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Does The Church Have A Biblical Worldview? – With George Barna: What did Jesus really teach about? Did He just come to bring peace and unity? What are the beliefs most Americans base their lives on? How do we address “fake” Christianity? How does a church fulfill the Lord’s call to “advance the Kingdom”? How do you know if you’re in a church that is interested in making disciples?  How did Covid affect church attendance? Tune in to hear George Barna discuss how the worldview of Christians is influencing the culture.

Air Date: 05/19/2021

Guest: George Barna

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We’re tackling the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. We’re glad you’re with us. Thanks for joining us. Be sure visit our website wallbuilderslive.com where you can get archives of the program, meaning if you’ve missed some shows of the last couple of weeks or months, they’re all right there at the website wallbuilderslive.com. 

Gets you a heavy dose of truth by listening to those shows. And also, while you’re on the website, you can make that one-time or monthly contribution, teaming up with us to amplify this voice of truth, get it out there to as many people as possible.

We’re here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. David, Tim, we got George Barna coming up later in the program. This guy has written more books than I can count. 

I think it’s like 55 or 60 books. David, you’ve done a book with him, “U-Turn”, we’ve got it available at wallbuilders.com today. The research he and his group do is just amazing. Every day, I forget how many people they’re interviewing to get a pulse on what’s going on in America.

But today we’re going to be talking worldview, where we stand right now, even in the church with what people believe. And as we uncover some of this, we’ll begin to understand why the voting in America is so bad. So it starts with worldview, then our actions are downstream from that.

Tim:

Yeah, one of the things that that too, Rick, in the midst of looking at the church, certainly, we can look at some recent elections, we can look at how people that have self-identified as Christian have not voted in what is a clearly biblical manner, things that are not confusing in the Bible, but are somehow confusing for many Christians in culture.

Self-Identifying, Anti-Biblical Thinking “Christians”

And one of the things that we’ve seen as a positive in the midst of this COVID craziness shutdown, is that as governors came in, and they said, okay, churches are not going to be recognized as essential in our states, even though, right, the pot dispensaries are essential and alcohol stores are essential, churches will not be viewed as essential, there were many pastors who stood up and said, okay, now enough is enough. We are not second class citizens. 

And they stood up and operating under their God given constitutional rights, they open up their churches. And right, many of them did things very safely. They did services outside for a while when there still wasn’t a lot of known science about COVID-19, they socially distanced. They did things to be as safe as they could knowing as little as they knew at the time. But they stood up to make a difference.

And we’ve seen that from these churches that have stood up that they have seen really strong growth in many areas where people were hungry for someone who would finally tell them the truth. Now the reason to me that’s significant is because it also indicates that not only were people hungry for someone telling them the truth.

It also points to the fact that there’s not a lot of pastors that in many cases were often telling the truth of the whole of the gospel, where sometimes we condense the Bible down and we say, hey, the only thing that matters is people know who Jesus is.

Well, I understand the logic behind that statement, but I also understand that’s incredibly biblically inaccurate. Jesus came to reveal the Father. Jesus had so many thoughts and teachings. He told the disciples when he left, he said, go make disciples, and teach them everything I have taught you. Well, if you go through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus covered a lot of information material. 

You go to the gospel of John, and go John 14 through 16 and in all the different parables and principles Jesus taught there, or go back to John 10, and there’s so many places Jesus taught such deep things, and it applied to much more than just that he is the Son of God or the Savior, or whatever the case is.

Because actually, that didn’t even apply to most of what he taught. And he told his disciples, you go teach people everything I’ve taught you. Well, what he was teaching them was how the kingdom of God operates, how to live in God’s kingdom. How do I have fellowship with God and with Jesus? And there’s so much more than oftentimes what pastors have preached or taught. 

Should Pastors be Non-Confrontational?

And in the midst of this, pastors have said, well, you know, we really don’t want to be offensive. We don’t want to drive people out. And we just want to be known for love. Well, that’s fine, you can be known for love because Jesus said that the world should know that we were his disciples by our love for one another. So check that’s great, we should love each other.

With that being said, also recognize that Jesus did not come to bring peace in unity. Jesus himself said he came to bring division and the sword but the reason that makes sense is because when you present truth to people who are not a fan of truth, or who don’t want to change, they’re going to reject that truth and that’s why this is not peace for them. This is the vision for them. 

That’s why Jesus had great friction with the Pharisees. In every single Gospel, Jesus’s main enemies, or main guys, opposition for him were the Pharisees, were Sadducees, were religious leaders. Jesus did find working with the heathen largely because they knew they were broken, they knew they were messed up they needed help. Jesus is very consistent with the Bible teaches that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to humble.

With all that being said, this is not necessarily what’s being taught in a lot of churches today. And so when you look at worldview, it’s very clear that biblical worldview is on a decline in America as well as church attendance. One of the things we saw recently in polling in last couple of months came out in polling was that right now, less than 50% of Americans attend church, either in person or even viewing online. 

It’s the first time in the history of our nation that church attendance has fallen below 50% in America. So America is the least religious, is the least Christian we’ve ever been even by profession. And this is part of the challenge we are seeing.

But as we often talk about, we cannot resolve the problem if we don’t know what the problem is. So we start identifying the problem, and then we ask the question how do we fix it? And certainly, George Barna has some ideas of how we fix it. But he is one of the best at dissecting where have we gone off course? 

Are Christians Embracing Basic Principles?

What are basic principles that we should as Christians believe that maybe pastors aren’t teaching anymore, that Christians aren’t embracing anymore? What are those things, and we can start there and try to work our way back to what it means to have a biblical worldview.

David:

And interestingly, oftentimes, when we have George on, as you listen to stats you go that’s really depressing. That’s doesn’t sound very encouraging. But the Bible says you have to be diligent to know the state of your flocks. In other words, you have to know the condition you’re in. If you think everything is really good, and you act that way, and it’s not really good, it doesn’t turn out well.

And one of the really interesting lessons I learned a number of years ago was from Glenn Beck. And Glenn Beck, good friend, he and I were on the road doing Arena Events together. Glenn came to me and said, hey, I want to do these Arena Events 15,000, 20,000 25,000 packed arenas, and I want to do it on 1 Corinthians 13, faith, hope and love; faith, hope, and charity is the King James version of that. 

And so he said, let’s do that. Let’s emphasize that. And so it was Glenn, and then he got a speaker for faith, and that was me, and then he got a speaker for hope and that was Dave Buckner, an economist at Cornell University. And then he got a speaker for charity, and that was Judge Andrew Napolitano.

And it’s kind of an interesting thing, because his charity thing was alright, charity that’s giving. And according the Bible, where does giving come from when you’re giving to help the poor? Well, it’s not the government. And so Andrew Napolitano actually went through the Constitution and showed, look, here’s how charity supposed to work. 

Stopping the Cancer

Here’s what government’s supposed to do. Here’s what is not supposed to do. Here’s what you’re supposed to do as individuals. Here’s what you’re supposed with church. Really interesting view of charity, not just helping the poor but who’s supposed to help it, and what’s the right jurisdiction?

And then Dave Buckner went through, and his was on hope. And he went through the economics of America and how bad we were with debt and what that meant for the future and what that meant for higher taxes. And you go going, wait a minute, this is supposed to be hope. This sounds really depressing here in the economics of America. And Glenn pointed out, he said, look, hope come from truth.

If you have cancer, and you go into a doctor, and you have Stage 4 cancer, and he says, oh, no, you’re doing great, everything’s fine. You’ll end up dying because you don’t do anything to take steps to treat it. He said, but at that doctor looks at you says, yeah, you’ve got Stage 4 cancer, and here’s what we’re going to do to fight it, then you have hope, because he spoke the truth to you, you can then have hope.

And so the aspect of hope is not just always saying encouraging things. Sometimes it’s really speaking the truth. That’s what George does. George really puts the truth out there. And once you look in the mirror and see what the truth is, then you can respond to it, and at that point, then you can have hope. And that’s really what George gives us even with the stats that are not very positive.

Rick:

Well, George Martin will be with us when we return. We’re going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.

A Moment from AMERICA’S HISTORY

This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. The key to a self-governing nation is self-governing people, and the key to personal self-government is to live by the standards in God’s word. If someone cannot control himself by those standards, then our Constitution certainly will be unable to restrain him. 

Understanding this, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power capable of continuing with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Greed, ambition, revenge or seduction would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams believed that successful government rested not upon our great Constitution, but rather upon moral and religious people. For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Always good to have, you know, I say it’s good to have George Barna on. You know, Georgia and you’re kind of like my friend, Daniel Horowitz, who we nicknamed the “Prophet of woe and lamentation”. When you just bring truth, then sometimes people don’t want to hear it. But we got to assess the patient if we’re going to find where the bleeding is and solve the problem. So, brother, let’s dive into it. You’ve been studying this a long time, and there’s some bad signs in the culture?

Welcome George Barna

George:

Well, you know, we started out by trying to figure out what proportion of people have a biblical worldview. And the research is showing us that it’s only 6% of American adults who have a biblical worldview. And our most recent study, we looked at, well, then what are the other 94% have? And I had expected that one of two or three different worldviews would emerge as the dominant one in America. I was looking at secular humanism and postmodernism probably the ones that would emerge.

But what we found is not even though those are widely embraced as a philosophy of life or worldview by most Americans. What we found is that almost 9 out of 10 adults in our country, 88% are driven in their decision making, their lifestyle choices by this thing that we’re calling syncretism, which means we’re so confused, we can’t even stick with one particular point of view. 

What we do is we cut and paste a whole lot of them together. And when you look at the totality of what we bought into, it doesn’t make sense. It’s inherently contradictory. And yet, people are abundantly comfortable with it, because they don’t really think deeply enough about what they’re leaving and the implications for their behavior.

Rick:

Now, what was the word you use syncre… say it again?

George:

Syncretism.

Rick:

Syncretism. And so they’re literally like bouncing around between different belief systems out there and grabbing a little here and there because they don’t have a consistent worldview in any particular foundation.

Syncretistic Perspective

George:

Right. And one of the hallmarks of the syncretistic perspective is, there is no absolute moral truth. So I can do whatever I want. I can think whatever I want. I can pick perspectives however I choose. It’s all about me. It’s about making sure that I feel comfortable, I’m happy, I’m satisfied, I’m fulfilled: everything is good if I’m in charge.

Rick:

Interesting. Alright. Now I mean, there were several findings in this thing that were pretty shocking in terms of their obedience to God doesn’t have anything to do with success in life. I mean, just go down the list, man, because this was anything but a biblical worldview is truly the opposite.

George:

Yeah. And what we’re looking at here is the worldview that people are most likely to draw from. They can pick and choose from a lot of different ones. But we found that this thing called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is actually the most popular worldview that Americans are drawing from. It’s what I would label ‘Stake Christianity’, because this is very, very, very loosely based on Christian ideas, not really principles. But…

Rick:

And then let’s say it again, now it’s moralistic therapeutic…

George:

Deism.

Rick:

Deism. Okay, got you.

George:

And so its idea behind that title, which was a couple of sociologists at the University of Notre Dame came up with this in studying teenagers about 20-25 years ago. And of course, we know their worldview develops when somebody is between 15 months and 13 years of age. So they were studying an age group that was right in the throes of developing and solidifying their worldview and moralistic meaning, yeah, I should probably be good, therapeutic meaning well, it’s all about me feeling good. 

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

So whatever choices I make have to contribute to my own comfort in life. And deism is a meaning that this is a group that believes there’s a God that exists, but he doesn’t really watch over us. He’s not involved in our lives. We can call on him if we have an emergency, maybe he’ll intrude. But generally speaking, he’s pretty much done with us here.

So it goes on from there. Remember that three quarters of the people who buy into moralistic therapeutic deism consider themselves to be Christian. And yet, what we find is that 95% of them do not consider success in life to have anything to do with consistent obedience to God. 92% say they don’t believe that the wealth and possessions and experiences that they’ve accumulated were given to them by God so that they could manage those for his kingdom and his purposes, his glory. 

Nine out of 10 of them do not believe that they were born into sin, and therefore need to be saved by Jesus Christ. Almost 9 out of 10 of them do not believe that the ultimate purpose of life on earth is to know, love, and serve God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul. 75% of them, 3 out of 4 do not believe that God is the basis of truth. 7 out of 10 of them do not believe that the Bible is true, and reliable and relevant communication from God.

I mean, the list just keeps going on and on, Rick of all these twisted perspectives that this group buys into, and yet consider themselves to be Christian. And of course, all of these perspectives have dramatic implications for the behavioral choices that they make.

Rick:

So George, I mean that, in a way, this actually makes sense. Because I’m thinking back over the years, you’ve said it many times, David said, Tim said it, I’ve said it, I mean, when you basically as the church say, ha, you know, it might offend somebody, or we might come across arrogant or self-righteous if we say we actually have the answers here in the Bible, or that these things are actually true, and therefore, if they’re true, they’re always true. 

That might not come across too well. So with this soft peddling of just take what you want from Christianity, and leave the rest behind if it offends you, I mean, that’s what we’ve sewn into the culture for decades. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that you have most people thinking this way.

A Worldview Development Agency

George:

Well, it’s true. And if you study the local church in America, which we do, one of the things that we can conclude is that the local church is no longer a worldview development agency, it has ceased at function because there are other things that are more important than that we measure consistently to make sure that we’re satisfying those goals. 

One of the implications of that is it means that parents are no longer getting the equipping that they need to be training their children in worldview, or even to be sensitive to the idea and the development of their child’s worldview.

So here we are in a culture where the vast majority of church going Americans are essentially begging their pastors, at least, in conservative Protestant churches, they’re begging their pastors to teach them how to think biblically. But our churches have different goals in mind. Yes, we want to transmit information, but not for the purpose of transformation, it’s more for the purposes of church growth, and other issues. So yeah, it’s a great time for the American church to sit back, and rethink now, why are we here? What is our purpose? And what was success look like?

Rick:

How does a congregant help to push that? How do we, if you’re a member of a church listening today, you know, what can we say to them about what to say to their pastor or even frankly, what to look for in a church if they decide, look, our church is not equipping us to think biblically and act biblically so we’re going to go somewhere else? I mean, talk to me from the perspective of what you would recommend to the individual believer out there that says, yeah, I hear what you guys are saying, and I want to be part of the solution?

George:

Well, you know, I think part of it goes back to being willing to have an open conversation with the pastor, not saying that they’re wrong, not saying that they’re bad, but asking some questions so that you get clarity about where is this individual trying to take this congregation? Is that where I believe I need to go to be the person that God made me to be?

And I think that the hinge point of that conversation needs to be about discipleship. What does the pastor consider discipleship to be? Now, you’ll get a lot of the right answers, because they’re trained in how to describe these kinds of things. So when you hear it, you got to be looking for biblical perspective in what’s being said. 

One Benefit of the COVID Crackdowns

You know, is this really about teaching us how to love? Is it about teaching us how to be consistently obedient? You can only be consistently obedient if you really know God’s principles as they’re woven together into a worldview? Is it about helping us to produce proof that advances the kingdom? Those were the things that Jesus talked about.

So if you’re hearing that, but you’re not seeing that, then the questions have to revolve around, but what does that look like? How do you know when it’s happening? How is our church measuring that and then making changes based on what the measurements are showing to us? And if you don’t get the satisfactory answers, yeah, you can look for another church. 

The other thing you can always do, though, no matter where you are, is find other like-minded individuals who are deeply committed to becoming disciples of Jesus. And when those people get together, the kinds of conversations and the kinds of experiences they have together can be life changing. And so I think finding those kinds of relationships, that’s what we’ve found in terms of discipleship in America, is it’s those relationships that really produce change and growth and transformation. So that’s what you want to be looking for.

Rick:

I could not agree more. Man, that is exactly it. Frankly, that’s been one of the benefits of the whole COVID crackdown thing over the last year, is that people have gathered in homes and found likeminded believers.

And instead of just showing up in church and kind of being served for a couple of hours, and then going home, they’re building real relationships, having real conversations, and getting deep into the very things that you’re talking about. And that iron sharpening is critical.

So man, maybe that’s part of the reckoning here is that the big box church thing is not providing the worldview and the discipleship, and the people that are hungry for it are going to find it more in the community of the church that they create in the relationships and smaller groups. Is that something you’re seeing more of the even just in terms of, I don’t know, if you’ve studied this yet, just in terms of people’s choices post-COVID or mid-COVID in terms of where they go for their fellowship and worship?

Discovering True Needs

George:

Yeah, I mean, certainly, the virus has changed the contours of the Christian Church in America. And you know, we’re expecting they’re probably somewhere between a quarter to a third of people who used to attend churches are no longer going to do so. But that doesn’t mean that they’re running away from their faith. 

What for most of them it means is that they’ve realized what they need, what they were not getting, and how imperative it is that they find ways to get that kind of spiritual development process in their life.

And so because of the pandemic, whole different lines of relationships have emerged throughout the country. And I think in some ways that’s actually going to be the strengthening of the church capital will see, maybe not so much for the church small see. 

But when God calls on a remnant, he’s not calling for first church. He’s calling for the people whose hearts are blended with his, and whose lives are committed to him. That’s what the rent is.

Rick:

Amen. Amen. So powerful and encouraging. I’ve seen it happen, man, in my own neighborhoods it’s happening and I think people across the country are seeing the same thing. George Barna, always good to have you, man. Best place now for following your work and what you’re doing with the Cultural Research Center, is this particular research, is that available for people to read on the website?

George:

Yeah, that research, previous research, future research, it’s all at culturalresearchcenter.com. You can download it. You can send it to other people. You can sign up to have us alert you when the new report comes out. Every other week or so, we try to put out a new report based on our most recent research. So culturalresearchcenter.com is the place to go

Rick:

Culturalresearchcenter.com, that’s George Barna. By the way, you can see George in our new Biblical Citizenship in Modern America course. He has great commentary in there, so be sure to take that course host that course in that small group in your home and dive into these topics. George, always good to have you, brother. Thank you.

The AMERICAN STORY

George:

Thank you, Rick.

Rick:

Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln. And one of the things that that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.

One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a savior, because the Bible even tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet what we see through history, and certainly is evident in America is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them. 

The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks again to George Barna for joining us and also check out the book George Barna and David Barton did together called “U-Turn”, it’s at wallbuilders.com. So when you hear all these stats, and you see what’s happening in the culture, if you want to make a u-turn, if you want to turn the culture back towards a place of righteousness, get that book, it’ll give you some great input on how to do that.

David and Tim, it can be done. I love what you said earlier in the program, David, you got to basically assess the flock, you got to know what the condition of the flock is so that you can take care of it.

True Equipping

David:

You know, one of the things that George said that really struck me and it goes to what Tim was saying at the beginning, he says the church is no longer a worldview development agency. That’s what it used to be, was from the church, you develop the worldview of everything related to life and it no longer does that.

 I mean, it doesn’t even talk about faith very accurately in a lot of ways. Now, Tim, as you pointed out, it’s just kind of irrelevant. That’s why church attendance are dropping.

Tim:

Well, and even as he pointed out right after that that parents are not being equipped to train their children in worldview, or even notice what their child’s worldview is, this is something that we encourage. For every parent out there listening, right, certainly, for every minister, we’d encourage you, hey, recognize the role of the churches to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. 

We need to think biblically. We need to live like Christ. We need to do everything we can to help teach worldview and apologetics from the church, the whole of the gospel.

With that being said, beyond the pastor and the minister and the church, for every parent, we’re the ones in charge of raising our kids. And we want to make sure, we have a biblical worldview as parents, and we want to make sure we impart that into our kids. There’s a lot of great resources online for Biblical worldview. 

Does The Church Have A Biblical Worldview? – With George Barna

You can do a basic Google search, you can find some really good resources for discovering a biblical worldview. The Founders’ Bible is a great resource to help get some biblical perspective on many issues. But we want to make sure we are developing our biblical worldview and working on it in our family. This is what will make the greatest difference for us in our nation.

Rick:

Well, one of the good ways to get that ongoing biblical worldview as well, keep listening to WallBuilders Live. It’s really what we’re doing here every day. When we say we’re going to look at things from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective, that’s what we’re doing. We’re teaching worldview.

We’re speaking truth about the issues of the day. So keep listening to WallBuilders Live and share the program, be a force multiplier. Go to wallbuilderslive.com, grab those links, send them out to your friends and family, post them on your social media platforms, and get this truth in as many hands as possible.

Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.