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GENERATIONS AND THE BIBLE
A new research report from the Barna Group examines recent nationwide studies on how different generations of American adults view and use the Bible. For the purposes of this research, the Mosaic generation refers to adults who are currently ages 18 to 25; Busters are those ages 26 to 44; Boomers are 45 to 63; and Elders are 64-plus.
There is often more that unites the various generations than divides them. The Barna research regarding the Bible confirms the central role this revered text has for most Americans. A majority of each of the four generations believes that the Bible is a sacred or holy book. Another commonality is that millions within each of the generations report reading the pages of Scripture in the last week.
There is also significant generational overlap regarding people’s views on the nature of the Bible. Similar proportions of the generations embrace the most conservative and most liberal views. For instance, the highest view of the Bible is that it is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word, is embraced by one-quarter of Mosaics (27%), Busters (27%), and Boomers (23%), and one-third of Elders (34%). The extreme view on the other end is that the Bible is not inspired by God is embraced by proportions that are also statistically close to one another, including Mosaics (25%), Busters (19%), Boomers (22%), and Elders (22%).
However, despite these similarities, the Barna studies show that the youngest generations are charting a new, unique course related to the Bible. Here are the types of changes being forged by young adults:
Less Sacred: While most Americans of all ages identify the Bible as sacred, the drop-off among the youngest adults is striking: 9 out of 10 Boomers and Elders described the Bible as sacred, which compares to 8 out of 10 Busters (81%) and just 2 out of 3 Mosaics (67%).
¡öLess Accurate ¨C Young adults are significantly less likely than older adults to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Just 30% of Mosaics and 39% of Busters firmly embraced this view, compared with 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.
More Universalism: Among Mosaics, a majority (56%) believes the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts, which compares with 4 out of 10 Busters and Boomers, and one-third of Elders.
Skepticism of Origins: Another generational difference is that young adults are more likely to express skepticism about the original manuscripts of the Bible than is true of older adults.
Less Engagement: While many young adults are active users of the Bible, the pattern shows a clear generational drop-off, the younger the person, the less likely then are to read the Bible. In particular, Busters and Mosaics are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives.
Bible Appetite: Despite the generational decline in many Bible metrics, one departure from the typical pattern is the fact that younger adults, especially Mosaics (19%), express a slightly above-average interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge. This compares with 12% of Boomers and 9% of Elders.
David Kinnaman, who directed the analysis of the research, explained that the central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism. They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.
The president of the Barna Group pointed out that since many young people want to learn about the Bible it should be an opportunity for Christian leaders.Perhaps young people want to participate more in the process of learning, not simply attend Bible lectures or be trained in classrooms. Mosaics and Busters have come to expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive, that allow them to be open and honest with their questions, that are technologically stimulating, that are done alongside peers and within trusted relationships, and that give them the chance to be creative and visual. Their expectations may or may not be entirely healthy, but without considering these issues, the Bible will continue to lose hold on the next generation.
Where at one time, having sexual relations outside marriage was considered liberating, current studies show that it damages one's ability to trust, affecting future relationship, one's respect for self, affecting every decision and diminishing the value of right decisions, and one's respect for health.
Liberating? At what cost.
Drs. Freda Bush and Joe McIlhaney released a study at Harvard University that shows that exposure to immorality and participation in sexual acts during childhood years actually changes the brain, interrupting the normal production and usage of dopamine, vasopressin and oxytocin in the brain for the remainder of the life.
These chemicals, when released properly, create the "monogamy syndrome", in that moment bonding the person to another. If this occurs outside of marriage, that moment of bonding never fully takes place, even after marriage.1
According to the study, listen, "But that bonding, which acts like adhesive tape or Velcro, is weakened when people tear away at its power by breaking off with a sexual partner and moving on from one to another to another. So when it does finally come time to bond permanently with a spouse, the ability to bond is damaged.
The brain actually gets molded to not accept that deep emotional level that's so important for marriage. When they do marry, they're more likely to have a divorce than people who were virgins when they got married."
Others studies, reported by American Journal of Preventive Medicine, physical and emotional changes in unmarried people who have sex, as well as in married people who have sex outside marriage.
This is not to discount the spiritual changes in these people.
The Bible is relevant concerning the building blocks of a strong, supportive, fulfilling family life, although some have misrepresented what it is teaching through the years. One of those building blocks is entering into the most important human relationship of choice with the ability to commit fully, and much further than you have ever committed to another in your life. Purity before marriage is now seen as a crucial part of that. This is something many will miss out on because the deemed the Bible irrelevant to themselves.
What would you be willing to do for $10,000,000-00? In their book, The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim reveal some shocking statistics about how far people in this country are willing to go for ten million.
Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
Would give up their American citizenship (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth On Feelings
Pontius Pilate asked the classic question, “What is truth?” Do you know what Americans think about truth? Find out in this week’s report.
· By a 3-to-1 margin (64% vs. 22%) adults said truth is always
relative to a person’s situation. The perspective was even more lopsided among teenagers.
· People are most likely to make their moral and ethical decisions on
the basis of whatever feels right or comfortable in a situation. The Bible or religious teachings were primary for a small percentage of adults and teens.
· Whites, blacks and Hispanics differed substantially on these
· While born again Christians were statistically different from
non-born again individuals, the differences were minimal; a minority of born agains believe in absolute truth; and a minority base thei...
THE FALSE FOUNDATIONS IN THE KINSEY REPORT
Almost 50 years ago, Alfred Kinsey, a quiet Midwestern Zoology professor, published the 1st of 2 volumes that would shake American culture to its foundations. His 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male - like its 1953 sequel, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female - claimed to report the findings of a massive survey of American sexual behavior.
And what findings they were! In dry, scientific language, Kinsey declared that many traditionally forbidden sexual activities were commonplace: About 1/2 of all married men and one in 4 married women had had extramarital sex; 69% of men had been with prostitutes; 10 % of men had been homosexual for at 3 years; 40 to 50% of boys raised on farms had had sexual contact with animals.
What’s more, Kinsey claimed many of these practices could be beneficial. Premarital sex helped women "adjust" to marriage. Boys may develop "affectional relations" with their animal sexual partners.
The public - then sexually conservative by today’s standards - might not have accepted such information from just anyone. But Kinsey was a scientist and, impressed by the wonders of modern technology, Americans had grown to respect science deeply. And because Kinsey’s was a scientific study, says historian John D’Emilio of the University of N. Carolina at Greensboro, "The press had permission to write about the subject in a way it wouldn’t have before."
American culture shifted under the impact. The old sexual rules, supposedly hypocritical, began weakening. "If you discover that the desires you’ve been repressing are being acted out by millions," says historian Paul Robinson of Stanford University, "you are less inclined to repress them." Newsweek characterized that effect as "If it’s OK with Kinsey, it’s OK with me."
Today, in good measure because of Alfred Kinsey, we live in a different world. But were the things he said true?
In December 1995, nearly 50 years after Kinsey’s 1st report, the Indiana institute that Kinsey founded to carry on his work acknowledged that certain data had been misrepresented. Kinsey had written that 9 observers - some technically trained" - had found that children as young as 5 months were capable of multiple orgasm and, when "uninhibited," were "aggressive in seeking" sex. The truth, the Kinsey Institute now said, was that those data were supplied by a single observer - a pedophile who claimed to have sex with 317 boys....
In fact, many of Kinsey’ findings were based on flawed methods. And some are outright false. Nevertheless, prominent scholars who know this continue to promote Kinsey’s work....
When Kinsey took a sexual history, he was far more likely to "find" sexual activity than were his own colleagues - reporting 2 to 3 times as much premarital intercourse and 4 times as much homosexuality as they did. Says historian James Reed of Rutgers University, "Kinsey was a man who very much wanted to find sexual activity."
Even more troubling was Kinsey’s collection of child pornography. According to a 1981 letter from Kinsey colleague Paul Gebhard to researcher Judith Reisman, Kinsey obtained photos and film of children engaged in sexual acts from adults who had had sex with them. Kinsey never notified law enforcement of the existence of any of these pedophiles.
Kinsey claimed to be a neutral scientist who had no agenda. He wrote in his 1st volume that he aimed for "scientific fact completely divorced from questions of moral value and social custom." His claim was false. "Kinsey had views, and they’re in his books," says sociologist John Gagnon, a former president of the International Academy of Sex Research, who joined the institute after its founder’s death in 1956. Kinsey believed that sex was a simple, biological reaction to stimuli with no moral, spiritual or psychological dimension. Only "inhibitions" imposed by society, he claimed prevented everyone from enjoying equally a variety of "outlets."
"It is not so difficult," Kinsey wrote in his 2nd report, "to explain why a human animal does a particular thing sexually. It is more difficult to explain why each and every individual is not involved in every type of sexual activity." In his declared opinion, there was no moral difference between one sexual outlet and any other.
It is not surprising, then, that the Kinsey Reports contain graphic description of young children under prolonged sexual stimulation by a pedophile including the children’s screams and struggles to get away. Yet Kinsey concluded that the children "derive definite pleasure from the situation."
The survey respondents on whom Kinsey based his conclusions were grossly unrepresentative of the general population. About 75% of his male respondents volunteered to take part, for instance. Using Kinsey’s data, psychologist Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University reported that such volunteers are anywhere from 2 to 4 times more active sexually than nonvolunteers.
Kinsey’s sample also included prison inmates. Pomeroy wrote that by 1946, the team had taken sexual histories from 1400 convicted sex offenders. Kinsey never revealed how many he included in his total sample of 5300 males; he did acknowledge that his 1st volume included "several thousand" male prostitutes.
THE FALSE FOUNDATIONS IN THE KINSEY REPORT by Rachel Wildavsky in R.Digest 4/97 p. 59 ff.
The most often visited internet site in the summer of 2001 was reported to be an interview with God. Some of you have sent me a copy of this. It’s an imaginary question-and-answer session with God. In June alone it had 2.4 million visitors log on, and all of this without advertising!
Human beings long for a conversation with God. We’re still looking for answers to the basic questions of life. The greatest longings in our heart are found in Jesus Christ. We want direction for our life. Jesus said, “I Am the Way.” We want to know what’s real. Jesus said, “I Am the Truth.” We constantly look for life. Jesus said, “I Am the Life.” How do I deal with my guilt? John said of Jesus that he was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
No people in history have had as many opportunities to hear the truth about God, to learn how salvation can be found by turning to Jesus Christ, than those who live in this country at the end of the 20th Century. Do you realize there are 450,000 churches in the United States. In fact, 24% of protestant congre-gations in the world are in this country. There are 600 religious radio stations, the vast majority run by evangelical Christians, who daily broadcast the message of Jesus Christ to people across the land. Christian TV, Christian publishing, Christian music recording, all communicate the Bible’s message. God has given us so many chances. But, there are so many folks who continue to reject the truth.
“THEOLOGY IN THE PEW”
“A large share of people who attend Protestant or Catholic churches have adopted beliefs that conflict with the teachings of the Bible and their church, according to the latest release from the Barna Research Group (www.barna.org).
There are some fundamental Christian precepts that most Americans have held on to:
Three-quarters of all adults believe in the Trinity.
Seventy-nine percent accept that "every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence."
Seventy-six percent reject the pre-Reformation perspective that "the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology."
On other issues, the research found disturbing trends:
Six out of ten Americans (59%) reject the existence of Satan, calling him merely a symbol of evil, a view common among Catholics.
More than one-third (35%) believe that it is "possible to communicate with others after they die."
Forty-two percent believe that, when Jesus was on earth, he committed sins.
Half of all adults arg...
ILLUS: Moral erosion continues in America, according to James Patterson and Peter Kim. They report that 74 percent of Americans will steal from those who won’t miss it, and 64 percent will lie for convenience as long as no one is hurt. Most Americans (93 percent) say they alone decide moral issues, basing their decisions on their own experience or whims. Eighty-four percent say they would break the rules of their own religion. And 81 percent have violated a law they felt to be inappropriate. Only 30 percent say they would be willing to die for their religious beliefs or for God. -- Reported in The Day America Told the Truth (Prentice Hall, 1991).
George Hunter contends that the first characteristic of a secular person in the modern world is that he or she is ignorant of basic Christianity. It has been said of the Baby Busters, those born between 1963 and 1977 and the first generation to grow up in a postmodern context, that they lack even the memory of a hope-giving gospel. Today many people outside of the church struggle with the concept of Christ’s deity. They think he was a good man, perhaps even a prophet, but not God in human form. Further, 72 percent of Americans now deny the existence of absolute truth, and few have confidence in the historical accuracy or ethical authority of the Bible. Two-thirds of the population does not know what John 3:16 refers to, and less than four out of every ten Americans have any idea what the term gospel means. Ten percent believe that the name of Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.
James White, Rethinking the Church, p. 41