“A slight majority of Americans think they have a biblical worldview,” George Barna, the famed Christian pollster, told an audience at Pray, Vote, Stand Summit. “In fact, we know that 51% of Americans believe they have a biblical worldview, when only 6% actually do.”
The reality for most people, he went on to explain, is that most of us have borrowed and adopted the most appealing portions of different world philosophies. He calls that an example of “syncretism,” or the blending of customs, religions, and beliefs.
Barna has watched and surveyed the American public for four decades, going back to founding the Barna Research Group in 1984. After co-founding the Cultural Research Center, his focus for much of the 21st century has been documenting the decline of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs among the American public, including among those in the church pews.
During his speech to the evangelical gathering, sponsored by Family Research Council, Barna described the U.S. as a “nation in crisis” because the public has drifted away from a biblical worldview over several decades. A person’s worldview, he explained, is the “filter” to understand, experience, and respond to the world around you.
“The choices that you make,” he said, “are a result of what you believe, as described by your worldview."
Debating what is true, and consequently what is not, can be found in the Book of Acts, the history book of the first-century Church. In chapter 17, Paul enters Athens where he debates the city's pagan philosophers and attempts to preach the gospel to two opposing groups. The Epicureans did not have a god in their belief system but believed life should be enjoyed because death was the end. The second group, the Stoics, held a mystical belief that gods are everywhere and everything that happens is fatalistic.
As both groups listened to Paul preach the gospel, he was mocked as a "babbler" and accused of introducing "foreign gods" to the ongoing debate sessions on Mars Hills.
Citing the findings of the Cultural Research Center, Barna said there are seven distinct world views competing for your mind in today's culture: Marxism; Secular Humanism; Postmodernism; Nihilism; Eastern mysticism; moralistic therapeutic deism, which is a feel-good belief system about God; and finally biblical theism, the source of a biblical worldview.
“We don't like any of them,” Barna, referring again to syncretism, said of those seven belief systems. “Instead, what we do is we listen to all of them, and we take bits and pieces from each one, and we blend that together into a customized worldview that describes what we feel, what we think, what we want.”
Back on Mars Hill, in his philosophical showdown with the Epicureans and Stoics, Paul borrowed from their "unknown gods" idol only long enough to proclaim he had the answer.
“The God who made the world and everything in it,” he told them, “is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”