A YMCA in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has banned 24/7 news channels on its community TV because viewers were getting into political disagreements so heated that they nearly degenerated into fistfights. Note that this was at the Young Men’s Christian Association.
After reading that, I was saddened but not surprised at the results of a landmark study by the American Culture and Faith Institute. The Worldview Measurement Project found that many Americans who profess to be Christians couldn’t pass Christianity 101.
The survey featured 40 questions on spiritual matters and behavior addressed in the Bible, such as lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, the nature of God and the consequences of unresolved sin. The ACFI was shocked to discover that while 7 out of 10 Americans profess to be Christians, very few were able to answer the questions. The results were especially dismal among young people, age 18-29, only 4 percent of whom scored 80 percent or better on the questionnaire.
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There was a similar disconnect when it came to how many claimed to have a “Biblical worldview” (46 percent) and how many actually did, judging from their survey answers (10 percent). So if you wonder how regulars at the YMCA could let themselves get so angered over politics that they nearly came to blows, that could give you a clue.
Most people assume that they react to events objectively, based solely on the evidence before them, but in fact, we all filter and interpret what we observe through our own particular viewpoints. If you have a nihilist, existentialist, secular humanist or atheist worldview, then you won’t react to the same events the way someone with a Biblical worldview would. That’s because each worldview has a different definition of right and wrong, moral and immoral, that determines what its believers think and do. Personally, I think the world would be better off if more people had genuine Bible-based Christian worldviews, mostly because it’s one of the few major worldviews these days that teaches us to love others rather than crush them.
The Internet and electronic media were supposed to bring us all together into a virtual community, but in many cases, they have instead divided us into warring camps. The same technology that allowed like-minded people to connect with each other also made it easy for them to disconnect from those with different worldviews. That has created bulletproof bubbles of homogeneous thought; echo chambers where similar opinions reinforce each other until they become hardened like cement, and it becomes second nature to dismiss any other views as unworthy of respect. For example, see the recent rise in mocking, sarcastic attacks by atheists on any expression of religious faith.
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We used to call this “coarsening the culture.” The cynical, amoral worldviews fostered by pop culture, Hollywood and the anonymity of the Internet were already growing, infecting every aspect of society.
Then the Internet put the process on steroids. Even some who think they have a Biblical worldview don’t realize when they aren’t living up to their own standards, because they don’t really grasp what those standards are, from the source.
There’s an old folk saying that expresses that idea succinctly: “Practice what you preach.” Maybe we need to put an addendum on that: “Practice what you preach…but first, read the Bible so you truly know what you’re preaching about.”
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