State of the Church
A 2003 Barna survey showed only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.
The research indicated that everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born-again Christians have such a perspective on life.
The numbers were even lower among other religious classifications: Protestants (7%), adults who attend mainline Protestant churches (2%) and Catholics (less than one-half of 1%). The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches (13%), Pentecostal churches (10%) and Baptist churches (8%).
For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.
The Difference a Biblical Worldview Makes
One of the most striking insights from the research was the influence of such a way of thinking upon people’s behavior. Adults with a biblical worldview possessed radically different views on morality, held divergent religious beliefs, and demonstrated vastly different lifestyle choices.
People’s views on morally acceptable behavior are deeply impacted by their worldview. Upon comparing the perspectives of those who have a biblical worldview with those who do not, the former group were 31 times less likely to accept cohabitation (2% versus 62%, respectively); 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness (2% versus 36%); 15 times less likely to condone gay sex (2% versus 31%); 12 times less likely to accept profanity 3% versus 37%); and 11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable (4% versus 44%). In addition, less than one-half of one percent of those with a biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39% of other adults), and a similarly miniscule proportion endorsed abortion (compared to 46% of adults who lack a biblical worldview).
Among the more intriguing lifestyle differences were the lesser propensity for those with a biblical worldview to gamble (they were eight times less likely to buy lottery tickets and 17 times less likely to place bets); to get drunk (three times less likely); and to view pornography (two times less common). They were also twice as likely to have discussed spiritual matters with other people in the past month and twice as likely to have fasted for religious reasons during the preceding month. While one out of every eight adults who lack a biblical worldview had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse during the prior month, less than one out of every 100 individuals who have such a worldview had done so.
Some Churches Are Helping People
The research found that one of the most effective methods of enabling people to develop a biblical worldview is by addressing seven critical questions that consistently lead to beliefs and behaviors that are in tune with biblical teaching. Outlining that process in a new book he has written as an outgrowth of the research, entitled Think Like Jesus, Barna also noted that many churches are already helping their congregants to implement such a way of addressing daily challenges and opportunities.
“The emphasis of these churches is to not only teach biblical perspectives,” according to Barna, “but also to help people connect the dots of the core principles taught. Rather than simply provide people with good material and hope they figure out what to do with it, these are churches whose services, programs, events and relationships are geared to weaving a limited number of foundational biblical principles into a way of responding to every life situation. The goal is to facilitate a means of interpreting and responding to every life situation that is consistent with God’s expectations. These are not perfect people, but once they catch on to the critical principles found in the Bible and train their minds to incorporate those views into their thinking, their behavior varies noticeably from the norm.”