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Different worldviews:

A "Biblical Worldview" as defined by the Barna
Group & held by many conservative Protestants

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Who holds a "biblical worldview:"

Fundamentalist Christians, other Evangelical Christians, and other conservative Protestants commonly refer to their worldview as "the biblical worldview." The implication is that only one biblically-based worldview exists, and that theirs is it.

However, this term may be confusing outside the conservative wing of Protestantism. Many mainline and liberal Christians have worldviews which are quite different from each other and from the conservative biblical worldview. Yet essentially all Christians feel that their worldview is supported by and derived from the Bible.

We use the expression "biblical worldview" on this website because that is the term most commonly used by conservative Protestants. However, a term like "Evangelical worldview" or "Conservative Protestant worldview" might be less ambiguous.

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One definition of "biblical worldview:"

The Barna Group is the leading conservative Protestant marketing research group providing information about the state of religion in the U.S. -- and in particular the status of Christianity and of its churches and denominations. 1

They defined a "biblical worldview" as being based upon a foundation of eight beliefs, that:

  1. Absolute moral truths exist.

  2. The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles that it teaches.

  3. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life during his ministry on earth.

  4. God created the universe and continues to rule it today. He is omnipotent and omniscient.

  5. Salvation is a gift from God. It cannot be earned through good works or behavior.

  6. Satan is real living entity.

  7. Christians have an obligation to share the Gospel with the unsaved.

  8. The Bible is accurate in all of its teachings 2

At first glance, one might wonder why Jesus' sinless life is of such great importance that it forms a necessary component of a biblical worldview. It is a common belief among conservative Christians that Jesus' life must have been completely free of sin so that the sins of ordinary individuals can be transferred to Jesus when the former are saved -- thus making the atonement possible.

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Additional beliefs:

Others might add additional core beliefs as required components of a biblical worldview, such as:

bullet Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.

bullet God exists as a Trinity -- a single deity composed of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

bullet Human life becomes a human person at the instant of conception. This is an important fundamental belief because the Bible seems to be ambiguous on matters relating to abortion. The timing of the start of human personhood has a profound influence on the moral status of abortion, stem cell research, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, therapeutic cloning, etc.

bullet Those who have repented of their sins, and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are saved and will attain Heaven when they die; all others will spend eternity in Hell.

bullet Unless otherwise indicated, biblical passages are to be interpreted literally.
bullet Etc.

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How many American adults have a "biblical worldview:"

The Barna Group, , a leading conservative Christian polling organization, conducted a study of about 1,000 randomly selected adults in the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. in the spring of 2009. They found that only a very small percentage of adults hold the biblical worldview as defined by their eight-point definition. This includes:

bullet Only 9% of the total population of American adults. This is statistically unchanged from 11% in 2005.

bullet 19% of born-again Christians.

bullet 4% of residents of the Northeast. This may be linked to the legalization of same-sex marriage in all New England states and New York.

bullet 4% of Democrats.

bullet 2% of adults who attend mainline churches.

bullet 2% of Roman Catholics.

bullet Less than 0.5% of adults who consider themselves as liberal on social and political matters.

bullet Less than 0.5% of all young adults -- those aged 18 to 23. This is perhaps the main cause of the precipitous decline in older youth and young adult membership in evangelical and other conservative Christian congregations.

Barna Group has stated:

"A worldview serves as a person’s decision-making filter, enabling them to make sense of the complex and huge amount of information, experiences, relationships and opportunities they face in life. By helping to clarify what a person believes to be important, true and desirable, a worldview has a dramatic influence on a person’s choices in any given situation. ... The firm’s studies have also pointed out that a person’s worldview is primarily shaped and is firmly in place by the time someone reaches the age of 13; it is refined through experience during the teen and early adult years; and then it is passed on to others during their adult life. Such studies underscore the necessity of parents and other influencers being intentional in how they help develop the worldview of children." 3

Barna Group expressed concern that:

"... only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview." and

"less than one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview, compared to about [11%] one out of every nine older adults." 3

The churches that are most effective in teaching a biblical worldview to their membership are:

bullet Non-denominational churches. These are mostly fundamentalist congregations. 13% of their membership hold a biblical worldview.

bullet Pentecostal churches: 10% of the membership.

bullet Baptist churches: 8% of the membership .

If additional beliefs were added to the definition of a "biblical worldview," the percentage of American adults with this worldview would undoubtedly be even lower.

The margin of error in the survey is ±2.2 percentage points.

The Barna Group reports that their:

"...research found that one of the most effective methods of enabling people to develop a biblical worldview is by addressing seven critical questions that consistently lead to beliefs and behaviors that are in tune with biblical teaching. Outlining that process in a new book he has written as an outgrowth of the research, entitled Think Like Jesus, [George] Barna also noted that many churches are already helping their congregants to implement such a way of addressing daily challenges and opportunities." 6

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Senior Protestant pastors who hold a biblical worldview:

The Barna Group surveyed the beliefs of a randomly selected sample of 601 senior protestants in the U.S. during November and December, 2003. They found that a biblical worldview was far from universal:

bullet Overall, 51% of pastors have a biblical worldview. This is about 13 times the rate of all American adults, and about 7 times the average of their own members.

bullet The following percentage of pastors have this worldview:

bullet 71% of Southern Baptist ministers.

bullet 57% ministers from other Baptist churches.

bullet 51% from non-denominational -- probably Fundamentalist -- churches.

bullet 51% of male pastors.

bullet 44% from charismatic or Pentecostal churches.

bullet 35% of African-American churches.

bullet 28% of mainline and liberal churches.

bullet 27% from United Methodist Church congregations.

bullet 15% of female pastors. 3

The survey's margin of error is ±4.1 percentage points.

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References used:

  1. The Barna Group's home page is at http://www.barna.org
  2. "A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life," Barna Group, 2003-DEC-01, at: http://www.barna.org/
  3. "Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years," Barna Group, 2009-MAR-06, at: https://www.barna.org/
  4. Chuck Baldwin, "Christians No Different From The World,"  Renew America, 2005-MAY-31, at: http://www.renewamerica.us/
  5. "Barna’s Annual Review of Significant Religious Findings Offers Encouragement and Challenges," Barna Group, 2004-DEC-21, at: http://www.barna.org/
  6. George Barna, "Think like Jesus: Make the right decision every time," Integrity Publishers, (2003). Read reviews or order this book safely from the Amazon.com online book store

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Home page > Morality > Worldviews > here

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-JUN-03
Latest update: 2013-SEP-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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