Published 2:11 pm on October 22, 2009
Survey: Bible interpretation has large generation gap
How different generations of Americans read and interpret the Bible varies greatly according to a new survey by the Christian research firm, the Barna Group.
Similarities across age ranges show that a vast majority consider the Bible a sacred text. Also, similar proportions regardless of age subscribe to the polar opposite views that the Bible is infallible or that it is not inspired by God.
Big gaps appear when it comes to engaging in Scripture study and how it is viewed.
Ninety percent of people 64 and over, which Barna terms as Elders, and people between 45 and 63 (Boomers) believe the Bible is sacred. That drops dramatically to 67 percent among Mosaics (age 18-25). Similarly only 30 percent of Mosaics believe the Bible is completely accurate in its teachings. That compare to 46 percent of Boomers and 58 percent of Elders who defend biblical perfection.
A majority of Mosaics also see the Bible as just one of any number of religious or spiritual texts pointing to a similar set of ethics and morality.
Fifty-six percent of Mosaics are willing to lump the Bible in with other writings, while only 40 percent of Busters and 33 percent of Elders agree.
David Kinnaman, the Barna Group president who oversaw the research over multiple surveys between 2006 and 2009, said that Mosaics’ reliance on social networking and interpersonal relationships is an indication future generations will distance themselves further from the Bible if their societal interpretations are discounted.
“The central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism,” Kinnaman said. “They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges, but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.”
Barna Group—New Research Explores How Different Generations View and Use the Bible: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/317-new-research-explores-how-different-generations-view-and-use-the-bible
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