Survey: 50% of ‘Theological Born-Again Christians’ Say Holy Spirit is ‘Just a Symbol’

A new Barna survey has been released showing that the Christian church continues to get more and more compromised, showing deep drops from even 5 years ago.

While we know that every confused and self-deluded pagan will describe themselves as ‘Christian,’ the survey sought to drill down a bit to get people more closely aligned with the confessions of the faith, zeroing in on those called “Theological Born-Again Christians” and which would represent those who would populate the vast number of churches in America.

No monolithic term, this is a label for those who can explain the basis of their faith in some way, and for born again Christians “who say that when they die they will go to Heaven, but only because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.” Ie: a much better barometer.

Even of this group, the results are staggeringly depressing.

84% believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful and just Creator of the universe who still
rules the universe today

74% believe that the Bible is the accurate and reliable words of God

56% say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue

54% accepted feelings, experience, and the input of friends and family as their most trusted
sources of moral guidance

51% say that all religious faiths are of equal value

50% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power,
presence, or purity

40% say there is no absolute moral truth

37% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their
way into Heaven

31% believe that the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion

While people might point to the “Integrated Disciples” as being the true believers, even they have some shockingly bad views: These are the stats for their segment, which represents about 6% of the population.

The Good:

• 99+% believe that the Bible is the accurate and reliable words of God
• 99+% believe that God is the all-knowing, all-powerful and just Creator of the universe who still
rules the universe today
• 99+% say they have a unique, God-given calling
• 99+% say they intentionally try to avoid sinning because they know it hurts God
• 96% claim that every moral choice either honors of dishonors God
• 88% believe that God has a reason for everything

The Bad:

• 4% accepted feelings, experience, and the input of friends and family as their most trusted
sources of moral guidance
• 5% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way
into Heaven
• 8% believe that the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion
• 9% say that all religious faiths are of equal value

The Ugly:

• 25% say there is no absolute moral truth
• 33% believe in karma
• 39% contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power,
presence, or purity
• 42% believe that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue.
• 52% argue that people are basically good



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8 thoughts on “Survey: 50% of ‘Theological Born-Again Christians’ Say Holy Spirit is ‘Just a Symbol’

  1. Startling stats but no big surprise to me. If one evangelizes like Christ has commanded us to; one is well aware just how unbiblical professing christians think! I do not adhere to Tim Kellers bad theology EVER but he did say something that has stayed with me. When asked about spreading the gospel in the bible belt he said it was difficult getting a ‘cultural christian’ to see that they were not truly born again at all! I live in a sea of “christians” that are as biblically ignorant about basic theology . While it is a challenge ; it is very depressing as well. I know within a few minutes if someone knows their bible by the look on their face when I talk about it! Deer in headlights mean anything to you? There is so much that I do not know myself. I am no scholar. That is why it boggles my mind when I am around a professing christian that cannot keep up with me when I am around a christian that has been “saved” for decades. God forgive me but I have more patience with those that are not professing christians than I do with those who claim to be born again and are biblically ignorant and lukewarm. Christ did say he would rather we be hot or cold. So theres that~

  2. Christ said, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” There was always just a faithful remnant when you read the biblical record. I pray that I am among that group when Christ returns. And I pray for the lost souls who don’t know Christ and don’t feel the need to know Him.

  3. Wow, that’s a lot of confused, dissonant, conflicted people. God is infinitely all-knowing and all-powerful, but his moral truth is not absolute? How in the world could someone rationalize that nonsense [at minimum 24% of respondents overlap – 84%-(100% – 40%)]. Even if they aren’t familiar with scripture, as many of them obviously aren’t, that still doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Some of those people must live in a constant state of confusion.

  4. What is even far more damning than these statistics are the ones dealing with pastors/reverends/preachers and their beliefs. When you understand that, you understand the Biblical ignorance of their congregations.

  5. A wise god-man once said “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

  6. I used try and be charitable when someone I just met claims to be a Christian. I still try and be charitable, but I never assume that they are actually Christians. I’ve heard too much bad doctrine from people, and things like this survey to fall for a first or second meeting to believe it anymore.

    Hard to believe someone with more than a weeks worth of reading the Bible and some reasonably orthodox teaching would be up for denying the Trinity and still be called a Christian, but here we are.

  7. Have been thinking about this. I believe I’ll call them “water baptists” to distinguish them from real baptists. RCC and other groups have a real interest in “watering” down doctrine in other denominations as far as baptism goes. To them, water baptism, a religious work, is what saves you and what distinguishes what they call separated brethern since Vatican II. And of course its wrong and saying the need is to commune with those who aren’t really saved- water baptism doesn’t make a christian, either as an infant or an adult. In RCC theology, this saves: “1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark of his belonging to Christ. by a priest with a literal mark on the forehead. But the RCC is willing to let other groups that have some type of physical baptism be separated breathers, as long as it isn’t the kind of baptism that saves, like baptism by the Holy Spirit – actually saved.

    Baptists heading down this road of apostasy, in keeping with the article, may believe in cessation, and something like lordship salvation, a works based gospel as are other heretical movements (like the rcc), because being born again is a work of the Holy Ghost. If God did not save you, you are his work, you need to do your own work “because God isn’t really there”. Lordship salvation among baptists going bad is interesting from a cult view too, because if the Holy Spirit is not really there, has ceased, you have no unction from the Holy Spirit, 1 John 2:20, and the Holy Spirit is not guiding you, John 14:26, 16:13. Then who will judge that you are following Christ accurately? Cessation + Lordship salvation implies the “pastor” will judge you, a mini pope now and looking more like the rcc. The Holy Spirit guiding you in all things has ceased, but you must obey something and be judged by something. (behold the man of sin).

    And some men even take this further like John MacArthur. Now with him it is not enough that the works of the Holy Spirit has ceased (sic apostasy), or you must obey, works salvation, but that Lordship Salvation isn’t enough either. So now MacArthur is promoting translations that replace “servants” of God with slaves of God. With a works based gospel, work is never enough, because works can’t save, and because we are God’s work, not our own. So slaves, not unlike catholic flagellation, is a natural extension to you need more works, you aren’t doing enough!

    Is it any wonder that many think it is dangerous for MacArthur to teach wrongly on the mark of the beast, you can take it back (or maybe you can holy deceive about it and take it back) when his doctrine is so clearly going to rome’s.

    (See Revelation 2:18-29; 23-25.
    You might want to translate Thyatira as place of sacrifice if you like. Related to thumiatérion, and “sacrifice” in v20 (the thy part of the greek sacrifice to idols).

  8. I’m assuming this survey was taken in America? It doesn’t particularly surprise me. I think a lot of American Christianity, so to speak, is more cultural than anything else. Growing up a Baptist or Catholic or protestant or anything else, or even being a fervent church goer does not necessarily make anyone a Christian.

    Nor is a country really Christian, only individuals but hopefully in wider communities of churches, prayer meetings, reading scripture and of course individuals and families living out the Christian faith. One day a week in a church does not cut it, folks!

    The UK is slightly different but no better. We all need to get to Christ, get back to the Gospel message and live out our faith wherever we are and whoever we are…

    The hour is getting late.

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