It’s a terrible scandal that should shock us into re-examining how we approach life, morality, and religion.
And it may not be true.
Here’s the short version:
Barna’s group explains how they determine who is “born-again” and “evangelical” for the purposes of their surveys. It involves how they answer certain questions:
“Born again Christians" are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.Anything missing there? Yep. One simple question can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak: “Do you regularly attend church?”
“Evangelicals" meet the born again criteria (described above) plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
Many people in this country know the “right” answer to all of those questions, yet they don’t allow Christianity to affect their lives. John MacArthur said, “they don’t love the Word of God.” He’s probably right.
A few years ago Christianity Today ran an article describing people who love Jesus but hate church. They’ve had bad experiences with the church or simply don’t like to be told how to live. They know how to answer the questions to be “born-again,” maybe even “evangelical,” according to Barna, but they don’t let those alleged beliefs change how they live.
In their defense, lately Barna & co. has started talking about “Casual Christians”:
A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem ... and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best.These are the people who live just like every other American. We can’t say for sure who’s “really” saved, but among those who obviously take their faith more seriously, divorce (among other ills) is not as common.