Last week, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released an intriguing ten-nation survey of Pentecostals and charismatics. Though I don’t like those labels (as I believe that the spiritual distinctive of those two groups, their belief in the continuation of the charismata, should be normative in all of Christendom), I think what the survey tells us about Pentecostals and charismatics worldwide is fascinating.
Rather than try to encapsulate everything in a post, I’ll just send you to the best links:
- The survey summary
- The complete 233-page survey in PDF format
A sampling of survey results:
- 78% of all Protestants in Brazil self-identify as Pentecostal or charismatic, while 73% of Kenyans do. As wholes, both South America and Africa are hotbeds of growth by both groups.
- From a low of 56% in South Korea to a high of 87% in Kenya, people within Pentecostal and charismatic churches report witnessing or personally experiencing divine healing.
- Of all Protestant groups, Pentecostals and charismatics show the highest percentages of belief in the inerrancy and literal interpretation of the Scriptures.
- American Pentecostals believe that the government of the United States should take steps to make this country a Christian nation by almost 52%, far higher than the 22% of other Christian groups.
I hope to wade through the entire 233-page report some day, but the summaries alone are mesmerizing.
Readers, what are your thoughts?
7 thoughts on “An Intriguing Survey of Pentecostals & Charismatics”
I am happy to be counted among those numbers.
Thanks for the post Dan. I recently took the Pew Forum off of my favorites so I would have missed this. Its refreshing in some areas, especially the Views of Scripture. I do wonder though about the point under Key Terms:
speak in tongues at least several times a year. Maybe the term needs to be defined, but why on earth would I participate in such a wonderful blessing just several times a year? Anyway thanks.
I suppose one must be a bit chary around surveys of any kind, as they are statistics, and we all know what Mark Twain said about those…
That being said, there is something that stands out in my short perusal of the full survey results, and that is the sorry state of the Christian community when it comes to the knowing the will of God.
Look at the state of belief about sexual relationships: 36% of pentacostals believe that extra-marital sex is sometimes justified? With a corresponding percent believing the same thing about abortion? 85% of pentecostals believe divorce is sometimes justified? So what we’re saying is that, in the mind of these people who believe the same Bible that states God hates divorce (and who only gave one justifiable excuse for it; extra-marital sex, and that because of hardened, unforgiving hearts) is the inerrant word of God, but somehow have managed to find excuses to justify behavior specifically forbidden. Where in the Bible is extra-marital sex justifiable? Where, if one takes God’s standards into account, is divorce justified? Abortion? Euthanasia? Oh, but drinking alcohol, now there’s a sin…And let’s not forget that pentecostals are more likely to believe that a man has more rights to a job than a women than they are likely to believe that divorce is unjustifiable.
What this tells me is that Christians, whatever their label, don’t read their bible. And the survey bears this out: 35% of Pentacostals, and a woeful 27% of charismatics, say they read their bible every day. Yet 33% of pentacostals and a whopping 50% of charismatics say they speak in tongues every week. One wonders who they are speaking to, as their time in the bible, which God ordered us to be reading and meditating on constantly, does not indicate they have a healthy relationship with the God they claim they know so well as to speak to Him in the spirit.
I could go on, but would just sound huffy.
It seems you and I are mesmerized by the same surveys.
Here’s a blog shake to you.
Encouraging in some ways. At least we (for the most part) believe the Scriptures — that is very encouraging. Thanks for alerting us to this.