A new study from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University (ACU), guided by popular pollster George Barna, has found that just 37% of Christian pastors in the United States have a Biblical worldview.
“This is another strong piece of evidence that the culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing the culture,” Barna said.
In fact, data suggests that Syncretism, defined as the “blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences,” is the predominant worldview among pastors, with 62% subscribing to this hybrid philosophy.
The survey looked at eight different categories of belief and behavior, including family and the value of life; God, creation and history; personal faith practices; and sin, salvation and one’s relationship with God. Surprisingly, the survey found that the category with the lowest percentage of pastors holding a Biblical worldview is the one related to beliefs and behaviors about the Bible, truth and morality.
ACU President Len Munsil called the findings “stunning” but believes the opportunity to guide and shape young people’s worldview still exists.
According to Barna, a person’s worldview is primarily developed before the age of 13 and goes through a period of refinement during his or her teens and 20s.
That’s why ACU strategically exposes its students to a Biblical worldview through its academic curriculum, spiritual formation programs and co-curricular activities, Munsil said.
While Barna also found the results “shocking,” he sees a silver lining.
“You cannot fix something unless you know it’s broken,” he said. “Other recent research we have conducted suggests most pastors believe that they are theologically in tune with the Bible. Perhaps these findings will cause many of them to take a careful look at how well their beliefs and behavior conform to Biblical principles and commands.
“It certainly seems that if America is going to experience a spiritual revival, that awakening is needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews,” Barna concluded.