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(CP) A prominent Christian researcher is warning that “we are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation,” as new research shows that preteens are rejecting beliefs associated with a biblical worldview.

In a statement released last week, the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University shared data about the worldviews held by children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. The Cultural Research Center contrasted the views of the preteens with those of parents of children younger than 13, pastors of Christian churches and teenagers.

The findings of the research are based on responses from 400 preteens collected in December 2022, 600 parents of children younger than 13 gathered in January 2022, 600 pastors of Christian churches collected in February 2022, 400 teenagers gathered in November and December 2022, and a January 2023 survey of 2,000 adults.

When asked if they believed that “Jesus Christ is the only way to experience eternal salvation, based on confessing your sins and relying only upon His forgiveness of your sins,” just 36% of preteens answered in the affirmative. Thirty-four percent of parents and 54% of children’s pastors said the same.

Twenty-five percent of preteens agreed that “the Bible is the true word of God that should be a guide to knowing right from wrong, and living a good life.” Significantly higher shares of parents (44%) and children’s pastors (62%) expressed agreement with the statement stressing the value of the Bible.

Less than half of preteens (21%), parents (28%) and children’s pastors (36%) believed that “there are absolute truths — things that are right and things that are wrong, that do not depend on feelings, preferences, or circumstances — those truths are unchanging and knowable.”

While similarly small percentages of preteens (27%) and parents (33%) agreed that “the main reason to live is to know, love and serve God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” a majority of children’s pastors (56%) identified knowing, loving and serving God as the purpose of life.

Only 17% of preteens defined “real success in life” as “consistently obeying God,” along with 19% of parents and 42% of children’s ministers. Additional findings about the views and spiritual lives of preteens included in the report state that 26% of children between the ages of 8 and 12 “consistently consult the Bible when trying to determine right from wrong” and that 21% of preteens surveyed “believe turning to the Bible is the best way to distinguish right from wrong.”

In other cases, the views of preteens closely mirror those of adults. For example, 36% of preteens and 35% of adults believe that “the means to eternal salvation is by confessing their sins and asking Jesus Christ to save them from the consequences of their sin.”

The research attributed the lack of a biblical worldview among preteens to the fact that adults shaping the opinions of the children also fail to embrace the biblical worldview. It measured the frequency of a biblical worldview among children between the ages of 8 and 12 at 2%. Among children’s pastors, that figure rises to just 12%.

Reacting to the findings of the research, Arizona Christian University Cultural Research Center Director George Barna said that “the worldview development of children is the existential challenge facing the American Church today.” According to Barna, “Because of the strong correlation between biblical worldview and genuine Christian discipleship, we are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation unless we get serious about this crisis and invest heavily in fixing what’s broken.”

The Cultural Research Center defines a biblical worldview as “a means of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of biblical perspectives.” It measures biblical worldview based on responses to questions examining respondents’ beliefs about [the] Bible, Truth, and Morals, Faith Practices, Family and the Value of Life, God, Creation, and History, Human Character and Nature, Lifestyle Behavior, and Relationships, Purpose and Calling as well as Sin, Salvation, and God Relationship.

“If you follow the data, you learn that we have had a decreasing percentage of Americans embracing a biblical worldview since we started tracking this in the early 1990s. We have endured more than 30 years of consistent decline, with a very limited response by the Church,” Barna added. “The incidence of biblical worldview among adults has dropped to just 4%, and among parents of young children it’s just 2%. You cannot get much lower.”

Barna elaborated on the importance of focusing on worldview development at an early age: “Children are intellectual and spiritual sponges in their preteen years. They are desperately trying to make sense of the world, their identity, their purpose, and how to live a meaningful and satisfying life.”

“Parents, in particular, have a duty to focus on and invest in the development of their child’s worldview, which is simply their decision-making filter for life. If parents do not fill that vacuum, other sources — such as the media, the schools, and even the child’s peers — will influence that worldview construction,” he warned. “The child’s worldview will inevitably develop. The critical questions are who will shape it and what four worldviews will be most forcefully and consistently proposed.”

© The Christian Post

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