Despite the growing number of religiously unaffiliated people, over 70% of Americans still claim to be Christians. Yet only 46% of US adults would say they have a biblical worldview. But do almost half of Americans really possess a biblical framework through which they view the world?
Survey: Do You Think and Act Biblically?
The American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) recently conducted nationwide surveys of over 6,000 people to determine how many Americans have a biblical worldview—that is, how many Americans use the Bible as their filter for reality, to determine right from wrong, and to shape their beliefs, attitudes, and actions. Research shows that nearly half of Americans believe they have a biblical worldview, but, not surprisingly, this in-depth ACFI study showed that a substantially smaller number than 46% actually hold to basic biblical beliefs and practice what God’s Word teaches.
Participants were asked a series of 40 questions, 20 relating to belief and 20 relating to behavior. These questions were selected to determine how biblical their thinking was and to determine if their actions matched their beliefs
If a participant scored 32 out of 40 (or more), they were considered an “Integrated Disciple”—someone who believed basic biblical truths and practiced basic biblical living. The survey consisted of questions that were multiple choice or graded on a scale of “agree strongly” to “disagree strongly.” The questions included
- “The Bible is totally accurate in all of the life principles it teaches.”
- “You have a personal responsibility to share your religious beliefs with people who believe differently.”
- “A person who is generally good, or does enough good things for others, will earn a place in Heaven.”
- “When He lived on earth, Jesus Christ was fully human and therefore committed sins, like other people.”
- “Satan does not exist; he is just a symbol of evil.”
- “The Holy Spirit is not a living entity but is a symbol of God’s presence or purity.”
How Many Americans Have a Biblical Worldview?
One hundred twelve million Americans (46%) say they have a biblical worldview. But according to this study, one of the first of its kind, a mere 24 million American adults actually have a biblical worldview. In other words, only 10% of Americans think and act according to the most basic biblical principles. This is a gap of a staggering 88 million people who believe they think biblically, but whose beliefs and actions do not match up with biblical truth.
George Barna, who directed the study, says,
Our research collected information about attitudes and behaviors related to practical matters like lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, the nature of God, and the consequences of unresolved sin. It’s what some might describe as “Christianity 101” substance. That’s what makes the discrepancy between the percentage of people who consider themselves to be Christians—more than seven out of every ten—and those who have a biblical worldview—just one out of every ten—so alarming.
Patterns in the Study
Perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that there’s a gap between those who claim to think biblically and those who actually do. But the massive size of that gap is somewhat surprising. Of course, these statistics refer to Americans in general. Applying a few filters, ACFI broke it down and found that the following percentages of various religious and population segments have biblical worldviews:
- 31% of born again Christians
- 25% of theologically conservative adults
- 19% of pro-life advocates
- 88% of theologically conservative pastors
- 45% of those who read the Bible daily
- .5% of LGBTQ adults
They also found that the younger the respondent, the less likely they were to have a biblical worldview. Of the millennial generation, just 4% qualified to have a biblical worldview—a paltry 4% of those who will be the next generation of pastors, Sunday School teachers, elders, deacons, Christian school and college teachers, and parents!
Looking at other age groups, the following hold a biblical worldview:
- 7% of 30–49 year olds
- 15% of 50–64 year olds
- 17% of 65+
It’s Not Just America
These statistics show how far Americans have drifted from biblical truth. But it’s not just here in America; this is happening in many other Western nations. According to a recent survey commissioned by the BBC, “A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus” and “31% said they did not believe in life after death.” Yet the resurrection of Jesus, and the future resurrection of those who believe, is one of the core beliefs of Christianity, the basis for our hope, and the crux of whether faith in Christ is futile or not (1 Corinthians 15:12–19). That’s pretty essential!
What Can We Do?
Parents are failing to impart a biblical worldview to their children. Parents, you can’t leave this job to your church or even Christian school. It is your responsibility before the Lord to diligently teach your children God’s Word. We need to be intentional about teaching our young ones God’s Word and biblical truth. Don’t just assume that because they’ve been going to Sunday school for years that they think biblically because, statistically speaking, they probably aren’t.
Pastors, are you teaching biblical truth and training your churches to think biblically? Are you encouraging your congregation to start with God’s Word and showing them how to do so? We can’t just assume the people filling the pews have a biblical worldview—they most likely don’t. In some ways, we’re no longer “preaching to the choir” in the church.
Don’t be discouraged. These statistics are disheartening, but, instead of dragging us down, they should cause us to realize there’s a major problem in the American church that needs to be addressed. We can do something about it—it’s never too late to start being purposeful about teaching biblical truth. And, of course, we have a sovereign God who holds history in His hand. He is not surprised or discouraged by these results. Regardless of what is going on in our culture, we can trust that He will “build [His] church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).