The New World was a place of all kinds of new experiments, experiments in liberty, and experiments in religion. It was a place where people felt like they could go and not only have the political freedom to practice their religion, but they were also liberated from external forms and church structures. And so, it’s not surprising that the search for the sacred in America has often taken on a very radical kind of form.
Americans are very religious, very spiritual, very interested in spirituality. Of all American adults 92% say they believe in God. 63% say that the Bible is the Word of God. God, apple pie, and mom just go together when you say the word, “America.” But is that the way it really is once you scratch the surface of this phenomenon?
It gets a little murkier. Take belief in God for example. According to a Pew Study, 92% of American adults give a nod to belief in God, but only 60% say they believe in a personal God. I don’t know what the statistic would be if you narrowed it down to the Holy Trinity, and then a Holy Trinity identified by the attributes we find in the Scriptures. In fact, only 79% of those who’ve identified themselves as Evangelical, Born-Again Christians said that they believe in a personal God. So, despite the public nod to the Bible, most Americans rely on their own ‘Inner Light’ to determine what they believe, and why they believe it. They have their own spiritual playlist, according to the same Pew Study I referred to. Most Americans, including most American Evangelicals, say that there are many paths to salvation.
What does it even mean to say we believe in God? What does it even mean to say that we believe the Bible is the Word of God? What do these slogans, these phrases that roll off our lips, so easily even mean in our contemporary context? Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we look at the spirituality of America.