A recent Harris Poll was published this weekend that revealed some numbers that frankly surprised me. I never take heart in these numbers but I do think they reveal just how far removed we are from serious Christian teaching and confession among most of those who profess faith in this country.
73% of Americans believe in God. No surprise there. 97% of those who say they were "born again" believe in God. I wonder how the other 3% can confess to being "born again" and not believe in God? My guess is that these are the people who have been "born again" (by some definition) and no longer believe that God exists. If so the number is much lower than I would have thought.
Another question put to people was about God’s gender. This is a question I have never seen asked in such a poll and the results are thus quite interesting. 1% of women and Catholics said that God was female. But 36% of those surveyed said God was male, with more women agreeing that God was male than men, by 39% to 34%. Even more startling was the fact that more than half of the born agains said God was male. In the general population 37% said God was neither male nor female. Here is further evidence that orthdoxy does not abound in the minds of the majority of those who say that they are born again.
Interestingly, 41% of Americans affirmed the idea that God is "a spirit or power who can take on human form." So let me get this one right. A sizable number of professed Christians, since that number is much higher than the 41% of all Americans, do not even accept the basic principle of the historic faith, namely the Incarnation of Christ.
But the number that I found even more intriguing was in response to the question regarding God’s part in the day-to-day events of the world. (We used to call this providence when people still used theological words intelligently!) 57% of the born again people said "God controls what happens in the world" while 37% of the born again group said "God observes but does not control" the events of the world. Does this mean that evangelical churches are now filled with Calvinists? Beats me but the logic of the answer is compelling. But if most born again Christians are Calvinists then we have a huge problem since those who try preaching this kind of doctrine to most of those churches filled with "born again" people will likely be looking for a new job. And if the majority of born again people are Calvinists then many of these new version Calvinists also deny the the Incarnation in significantly large numbers. Can anyone doubt that we need to recover the ancient faith if we are to seriously recover Christianity as anything more than pop-religion?