Cultural Christianity and the Decline of Biblical Worldview in America
By: Robert Bortins, CEO Classical Conversations
January 2, 2024
Someone once remarked that Christianity in America is a mile wide and an inch deep. In other words, there are many people in the U.S. that attend church or claim Christianity as their faith, but unfortunately that widespread identification with the Christian faith does not translate into an identifiable walk with Christ that is consistent with key components of a biblical worldview.
Barna Research shows that a biblical worldview in America is at an all-time low
This is not simply an anecdotal observation, but confirmed by numerous research studies conducted by Dr. George Barna. His research over the past 30 years shows that a shockingly small percentage of Americans have a worldview that is consistent with the Bible and aligned with fundamental Christian beliefs.
Barna’s most recent report titled Incidence of Biblical Worldview Shows Significant Change Since the Start of the Pandemic, was released on February 28 2023 by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. This report showed that only 4% of Americans hold to a biblical worldview. This was down from 6% from a similar report three years prior.
And not surprisingly, the younger a person is, the less likely they are to have a biblical worldview. Barna’s research showed that only 1% of adults under 30 have a biblical worldview. By contrast about 5% of those ages 50 to 64 have a biblical worldview.
Biblical worldview defined
Barna defines a biblical worldview according to belief in the following:
- That absolute moral truth exists
- That the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches
- That Satan is a real being or force
- That a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works
- That Jesus Christ lived a sinless life
- And that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today
Barna paints a gloomy picture of the future of biblical worldview
The Barna report paints a rather gloomy picture which showed that biblical worldview is the lowest since he started measuring it in the early 1990s. He even goes so far as to say that biblical beliefs in America could be headed for extinction.
The curse of cultural Christianity
A shocking statistic from Barna’s research shows that the majority of Americans consider themselves to be Christians (68%), but only 6% of them have a biblical worldview.
This data clearly shows that although many people identify as Christians, most have no idea what it means to actually be a Christian. These people could be referred to as cultural Christians, which are individuals that claim to be Christian but instead are shaped and molded by the world rather than by God’s holy Word. As a result, America’s spiritual health has been cursed by cultural Christianity.
Christian organizations have failed to influence the world for Christ
It logically follows that biblical worldview in America would decline as it has first declined in many of our Christian organizations. It should grieve us when we see churches and other Christian organizations behaving like the world.
How many times have we heard about Christian organizations that have covered up misconduct and other wrongdoings and have established a culture that rewards deception, manipulation, and underhanded behavior rather than honesty, transparency, and hard work?
For example, Jesus didn’t rebuke the Romans, but he did rebuke the Jewish religious leaders (Matthew 23). It shouldn’t come as a surprise when Romans behave like Romans, but it’s tragic when institutions and their leaders who are supposed to be leading people to Christ choose instead to model themselves after the world and its ways.
You may have even noticed that many private Christian schools attempt to attract students by promoting the attainment of world-recognized achievements rather than give priority to spiritual development.
Pursue God and stop chasing after the world
If we are going to grow in our faith and become more like Christ, we must make God top priority in our lives and stop chasing after the world.
CS Lewis said that as Christians we need to act on what he called First Principles. God is the first thing and the world and its possessions are second things. For example, when we strive for the world we end up losing everything in the end. However, when we strive for God, we get God and everything else for eternity. So, if you put second things first you will miss out on God and in the end you will eventually lose everything you have gained in the world (Matthew 6:33).
Strengthening our biblical worldview
As step one, we should make our own spiritual life top priority. At the least this should include regular prayer and Bible reading as well as active participation in a local Bible-believing church.
For step two, as parents, we need to be very intentional and focused on guiding our children to a biblical worldview. Many parents simply want their children to be neat and clean, well-behaved, get good grades, and be well-liked by their peers. However, if that’s all we want for our children, then we are simply preparing them for hell.
I realize that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s a warning that we all need to heed. I too am ambitious for my children’s success, but worldly achievements will not give them the peace of knowing Jesus as their savior and living with him for an eternity in heaven. In addition, they will be useless to God and will lead an empty life if they do not learn to grow in their faith.
God did not give us our children simply to serve our own prideful objectives, but instead he entrusted them to us so we would bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Jesus tells us to make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many will try and not be able to (Luke 13:24). Barna’s report on biblical worldview in America paints a frightening picture of just how narrow that door really is.
Calling ourselves Christians but chasing after the world (cultural Christianity) won’t get anyone through the narrow door, because in the end chasing after the world is a wide pathway that leads to eternal destruction.
As Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)