Barna Research came out with a new report today that has some serious implications for American Christianity.
Here are some of the implications off the research from the site.
--> Americans are increasingly comfortable picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views and have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible.
--> Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologian-in-residence. One consequence is that Americans are embracing an unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs. Barna pointed out, as examples, that millions of people who consider themselves to be Christian now believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the lessons it teaches at the same time that they believe Jesus Christ sinned. Millions also contend that they will experience eternal salvation because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior, but also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation.
--> Today, Americans are more likely to pit a variety of non-Christian options against various Christian-based views. This has resulted in an abundance of unique worldviews based on personal combinations of theology drawn from a smattering of world religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam as well as secularism.
--> With people spending less time reading the Bible, and becoming less engaged in activities that deepen their biblical literacy, faith views are more often adopted on the basis of dialogue, self-reflection, and observation than teaching. Feelings and emotions now play a significant role in the development of people’s faith views - in many cases, much more significant than information-based exercises such as listening to preaching and participating in Bible study.
This is a great concern--while most of the headlines will be that many Americans do not see Christianity as the default religious perspective anymore; I believe that headline is more a symptom or an after effect of these other statements.
Freedom and choice are all vital and good as well as the ability to live out choices without persecution, but when did our emotions and finite minds become the best and final arbiters of truth? Especially when it comes to Cafeteria Christianity--picking and choosing the things we like and dismissing or excusing the rest.
How is this situation not a fulfillment of 2 Timothy 4:3--"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
Here's another few questions to consider... what is the future for the Christianity in America? How does the church minister effectively in such a culture? How will society view those who still hold to absolutes or the truth of ALL of the Bible?