The survey defines “practicing Christians” as those who attend church at least once a month, and the adherence to Marxist ideas among Christians is staggering:
The study showed that 11 percent of respondents said they believe “private property encourages greed and envy,” 14 percent agreed that “the government, rather than individuals, should control as much resources as necessary to ensure that everyone gets their fair share,” and 15 percent said they “strongly disagree” with the notion that “if the government leaves them alone, businesses will mostly do what’s right.”
“This research really crystalizes [sic] what Barna has been tracking in our country as an ongoing shift away from Christianity as the basis for a shared worldview,” Brooke Hempell, Barna’s senior vice president of research, said.
Even more disappointing is how many Christians ascribe to postmodern ideas like relativism and universalism.
Barna said that New Spirituality has “inched its way into Christian ethics,” with 28 percent of practicing Christians strongly agreeing that everyone prays to the “same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.” And, on the whole, six-in-10 practicing Christians embrace at least one ideal embedded in New Spirituality.
Then, on the postmodernism front, 19 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life” and 23 percent said that moral rights and wrongs depends on individual beliefs.
32 percent of respondents “strongly agree” that “if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad.”
While in Galatians 6:7, Paul embraces the concept of “a man reaps what he sows,” Barna’s study reveals these respondents believe in the spiritual theory of karma, which is not found in the Bible, nor is it embraced by mainstream Christianity.
Scary ideas, aren’t they? But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t be surprised at all. After all, look at how low the bar is set for what constitutes a “practicing Christian”: monthly church attendance. The Christian life isn’t a country club; it’s a lifestyle that demands commitment.
I’m not advocating legalism here, but once a month at church isn’t enough. A devoted Christian life follows the Hebrews 10 admonishment of “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (or more than “some” these days), but Christians also benefit from regular time in prayer and in reading God’s Word. If we practice the disciplines of the Christian faith, we’ll know what to believe – and, almost as important, what not to believe.
But the world contributes to these phenomena as well. Look at how often we hear the idea of karma batted about on television shows. Notice how the media hold up the same Marxist ideas that are creeping into the convictions of some Christians, while they tear down ideas of individuals, families, and churches taking care of each other. The big government views of both political parties don’t inspire confidence either.
The bottom line is this: there are some frightening beliefs entering the daily lives of Christians, and these ideas obviously hold more sway than genuine biblical concepts. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we should absolutely be concerned.
We’re clearly in the time that Paul warned Timothy about:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
We who believe and practice Christianity must share the truth of God’s Word and reflect it in our lives if we are to have any hope of reversing any of this damage to our faith.
We can’t forget that eternity is at stake for our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.