What does everyone make of this? The Christian Post reports:
In contrast, about 35 percent of American Christians believe Satan is real. Twenty-six percent strongly disagreed with the statement that Satan is merely symbolic and about one-tenth (9 percent) somewhat disagreed.
The majority of American Christians do not believe that Satan is a real being or that the Holy Spirit is a living entity, the latest Barna survey found.
Nearly six out of ten Christians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil,” the survey found.
Forty percent strongly agreed with the statement while 19 percent of American Christians somewhat agreed.
The remaining eight percent of American Christians responded they were unsure what to believe about the existence of Satan.
Interestingly, the majority of Christians believe a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces, such as demons or evil spirits, even though many of these same people believe Satan is merely a symbol of evil. Two out of three Christians agreed that such forces are real (39 percent agreed strongly, 25 percent agreed somewhat).
Likewise, most Christians in the United States do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force. Fifty-eight percent strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.”
Only one-third of Christians disagreed with the statement that the Holy Spirit is not just symbolic (9 percent disagreed somewhat, 25 percent disagreed strongly). Nine percent expressed they were unsure.
Interestingly, about half (49 percent) of those who agreed that the Holy Spirit is only a symbol but not a living entity, agreed that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. The Bible states that the Holy Spirit is God’s power or presence, not just symbolic.
My guess is that this is mainly a matter of biblical and theological illiteracy – rather than, for example, a conclusion arrived at after considering the main hermeneutical positions and then choosing a metaphorical interpretation as the best option.
It seems anyone in a teaching or preaching position has their work cut out for them. Maybe we need Theology 101 classes in all of our churches. Or a Theology 101 series from the pulpit. I’m an optimist and like to look on the bright side, but those statistics are pretty dismal.
What do you think?