New Barna Study: Biblical Skepticism on the Rise

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With each year that passes, I am reminded again of the importance of the Answers in Genesis ministry. We live in a day when a growing number of people—even many of those in the church—do not take the Bible seriously or believe it as truth. Our Western culture’s foundation for life and morality is no longer God’s Word. Instead, as biblical skepticism has risen, the foundation has shifted to man’s opinions being truth. Sadly, if the current trends continue, this problem is only going to get worse. Our nation and world desperately need ministries like AiG to call people back to the authority of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Skeptics Don’t Want Answers

Research Shows Biblical Skepticism Rising

New research from Barna shows that biblical skepticism is on the rise, particularly (and not surprisingly) among millennials (those in their 20s and early 30s). When young American adults (in the general population) were asked, “What books, if any, do you consider sacred literature or holy books?,” the Bible was the top choice. But the number of those who answered “none” has doubled since just 2011. Barna notes this increase is largely due to millennials (22%) and Gen-Xers (18%).

This trend continues. When asked if they agree that “the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life,” 45% agreed; this is down 8% from just five years ago. What’s noteworthy is that the numbers of those who disagree have risen from 23% to 33%. Skepticism is on the rise!

Barna also asked American adults if they agreed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” Just 25 years ago, almost half strongly agreed with this statement. But now only one-third do so, and the number of those who strongly disagree was nearly doubled in just six years. Barna notes, “The national shifts in these three perceptions—the Bible is sacred literature, is sufficient as a guide for meaningful living and is reliably accurate—are the clearest indicators that skepticism about the Bible is gaining a stronger cultural foothold.”

What Can the Church Do?

Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to get discouraged. But we need to keep two things in mind: God’s Word is powerful, and we are fighting in a spiritual battle. The author of Hebrews notes,

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)

And the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Satan, our spiritual enemy, hates God’s Word because he knows it’s a powerful weapon (Ephesians 6:17). His first attack was on the Word of God when he asked Eve, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1), and he hasn’t stopped attacking God’s Word since the garden. Today we are seeing a vicious and unrelenting attack on God’s Word that is leading many people astray. As God’s people, we need to pick up the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—and get engaged in this battle!

Biblical skepticism may be on the rise, but there are solid answers to the questions people ask.

That’s what Answers in Genesis—and our many outreaches including the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter—seeks to do. We stand solidly on the foundation of the Word of God and answer the skeptical questions of this day. Biblical skepticism may be on the rise, but there are solid answers to the questions people ask.

Sadly, instead of starting with God’s Word and providing an answer that affirms Scripture’s authority, many Christian leaders have compromised with the world and have reinterpreted the Bible in light of man’s ideas about the past and morality. This compromised position doesn’t help affirm the truth of God’s Word—it actually does the exact opposite. It puts us above the Word of God and asks the age-old question, “Did God really say?” We need to trust God’s Word—all of it!

A Window of Opportunity

At the end of the report, Barna president David Kinnaman concluded with this thought:

Even in just the few years Barna has been conducting “State of the Bible” interviews, the data is trending toward Bible skepticism. . . . With each passing year, the percent of Americans who believe that the Bible is “just another book written by men” increases. So too do the perceptions that the Bible is actually harmful and that people who live by its principles are religious extremists.

Of course, a healthy dose of skepticism means that people are still asking questions of faith, of Christianity and of the Bible. . . . I believe those questions, when asked and answered honestly and from a biblical point of view, can lead to the Spirit’s work in people’s lives.

Thankfully, the data is not all bad news. In fact, our researchers continue to find bright spots that demonstrate the Bible’s cultural staying power and persistent hold on people’s hearts. Each of these realities, among others, is a window of opportunity open to leaders. But these windows are not likely to remain open forever, so we must take full advantage to advocate today for the Bible in our skeptical, self-centered, highly connected world.

Christian leaders and parents: we have a window of opportunity to reach out to this culture and the next generation with the message of biblical authority and the gospel. As Kinnaman says, we don’t know how long we will have this opportunity, so we need to take hold of it now. We need to boldly stand on the authority of God’s Word and show this generation that it can be trusted. Show them how to start their thinking with God’s Word in every area.

Here at AiG we have hundreds of resources to help you do just that. One tool I highly recommend for churches and families is our Answers Bible Curriculum. Designed as a Sunday school curriculum but also a great choice for family Bible study, this curriculum goes through the Bible chronologically. Instead of seeing the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories, you and your family will see how all of the accounts in the Bible point toward the person and work of Jesus Christ. The history of the Bible will make sense! And, of course, combined with the teaching are solid apologetics to help you defend the Word of God and the gospel. This unique program is now used by thousands of churches and in thousands of homes.

You can learn more about ABC on our website.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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