficiently robust to feel reassured.”
Christian leaders have largely ignored the signs of America Christian demise in part because of Bible sales. They were sure that this was a sign of Christian health when it was actually the sign of consumerism, a vice. Once the Bible became a product owned by Bible landlords to rent out; the Bible and then the Church and then the pastor became mere commodities. But of course Christian leadership has yet to realize this even while it bites them in the face.
Back to the same trope from the first and second releases, the Cultural Research Center concluded that,
“Another inarguable factor in being Christian is accepting the Bible as the true and trustworthy words of God, yet just one-half of the self-described Christian parents do so.”
“Fewer than one in five parents believes that success is best defined as consistently obeying God’s laws and commands.”
“Merely one out of every three parents of preteens relies upon the Bible as their primary source of moral guidance.”
I’m sure if we looked back into Pre-Enlightenment conviction and sentiment of Christians regarding Scripture the number would be about the same, right? I’m sure fewer than 20% of Reformation era Protestant Christian parents would define success in terms of keeping God’s commandments or 66% of the same group would seek some other source than the Bible for their primary moral guidance. Are you kidding me!? But remember folks, no major doctrine has been affected. You know doctrines like the Scripture is the sole rule of faith and practice.
When are we going to recognize that “no major doctrine has been affected” is completely absurd? “Sufficient reliability” is leading to total Christian demise. When are we going to realize that “sufficiently reliable Scripture” is not sufficient?
So why is no one panicking? The report concludes,
“If the situation is so dire, then why isn’t the rest of the culture—or, at least, the bulk of the Christian community—up in arms over the sad state of parenting? Perhaps it is because the rest of the culture—including the Church—is syncretistic as well. The ongoing AWVI 2022 results have shown that only 6% of all U.S. adults have a biblical worldview. It is barely better among the self-identified Christian population (9%).”
I have been arguing this for months here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I have argued that the whole of the Church has succumbed to Expressive Individualism, here the Cultural Research Center concludes the that whole of the Church has succumbed to Syncretism which they define as, “a blending of multiple worldviews in which no single life philosophy is dominant, producing a worldview that is diverse and often self-contradictory.” This is the behavior of an Expressive Individualist.
Moving onto the study’s observations regarding pastors in Release #5 the researchers observed,
“The American Worldview Inventory includes 54 worldview-related questions. Those questions fall within eight categories of belief and behavior, with worldview scores given to respondents for each of those eight categories.”
only to report the dismal finding that the
“Lowest of all is a category that might have been expected to top the list: beliefs and behaviors related to the Bible, truth, and morality (39%).”
The percentage of pastors who have a biblical worldview in relation to the Bible, Truth, and Morals is 39% for all pastors, 43% among senior pastors, 32% of associate pastors, 21% of teaching pastors, 8% of executive pastors, and 18% of Children’s/Youth pastors.
These are the religious leaders, trained among us, the seminary graduates. Taken together they can’t even reach 50%.
Apparently, whatever the problem is it cannot be the fact that we teach doubt about the Bible in our seminaries, that we bracket texts or omit them altogether, that sufficient reliability rules the day, that modern textual criticism is an act of God’s special care and providence, or that the Bible is modified and republished every couple of years. A standard sacred text? No, no, no that can’t be the answer or even close to being an answer.
The study goes on to say,
“Barna offered a note of hope in spite of the data. ‘You cannot fix something unless you know it’s broken,’ he commented. ‘Other recent research we have conducted suggests most pastors believe that they are theologically in tune with the Bible. Perhaps these findings will cause many of them to take a careful look at how well their beliefs and behavior conform to biblical principles and commands.’”
So principles like not one jot or one tittle will pass from God’s word or commands like “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it”? May the Lord grant us such a grace.
As for evangelicals in general, George Barna concludes,
“‘First, the old labels attached to families of churches are not as useful as they were in the past,’ Barna noted. ‘The best example is the term ‘evangelical,’ which has traditionally connoted churches where the Bible is revered and is taught as God’s reliable and relevant word for our lives. With barely half of evangelical pastors possessing a biblical worldview—and that number continuing to decline—attending what may be considered an ‘evangelical’ church no longer ensures a pastoral staff that has a high view of the scriptures.’“
It’s that last line. Barna said the quiet part out loud. High view of Scripture and Evangelical are peeling away from each other. And I’m supposed to believe that the CBGM’s change of focus to the initial text from the original text is going to help reunite a high view of Scripture with Evangelicalism?
Barna goes on to say, “The theological rift between Protestant and Catholic
churches remains intact, though neither segment is doing a proficient job of making the Bible a trustworthy and authoritative guide for people’s life.” Rome never did seeing it insisted on the Latin for so long. Which is to say that Protestants have become more like Rome regarding sola Scriptura and not vice versa. Our side has been predicting this since our first assaults on the validity and authority of Vaticanus, and yet here we are.
It’s not even worth saying, We told you so. The English-speaking Church’s belief in the Bible is in shambles. Seminaries and pastors, if you won’t pull up on the reigns and seriously reevaluate the way you treat the Bible, I mean on a revival-type level, the English-speaking Church’s belief in the Bible will go from shambles to not one stone being left upon another.