Every generation has complained about “how different the young people are” compared to themselves. It’s true; societal norms have shifted and family structures have changed. Technological advances continually reveal the great divide separating young from old.
But is there a spiritual divide as well?
In a study performed in late 2009 by The Barna Group, researchers asked a simple question: how do various age groups in America view the Bible? While their study involved every generation in America, a simple comparison of “Elders” (those 64 and older) with “Mosaics” (age 18-25) reveals the clearest view on the growing distance between the generations.
Bible’s Sacredness – 90% of Elders describe the Bible as “sacred,” while only 67% of Mosaics do.
Bible’s Accuracy – 58% of Elders believe “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches,” but only 30% of Mosaics could embrace this belief.
Bible’s Universalism – 33% of Elders think “the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts,” while a whopping 56% of Mosaics do.
Skepticism of Origins – Another generational difference is that young adults are more likely to be skeptical about the original manuscripts of the Bible than older adults.
Biblical Interest – One (hopeful) departure from the previous trend is that 19% of Mosaics expressed an interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge, while a mere 9% of Elders do.
Ponder, just for a moment, some implications of these views held by large numbers of young people:
- If the Bible isn’t sacred, then it has no authority.
- If the Bible isn’t accurate, then it misleads those who turn to it for guidance.
- If the Bible is universalistic in its message, then there’s not really any difference between it and the Koran, The Book of Mormon, or the Bhagavad G?t?.
It’s no surprise young people’s view of the Bible is so low; popular opinion about God’s Word has been waning for centuries. Though, it is a bit ironic that thousands of years ago, it was young people who had some of the highest praise for God’s Word.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” (Psalm 119:9-16)
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)