Barna: American Christianity a lukewarm church


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Like the lukewarm church at Laodicea that Jesus said in the Book of Revelation He was about to spew out of His mouth, The Barna Group in a recent study assessed American Christianity as neither hot nor cold.

"Most Americans do not have strong and clear beliefs, largely because they do not possess a coherent biblical worldview," David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, said. "That is, they lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith. Millions of Americans say they are personally committed to Jesus Christ, but they believe He sinned while on earth.

"Many believers claim to trust what the Bible teaches, but they reject the notion of a real spiritual adversary or they feel that faith-sharing activities are optional," Kinnaman added. "Millions feel personally committed to God, but they are renegotiating the definition of that deity."

One reason beliefs fluctuate, Kinnaman said, is that most Americans hold few convictions about their faith and "have one foot in the biblical camp and one foot outside it."

"They say they are committed, but to what? They are spiritually active, but to what end? The spiritual profile of American Christianity is not unlike a lukewarm church that the Bible warns about," Kinnaman said.

In a study released May 21, Barna estimated there are 90 million born-again believers nationwide, and within that group are 16 million evangelical Christians, or 7 percent of the adult population.

Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, but only 49 percent of those describe themselves as absolutely committed to Christianity, Barna said.

Among other findings:

• 83 percent of Americans said they had prayed in the last week.

• 43 percent claimed to have attended a church service.

• 41 percent said they read the Bible outside of a church service.

• 20 percent attended Sunday School in the last week.

• 50 percent said they donated money to a congregation in the past year.

"Most Americans still embrace a traditional view of God, but they are less likely than ever to do so," Barna said in a news release. "Currently two-thirds of Americans believe that God is best described as the all-powerful, all-knowing perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today (66 percent). However, this proportion is lower than it was a year ago (71 percent) and represents the lowest percentage in more than 20 years of similar surveys."

For more information on the study, visit www.barna.org.