Last month I posted on George Barna, (of the Barna Group/Institute) and his latest book, The Seven Faith Tribes, titling it Down the Rabbit Hole: Barna, America’s “Faith Tribes” Can Restore Nation.
I still believe the Rabbit Hole expression fits what he is attempting to promote in his book: many religious (and non religion groups) coming together to ‘restore’ America.
Would I believe its ‘out there’ for secular org.’s or non-Christians to promote this type of unity? No. But coming from one who claims to be an Evangelical, leads Church seminars, speaks at ministry conferences, has taught at seminaries, and has been a pastor, (see here) I see it as promoting ecumenism which is apostasy.
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” 2 Cor. 6:14-15
The title of this post, which includes words from the nonsensical ode or poem uttered by The Mad Hatter, “Twinkle Twinkle little bat” exemplifies the insane premise behind the ideas he promotes in his 7 Faith Tribes book. His ideas are ‘Mad utterings’ coming from one who claims to be a Christian. I felt this more so after reading his latest article today.
Barna: Casual Christians and the Future of America
In a wide-ranging discussion about the state of faith in America, veteran researcher George Barna recently addressed questions raised by his new book, The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter. In that book, Barna outlines seven diverse faith segments, profiling their lifestyles, religious beliefs and practices, values and life goals. The seven tribes include Casual Christians, Captive Christians, Mormons, Jews, Pantheists, Muslims and Skeptics.
During the course of the conversation, Barna answered a series of questions about the largest – and potentially most powerful – tribe, the Casual Christians…
Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?
Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, unprecedented changes could occur.
Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?
Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding.
A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.
Question: What are the critical elements that make the Casual Christians tick?
Barna: The comfort that this approach provides. It offers them life insights if they choose to accept them, gives them a community of relationships if they desire such, fulfills their inner need to have some type of connection with a deity, and provides the image of being a decent, faith-friendly person. Because Casuals do not view matters of faith as central to one’s purpose or success in life, this brand of Christianity supplies the multi-faceted levels of satisfaction and assurance that they desire.
Question: Is Casual Christianity bad for America?
Barna: That, of course, depends on your point of view. Several of the non-Christian tribes consider all Christians to be heretics or at least spiritually misguided. Captive Christians consider Casuals to not be genuine followers of Christ.
In terms of the future of the republic, there is something to be said for people who are willing to compromise for the good of the whole community, but there are also difficulties raised when people do not stand for anything or cannot identify the truths that are worth championing. Casual Christianity, because of its moral receptivity and pliability, generally eliminates spiritual backbone from moral discussions. And yet, Casual Christians would typically embrace the 20 shared values that all seven of the tribes adopt as part of their moral code.
Question: If you had to list the single, most defining characteristic of each of the seven tribes, what would each tribe’s defining faith attribute be?
Barna: Casual Christians are driven by a desire for a pleasant and peaceful existence. Captive Christians are focused on upholding the absolute moral and spiritual truths they glean from the Bible. Jews coalesce around their sense of community. Mormons are identifiable by their family centeredness. Pantheists are best understood by their resigned acceptance of their reality. Muslims are characterized by their commitment to faith-driven behavioral standards. Skeptics are highly independent.
Question: You list two tribes under the “Christian” umbrella. What are the primary differences between the Casual and Captive tribes?
Barna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.
Question: With the Casual and Captive Christian tribes cumulatively reflecting more than 80% of the adult population, do non-Christian tribes have any real hope of influencing the nation if those two tribes concur on a matter?
Barna: One of the beauties of living in a democratic republic is that everyone has a chance to influence the development of the nation. A group that is small in numbers but has big ideas and internal unity can have amazing success at shaping the will of the public. The urgency and intensity required to introduce seminal change is often accessible only to tightly-knit, manageable, finely focused bands of vision-driven comrades..
Question: What makes you so confident that tribes with such divergent doctrine and life principles such as Skeptics, Muslims, Jews and Captive Christians can really agree on how to return the country to a state of stability and health?
Barna: I am not confident that we will. But I believe that this is a critical time for the United States, and that our faith tribes are crucial to who we become as a nation…These seven tribes are very different, but they share some important values and desires. The ultimate outcome may depend on whether we receive the leadership that will focus our attention and energy on what matters, rallying people around a shared vision of the common good based on values that each tribe can champion. I pray that our research can help to open up some lines of dialogue, based on a greater understanding of each other, what’s at stake, and the potential for a positive outcome.
The bottom line is like many Christians living within the United States today, he has joined with those looking to fulfill this myth of “we need to restore America”…and he doesn’t care how it’s done, or who we (Christians) have to unite with to see this accomplished.
“These faith tribes (Casual Christians, Captive Christians, Jews, Mormons, Pantheists, Muslims, Skeptics) can be mobilized to help restore the nation. Through their common values, they can help carry out strategies related to empowering values-focused leaders; redirecting the media; redefining the efforts of families; getting members of faith tribes to pursue a bigger purpose, and more.” (see HERE)
Further more, his entire premise of casual and captive Christians, is unbiblical nonsense. There is no basis in scripture for dividing Christians into these two groups: You (and I) are either blood-bought, born again followers of Christ, or we are not.
Granted we can become lukewarm…we can even become backslidden, or God forbid, fall away from the faith, but this is not ‘casual Christianity’…it is what it is! And repentance, on the part of those who fall into these spiritual conditions, is the only thing which can change that;
Not (by) as he claims; actively investing themselves in changing the moral climate of the nation by unifying with other faith (and non faith) groups for (quote) “the good of the Nation” to “Restore and save America”
**As of this post, I will no longer be referencing the Barna Group – Institute for informed data**
I have in the past, but will no more . How could I depend on accurate data or poll results from an organization which is led by a man whom I consider has fallen into apostasy? –I can’t.
My hope and prayer is George Barna wakes up soon…
Wow, this is apostasy indeed. I agree with your assessment that Barna’s premise of “Casual” and “Captive” Christians is nonsense. It sounds to me as if Barna appreciates the majority “Casual” Christians the most, that he sees them as highly useful, and that he has no desire to see them become “Captive.” There are some alarming implications for his new dream.
You’ve completely missed the point in your evaluation of this. Barna isn’t dividing Christians into two groups…the people themselves have already done that, and he is just identifying, quantifying those schisms. And yes it is very Biblical…Jesus said it long before Barna ever thought of it…Mt. 7:20-23, just for one. And think of all those numerous passages that talk of false teachers, etc….I don’t think Barna is inserting himself into the role of determining whether both groups are “saved” – he’s just recognizing that not everyone who calls themselves Christians is formed from the same mold. I think that is good. Jesus told us that would be the case. You are wrong, that is Biblical. More people should be saying that. And he actually implies that “casual Christians” are not truly Christians. Hopefully those that have ears to hear will be awakened by that, be provoked out of their casualness.
And I don’t think he is suggesting that they can “save themselves” by working toward a better common good for all. I think you misread that. He’s dealing with the nation as a whole and all it’s divided religious parts, and suggesting that all citizens can cooperate and work together, that religious beliefs are not a barrier to civic co-operation – again not unbiblical. Jesus said, render unto Ceasar…we have responsibilities as citizens. And it’s not wrong to recognize that, and work with our communities to serve the poor, create a better culture, etc.
The mistake is made when “captive christians” and/or “casual christians” confuse that agenda with their faith. I think we saw where that lead a lot of evangelicalism the last 20 years. I would hope that the “captive christians” would see the error of that, and separate their faith from their civic duty. It’s not an either/or proposition. We have responsibilities in both arenas. Our civic choices should be informed by our faith, not vice versa…we should not put our hope or faith in the world and it’s systems. We should however be salt and light to that world. And on that front, I think Barna has done us a favor by telling the world that not everyone that identifies themselves as Christians actually are. I think it is helpful to draw that line in the worlds eyes…There is a reason that most unbelievers see us as hypocrites – they are lumping both groups together, and the “casuals” outnumber the “captives” by a large margin. It’s no wonder the world thinks Christians are hypocrites….that ton of casuals are!
I’m not suggesting that Brana has it all right. I don’t know, I haven’t read the book. I’m just going by what you posted here, and frankly…I think maybe you should think this through a bit more.
On the surface it appears you and i read 2 totally different articles, 🙂
I don’t agree with you on what you see as the core of Barna’s book, The Seven Faith Tribes, at all.
quotes from Barna:
He is advocating that Christians work [in unity] with those of other religions [and those with no religion] for the betterment of the nation. To come together, in combined effort to do so…
That is false unity… and is not biblical.
Mt. 7:20-23: ” Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Jesus is referring in the above to false prophets, not what Barna calls casual Christians.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. verses 15-20
In fact Jesus states He never knew them, which apparently means they never really knew him either, or were ever his followers.
What is most disturbing is George Barna suggesting that for the sake of restoring the nation Christians should be willing to look past the religious differences of those who are not Christians, and work together based on what he lists as the 20 common values that all these faith tribes share.
That is not what we are told to do in God’s word:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.. 2 Cor.6
Amen, that i can agree with you on.
(thanks for stopping by)
Years ago, I dated a CIA agent…well more to the point I’m going to make, he started in special forces, moved to Secret Service on presidential detail, and then went to CIA black ops. I learned some really interesting things from him as you might imagine. Oh, stuff like how a small girl like me – all of 90 lbs. soaking wet – could easily drop a 250 lb man to his knees and make him beg like a sissy for mercy. Or just kill him outright, depending on the situation or my mood…oh…the point. Well, the secret service is part of the Treasury Department. So the first thing agents learn about is the dollar bill. They can spot a forgery in a fraction of a second. Blindfolded. I mean, no possible way you can get a fake past them.
So this is the interesting part. He told me that the way they learn that is not by looking at fakes. The just look at the real thing. Endlessly. They learn every flippin’ thing there is to know about real dollar bills. They look and talk and think about them so hard and so long…that when they are handed a fake the first time, they recognize it instantly as a fake. Treasury knows that’s the way to train good agents. That’s the method that makes an agent that can’t be fooled.
Which reminds me of something the elderly lady who along with her husband, mentored me, after 75 years in ministry…yes you read that right, they were in their late 90s, and had seen it all come and go. All the big names of the “christian” world in the 20th century, they knew personally. Anyway, one day I was upset about the many bad things I was seeing in the church and Christian leaders in our country. She told me,”there are so many bad things to look at…don’t do it. Look at Jesus. The enemy would love to get you snared with that. It’s one of his easiest tricks. It’s a waste of time, and it will lead you into danger.”
I mean this in the most sincerely kind way…maybe you should take that advice to heart for bit. Get back to only looking at the real and not the fake. I think your perspective is getting…um…skewed…out of balance…God is big enough to deal with all the crap in the world. Trust Him with it, and take a break. Seriously. Cause your reasoning here…not so solid. Sorry dude. Just being honest. I think you’re in danger of seeing a heretic behind every bush…rather than just brothers and sisters who are weak and a work in progress just as you are and who get it wrong sometimes. But do we really need them all being public spanked? Are you really doing Christendom a favor by pointing out the speck in everyone’s eye for every fool in the universe with an internet connection to witness? Yes, I know you’re going to say, “heresy is serious, blah, blah, blah”…and trot out all the tired excuses about Paul not keeping quiet. I agree. Heresy is serious and should be addressed. In the church. But I’ve had you in my reader for awhile, and I just think perhaps you have lost your perspective a bit, from looking at all the bad all the time. Well. Nuff said. Please, consider my words? They were meant kindly, not as an attack.
Sorry but one needs to trot out those ole tired excuses about Paul no keeping quiet because; 1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
And though Peter said it Paul was still used to proclaim his word;
1Co 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
These are some bad time’s that Christians are headed for and many are out there who would lead or at least try and lead his sheep astray.
Hello again Sylvia…
Thank you for your advice, and no i don’t see it as an attack.
But understand my blog is well, …just that, my blog! 🙂
I share here what interests me or what God leads me to share. The above post was one the Spirit of God impressed upon me to put up, with a warning. You wouldn’t want me to disobey the Lord, im sure.
When young in the Lord i might have done just that–backed away for fear of offending someone; but over the last 30 years since beginning my journey with Jesus, i’ve learned its better to just obey Him and let Him take care of any flack which may come as a result.
I noticed you didn’t address anything i said in my previous comment/reply on the topic of Barna’s book and what he is advocating. Nor did you address the scriptures i quoted from 2Cor.6…
It is a very serious issue when one as well known as George Barna begins to promote anything which is not biblical.
There must be something in the way i write, for you’re not the first person to think i was a ‘dude’… in reality im a retired 62 yr old mother and grandma. 🙂
God bless, and may we both continue to obey the Lord..
[…] below, as well as this post about George Barna’s growing fascination with ecumenicalism (and this follow-up), I decided to combine the two into one FICTIONAL […]
Your article is right on. George has some ideas in his head about what the solution is to restoring america. This unbiblical union of biblical christianity with false teachers and cults as well as his rant against the church in pagan christianity. The solution to restoring america back to a biblical foundation is the preaching and witnessing of the uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ.
The death burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, the only way, the only truth, the only life. No other way but through the shed blood of Jesus. To proclaim to the world that they are not good and are under the judgment and condemnation of God. That they have violated all of God’s commandments and are headed for a literal firey eternal hell. That they must repent of their sin and put their full faith and trust in Christ. The good news, You broke God’s law, Jesus paid your fine. God showed his great love towards us when He died on the cross for our sins.
I know this seems simplistic but, as is often the case, the solution to the complex problems boil down to a basic truth that has been neglected. We have replaced the gospel with so many other good ministries. The only way our nation will admire God and love Him supremely is to know His love and receive Him as Lord and saviour.
when only 2% of believers share their faith no wonder we are in such a mess. If even 20% of believers began to be a real active witness of the gospel it would change our nation quickly. Nothing else will impact america and produce real ande lasting change but the gospel.