America under threat from syncretism, George Barna says in study; churches urged to respond
By Leonardo Blair, Senior Features Reporter | FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2023
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While the World Health Organization has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a “public health emergency,” America’s embrace of syncretism — the fusion of different religions — and the growing rejection of a biblical worldview remains a threat to general quality of life in a post-pandemic world, especially for children, new research from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University suggests.
“During times of crisis, every generation turns to their worldview to navigate the challenges. Sadly, because syncretism is the prevailing worldview of each generation in America today, the response of Americans to the pandemic and the political turbulence it facilitated have been every bit as muddled and chaotic as the worldview on which they are based,” wrote George Barna, director of research at the Cultural Research Center on the findings from his research.
“The ideological and philosophical confusion that characterizes America is perhaps the biggest reflection of the nation’s rejection of biblical principles and its decision to replace God’s truth with ‘personal truth.’”
Using recent data from the American Worldview Inventory, which is the first-ever national survey conducted in the United States measuring the incidence of both biblical and competing worldviews, Barna shows how the four adult generations in the U.S. — millennials, Gen X (baby busters), baby boomers and elders — had very different spiritual responses to the pandemic.
The research, which involved the tracking of a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults undertaken in January, showed the lowest incidence of adults with a biblical worldview among the youngest cohorts, millennials, adults born between 1984 and 2002, and Gen X, adults born from 1965 through 1983.
The data show that of the four generations, millennials had the lowest incidence of biblical worldview at 2%. Their connection to Christianity was also shown as quite weak before the pandemic and “was even weaker by the end of the COVID-19” pandemic.
“Millennials were hit hard by the pandemic in dimensions such as their emotions, finances, vocation, relationships, and ideology,” Barna wrote.
Only 5% of Gen X adults held a biblical worldview, according to the data. The study shows that Gen X endured the greatest degree of “spiritual turbulence,” with 10 statistically significant changes and two notable directional changes.
“In all but one instance, those changes showed Gen Xers moving away from biblical perspectives or behaviors. In general, the nature of the spiritual transitions among Gen Xers during the pandemic era was a shift away from trust in God. Among the biggest changes in their religious perspective were declines in believing God created humans, that He is the basis of truth, and that He is the omniscient and omnipotent ruler of the universe,” Barna noted.
“Those doubts have precipitated important transitions in religious behavior, including less frequent Bible reading, church attendance, confession of personal sin, seeking to do God’s will, and worshiping God. Another noteworthy shift is the decline in how many Gen Xers believe that human life is sacred.”
Baby boomers, adults born between 1946 and 1964, and elders, adults 77 and older, were shown to be the most likely among adults to hold a biblical worldview. However, they were still in the minority among their respective cohorts and showed declines over the course of the pandemic.
The biblical worldview incidence among boomers dropped from 9% to 7% over the past three years, while it dropped among elders from 9% to 8%.
Barna suggested that the decision by Christian churches to shutter during the pandemic wasn’t helpful for the American public because it left people unprepared for the challenges of a post-pandemic society.
“The last three years have been a time of high anxiety for tens of millions of adults. It was an ideal time for the Christian Church to provide wise guidance and emotional calm. Unfortunately, most churches agreed to the government’s dictate that they close their doors and remain mostly silent. That left an unprepared populace to follow the primary form of leadership available to them: government perspectives and policies,” Barna argued.
“Obviously, that has not worked well, given how dissatisfied a large majority of the country is with the direction of the nation and the quality of post-COVID life. With only one out of every 50 millennials embracing a biblical worldview, America’s children are especially vulnerable to the inward-looking approach to life that their parents and most other adults practice,” he added.
“As a nation, we may be past the danger of COVID-19, but we are in the thick of the danger brought about by people relying upon syncretism as their dominant worldview. Biblical churches must see this as a time for an urgent response to the direction society is taking. While the Left pursues the Great Reset, it is time for the Church to pursue the Great Renewal — leading people’s hearts, minds, and souls back to God and His life principles.”
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