By Allie Martin
July 21, 2000
(AgapePress) - Americans have been called the most religious population on earth. But a new study shows that only a minority of adults strongly hold opinions that line up with scripture.
A recent Barna Research survey showed that 60% of all adults agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches. However, people's knowledge of the content actually taught in the Bible often falls short. For example, 53% of people believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. Forty-one percent agreed that the Holy Spirit is not real, but a symbol of God's presence.
George Barna, Jr., says the findings are disturbing.
"The vast majority of Americans--about 4 out of 5--would say there's no such thing as absolute moral truth," Barna says. "When people are looking at scripture, it's another book that they can pull off the shelf and get some helpful ideas from."
"They don't see [the Bible] as absolute truth...as the Word to us from the living and true God. They see it as something that might be useful as we're trying to make some decisions to determine our own destiny."
Other findings from the survey show that only 31% of adults believe they have a responsibility to tell others about their faith, and 20% believe Jesus committed sins while on earth. Barna says he was not surprised by these findings.
"We've gotten to the point where now life revolves around us," he says. "We believe there is a god who exists, but he exists simply to make our life worthwhile, fun, happy, and fulfilling."
"This whole notion that the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves' fits in with that mentality perfectly. It's become kind of the theological cornerstone of how we view the world: 'Everything depends on what we are able to make happen.'"
The survey of 1,002 adults also found that 40% believe Satan is not a real being, but just a symbol of evil. This latest survey is part of a 15-year study of Christians and their beliefs by the Barna Research Group.