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Parents lack of biblical worldview puts children at 'spiritual disadvantage': Barna warns

6 out of 10 US parents don't view the Bible as a 'reliable and accurate source of God’s truth'

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A prominent Evangelical researcher has warned that the lack of a biblical worldview among parents of preteens puts youth at a “spiritual disadvantage.”

The George Barna-led Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University released the first report of its American Worldview Inventory 2022 Tuesday, which analyzed “the worldview dilemma of American parents.”

The report was based on a survey of 600 American parents with children younger than 13 conducted in January. The respondents were asked several dozen worldview-related questions that “measure both beliefs and behavior within eight categories of worldview application.”

While 67% of parents with children younger than 13 identified as Christians, just 2% of those surveyed subscribed to a biblical worldview as defined by the researchers. According to the report, a biblical worldview “emerges from accepting the Bible as a relevant and authoritative guide for life.

Among the two-thirds of parents who identify as Christian, just 4% of them possessed a biblical worldview.

“A parent’s primary responsibility is to prepare a child for the life God intends for that child,” Barna, the director of research at the Cultural Research Center, said in a statement.

“A crucial element in nurturing is helping the child develop a biblical worldview — the filter that causes a person to make their choices in harmony with biblical teachings and principles.”

According to Barna, who founded the prominent Evangelical research firm Barna Group, the “research confirms that very few parents even have the worldview development of their children on their radar.”

“The typical American parent is either fully unaware that there is a worldview development process, or they are aware that their child is developing a worldview, but they do not take responsibility for a role in the process,” he said. 

“Every parent teaches what they know and models what they believe. They can only give what they have, and what they have to give reflects their driving beliefs about life and spirituality.”

Barna warned that parents are “both a primary influence and a gatekeeper to other influences” on their children. 

Although some parents are “aware the child’s worldview is being developed,” Barna said they may “choose or allow outsiders to accomplish that duty on the parent’s behalf.”

“Shockingly few parents intentionally speak to their children about beliefs and behavior based upon a biblical worldview,” Barna said. “Perhaps the most powerful worldview lesson parents provide is through their own behavior, yet our studies consistently indicate that parental choices generally do not reflect biblical principles or an intentionally Christian approach to life.”

The research concluded that American parents’ views about the Bible play a role in the group’s widespread absence of a biblical worldview.

Specifically, nearly six out of 10 parents surveyed do not see the Bible as a “reliable and accurate source of God’s truth,” while just 40% view the Bible as “God’s accurate words for humanity.”

The subgroup of parents most likely to possess a biblical worldview attended independent or nondenominational Protestant churches (16%). The share of parents with a biblical worldview was measured at 10% among those who read the Bible daily, those who see themselves as “very conservative on theological matters,” and those who consider themselves “very conservative on social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Those with a biblical worldview comprised less than 10% of all other subgroups of preteen parents, characterized based on their religious and political views. The groups with the highest number of parents possessing a biblical worldview identified as politically conservative (9%), and theologically defined born-again Christians (8%). Overall, 22% of respondents identified as born-again Christians, while 19% described themselves as politically conservative.

The groups least likely to possess a biblical worldview were those attending Catholic churches, respondents who characterized themselves as politically liberal or progressive and parents between the ages of 18 and 24.

Just 1% of Catholics and liberals had a biblical worldview, while less than 1% of parents younger than 24 have a biblical worldview.

Catholics comprised 24% of respondents, while political liberals and progressives accounted for 17% of those surveyed. Thirteen percent of the sample included parents between 18 and 24.

Older parents were slightly more likely than their younger counterparts to embrace a biblical worldview. Four percent of parents aged 45 or older, who constituted 31% of respondents, subscribe to such a worldview, followed by 2% of parents between the ages of 25 and 44, who constituted a majority (56%) of those surveyed.

While mainline Protestants and Evangelical Protestants each comprised 11% of the sample, Evangelicals had a higher share of adherents with a biblical worldview (6%) than mainline Protestants (2%).

While Barna expressed concern about the astronomically low share of preteen parents with a biblical worldview, he remained optimistic about the possibility of a spiritual revival in the U.S.

“The reality is that culture-changing movements can transform a nation with as little as 2% of the population on-board,” he said. “Turning around the paucity of commitment to the biblical worldview cannot happen overnight, in the United States, but it can happen.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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