Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"The Seven Faith Tribes"

George Barna (of the Barna Group) has written a new book entitled, "The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter."

In this book, Barna begins by briefly discussing the great difficulties our country is currently facing. He then, for about the first 50% of the book, describes what he refers to as the "Seven Faith Tribes" in the United States. Based on poll numbers, these are the seven main religious groups within the U.S.A.

According to Barna, these seven are:

-Casual Christians (Cultural Christians; by far the largest group)
-Captive Christians (Conservative Christians)
-Pantheists (Eastern religions)
-Skeptics (Atheists and Agnostics)

Barna goes into quite a bit of detail about each of these seven groups. Much of the information is both interesting and helpful. I would recommend this book just for the first half of it. In particular, I was fascinated to read about what the Casual Christians believe and do. They are truly a mixed-bag, often holding to a worldview that combines the bible and secularism. The Casuals appear to make up their own belief systems as they see fit. This group is extremely important because it makes up over 50% of the U.S. population.

At the midway point in this book, Barna changes directions. After he has described the above seven groups, he proposes that the groups take the values that they share (such as representing the truth well, developing inner peace and purity, seeking peace with others, demonstrating wisdom, and being forgiving), and use them to work together to better the U.S. society.

This is where the book became naive to me. Barna seems to have good intentions, but I simply cannot see people from various faith groups coming together to better society. The reason for this is that we all have different worldviews. We would have to set aside much of the particulars of our faiths to work together on these issues.

I applaud Barna for attempting to come up with a solution to our nation's problems, and I do think members of the seven tribes could work together in secular venues on some surface-level issues. However, the deep problems of our society are rooted in sin. The seven tribes view sin differently. How could they possibly agree on how to address the country's problems if they cannot even agree on the cause of the problems in the first place?

This book is worth the read for the first half of it. The second 50% amounts to wishful thinking.

Our society's problems will only be solved by our turning to the God of the bible. The gods of the other faith groups are not going to help because they don't exist.

To order this book, click here.

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