Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. – John 3:3
Well, now I’ve heard everything.
More than half of born-again Christians don’t believe Jesus lived a sinless life.
That is what the respected George Barna survey tells us.
Many people want to blame this sorry state all on COVID-19, when 15 million people stopped attending church in America. The prohibition was all meant to “stop the spread” for a little while, but for Anthony Fauci and Joe Biden, the “little while” became years.
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As the apologetics website Got Questions explains, Jesus being sinless is central to the hope Christians have in Him as Savior. It explains why it’s so important to believe. If he was not God incarnate, Jesus would not be able to forgive sins. But he was able to do just that, as we’re are told in 1 Peter 2:21-24: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
This is fundamental to the Christian life. If you don’t truly believe it with every bone in your body, you don’t know Jesus. It can’t be blamed on church attendance or COVID-19.
Born-again Christians make up the backbone of church activity and a high level of commitment to their faith, but the study shows that between 2020 and 2023, the share of those who say they believe Jesus did not commit sins during his lifetime on Earth fell from 58% to 44%.
This shift in belief among born-again Christians was among six that showed a significant decline in the past three years, which Barna characterizes as “indefensible.” Those include the findings that fewer than half of born-again Christians now believe they have a unique, God-given calling or purpose. The share of those who held that belief fell from 88 to 46% during the pandemic.
A downward trend was also observed among those who say the Bible is unambiguous in its teaching about abortion, falling from 58 to 44%. Those who say human life is sacred fell from 60 to 48%, and the number of born-again Christians who say God is the basis of all truth fell from 69 to 63% over the period.
The share of born-again believers who say they are deeply committed to practicing their religious faith fell from 85% to 50%, while the share of those who say they read or study the Bible at least once a week fell from 60 to 55%.
When it comes to the general population of U.S. adults, Barna said the share of the population that claims to hold a biblical worldview fell from 6% to 4% in the last three years, while less than half now claim to be “deeply committed to practicing” their religious faith. That measure fell from 60 to 48%.
“Most religious beliefs change over the course of generations, not a few years,” Barna said. “However, we know that major life crises have the capacity to introduce substantial change quickly in the foundations of people’s faith.”
Perhaps we should describe this as the apocalypse of the church.
“The pandemic was certainly a life crisis for our nation, so even though this magnitude of spiritual shift was not expected, it is feasible given the physical and psychological effects of COVID along with the economic, relational, and lifestyle effects of the government’s drastic policies,” Barna explained.
Yes, indeed – government’s drastic policies. The message Americans received was cataclysmic. They were told churches should be closed for the pandemic, but not bars. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which activity is protected by the First Amendment.
But Barna warned in 2022 that a significant driver behind the decline in Christians holding on to a biblical worldview is syncretism, an ideology described as “the worldview that merges otherwise incompatible philosophies of life into a made-to-order worldview that incorporates enough biblical elements to be minimally Christian in nature.”
“Although some of the belief and behavior shifts seem to conflict with each other, this is precisely what happens when the prevailing worldview of the nation is syncretism,” Barna said.
“Syncretism does not rely upon logic or consistency,” he said. “Over time, many people struggle with the conflicts inherent in their syncretistic belief system, and the strange jumble of behaviors that emerge from those beliefs. But for the foreseeable future, it is likely most people will ignore their incompatible philosophies and make do the best they can. They are seeking comfort and security more than spiritual and intellectual consistency.”
Yes, they are not willing to give their lives to God. Yet it’s the only thing that can save them.
As John 10:10 tells us, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
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