Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New Survey Reveals 9 out of 10 Americans Believe in God, But What Kind of God?

So it was in the news yesterday that 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God. Don't start celebrating yet. I looked at the survey, American Piety in the 21st Century, done by Baylor University, here's some of the findings. I hope you're not too bored by the numbers.

Only 10.8% of Americans are not affiliated with a congregation, denomination, or other religious group. And fewer than 5% of the US population claim a faith outside opf the Judeo-Christian mainstream. (33.6% are Evangelical Protestant, 22.1% are Mainline Protestant, 21.2% are Catholic, 5% are Black Protestant, 2.5 % are Jewish, 4.9% are other, and 10.8% are unaffiliated.) In the age group of 18-30, 18.6% are unaffiliated.

Then from those who are unaffiliated, 62.9% believe in God or some higher form. Now here is something surprising, of the unaffiliated, 11.0% believe Jesus is the Son of God. And 9.6% Jewish believe that Jesus is the Son of God as well. Now, I don't understand why someone would believe in God and believe Jesus is the Son of God and yet not be Christian. If you know the truth, why would you not follow Christ? Would God send His Son to simply deliver a message he could have picked a prophet to do, that you could have found out by watching Oprah, or was he accomplishing something more? You're really just putting yourself in a dangerous position to know the truth but not act on it. I think I might have more respect for the 37.1% who don't believe in God than those who believe in God but don't glorify God or give praise to God. God created us, so we forever owe praise to him.

Here is some disturbing information about the state of Christianity in America. Only 72.2% of Mainline Protestant believe Jesus is Son of God, the lowest of all the Christian religious traditions listed. So 1 in 4 so-called Mainline Protestants are badly missing the fundamental, essential, part of Christianity, that Christ is the Son of God. That is disturbing, but sadly not surprising. Apparently Churches need to do a better job making sure that those who go there know the Gospel and not just move on to how to be a better person on Sunday morning. And of all Christian religious traditions, only in the Black Protestant do more than half read scripture weekly. 33.1% of Catholics never read scripture, followed by 21.9% Mainline Protestant.

The survey also identified 4 basic categories of Americans views about God. There is Authoritarian where God is involved in our daily lives and world affairs, helps with decision making, responsible for global events, and is also quite angry and capable of dealing out punishment. Then there is Benevolent, God is very active in our daily lives, but are less likely to think God is angry and acts in wrathful ways, and instead is a force of positive influence in the world. Then there's Critical, God does not interact in the world, but God observes the world and views the current state unfavorable, and divine justice will be in another life. Finally, Distant, God is not active in the world nor especially either, he just set the laws of nature in motion. The breakdown is 31.4% Authoritarian, 23.0% Benevolent, 16.0% Critical, 24.4% Distant, and 5.2% atheist. Interestingly, in the 18-30 year old group, 40.2% view God as Authoritarian. It's also broken down by religious tradition. 29.2% Catholics, 10.8% Evangelical Protestant, 29.3% Mainline Protestant, and 41.7% Jewish have a that God is distant, thus Deism. Now the Bible, New and Old Testament, show God as very active. How can someone be Christian or Jewish and have a passive view of God. God sent his son and God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. I'm guessing most of these people fall in with those who don't read scripture weekly.

There's a lot more in the report. I suppose its good the 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God. But what some believe about God is not so good. And superficial belief is not enough. We're not called to just hold an intellectual idea. We're called to a personal relationship with a God who is not distant, but deeply involved in the world, enough to send his only begotten Son for our sake.


Anonymous Jason the grizzly bear said...

So I've finally been able to consume your whole message. I think a reason that some Jews believe that Jesus is the Son of God is, as I read in a book recently, they believe that Jesus is the Christ, but don't want to be classified as a "Christian", because of things like The Holocaust, The Crusades, etc. in which "Christians" were partly, or wholely responsible for the persecution of the Jews. Also, they say that Jesus was/ is Jewish, He followed the Jewish laws (like the Kosher diet, etc) and they are following the same rules. I know, my parents say this all the time when I mention that I'd like to try eating only Kosher. "Jesus got rid of all that. Everything is safe to eat now." Jesus didn't get rid of/ abolish the Old Testament, He fulfilled it (for the most part, minus the End Times prophecy scattered about here and there, but He'll fulfill that too). I don't see a problem with this viewpoint (calling yourself a Jew, but believing Jesus is the Son of God). If they trust in Jesus as Messiah (as they call Him) then that's all that is necessary for their salvation. There's the "Messianic Jews", I'm not sure exactly what they believe, but I guess it's like this viewpoint. Also, remember that the early Christians were actually called The Way (I think in Latin this is called Via). Just a thought!

Sun Sep 17, 11:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Gregarious said...

It certainly is true that trusting in Jesus as Messiah is all that's necessary for salvation. Which is why you don't need to follow the Kosher laws, and some other Old Testament laws. Read the book of Hebrews which is talking to Christians who were in danger of going back to their old traditional ways.

Mon Sep 18, 08:23:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Jason said...

But following the old testament laws will certainly not be bad. The Kosher diet is said to be one of the healthiest diets you can follow. And those who follow it are said to live longer and healthier lives than those that don't. Also, almost all of the rules outlined in the OT are laws we have now. The only ones in the 10 commandments I can think of that aren't "against the law" would be the ones about coveting, adultery, and things disrespectful to God. I definitely think adultery should be a criminal offense, considering how devastating it is to the people around those involved, like family, friends, and co-workers. Coveting and disrespect to God would be more difficult to prosecute, since those are usually a mental thing. As for the adultery, the question would probably be what classifies as adultery. Technically, any sexual activities between two people that aren't married is adultery. So pre-marital sex is adultery. That's a lot of people to be prosecuted...

Tue Sep 19, 05:46:00 PM EDT  

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