Dancing on the Grave of the Church
- Friday, February 22, 2008
Few people have done more for evangelical Christianity in the last 20 years than George Barna and his research organization. Month after month and year after year The Barna Group has provided vital research into religious trends across the American religious landscape. He has provided information that has been invaluable in analyzing the spiritual temperature of the country. But now, as Festus accused Paul of becoming mad from too much knowledge, maybe too much polling “hath made him mad.” Sadly, the latest polling data released from the Barna Group is nothing more than blatant propaganda for Barna’s personal views and a shameless shill for his newest book where the dancing is frantic indeed.
It is more than rare that an “objective” pollster releases the results of a poll that is at least ¾ commercial for the pollster’s newest book. Oh, and the poll results, through an incredible coincidence, reinforce the conclusions of the book. All the credibility that The Barna Group has worked so hard to establish now lies in the ashes of self-promotion.
The gist of the poll is that Americans are now embracing “various alternatives to an experience as being fully Biblical.” Among the more startling results of the poll is that 89 percent of adults feel that an individual family worship time is just as Biblical as corporate worship at a church. 75 percent believe a “house church” is valid and 69 percent feel watching a religious TV program is just aa Biblical as attending a Church. Unlike most Barna polls, the wording is extremely vague and somewhat misleading. There is no indication that those responding to the poll feel that these activities are to be to the exclusion of a local church experience, but that is the way the statistics are presented. Objectivity is gone and Barna’s personal bias is obvious. Read the poll and you come away with the conclusion that indeed the local church is either dead or dying. The “research” portion of the article at www.barna.org ends with the surprising number of pastors who are now embracing house churches. Indeed, Barna states that “two out of three pastors agreed that ‘house churches are legitimate Christian churches.’” He slides in quickly that most of those pastors are from liberal, main-line denominations. He then takes a swipe at those who disagreed and implies that those pastors who do not support “house churches” are the ones making the big bucks. Again, an enormous departure from the objectivity of past polls.
Following the brief results of the latest poll, Barna then uses the results of the poll to hype his new book, Pagan Christianity. This is where things really get bizarre. One of the more sensational claims of the new book is that most of what happens in your local church has “pagan” origins. A sample:
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