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Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164

 When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean?

When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean?

When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean? What does someone imply when they adopt the label "born again Christian?" A new national survey released by The Barna Group indicates that the terminology used by followers of Jesus Christ reflects a breadth of meanings. While the most widely-held description is simply "Christian," that term represents a segment of adults who engage in less religious activity and possess less orthodox views than do people who associate themselves with other descriptions.

Overall, 80% of adults in the U.S. call themselves "Christian." In comparison, the phrase "a committed Christian" is embraced by two out of every three adults (68%). The words "born again Christian" are adopted by just less than half of the population (45%). A two-part description of a person's faith, in which they say they "have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important" in their life today, and in which they claim they will go to Heaven after they die because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, is also claimed by just less than half (44%). (This latter definition has been used by The Barna Group for nearly two decades to describe "born again" people without using the term "born again" in its surveys.)

The study showed some interesting relationships among these terms. For instance, one-quarter of those who call themselves born again did not meet the Barna Group criteria for born again – which generally meant they rely upon something other than God's grace as their means to salvation. The "born again Christian" self-description tends to attract a greater percentage of blacks, people under 25, and people over 60 than does the Barna Group's theologically-oriented descriptor. That two-part definition used by the research firm also attracts a larger share of upscale adults and more people who share their faith in Jesus Christ with other people.

The various religious descriptions had varied appeal across demographic segments. Age was related to these terms in some intriguing ways. Mosaics, the youngest adults (those 21 and younger) were comparatively comfortable with the terms "Christian" and "born again Christian" but were much less comfortable calling themselves committed Christians (just 29% did so, compared to a national norm of 68%). The preceding generation, the Baby Busters (now ages 22 through 40), were significantly below the national average in relation to all four of the terms tested, reflecting their relative distance from conventional organized religious groups and beliefs.

Blacks were the ethnic group that most deeply resonated with the term "born again" (75% embraced it to describe themselves, compared to only 31% of Hispanics and 44% of whites). Hispanics were comparatively likely to adopt the term "committed Christian" (58%).

Catholics, in general, were uncomfortable with the phrase "born again Christian." Although just 14% said it described them accurately, 23% qualified as born again according The Barna Group's definition.

Regionally, residents of the Northeast generally accepted the terms "Christian" (74%) and "committed Christian" (61%), but were far less likely to adopt the "born again Christian" phrase (29%) or to meet the Barna Group's born again standard (29%). People living in the West had a similar portrait. Adults in the South were comparatively less likely than others to say they were a "committed Christian." People in the Midwest were the most likely to claim to be a "committed Christian."

The research also found that self-described conservatives were three times more likely than self-described liberals to embrace the "born again" label; blacks were two-and-a-half times more likely than Hispanics to do so; and people without any college education were almost 60% more likely than those with a college degree to stake a claim to being "born again."

Only half of both of the "born again" segments (i.e., those self-described by the term and those defined by The Barna Group's questions) had prayed to God, read from the Bible and attended a religious service in the past week. In comparison, nine out of ten "committed Christian" adults had done so and just one-third of those who said they are "Christian" engaged in the three behaviors.

The research suggests that phrases do not necessarily possess universally understood meaning. "Blacks, Catholics and young adults are groups who conjure up different images than do other people when terms such as 'born again' or 'committed Christian' are used," noted George Barna, who conducted the research. "With more than 250 Protestant denominations in the United States, and the increasing diversity and customization within the spiritual realm, it's not surprising that there is very limited common understanding with such language.

The challenge," he continued, "may be to avoid reliance on labels and brief adjectives as religious profiles. In our sound-bite society, with everyone moving quickly and making snap judgments, the temptation is to rely upon simple characterizations to provide a broad perspective on who a person is and what they represent. This is part of the challenge to churches: to know each person more deeply in order to serve them more meaningfully. Ideally, people of faith will recognize the value of genuine relationships in which we know each other at a deeper level and can therefore foster real connection and growth."


Josh Parsley

 2005/11/30 10:56Profile

Joined: 2005/10/17
Posts: 48
Montreal, Canada

 Re: When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean?

80% of Americans believe they are christians? Wow.

[size=xx-small]"Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test." 2 Corinthians 13:5 (New Living Translation)

Martin Millette

 2005/11/30 11:20Profile


To be honest, I think the percentage is really around 15-20% or less.

I don't want to be too harsh to say 10%, but that's what I believe in my heart is true.

Pray that God opens doors to share them the Truth of Christ.

 2005/11/30 11:49

Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 54

 Re: When someone calls himself a Christian, what does he really mean?

Personally, acknowledging Sam and Sheryl in your pursuit to encounter this hunger that draws us all to him. I am so proud of you both.

I petition before Almighty God that 2006 be the year you discover how precious and beautiful you have been made in his image.


 2005/12/30 10:01Profile

Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777

 Re: Check out our "salvation"

Thank you for posting this! You share my burden. It is heart-breaking to read the Barna statistics - to see that we need a survey to reveal to us what we should be seeing ourselves. The power to be deceived and complacent about the most important aspect of our lives is beyond conprehension. Jesus warned us about this too.

More and more, I sense God calling me in the direction of speaking into this issue of deception about salvation. But I don't find it a popular topic. I recently posted this,[url=]Are you sure you are saved?[/url] and also sent it to a few evangelicals who frequently send around forwards about computor viruses, warnings about MSG, Artificial sweetener etc. It seems like they prefer not to send around warnings regarding false assurance of salvation.

I wonder, what happened to our evangelical mandate - the very purpose of our being - to win the lost?????????? Shouldn't we be very concerned?

Thank you for posting this verse. I will add it to my article.

"Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test." 2 Corinthians 13:5 (New Living Translation)



 2005/12/30 10:26Profile

Joined: 2004/9/28
Posts: 957
Cleveland, Georgia


I can't remember which Ravenhill video said this, but he remarked that an Indian missionary said that he thought that about 2 1/2% of the American church was genuinely born again. When Brother Len asked him what percentage of Indian church was genuinely born again, he said about 2 1/2%.

Hal Bachman

 2006/1/12 23:17Profile

Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164


I listened to a Ray Comfort sermon awhile back and he made a biblical case that only 1/3 of the professing church was saved. I can't remember what sermon it was but when I get home from work I will try to remember to post it on here.

Josh Parsley

 2006/1/13 8:57Profile

Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


Perhaps we should consider Jesus statistics: "FEW find the narrow way... MANY will say, "Lord, Lord. and I will say, Depart..

If there is a tendency to be deceived about one's standing with Christ, why do we judge by the surface? It seems that one merely has to CLAIM that they asked Jesus in their heart, and then they are in.

Since this has always been a tendency, it shouldn't be surprising that Scripture gives us some guidelines:

1 John warns us about those who CLAIM to be Christian - but live contrary to his commands.

1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him
yet walk in the darkness
we lie and do not live by the truth.
8If we claim to be without sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If claim we have not sinned,
we make him out to be a liar
and his word has no place in our lives.
1 Jn 2
4The man who says, "I know him,"
but does not do what he commands
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

9Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the darkness.


If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.

They don't remain (persevere, overcome... ):
19They went out from us,
but they did not really belong to us.
For if they had belonged to us,
they would have remained with us;

22Who is the liar? (IMPOSTOR)
It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.

Ch 3
No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

17If anyone has material possessions
and sees his brother in need
but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God be in him?

Their true allegiance:
4:5They are from the world
and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world,
and the world listens to them.

20If anyone says, (or CLAIMS) "I love God but hates his brother, he is a liar.

I think insurance companies have guidelines too, and are far more careful than us in how they assess claims (or they'd go broke!)
On the other hand, the church makes a lot of money off the false claimers.


 2006/1/13 9:00Profile

Joined: 2005/12/28
Posts: 27
Southern New Jersey


"I think insurance companies are far more careful in how they assess claims (or they'd go broke!) On the other hand, the church makes a lot of money off the false claimers."

-Diane, bless your heart, can I borrow that phrase? I think it would have an impact on my congregation..

-If we were to scratch the surface of some folks who refer to themselves as Christians, we might find the prefix "non." They're non-Jewish, non-Muslim, non-atheist, or non- something else. Years ago, someone told Evangelist Lester Roloff, "I don't use tobacco, I don't drink, and I don't run around with other women." Roloff answered him, "Well that's fine, but neither does a fence post. What DO you do?"..

-I may find myself preaching about "Fencepost Christianity" some day soon..



 2006/1/13 10:07Profile

Joined: 2004/6/15
Posts: 1924


Sis Diane et al

Perhaps we should consider Jesus statistics: "FEW find the narrow way... MANY will say, "Lord, Lord. and I will say, Depart..

Sis you hit it right here. the Lord had me start a thread some time back called "Enter Through the Narrow Gate) and in it the Lord showed me some rather startling things. In the parable of the sower, out of 4 kinds of soil, only 1 bore fruit of any kind. Then Christ said that many will say Lord Lord etc. What the Lord showed me is that there will be a lot less people in heaven than we assume. A lot of people who claim to be Christian will indeed be sorely disappointed when they are cast into hell.

Christ did not just say that the road to life is narrow and few will find it while the road to destruction is wide and many will travel it for the fun of it...


Farai Bamu

 2006/1/13 11:38Profile

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