People are deeply divided according to what they believe---and they believe according to their worldview.
A new in-depth study by the Barna Group of what Americans believe about the Bible, reveals a rising skepticism.
The 2500-year-old biblical proverb cuts through the confusion of 2016: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."
Rasmussen measured the differences of belief along political lines---that's what they do.
But politics is a mere reflection.
Predictably, they found that President Obama and most Democratic leaders say the massacre highlights the need for increased gun control, while most Republicans say it represents the growing threat of domestic Islamic terrorism.
These beliefs are deeply and passionately held. Look at this exchange between NBC's news host John Roberts and gun advocate Larry Roberts.
When given a choice, 36% of likely US voters believe increased monitoring of individual Muslims with possible ties to terrorism will do the most to reduce the number of mass murders like the one in Orlando.
However, 34% of likely US voters believe stricter gun control laws would be more effective.
I'm personally with the 36%.
But what shapes our beliefs---even on a single issue like this?
Rasmussen assumes it's based on political party affiliation, which is likely true as far as politics go, but why do people affiliate with certain political parties in the first place?
Sometime between 1000 BC and 200 BC, it was written, "As he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).
Another recent survey reveals the changing face of how Americans decide what they believe in their heart.
The Barna Group has also released a new survey. It is the most comprehensive survey in recent history on what people believe about the Bible.
It reveals how Americans feel about the Bible---the "Good Book" itself---and what they believe about what the Bible actually says.
Very revealing. I would strongly recommend you spend some time looking at the complete Barna survey linked above.
While the Bible continues to be the world's most read book of all time with more than 5 billion copies sold, skepticism is rising among Americans in regard to what the Bible actually teaches.
Comparing what they have found over the past decades to what they are finding now, the Barna Group says there is a steady rise in skepticism toward the Bible.
Barna says, "In the last six years alone, we've seen unprecedented changes. Nearly a quarter of a century ago in 1991, 45% of American adults told Barna they read the Bible at least once a week. In 2009, 46% reported doing so. These percentages were remarkably consistent over the course of nearly 2 decades. But since 2009, Bible reading has become less widespread, especially among the youngest adults. As more and more Millennials join the ranks of adulthood, the national average continues to weaken. Today, about one-third [33%] of all American adults report reading the Bible once a week or more."
They report that the percentage is highest among older people (49%) and lowest among Millennials (24%).
I don't know how old "older" is, but "Millennials" were born between 1982 and 2004.
The results of the Barna survey are extensive and reveal a number of trends---and several conflicted beliefs.
One apparent conflict is that "Most Americans---including a majority of young adults---believe the Bible has been more influential on humanity than any other text," and "a majority, including younger Americans, believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know in order to live a meaningful life."
You will note in the survey that a strong majority of Americans hold the Bible in high regard.
In fact, more than 66% of all Americans hold an orthodox view of the Bible, believing that it is the actual or inspired Word of God.
Yet, while the number who continue to hold faith in the "holy books of various religions," an increasing number are not choosing any of these as the sacred book by which they identify their spiritual beliefs. This includes Christians and the Bible.
Barna found that the percentage of Americans who opt for "none of these" has doubled in 6 years from 7% in 2011 to 14% in 2016.
This increase is primarily a result of Millennials (22%) and the group just older than them---the Gen-Xers (18%).
Barna first asked American adults in 1991 if they agreed or disagreed that "The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches."
In 1991---25 years ago, 46% strongly agreed. In 2016, 33% strongly agree.
The question was asked, "Is the Bible a sufficient guide for living a meaningful life?"
In 2011, 53% strongly believed it was. In 2016, 45% strongly believe it is.
The major shifts regarding the Bible are basically in 3 areas.
- The Bible is sacred literature.
- It is sufficient as a guide for a successful, meaningful life.
- It is reliably accurate.
While the Bible is still held in high esteem, in practice, there is a growing skepticism about its accuracy, its divine inspiration and its ability to provide personal guidance in 2016.
The diminishing numbers of people who actually believe the Bible is the answer to today's problems is in direct correlation to the rising confusion in our culture.
Our culture is changing because what we believe is changing---"As he thinks in his heart so is he."
Our worldview leads us to the strongly held beliefs, and even opinions we hold on specific issues.
A biblical worldview leads to certain convictions, while a secular progressive worldview leads to a very different place---and ultimately to confusion.
If we look at the context of the phrase, "As he thinks in his heart so is he," the inspired Truth becomes even more clear.
Proverbs 23: 7,8: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Eat and drink! he says to you. But you know his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up."
Public education and the entertainment industry---and this current political administration have been telling this generation to "eat and drink" the secular progressive juice.
They have undermined biblical Truth, while too many churches have remained silent and politically correct.
The religious Left is standing behind their pulpits, denying the power of the gospel and the inspired Truth of God's word, while affirming those who choose to live in rebellion to God's Word.
The case has been made by the culture that the Bible is wrong on homosexual behavior and marriage---and it's wrong on the sanctity of life---while celebrating abortion----and the religious Left offers a hushed "amen," hoping to pick up a few members to sit in their empty pews.
Barna, a Christian research group, says, "Even though New Age beliefs and progressive ideals are replacing biblical beliefs in society," they are confident that "God's Word will remain an influential force to uphold the backbone of American society."
They highlight the fact that their research shows the staying power of the Bible---even in the midst of an all-out attack on the Bible and those who actually believe it and strive to live by it.
They found 60% who participated in their research said they have a desire to read the Bible more than they do.
Their desire is a window of opportunity to every Christian and every biblical church to reach out to those who hold this desire. They are asking. And they are seeking.
A person with a biblical worldview experiences, interprets, and responds to reality in light of the Bible's Truth.
Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Strong in Biblical Faith.