Anyone, even a nonbeliever can sense Christianity is on a downhill slide. The Barna Group, among many other things, is a national poll-taking organization specifically geared toward “feeling” out “ the spiritual climate of our culture. It eventually seemed evident to them that there was a disconnect in what people professed to be and what they actually believed in and lived by when it comes to Bible teachings.
“The concept of notional Christians seems to have been created by the Barna Group for the purposes of gathering statistics. They define the term as follows: "We categorize Notional Christian as those who describe themselves as Christians, but do not believe that they will have eternal life because of their reliance upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the grace extended to people through a relationship with Christ. (A large majority of these individuals believe they will have eternal life, but not because of a grace-based relationship with Jesus Christ.)" The term implies that some have the notion that they are Christian, though they do not meet the Barna Group's definition of Christian.
So I’ll let you decide what you think about the Barna Group’s findings.
“April 10, 2009 –A new nationwide survey of adults’ spiritual beliefs, conducted by The Barna Group, suggests that Americans who consider themselves to be Christian have a diverse set of beliefs – but many of those beliefs are contradictory or, at least, inconsistent. The survey explored beliefs about spiritual beings, the influence of faith on their life, views of the Bible, and reactions to faiths other than their own.
The Barna Group survey asked questions about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Satan, and demons. All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God. In total, three-quarters (78%) said he is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.” The remaining one-quarter chose other descriptions of God – depictions that are not consistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).
For the other survey items a four-point opinion scale was used to measure people’s reactions to statements about each spiritual entity. Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.
Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.
Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.”
“A slight majority of Christians (55%) strongly agree that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches, with another 18% agreeing somewhat. About one out of five either disagree strongly (9%) or somewhat (13%) with this statement, and 5% aren’t sure what to believe.
There is no similar clarity among self-defined Christians regarding how the Bible compares to other holy books. When faced with the statement that “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths,” the group was evenly split between those who accepted the idea (19% agreed strongly, 22% agreed somewhat) and those who rejected it (28% disagreed strongly, 12% disagreed somewhat), while leaving a sizable portion (20%) undecided.”
Then we have from another poll, “Only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven, according to the recent surveys from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. from USA Today 8/1/2009
Friends, we’re not quibbling over small theological opinions here! We are witnessing confusion, apathy and rejection of basic salvation doctrine. I don’t know about you, but I agree with the Barna Group that, unfortunately, there are MILLIONS of people that are convinced they are Christians when they’re not. I am not basing that on any unsubstantiated judgment. I am basing that on scripture from the only authoritative book that has ever been written as the manual for what a true Christian is to believe. Honestly, for those people who profess to be Christian, but deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit...they’re in for a big surprise when Jesus returns. "Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance... to those who are God's possession." Ephesians 1:13-14 If you don’t believe you are marked with the divine Holy Spirit, you are simply not yet saved. “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1st Peter 5:8 “Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41 Really, does that sound like Satan is a “symbol” of evil? If Satan is a symbol, then the angels are also. None know what hell will be exactly, but you can be certain if the Bible says there’s going to be one, there will be one, and it’s not going to be a pleasant place! Not only that, but if there is to be no hell (whatever it will be), then what are we to be “delivered from” by Jesus being crucified?
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2nd Corinthians 5:21 Jesus had to be an unblemished sacrifice.
Finally, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2nd Timothy 3:16,17
I am so infused to write these blogs in hopes you will not easily be snatched away from the Truth by the New Theology and Emergent Church that many, many people (even Christians) are gravitating toward. Their whole scheme is to water down the Word of God, and in many cases, even throw out or manipulate scripture to make it more palatable and comfortable to people who want to feel holy, but don’t want to abide by the demands God has placed on us to actually live a holy life.
I truly believe, Satan has created so many distractions and lies for even true Christians to buy into, that they (including myself) do not realize the dedication our faith requires of us. Many of us have gotten spiritually soft and are slowly losing our purpose and discipline. I want this to be a wake-up call to those who know I’m telling the truth, because, from what I can see, Jesus may be returning sooner than we think. The question is, will we be ready for Him?
As always, I teach in agape love. I judge the eternal destiny of no one, because there is always hope for anyone to be saved, all the way up until our Lord returns.