A survey stunningly has revealed that many Americans who may think of themselves as Christian actually follow a worldview called Syncretism – “a blending of multiple worldviews in which no single life philosophy is dominant” – and only a sparse 2% of parents of pre-teens actually possess a biblical worldview.
The results come from the American Worldview Inventory 2022 done by George Barna and the Cultural Research Center at Arizona State.
“It seems that most pre-teen parents are unaware – or certainly unfazed – by the contradiction between calling themselves ‘Christian,’ but living in ways that repudiate the teachings of Jesus and the principles in the Bible,” Barna said.
“The polling reveals that not only are a majority of today’s parents Millennials (the adult generation in America least likely to possess a biblical worldview), but that 94% of parents of pre-teens possess a worldview known as Syncretism…”
That leaves those involved with those beliefs with a worldview “that is diverse and often self-contradictory. In fact, despite 67% of the parents of pre-teens claiming to be Christian, the research also revealed that only 2% of them actually possess a biblical worldview,” the center said.
The report explained, “Everyone has a worldview. Typically, it’s fully developed and operational before they reach their teen years. Parents, of course, play a hugely significant role in shaping it. And therein lies the issue—at least for those hoping for a resurgence in the number of Americans whose worldview is biblical.”
“A parent’s primary responsibility is to prepare a child for the life God intends for that child. A crucial element in that nurturing is helping the child develop a biblical worldview—the filter that causes a person to make their choices in harmony with biblical teachings and principles,” explained Barna.
Noting that the Bible assigns the worldview development process to the child’s family and community of faith, he reiterated that neither of those seem engaged in the task.
He said few parents even “have the worldview development of their children on their radar.”
More than nine out of 10 parents of children under age 13 “have a muddled worldview,” he said.
Barna said his assessment focuses on the “life-defining beliefs and behaviors of parents” because of the substantial influence they have on the worldview developed by their young children.
“Every parent teaches what they know and models what they believe. They can only give what they have, and what they have to give reflects their driving beliefs about life and spirituality,” Barna explained. “Parents are not the only agents of influence on their children’s worldview, but they remain both a primary influence and a gatekeeper to other influences.”
While a Christian worldview is becoming more and more rare, the survey said, “Equally shocking was the finding that none of the six alternative worldviews tested is embraced by even 1% of parents. These alternative worldviews include: Secular Humanism, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Nihilism, Marxism/Critical Theory, Postmodernism, and Eastern Mysticism/New Age.”
Ultimately, that leaves 94% of parents of pre-teens following Syncretism.
“At least six out of 10 parents reflect very limited advocacy of the ideals found in Nihilism, Marxism, Postmodernism, and Secular Humanism. The parents of pre-teens are much more likely to harbor ideas drawn from Eastern Mysticism/New Age thinking, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, and Biblical Theism (i.e., the biblical worldview),” the center reported.
“With so many parents of children under the age of 13 identifying as Christian, why do so few of them have a biblical worldview? Although no single reason is uniquely responsible for the low incidence of Biblical Theism among parents, the ACU research identifies a variety of conditions that contribute to that reality,” the report said.
Those include evidence that “the younger a parent is, the less likely they are to have a biblical worldview” and that “a majority of current parents of pre-teens—almost six out of 10— dismiss the Bible as a reliable and accurate source of God’s truth.”
Further, “Just four out of 10 pre-teen parents believe the Bible can be trusted as God’s accurate words for humanity. Even so, fewer than half of those individuals (45%) read the Bible at least once a week.”
Among churches, the survey said, there are only three types with “an above-average proportion of pre-teen parents who possess a biblical worldview: non-denomination or independent Protestant churches, Pentecostal or charismatic churches, and evangelical churches. Parents associated with congregations that are non-denominational or independent Protestant were about eight times more likely than the national norm to have a biblical worldview, while those aligned with either evangelical or charismatic Protestant churches were about three times more likely. However, fewer than one out of every five parents of children under 13 (19%) attend those types of churches.”
The report also that wealth seems to cost biblical beliefs.
“Wealth also relates to the likelihood of today’s pre-teen parents possessing a biblical worldview. Pre-teen parents in middle-income households are the group most likely to display biblical beliefs and behaviors. Notably, while pre-teen parents in households earning between $40,000 and $75,000 annually constitute one-quarter of all such parents, they also represent half of the pre-teen parents who embrace Biblical Theism. While pre-teen parents in lower- and working-class homes display average levels of biblical worldview incidence, pre-teen parents from households making in excess of $100,000 annually rarely possess a biblical worldview (i.e., less than one-half of one percent of them).”
Barna said the circumstances are leaving children with a “spiritual disadvantage” to start life.
“Shockingly few parents intentionally speak to their children about beliefs and behavior based upon a biblical worldview. Perhaps the most powerful worldview lesson parents provide is through their own behavior, yet our studies consistently indicate that parental choices generally do not reflect biblical principles or an intentionally Christian approach to life.”
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