Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Excerpt from Ed Stetzer's post: Generational Perspectives on Scripture

"Kids these days."

The Barna Group has released a new study that explores the how different generations of American adults view and use the Bible. And guess what - it turns out perspectives are different!

Barna groups those surveyed into four generations, broken down as follows: the Mosaic generation refers to adults who are currently ages 18 to 25; Busters are those ages 26 to 44; Boomers are 45 to 63; and Elders are 64-plus.

Not everything is wildly different between these generations. In fact "a majority of each of the four generations believes that the Bible is a sacred or holy book." Shocking. Ok, not really. But another commonality is that "millions within each of the generations report reading the pages of Scripture in the last week." That is more interesting to me.

Similar proportions of the generations embrace the most conservative and most liberal views. For instance, the "highest" view of the Bible - that it is "the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word" - is embraced by one-quarter of Mosaics (27%), Busters (27%), and Boomers (23%), and one-third of Elders (34%). The extreme view on the other end - that the Bible is not inspired by God - is embraced by proportions that are also statistically close to one another, including Mosaics (25%), Busters (19%), Boomers (22%), and Elders (22%).

Of course there are significant differences between the generations and their perspectives on Scripture. The Barna Group summarizes that the younger generations show the following changes in thought as it relates to the Bible:

Less Sacred - While most Americans of all ages identify the Bible as sacred, the drop-off among the youngest adults is striking: 9 out of 10 Boomers and Elders described the Bible as sacred, which compares to 8 out of 10 Busters (81%) and just 2 out of 3 Mosaics (67%).

Less Accurate - Young adults are significantly less likely than older adults to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Just 30% of Mosaics and 39% of Busters firmly embraced this view, compared with 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.

More Universalism - Among Mosaics, a majority (56%) believes the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts, which compares with 4 out of 10 Busters and Boomers, and one-third of Elders.

Skepticism of Origins - Another generational difference is that young adults are more likely to express skepticism about the original manuscripts of the Bible than is true of older adults.

Less Engagement - While many young adults are active users of the Bible, the pattern shows a clear generational drop-off - the younger the person, the less likely then are to read the Bible. In particular, Busters and Mosaics are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives.

Bible Appetite - Despite the generational decline in many Bible metrics, one departure from the typical pattern is the fact that younger adults, especially Mosaics (19%), express a slightly above-average interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge. This compares with 12% of Boomers and 9% of Elders.


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