A Worldview to Change the World: George Barna
- Tuesday, April 20, 2004
In "Think Like Jesus," pollster George Barna tackles a formidable topic – a biblical worldview – with the intent to define it and explain why it is critical in our culture.
The phrase "Christian worldview" is tossed about a lot these days. Barna connects it directly to obedience to God's instructions. First of all, he says most Christians can't define a biblical worldview because they have not been taught how to cultivate one.
He writes that even among Christians, "[V]ital connections are not being made between the three keys to worldview living: knowledge, skills and applications." Major portions of the book are devoted to how the church can help believers develop a biblical worldview.
In an exclusive interview, Barna said, "This whole thing on worldview is partly [my] reaction to the fact that when people are making decisions they don't go back and try to figure out, 'How would Jesus think about this situation? What kinds of alternatives would He consider?' That's our best clue of how to make a good choice."
Defining the Dilemma
Early in "Think Like Jesus" (Integrity Publishers, 2003), Barna identifies and defines in practical terms some popular worldviews that contrast markedly with a biblical worldview. On his list are deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, postmodernism, pantheism and new age. To reveal the state of the church today, he cites numerous studies of the Barna Research Group, a firm he founded in 1984.
"In essence," Barna writes, "... three out of four Christians overlook the Bible as their shaping worldview influence." Furthermore, of the 25 percent who say they rely on biblical standards for making moral decisions, only half believe all moral truth is absolute.
Barna concludes: "... the bottom line is that only 14 percent of born-again adults – in other words, about one out of every seven born-again adults – rely on the Bible as their moral compass and believe that moral truth is absolute."
Reputation as a Researcher
The Barna Group is widely recognized as the nation's premiere research firm regarding data on the evangelical community. Before founding that firm, Barna worked with one of the nation's ten largest media research and marketing firms, and with a large Christian research firm.
To determine if people think like Jesus, his firm uses a six questions including some which examine these beliefs: 1) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe who still rules that universe today; and 2) The Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches.
His research reveals that 91 percent of all born-again adults do not have a biblical worldview. Among born-again teens, that number increases to 98 percent. After establishing such stunning data, Barna spends most of the book building a case for the need to connect faith and lifestyle. Again, he uses a series of questions – e.g., "Does God exist?" and "What is truth?" – to reach conclusions.
Scriptures as a Standard
While a biblical worldview is his emphasis, Barna appropriately cites biblical principles addressing numerous areas of faith:
- Creation – "God intentionally designed us in His likeness ... to facilitate the kind of existence and interactivity that would result in a mutually satisfying eternal relationship."
- Priorities – "This has some pretty significant implications for who we are, why we exist and how we ought to live."
- Obedience – "Obedience is more than just following the letter of the law; it is discerning what God would want – His will for us – and choosing to seek that outcome."
- Worship – "The authenticity of your love is proven by the breadth, frequency and intensity of your worship."
- On Being Transformed – "Paul reminded his readers that to achieve these qualities [the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23] we must 'follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.'"
"Think Like Jesus" is superb on two fronts – it analyzes how the church has been largely ineffective in promoting a biblical worldview, and it challenges the reader – and the Church – to initiate remedial action.
© 2004 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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