Tuesday, August 09, 2005

To the Tune of "Yes, Jesus Loves Me"

Yes, God ac-cepts me,
Yes, God ac-cepts me,
Yes, God ac-cepts me,
My e-go tells me so.


That's the ditty the majority of Americans are singing to themselves, according to a new national survey conducted by the Barna Group.
Currently, nine out of ten adults (88%) feel “accepted by God.” Barna listed a pair of interesting correlations related to that self-image. First, about one-third of the individuals who feel accepted by God do not consider themselves to be deeply spiritual. Second, people are twice as likely to feel accepted by God as they are to be born again – a condition that, many Protestant leaders argue, is a key reflection of God’s forgiveness and ultimate acceptance.
Some other interesting findings:

  • Four out of every five adults (82%) say they are “clear about the meaning and purpose” of their life
  • The younger a person is, the less likely they are to trust the Bible as their source of moral guidance or to believe that absolute moral truth exists.
  • The younger a respondent was the less likely he or she was to claim to be deeply spiritual.
  • African-American adults, who generally emerge as the ethnic segment most deeply committed to the Christian faith, were substantially less likely than either whites or Hispanics to have a biblical worldview. In total, just 1% of black adults met the criteria, compared to 6% among whites and 8% among Hispanics. (Less than one-tenth of one percent of Asians possesses a biblical worldview.)
George Barna had the following to say about popularity as it relates to Christian publishing and pastoral ministry (I wonder what title he had in mind):
Most of the bestsellers have focused on meaning, purpose, security and the end times.....While there have been theological views expressed in those books, very few popular books have helped people to think clearly and comprehensively about their core theology. Consequently, most born again Christians hold a confusing and inherently contradictory set of religious beliefs that go unchecked by the leaders and teachers of their faith community.
Our studies consistently show that churches base their sense of success on indicators such as attendance, congregant satisfaction, dollars raised and built-out square footage. None of those factors relates to the kind of radical shift in thinking and behavior that Jesus Christ died on the cross to facilitate. As long as we measure success on the basis of popularity and efficiency, we will continue to see a nation filled with people who can recite Bible stories but fail to live according to Bible principles.
I agree with Barna on both points and they're obviously related. The tendency to measure success in terms of numbers leads many pastors to promote whatever Christian book is "hot" (or "blessed of God," to sound more spiritual) in their congregations and thus the cycle continues. Christian publishing is like television. Countless voices decry its deleterious effects but the producers (and publishers) are only giving the public what it craves.

2 comments:

read with open eyes said...

I have a friend who used to work in a Christian bookstore and witnessed a number of book-signing events. On one occasion he asked a "famous" author, "How do you get the idea for a new book?" The answer: "My publisher calls me up and says, 'I need a book on such-and-such. It's the hot topic right now.'"
Well, you keep cranking them out, and we'll keep buying them.

cj said...

At least you can't fault the author for honesty.