Research by Barna and Summit: Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

Summit Ministries recently partnered with Barna Group in a study to gauge how ideas from other key worldviews have infected Christians’ beliefs about God and the world around us. For over 30 years, Barna has conducted research showing a gap between the beliefs of practicing Christians and the historical understanding of biblical Christianity. This new research sought to identify the source of many nonbiblical ideas infecting Christianity, and found strong agreement among practicing Christians with ideas unique to nonbiblical worldviews.

Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, which trains thousands of students in Christian worldview each year, reacted to the survey:

“I’ve seen a lot in my life, but even I am shocked about these results. While only 17% of practicing Christians have a biblical worldview…61% agree with ideas rooted in new spirituality, 54% with postmodernism, 38% with Islam, 36% with Marxism, and 29% with secularism.”

The research was conducted in support of the development of Jeff Myers’ book: The Secret Battle of Ideas about God: Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions. This book and supporting church resources explore the dangerous way nonbiblical perspectives infect Christians. Like all people, Christians seek answers to difficult questions that life presents. The problem is, too often they look in the wrong places—to ideas that seep in from non-biblical worldviews—and find less than fulfilling answers to questions about love, pain, meaning, peace and hope.

For example, from Barna’s study, more than 49% of practicing Christians agreed with the statement, “All people pray to the same God or Spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being,” a non-biblical concept that finds its source in New Spirituality (a conglomeration of New Age/eastern religions/paganism and pseudoscience).

“The challenge with competing worldviews is that there are fragments of similarities to some Christian teachings, and some may recognize and latch on to these ideas, not realizing they are distortions of biblical truths. The call for the Church, and its teachers and thinkers, is to help Christians dissect popular beliefs before allowing them to settle in their own ideology,” says Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna. “Informed thinking is essential to developing and maintaining a healthy biblical worldview and faith as well as being able to have productive dialogue with those who espouse other beliefs.”

Evaluation of the research is ongoing and will be reported on Summit’s and Barna’s websites. You can explore more of Barna’s initial findings from this research here: