Survey respondents were asked if they thought a specific story in the Bible was “literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible” or whether they thought the story was "meant to illustrate a principle but is not to be taken literally." Six renowned Bible stories were then offered to adults for their consideration.The six stories they asked about were: the crucifixion and resurrection, Moses parting the Red Sea, Peter walking on the water, God creating the universe in six days, Daniel in the lion's den, and David killing Goliath.
The results were predictable. A majority of people responded that they believed the stories were literally true.
But that creates some interesting follow-up questions. What if the Barna Group had asked them what takes place in those stories that they "literally" believe in. Since even the biblical record is not consistent in almost all of those stories --- how would they answer. Would they answer with the biblical version of the crossing of the "red" or is it "reed" sea, or would they give us Cecil B. DeMille's version?
Who would find Jesus at the tomb? Which version would they pick. And which creation story would they follow --- Genesis 1 or Genesis 2.
The sad reality is --- Many people say they believe in the Bible literally, but they have never read it --- or if they have it has only been devotionally, but not critically.
Maybe that is why Barna reached the conclusion that he did:
But Barna also noted a significant disconnect between faith and practice. "While the level of literal acceptance of these Bible stories is nothing short of astonishing given our cultural context, the widespread embrace of these accounts raises questions about the unmistakable gap between belief and behavior. On the one hand we have tens of millions of people who view these narratives as reflections of the reality, the authority and the involvement of God in our lives. On the other hand, a majority of those same people harbor a stubborn indifference toward God and His desire to have intimacy with them. In fact, a minority of the people who believe these stories to be true consistently apply the principles imbedded in these stories within their own lives. It seems that millions of Americans believe the Bible content is true, but are not willing to translate those stories into action. Sadly, for many people, the Bible has become a respected but impersonal religious history lesson that stays removed from their life."Maybe it is time that we quit saying we believe and really start figuring out what we believe, and what the bible really teaches.
Just a thought. But unfortunately I know the truth --- for many people it is easier to ignore the questions, or if they are good and pious, they just accept the party line and don't think for themselves.