A Biblical Worldview

June 11, 2019

Did you know that belief drives behavior? What we believe is the driving force behind what we do. More than 100 million American adults claim to have a biblical worldview, but a much smaller percentage actually do. (George Barna the American Culture & Faith Institute)

For the purposes of Barna’s survey, a "biblical worldview" was defined as...

  • believing that absolute moral truth exists;
  • the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches;
  • Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic;
  • a person cannot earn their way into heaven by trying to be good or by doing good works;
  • Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
  • God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

So how do we stack up?

The research then indicated that only 9% of American adults have a biblical worldview as defined above. A minority of people who describe themselves as "born again" actually share this worldview. Even among born-again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) shared this outlook on life.

Three out of four Christians do not claim the Bible as their shaping worldview influence. Twenty five percent say they rely on biblical standards for making moral decisions, but only half believe all moral truth is absolute.

Almost one-fifth of practicing Christians (19%) strongly agree that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life.” Almost one-quarter of practicing Christians (23%) strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.” 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.

One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born-again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.

Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born-again adults (79%) who concur. Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born- again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.

Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.

A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born-again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.

Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born-again adults who hold that conviction.

After studying the results of the research, Barna points out that there are several troubling patterns. Here are a few of them:

  • First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions.
  • Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life.
  • That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools, and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. The difference being made is minimal.
  • Even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one's worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born-again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.

You might be wondering, “Why does a biblical worldview matter? Why can’t we keep this simple? I just believe and receive.”

It truly matters. If we don't really believe the truth of God and live it, our witness will be confusing and misleading. Our lives will be lived far below the level God intended: deeply satisfying and full of purpose for us, and compelling to the world.

Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God, and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives, whether it's watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office, we can begin to develop a deep all-embracing faith that will stand against the sweeping tides of our culture's dangerous and nonbiblical ideas.

If we capture and embrace more of God's worldview; if we trust it with unwavering faith, it impacts our behavior. Our beliefs drive what we do. We will begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research, and even media choices. In the end, it is exactly our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). This means developing a truly biblical worldview.