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Mile-wide Christians

Church in Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Credit: redcharlie/

A recent poll conducted by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University headed by George Barna uncovered some questionable beliefs about those who self-identify as Christians in America.

In the poll, about 69% of Americans (176 million) self-identified as Christian. And though that number seem impressive, it falls inline with that old saying of being a mile wide, but only one inch deep.

The poll revealed that self-identification does not necessarily refer to a Biblical definition of Christianity. They are Christian only in the sense that they grew up in what could loosely be described as a Christian home. They don’t regularly attend religious services, but if they did, it would be a Christian one.

So in that sense they follow the Christian tradition, more than they follow Christian beliefs.

And this showed up, as the poll exposed the actual beliefs of these self-identifying Christians:

For example, 72% of self-identified Christians believe that everyone is basically good.

And this almost perfectly corresponds with their response to the another question, where only 34% said that a person is born a sinner.

Both these beliefs are contrary to one of the fundamental messages of the Bible, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and because of this require salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And keeping with that theme, 58% believe that people can earn their way into heaven if they do enough good works, so in that sense it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you do good.

And this flows into the next topic, as 64% believe that all faiths are of equal value. This means that most self-identifying Christians believe there are multiple ways to God.

But in contrast to this, the Bible teachers there is only one mediator between God and Man, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

As well, 52% do not believe in absolute moral truth. Just over half believe that truth is relative. That what you believe to be right for you is truth to you. In other words, the Bible is not considered as an authority on God, sin or truth.

According to Barna these answers reveal that we need to take all polls talking about Christians with a grain of salt:

“The survey results clearly demonstrate how careful you have to be when interpreting data associated with a particular segment of people who are labeled as Christians.”

“Political polling, in particular, may mislead people regarding the views and preferences of genuine Christ-followers simply based on how those surveys measure the Christian population.”

What is often referred to as Christians in these surveys are not necessarily Biblical ones.

Are they saved? I don’t know. Can a person believe in Jesus for salvation for their sins, while at the same time believing people can work there way into heaven by living a good life?

READ: Study Reveals Stunning Statistics About Professing Christians AND What does it mean, when people say they are ‘Christian’ AND: New Study Shows Christianity Spreads Best in Unlikely Places AND Proof That Political Privilege Is Harmful for Christianity

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