Just one in six American adults say they make moral decisions based on the Bible, according to a new study.
The evangelical Christian Barna Group, which conducted the research, said about half of adults make moral choices “on the basis of specific principles or standards they believe in.”
The survey of 1,002 adults of all faiths aimed to find out how many Americans live by a “biblical worldview,” described as a “life perspective on the basis of several questions about religious belief.”
Other common means of making moral choices, according to the study, include doing what feels right or comfortable, 24 percent; doing whatever makes the most people happy or causes the least conflict, 9 percent; and pursuing whatever produces the most positive outcomes for the person, 7 percent.
When asked whether they believe moral truth is based on absolute standards or is relative to the circumstances, Americans are divided into roughly equal segments, the California-based group said.
About 35 percent contend that moral truth is absolute, or not dependent upon the circumstances.
Thirty-two percent say that morality always is determined by the situation.
The remaining one-third, 33 percent, indicate they don’t know if moral truth is absolute or relative.
About 70 percent of evangelical Christians report believing that moral truth is absolute. Only 42 percent of non-evangelicals hold that view.
A biblical worldview, according to the Barna Group’s definition, “requires someone to believe that absolute moral truth exists; that the source of moral truth is the Bible; that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches; that eternal spiritual salvation cannot be earned; that Jesus lived a sinless life on earth; that every person has a responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others; that Satan is a living force, not just a symbol of evil; and that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful maker of the universe who still rules that creation today.”
Barna reported that the new survey showed the percentage of adults holding a biblical worldview has remained “minimal and unchanged over the past three years, despite the widespread public debate about moral issues and the efforts of thousands of churches to enhance people’s moral convictions.”
Just 5 percent of adults have a biblical worldview, including half of people identified by Barna as evangelicals.
The research group’s founder, George Barna, said “most born again Christians hold a confusing and inherently contradictory set of religious beliefs that go unchecked by the leaders and teachers of their faith community.”
The new survey also showed nine out of 10 adults, 88 percent, feel “accepted by God,” and four out of every five adults, 82 percent, say they are “clear about the meaning and purpose” of their life.