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Once upon a time it was easy to think that America was almost 100% Christian.  Even with our diverse immigrant population a large majority of the country espoused some type of Christian faith.  Even if you didn’t attend church on a regular basis, you probably claimed to be a Christian.  We all know the C & E people – Christmas and Easter.

Even in politics almost everyone claims to have some Christian experience, often maybe just a grandparent who went to church.  In many parts of the country you at least attended church for the social benefits.  Well Barna recently released some new information that shouldn’t be too startling.

The study discovered that half of all adults now contend that Christianity is just one of many options that Americans choose from and that a huge majority of adults pick and choose what they believe rather than adopt a church or denomination’s slate of beliefs.

The research also indicated that more and more individuals are less-willing to accept the dictates of any one deonomination but are more likely to take an a la carte approach.

By a three to one margin (71% to 26%) adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a particular church. Although born again Christians were among the segments least likely to adopt the a la carte approach to beliefs, a considerable majority even of born again adults (61%) has taken that route. Leading the charge in the move to customize one’s package of beliefs are people under the age of 25, among whom more than four out of five (82%) said they develop their own combination of beliefs rather than adopt a set proposed by a church.

I would lump myself into that category. I don’t neccessarily agree with all of any one denomination’s perspectives or opinions, but attempt to find a balance of what the Bible teaches.  There are obviously some problems to this trend and Barna noted two:

Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologian-in-residence. One consequence is that Americans are embracing an unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs. Barna pointed out, as examples, that millions of people who consider themselves to be Christian now believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the lessons it teaches at the same time that they believe Jesus Christ sinned. Millions also contend that they will experience eternal salvation because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior, but also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation.

Obviously attending an evangelical college and getting some training in the Bible is helpful in shaping my personal beliefs, but I am sure that at some point my beliefs will err from Biblical teaching. That is when my fellow believers can lovingly correct me.  Every believer needs to be a part of a Christian fellowship. This doesn’t mean that they have to attend church on Sunday morning/evening and Wendsday night service, but it does require some form of fellowship where you can be taught by more experienced teachers and live and explore the Bible together.

Would you agree with Barna’s research? Where are you at on this issue?

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