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Pastors' Positions on Creation vs. Evolution Vary by Region, Church Size

Pastors agree that division over origins harms outreach, but disagree on why.

American pastors have significantly different views on human origins based on where they live, according to new Barna Group research commissioned by BioLogos.

Somewhat predictably, pastors in the South are most likely to believe in young-earth creation (YEC), with 58 percent supporting YEC or leaning toward that position. But the regional stronghold of theistic evolution (TE) is not where you might think.

Pastors in the Midwest effectively tied the Northeast as most likely to believe in TE, whereas pastors from the West were least likely to support TE. (Other differences in clergy views can be found in the infographic below.)

Overall, the research results, based on interviews with nearly 750 pastors, shows that a slight majority (54%) of Protestant pastors across all regions most closely identify with YEC. One out of eight pastors were classified as "uncertain" about their beliefs. (Definitions of how theological positions were defined are at bottom of this post.)

Jesus Creed notes other interesting findings, including that pastors of very large churches are most likely to be uncertain of their beliefs on origins.

Regardless of which position they personally support, clergy agree that disagreements over origins harm Christian outreach. However, they disagree on the nature of this harm.

While 85 percent of YEC pastors assert that "Christian disagreement on matters of creation and evolution is compromising our witness to the world," 63 percent of TE pastors disagree with the statement. Meanwhile, 63 percent of TE pastors assert that "The church's posture toward science prevents many non-Christians from accepting Christianity", while 59% of their YEC and PC counterparts disagree.

CT regularly reports on the ongoing debate over origins. CT wrote last year that Christians haven't always been so divided and explored in-depth the new faultline over the historicity of Adam.

Barna's definitions:

Young Earth Creation: Core

• Believe that God created life in its present form in six 24-hour days

• Assert that the earth is less than 10,000 years old

• Absolutely certain of these perspectives

Young Earth Creation: Leaning

• All others who believe that God created life in its present form in six-24 hour days, but who express qualified certainty or who doubt "young" age of the earth

Progressive Creation

• Believe that God created life in its present form over a period of time, but not via evolutionary process

Theistic Evolution

• Believe God created life, used a natural process like evolution and express the belief that natural selection can explain the rise of new species

Uncertain

• Believe that God created life, but they admit they are not certain how

Related Topics:Doctrine
Posted:May 16, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Pastors' Positions on Creation vs. Evolution Vary by Region, Church ...