Last month I posted a survey on the blog - maybe you took it. I asked my readers what their basic belief or religion was. Here is how things tallied up.
I am a Christian. (69%)
I am an Atheist. (19%)
I just believe in God. (11%)
I am Other/Jewish/Muslim. (0%)
I also asked the same folks what their particular religion or belief encompassed.
I believe in a supernatural God. (76%)
I believe in spiritual gifts. (63%)
I believe that prayer works. (63%)
I believe in the paranormal. (30%)
I believe in don't believe in the supernatural. (10%)
It is not a very scientific poll, but it does reveal a few things. Here are a few conclusions.
19% of the respondents are atheists. I guess I am doing OK for a Christian guy - even non-believers are reading - or at least taking the poll. Our churches should be so lucky as to have 1 in 5 who need to hear the gospel.
80% responded saying that they believe in God or god. 76% see him as a supernatural entity. Hmm... 4% believe in a God that is what? A confusing statistic for me. Possibly they don't believe in God, just in prayer. That said, who is listening?
19% who were atheists, only left me with 10% who do not believe in the supernatural. Are we saying that 9% don't believe in God, but believe in prayer or some other supernatural manifestations? I am thinking, if you have enough faith to believe in the supernatural, why not make it God? I'm just thinking out loud.
11% of the poll-takers just believe in god. That is an encouraging sign. I am assuming that some have had a religious upbringing that wasn't all that pleasant or valuable, yet they've seen a need for help from a power greater than themselves. It's a good start - keep on going.
And lastly, I am assuming that all the Christians believe in a supernatural God; the numbers bear this out. Another encouraging sign is that almost all of them believe in the spiritual gifts and that prayer works. Wow, that is not the norm. What I find confusing is that Christians believe that prayer works, but they don't believe that the paranormal is a valid supernatural expression. Apparently no demons have showed up at one of their services.
In more scientific polls than this one, about 1/3 of all atheists believe in prayer. About 32% of Christians read horoscope and 12% rely on non-Christian (psychic) means for obtaining spiritual insight for their lives.
Barna reports that although over 80% of Americans believe in God, 66% consider themselves "casual Christians" - that is they don't use the Bible as a means for making moral decisions, instead they use thought and/or feelings.
I happen think that the real problem is churches that don't teach a simple gospel, and are not relative in peoples lives.
Church, if we are going to influence others, we need need to provide beliefs that are based in truth and in the power of God to back them up. Christianity without a living Jesus, is simply another philosophy. If atheists want to believe in the power of prayer - and many do, then it should be a short walk for them to Jesus. It is unfortunate that many who were raised in the church; and only got religion; not a relationship with Jesus, now consider themselves atheists.
It is something 100% of all Christians need to do something about. Amen?