A slight majority of evangelical churchgoers believe there is no moral absolute truth, while three-quarters think people are “basically good,” according to a new report that its authors call “alarming.”
The poll by the Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University examined the views of attendees of evangelical, Pentecostal/charismatic, mainline Protestant and Catholic churches on 51 beliefs and behaviors.
Among the findings, the survey discovered that a majority of evangelicals (52 percent), Pentecostals/charismatics (69 percent), mainline Protestants (58) and Catholics (69 percent) say there is no absolute moral truth that applies to everyone, all the time.
On the question of sin, a large majority of evangelicals (75 percent), Pentecostals/charismatics (76 percent), mainline Protestants (81 percent) and Catholics (84 percent) disagree with the statement, “People are not basically good; we are sinners.”
“American Christianity is rapidly conforming to the values of the post-Christian secular culture,” the report’s authors wrote.
Significantly, the survey only examined the beliefs of church attendees, not limiting it to those who have professed certain beliefs or who say they have embraced Christ’s teachings. Still, its findings likely will disturb many within the Christian community.
The survey also found that among evangelical churchgoers:
- 43 percent believe Jesus sinned.
- 43 percent do not believe that there is a common, God-given purpose to humanity.
- 42 percent seek moral guidance primarily from sources other than the Bible.
A news release from the Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University called the results “alarming for evangelicalism.”
“What makes that trend so significant is that evangelical churches, by definition, teach that the Bible is the authoritative word of God that teaches not only salvation by grace alone but also an array of life principles that are meant to drive one’s thoughts and actions,” CRC said in the release.
George Barna, director of research at the Cultural Research Center, said the data “represents a post-Christian Reformation driven by people seeking to retain a Christian identity.”
“Unfortunately, the theology of this reformation is being driven by American culture rather than biblical truth,” Barna said. “The worldviews embraced by the adherents of these distinct religious communities reflect contemporary, worldly influence, rather than biblical influence.”
The findings are based on a January survey of 2,000 U.S. adults.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.