Religion in America is becoming more and more diverse. A study conducted by the Cultural Research Center directed by George Barna concluded that the dominant worldview in this country is not a single religion or philosophy. It is a mixture of different beliefs, a pick-and-choose or copy-and-paste approach called syncretism. Our everyday experience with people confirms this.
Why is this blended approach to morals and religion so common? Among the reasons for this change are these:
- The internet. The web is the largest and most easily accessed library the world has ever known. It allows us to learn things we never would have thought of without it. And the internet is so fast. That is where a problem occurs. We see so much information so quickly there is not enough time to process it. It’s like trying to read billboards and signs while driving at 70 m.p.h. No wonder people, especially young people, have a short attention span, little patience, and an inability to reason their way through tough questions. As a result, their belief system is a hodgepodge of a cool quote here, a touching story there, and pieces of Scripture taken out of context and mixed in.
- A shifting population. Since 2020 Americans are moving more than ever before and foreigners are entering this country in record numbers. Now the people we work with, live beside, go to school with, and do business with have a much wider variety of beliefs and values. This is a great opportunity to evangelize. But unless we are strong, we will absorb the false ways of the changing world around us like the Israelites who decided they wanted to “be like all the nations” (I Sam. 8:20). We must not underestimate the influence others have on us.
- Breakdown of traditional religions and values. Virtually all traditional, mainstream churches have been declining for years. Part of this decline is due to the old human desire for something new. Another reason is the resentment people in those churches have toward church leaders because of corruption and outrageous decisions to accommodate the world. Many Catholics have left their church because of sex scandals; many Protestants have separated from their denomination over same-sex marriage views. As a result, they have no reason to be loyal to the doctrine of their former church and are open to a wider range of ideas.
- Loss of confidence in leaders. Many feel betrayed by the deception of the government and the media. The events of recent years have undermined our trust in the medical industry we have depended on for our very lives. When we realize that something we were told was true was actually a lie, we begin to question everything. The good side to this is that we are more careful to test what we hear. The bad side is that we can jump to the other extreme and accept ideas just because they go against the contemporary popular narrative even though those views have no basis in fact and reason.
- Lack of Bible knowledge. Christians who know the Scriptures “test all things” (I Thess. 5:21). They know how to “discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). They are not gullible. They are not “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). They are not like the people at Athens who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). But people who do not know the Bible are liable to believe anything. They don’t have this foundation. They don’t have these boundaries.
Yes, our world is becoming more mixed and more mixed up about its beliefs — just like the world we read about in the New Testament when the light of the gospel turned people to the truth and the church grew gloriously.