Most adolescents do not subscribe to the cornerstone beliefs associated with a biblical worldview as concerns mount about the values informing the next generation’s perspective, new research suggests.
The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University released data examining the prominence of belief in the “Seven Cornerstones of a Biblical Worldview” among adolescents, defined as children between the ages of 8 and 12.
The research is based on a national survey of 400 children conducted from November to December 2022 with an error margin of +/-5 percentage points.
The data, which was included in CRC Director of Research George Barna’s bestselling book Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind, and Soul, found that just 3% of respondents embrace all seven cornerstones.
The CRC characterizes a biblical worldview as “a means of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of biblical perspectives” that “provides a personal understanding of every idea, opportunity, and experience based on the identification and application of relevant biblical principles so that each choice we make may be consistent with God’s principles and commands.”
While a majority of adolescents (69%) believe that “God exists and is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect Creator and ruler of the universe,” much smaller percentages of young Americans subscribe to the other cornerstone beliefs that “dramatically increase the likelihood of a person developing a biblical worldview.”
Just 36% of those surveyed agree that “as a sinner, the only solution to the consequences of sin is to acknowledge your sins, ask God to forgive you through Jesus Christ, and rely on Him to save you from those consequences.”
Thirty-five percent of adolescents think that “sin is real, and significant; we are all sinners by choice.” Slightly more than one-quarter (27%) identified their “most important reason for living” as “to do what God wants,” while 25% said that they “trust the Bible because it is completely true” and “personally relevant” to their lives.
When asked if they viewed the Bible as “a complete and reliable understanding of right and wrong,” 21% answered in the affirmative. Only 17% of children surveyed define success as “consistently doing what the Bible teaches.”
A plurality of children who participated in the survey (32%) only embrace one or two of the seven cornerstones, followed by 26% who subscribe to either three or four of them and an additional 26% who do not adhere to any of them. The remaining 13% agree with five or six of the cornerstones.
When it comes to other spiritual beliefs beyond the seven cornerstones, the overwhelming majority (96%) of adolescents say they have heard of Heaven, and 79% of those who have heard about it believe it is a real place. Additionally, 96% of respondents have heard of Hell, and 73% of this subgroup of children think it is a real place.
“An unexpectedly large proportion of children (67%) said they believe that after a person dies, they either go to Heaven or Hell based on how they lived their life and what they believe about Jesus Christ,” the CRC noted. “However, while 30% of children ages 8 through 11 noted their uncertainty, that dropped to just half as many (15%) among 12-year-olds.”
Most children (61%) told researchers they expected to go to Heaven after dying, while 2% predicted they would go to Hell. Twenty percent of respondents had other thoughts about where they would go after dying, while 17% stated they were unsure.
Reacting to the research, Barna, a veteran Evangelical pollster, insisted that “we know what practices are most effective at developing young disciples.”
“[T]he only missing factor is a mass of parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, coaches, and other influencers who are willing to make this their top priority in life,” Barna said. “If those influencers really love or care about young people, then following through with effective disciple-making practices should not be a significant obstacle.”
“Any parent can be part of the solution, if they so desire,” Barna asserted. “It starts with a commitment to raising a spiritual champion, which requires a solid plan that the adult consistently implements. The plan calls for a steady diet of teaching, discussing, and modeling biblical principles and evaluating how well the child is doing at understanding and applying those principles.”
Barna warns, “America’s children are in the process of adopting Syncretism as their dominant worldview.”
As the CRC has explained, Syncretism refers to “a hybrid of beliefs adopted from different worldviews.”
“They are following in the footsteps of their parents, only 2% of whom have a biblical worldview, and 96% of whom are Syncretists,” Barna said. “That mindset and lifestyle is modeled for their children every day and has become the comfortable default position among most adults, teens, and children who call themselves Christian.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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