“We don’t look to a god for answers, we are each other’s answers.”
Would it surprise you to know that last week the New York Times attributed this quote to the newly elected president of the Harvard University chaplains’ organization?
Greg Epstein, 44, an atheist and humanist chaplain at Harvard since 2005, was selected by his colleagues, including more than 40 chaplains from some 20 different faith and spiritual traditions. Epstein shared the news in an announcement on Twitter on August 26.
A lot has changed since 1692 when Harvard adopted the motto—Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae— which means “truth for Christ and the church.” Although the Latin inscription can still be found on many buildings around campus, the current motto is simply Veritas, or truth.
But the truth is that Harvard has long since jettisoned the spiritual moorings on which it was founded and is adrift in a culture that is increasingly indifferent to Jesus’ claims that He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
“ONE NATION UNDER GOD”?
And as America’s academic institutions go, sadly, so goes the country that once claimed to be “one nation under God.”
For example, according to the results of the Religious Views & Practices Survey, more than 60% of professing Christians in America between the ages of 18 and 39 believe that Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus are all legitimate paths to eternal salvation; and more than 30% say they either believe that Jesus sinned just like other people when He lived on Earth or aren’t sure.
The survey, which interviewed 3,100 Americans ages 18 to 55 in 2020 and looked at various other previous studies, saw a drop in “basic Biblical worldview” — God’s attributes, the accuracy of the Bible, salvation and Jesus being sinless — from 47% in 2010 to 25% in 2020 among self-identifying Christians.
A Biblical worldview is the belief system informed and guided by The Holy Bible resulting in convictions, actions and choices which are consistent with what the Bible teaches. In other words, a Biblical worldview is held when someone chooses to see, interpret and discern truth about the world’s past, present and future in light of God’s Word and then act according to Biblical precepts for living.
Evangelical pollster George Barna’s recent survey findings show that while 51% of American adults said they hold a Biblical worldview, only 6% of those surveyed actually think and act accordingly.
Barna’s report includes questions and data compiled for the American Worldview Inventory produced by the Barna-led Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.
Barna identified the inconsistency among the 51% reporting a Biblical worldview by noting that many of the worldview questions found this group technically outside of what the pollster defined as a “Biblical worldview.”
For example, of the 51%, 49% agreed that reincarnation was a possibility after they die. Meanwhile, only 33% said they believed that “human beings are born with a sinful nature and can only be saved from the consequences of sin by Jesus Christ.”
The May survey featured a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, with a sampling error of about plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
The data mirrors similar results from other surveys in recent years. Last September, the Cultural Research Center released survey data compiled in January 2020 that showed that only 2% of millennials hold a Biblical worldview even though 61% identify as Christian.
The report analyzed survey responses from 1,000 telephone interviews and another 1,000 online questionnaires. With 51 questions about what people believe and how they act on those beliefs, the survey found that only about 20% of those who said they attended evangelical Protestant churches espoused a Biblical worldview. Just 16% of those who attended charismatic or Pentecostal churches ascribed to a Biblical worldview, while mainline Protestants were at 8% and Catholics at 1%.
The survey also revealed that Americans who identify as Christian but do not profess to know Christ personally as their Savior represent 54% of the U.S. population. And of that sector of the population, only one-tenth of 1% hold a Biblical worldview.
SACRED OR SECULAR?
Barna reported that his broader worldview research among U.S. citizens consistently shows that the predominant longings of Americans today include happiness, freedom, expression, experiences, entitlement, entertainment, control, comfort, and acceptance. Yet Jesus’ invitation in Luke 9:23 that “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” simply doesn’t align with those pursuits.
Furthermore, the Bible’s teaching to present your body as “a living sacrifice, Holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1) leaves no margin for human freelancing when it comes to determining one’s eternal fate, regardless of what a chaplain at an Ivy League school might suggest.
And while Harvard’s cohort of chaplains and others who claim to be Christians increasingly conform to secular humanism, true Christ-followers will hold steadfast to the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good, acceptable and perfect.”