George Barna, who has spent his career polling and analyzing the Christian world, claims that America’s societal collapse isn’t because of our terrible president, the terrible president’s terrible party, or COVID-19. Instead, he blames “spiritual deficiency,” or at least the notion that people aren’t sufficiently Christian enough.
He made the comments while speaking to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.
“If we develop the biblical worldview, helping them become integrated disciples, the pieces fall in place, do they not?” Perkins asked Barna.
“Absolutely,” Barna replied. “That’s why one of the things I’m advocating is that America has a profound spiritual deficiency and that’s what’s produced the worldview crisis that’s responsible for the collapse of American society in many ways. If we clean up that worldview issue, everything else is going to fall into place. That’s really the key domino on the board. And so if we get that right, we’re going to fix a lot of things at once.”
Barna got even more specific when speaking to pseudo-historian David Barton
“It really does start with our children,” Barna said. “We know that a worldview, no matter which one it is, a person’s worldview is going to start developing at 15 to 18 months of age, and it will be almost fully formed by the time they reach the age of 13, might be reshaped and refined a little bit during the teens and 20s.”
“By the time they hit 30, and what we found is that most people will die believing what they believe at age 13. So we really do have to invest heavily in our children, be very intentional and strategic about that,” Barna said. “It’s got to come from the family, as well as the church. But we have to pay attention to the fact that the culture of America is the biggest shaper of people’s worldview right now. So, we’ve got to turn that around us..”
There’s a way Barna is right. White evangelical Christians, by and large, have bought into a toxic gospel that suggests rich people are rich because they’re in God’s favor — poor people somehow deserve their lot in life — and have sacrificed Jesus’ message for political power. Fixing that spiritual deficiency could be huge!
… but that’s not what he meant.
You could believe in Christianity as Barna does and still reject climate change, oppose LGBTQ rights, minimize scientific knowledge, and bend our secular government in the direction of a theocracy.
In other words, Barna’s version of a spiritual surplus, if you will, would keep us right where we are.
It wouldn’t help.
Fixing “spiritual deficiency” may stop the in-fighting that causes denominational splits, but it’s not going to fix America’s real problems. It won’t fix a broken healthcare system, or cure COVID, or address systemic racism. Tackling any of those problems would make life significantly better for hundreds of thousands of Americans.
But Barna isn’t interested in any of that.