Cultural Christian – its a term i have been hearing more and more, growing in popularity or at least discussed about much more. What does it mean, and why is it so much in conversation these days?
A cultural Christian is a secular or nonreligious individual who still significantly identifies with Christian culture. Christian deists of the 18th and early 19th centuries, such as Napoleon and various Founding Fathers of the United States, similarly considered themselves part of Christian culture, despite their doubts about the divinity of Jesus.
That is the definition on Wikipedia. And i could probably quote the many different academics and theorists that claim this moniker. But I dont care to do that.
George Barna REsearch group developed the results above to a series of questions that asked “Are More Chrisitans More Like Pharasees or More Like Jesus? Barna writes of the study”
In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament.
In order to assess this, Barna researchers presented a series of 20 agree-or-disagree statements. Five actions and five attitudes that seem to best encapsulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth. The researchers did the same for the Pharisees (10 total statements, five reflecting behaviors and five examining attitudes).
Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, directed the study. He commented on the creation of a “Christ-like” scale: “Our intent is to create some new discussion about the intangible aspects of following and representing Jesus. Obviously, survey research, by itself, cannot fully measure someone’s ‘Christ-likeness’ or ‘Pharisee-likeness.’ But the study is meant to identify baseline qualities of Jesus, like empathy, love, and a desire to share faith with others—or the resistance to such ideals in the form of self-focused hypocrisy. The statements are based on the biblical record given in the Gospels and in the Epistles and our team worked closely with a leading pastor, John Burke, to develop the survey questions.”
People responded to 20 statements, judging if the statements are self righteous actions or self righteous attitudes. The results were plotted into the chart above… Shocking that a majority of the Christians responded in ways that suggest Pharisaical attitudes and Pharisaical actions. Here is another chart:
The results are broken down by groups of responders, however again, responses seem to be greatest in the lower left quadrant.. How sad is this.