By: Dr. Ab Abercrombie
According to a recent study conducted by George Barna, only six percent of Americans now embrace a biblical worldview. This frighteningly low percentage is the culmination the gradual but steady weakening of the scriptural mindset both within the church, and throughout our secular culture. Barna states: “The number of American adults holding a Biblical worldview has declined by 50% over the past quarter century” (Godreports.com).
I am always cautious about “Christian research” because it is impossible to know how many of the responders are truly converted believers. However, this study reaches beyond the church and examines the U.S. population without regard to religious, doctrinal, or denominational alignment. With this in mind, perhaps the most alarming finding is that the biblical mindset as a primary worldview, is shrinking rapidly among those who identify as “Christian” and who attend church with some regularity. The statistical breakdown is as follows:
- Those attending mainline Protestant churches: 8%
- Those attending Catholic churches: 1%
- Those attending charismatic or Pentecostal churches: 16%
- Those attending “evangelical” Protestant churches: 21% (com).
Of greatest concern is the study’s finding that only 19% of “born-again Christians” report an alignment with a predominantly biblical worldview. Barna’s study describes born-again Christians as, “a segment defined in part by their acceptance of scriptural exhortations regarding sin, grace, and salvation” (Christianpost.com). Yet, in spite of this stated acceptance of scriptural truth, more than 80% deny the Bible’s exclusive or primary position in shaping their orientation to life and godliness.
How did this great shift in orientation occur, especially within the Body of Christ? How did this attraction of competing notions and distortion of truth infiltrate the church? To understand this movement away from Scripture, one only needs to consult God’s Word. In his instruction to young Timothy, Paul gave this dire projection concerning the future:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:3-4).
Paul’s prophesy is fully evident today. And while the United States was slower to arrive in in this position than most other parts of the world, regrettably, we too have turned our ears from the truth. As a result, many believers have come to feed upon teaching that sounds reasonable and correct, yet its true purpose is to subvert and defile the truth of God’s instruction.
Satan is masterful in his development of alternate theological notions and competing explanations that are first advanced throughout the world at large, but later makes its way into the God’s Church. Often these unbiblical ideas come into the church through false teachers and heretical resources surrounding the Body of Christ. Paul warned the church at Galatia about the hindering impact of false teachers:
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is (Gal 5:7-10).
In his letter, Paul indicates that the Galatians were “running well.” The Christian life is a race of endurance (1 Cor 9:24) and it requires great perseverance and focus upon Christ and His Word (Jn 1:1). When distracted from the truth of Scripture and detached from the presence of Christ, the believer is vulnerable to the distortions of the evil one and his agents (false teachers). Once aberrant notions breach the boundary of Christ’s church, the whole Body becomes vulnerable, as heretical ideas spread rapidly, like leaven, throughout the individual hearts, marriages, families, and Body of the church.
Notice that Paul admonishes the Galatians to “adopt no other view.” And yet, the influence of lies and the seduction of humanistic doctrines has greatly undermined the worldview of Christ-followers. Even our Lord Jesus spoke to this issue saying, “…false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance” (Matt 24:24).
This shifting mindset within the world and church was foretold by Christ and His apostles, and it is the product of our time in history. But the Bible is clear that our falling away is not inevitable and that God’s Word speaks directly about our remedy for this current-day deception. Again, writing to Timothy, Paul gave this caution and instruction:
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:13-17).
As the Bible notes, we are clearly impacted by “evil men and impostors” who grow worse over time and many will be deceived. But Paul reminds the believer to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…” The foundation of this knowledge and stability is the “sacred writings” and the “wisdom that leads to salvation” (the gospel). Paul is telling us to steady ourselves with the immutable ancient truths of Scripture so that we do not fall prey to false instruction.
Finally, Paul reminds the Christian of the Bible’s sufficiency, superiority, authority, and power. Scripture is “inspired” (breathed out) by God. Therefore, its source is divine; its scope is limitless; and its equipping is perfect for “every good work.” To doubt the completeness of Scripture is to doubt the completeness of God.
The church must return to this biblical orientation and cease borrowing from secular theology that modifies and defiles the fullness of God’s intent. The believer must reject any and all extra-biblical or counter-biblical instruction that arises from humanism, psychology, pragmatism, and intellectualism all of which lead to the ignorance and rejection of biblical truth and the promotion of unbelief.
For the Christian, truth is not a concept, theory, notion, or opinion. Truth is a Person…the Lord Jesus Christ who said clearly, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me (Jn 14:6).” Christ and His Word are inseparable (Jn 1:1), and is no other pathway of reason that generates true faith and godly perseverance.
Christian maturity is measured by our love for, and attachment to, sound doctrine. Progressive sanctification dives deeper and holds tighter to the singularity of God’s Word and does not attach itself to diverse ideas, theories, and doctrines that distort and besmirch God’s truth. Paul wrote:
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph 4:14-16).
Jones, J. (2021, March 27). Only 6% of Americans have a biblical worldview. God Reports. https://www.godreports.com/2020/03/only-6-of-americans-have-biblical-worldview/
Showalter, B. (2021, March 31). Record low number of Americans hold biblical worldview, survey says. The Christian Post. https://www.christianpost.com/news/record-low-number-of-americans-hold-biblical-worldview-survey-says.html