Survey: Only Half of Pastors Have 'Biblical' Worldview
- 2004 14 Jan
A new survey indicates that when it comes to developing a biblical worldview, a good place to start may be with the people in the pulpit.
What constitutes a "biblical" worldview? Christian researcher George Barna says it includes a belief in absolute moral truth as defined by scripture, as well as acceptance of six core biblical beliefs: the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize.
In a recent survey of Protestant pastors conducted by the Barna Research Group, only half (51 percent) passed the test on whether they possess a biblical worldview. Of the pastors surveyed, Southern Baptists scored the highest with 71 percent while United Methodists finished at the bottom with just 27 percent. In between were 57 percent of pastors of Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist), 51 percent of pastors of non-denominational Protestant churches, 44 percent of pastors of charismatic or Pentecostal churches, 35 percent of pastors of black churches, and 28 percent of pastors of leading mainline denominations.
Another point of interest in the survey dealt with education. The pastors least likely to have a biblical worldview were seminary graduates. There was also a significant gender gap in the results. While 53 percent of male pastors possessed a biblical worldview, only 15 percent of female pastors fit that category. In addition, white senior pastors were nearly twice as likely as black senior pastors to have a biblical worldview (55 percent vs. 30 percent).
And interestingly, the highest proportion of pastors showing evidence of a biblical worldview were found in the area of the country inhabited by people who are considered among the most liberal. According to Barna, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of pastors in California, Oregon and Washington "have such a moral and spiritual compass in place."
This report comes on the heels of another recent Barna survey that indicates only 9 percent of all born-again adults -- and just 7 percent of Protestants -- possess a biblical worldview. This more recent survey, the researcher says, highlights a simple but important principle: "you can't give people what you don't have."
"The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one," Barna says. "In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches."
Why is a biblical worldview important? According to Barna, everyone has a worldview, but few have a biblical worldview -- which the researcher says has a radical effect on a person's life. He says individuals' attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions determine their behavior.
"Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life," he says. "We're often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance."
Barna's research indicates that adults with a biblical worldview possess radically different views on morality, hold divergent religious beliefs, and demonstrate vastly different lifestyle choices.
Barna Research Group (
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