by C. Michael PattonJune 18th, 2012 7 Comments
From Michael Hidalgo:
Home > Christian Life and Beliefs
From Michael Hidalgo:
Not exactly like Don Johnson or Eddie Murphy, but Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll’s organization, will be launching a new record label hoping to do something different. The cynic in me says that if we want to do something different, we need to quick launching record labels! However, I know that the Lord does not check my cynic day-timer for instructions.
Bible reading undertaken during the course of a typical week, other than passages read while attending church events, has declined by five percentage points. Currently an estimated 40% of adults read the Bible during a typical week.
Church volunteerism has dropped by eight percentage points since 1991. Presently, slightly less than one out of every five adults (19%) donates some of their time in a typical week to serving at a church.
Adult Sunday school attendance has also diminished by eight percentage points over the past two decades. On any given Sunday, about 15% of adults can be expected to show up in a Sunday school class.
The most carefully watched church-related statistic is adult attendance. Since 1991, attendance has receded by nine percentage points, dropping from 49% in 1991 to 40% in 2011.
The most prolific change in religious behavior among those measured has been the increase in the percentage of adults categorized as unchurched. The Barna Group definition includes all adults who have not attended any religious events at a church, other than special ceremonies such as a wedding or funeral, during the prior six month period. In 1991, just one-quarter of adults (24%) were unchurched. That figure has ballooned by more than 50%, to 37% today.
The percentage of adults who can be classified as born again Christians, based on their belief that they will experience eternal salvation based on their commitment to Jesus Christ, personal confession of sins, and acceptance of Christ as their savior, has risen by five percentage points. In 1991, the national estimate was 35% of adults met those criteria. Currently, 40% of adults can be classified as born again.
When asked to choose one of several descriptions of God, the proportion who believe that God is “the all-knowing, all-powerful and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules the world today” currently stands at two-thirds of the public (67%). That represents a seven point drop from the 1991 level.
The biggest shift has been in people’s perceptions of the Bible. In 1991, 46% of adults strongly affirmed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” That has slumped to just 38% who offer the same affirmation today.Stuart James
What daily practice may help American Christians become more concerned about issues of poverty, conservation and civil liberties?
Reading the Bible.
The answer may come as a surprise to those locked into viewing religious practices in ideological boxes. However, a new study by Baylor University researcher Aaron Franzen found frequent Bible reading predicted greater support for issues ranging from the compatibility of science and religion to more humane treatment of criminals.
The study, one of the first to examine the social consequences of reading Scripture, reveals the effects of Bible reading appear to transcend conservative-liberal boundaries.
Thus, even as opposition to same-sex marriage and legalized abortion tends to increase with more time spent with the Bible, so does the number of people who say it is important to actively seek social and economic justice, Franzen found.
It was not just liberal Christians who found their attitudes changing.
In many cases, even those who believe the Bible is literally true but rarely read the book found themselves at odds with their evangelical sisters and brothers who regularly read the holy text.
“Usually, the literalists tend to read the most frequently, but increased reading over time would moderate their conservatism,” Franzen said the study indicated.Stuart James
I’m unable to access the original research on this, and so will have to make do with an article from the Wayne State University.
I still found this interesting nonetheless:
Posted by Stuart James
DETROIT – Brigid Waldron-Perrine, Ph.D., a recent graduate from Wayne State University, and her mentor, Lisa J. Rapport, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, found that if traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims feel close to a higher power, it can help them rehabilitate. The study was recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.
Traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain function after a head injury and affects 1.7 million Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those struggling with the long-term effects of TBI are at a heightened risk for mental and physical problems. Such problems can significantly inhibit rehabilitation outcomes and are therefore important to address in the context of rehabilitation efforts. And when TBI leaves people feeling stressed, less satisfied with life and functionally dependent on others, rehabilitation is the only option.
“Among healthy adults, religion and spirituality have shown strong association with improved life satisfaction and physical and mental health outcomes,” said Waldron-Perrine. But research about religion’s effect on TBI rehabilitation in particular is lacking.
To fill this void, Waldron-Perrine interviewed and completed neuropsychological tests on 88 individuals diagnosed with TBI victims, most of whom were male, African American Christians. Participants also completed a neuropsychological measure of their cognitive abilities. A significant other of each TBI victim also participated and reported on the injured individual’s functional status.
Waldron-Perrine found that most participants who reported higher levels of religious well-being (a connection to a higher power) had better emotional and physical rehabilitation outcomes. But public religious activities or practice and existential well-being – a sense that life has a purpose apart from any religious reference – did not have such an effect influence on rehabilitation outcome.
This “intriguing” finding, she said, may be due to the fact that TBI victims lack full control of their ability to participate in public religious practice. “They often must rely on others for scheduling and transportation to social events, so their public religious participation does not wholly reflect their true use of religious resources,” she said.
As expected on the basis of previous studies, social support was related to positive physical and mental rehabilitation results. This, Waldron-Perrine said, is consistent with other research studies linking religious social support to positive health outcomes in other populations. But even when Waldron-Perrine adjusted for social support, religious well-being still stood as a unique and strong predictor of positive health outcomes in TBI patients.
“Individuals cope with the tools available to them, and perhaps especially for those with limited means and few alternatives, religion can take on great power as a psychosocial resource,” Waldron-Perrine said.
Now this is what I call a serious testimony, effectively laying down their lives for others.
In Fukushima, there are currently 180 anonymous volunteers who, in shifts of 50, are entering the nuclear power plant to carry out emergency operations. In recent days, three men working near the reactor number three of the nuclear power plant were hospitalised due to radiation contamination. According to local sources of Fides, the leader of the team that manages operations is a Christian, while five others who are members of a Baptist community are working in the process of cooling reactors No 1. and 2. The faithful are carrying out this delicate and dangerous task “in full awareness of giving their lives for others, in faith and in prayer” and have asked for prayers from all the faithful around the world, “to entrust their lives into the hands of God.”
I hope I would be as brave given the same circumstances.Posted by Stuart James
I’ve previously debunked media reports relating to Christians and divorce rate statistics.
The usual narrative is that Christians have the same – or higher – rates of divorce than other subcultures.
This is total bunkum, as the following article aptly demonstrates:
Posted by Stuart James
(RNS) It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.
But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.
“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”
“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”
The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.
Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42 percent. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50 percent.
When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38 percent of weekly attendees.
DEMOGRAPHICS: 60% of evangelical churchgoers are women and 38% men. 36% are under 45 years of age, 39% 45-64, and 21% 65 and over (an age profile far less skewed than for churchgoers in general). 24% are single, 1% cohabiting, 61% married, 6% separated or divorced, and 7% widowed.
BELIEFS: 98% agree that their faith is the most important thing in life and 96% that it is the key factor in their decision-making. 96% believe that Jesus is the only way to God. 96% consider the Bible to be the inspired word of God and 82% say that, in its original manuscript, it is without error. 92% believe in miraculous gifts of the Spirit. 59% believe in a physical hell, but 27% are unsure and 14% disbelieve. 39% think evolution and Christianity are incompatible, 43% that they are not.
PRACTICES: 95% claim to attend church once a week or more. 76% attend a small group meeting at least once a fortnight. 55% read the Bible daily and a further 36% during the course of a week. 78% pray daily and a further 20% during the course of a week.
EVANGELISM VERSUS SOCIAL ACTION: 91% deem it the Christian’s duty to be actively engaged in evangelism, and 58% talk about their faith with a non-Christian once a month or more. 82% regard evangelism and social action as equally important and 80% as complementary, but 39% think many churches place too much emphasis on social action. 88% consider it a Christian’s duty to volunteer in the service of the local community. 78% volunteer at least once a month. 98% voted in the 2010 general election.
MORALITY: 82% agree that sexual intercourse outside marriage is always wrong. 62% say that assisted suicide is always wrong (and 15% not). 49% agree and 33% disagree that abortion can never be justified. 36% feel it is wrong to have homosexual feelings, with 22% unsure and 42% not seeing it as problematical. However, 80% condemn homosexual actions. 84% oppose the blessing of civil partnerships in churches.
GIVING: 97% have given money to their church in the past year, 77% to Christian charities, 48% to other charities, 47% to individual missionaries, and 22% to individual homeless people. 62% claim to have given at least one-tenth of their household income during the past month to their church and charities. 73% agree that it is a Christian’s duty to give 10% of their income to their church, but only 40% tithed to their church during the past month.
ECUMENICAL AND INTER-FAITH WORK: 95% consider it important for Christians to be united in truth and 93% in mission. 88% say that their church works with other places of worship. 63% want Christians to collaborate with people of other faiths on community projects.Stuart James
A 16th century German sect of Anabaptists led by Nicholas Storch who believed that all knowledge, even knowledge of the alphabet, prevents people from a true knowledge of God. Abecedarians believed that God would provide all necessary understanding through divine means such as visions and ecstatic experiences. According to them, all theology and academic learning [...] continue reading