More From Our Clergy Survey
Our newly released survey on pastoral views of origins was featured on several major websites this month, offering new insights on our findings as well as sharing some new charts of the data. Here are some of the highlights:
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.
The correlation with church size is quite striking. Fewer than half (38%) of senior pastors of large churches (those with 250 or more adult weekend worshipers) lean toward or are certain of YEC, while 26% are certain of or lean toward TE. The differences are even more pronounces when only pastors of very large churches are considered. These pastors are less likely to lean toward YEC than toward TE, and few if any claim certainty for either view. In fact, a significant 31% believe that God created life, but admit they are not certain how without leaning toward any of the three major views.
A notable difference found between YEC and TE pastors was the amount of concern they had on how their doubts on the origins issue could impact their ministry. While only 17 percent of TE pastors said they feel they would have a lot to lose in their ministry if they publicly admitted their own doubts about human origins, 58 percent of YEC pastors expressed the same concern.
Other surveys that have asked pastors similar questions have produced varying results. A survey of 1,000 American Protestant pastors by LifeWay, released in January, found that 24 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that God used evolution to create people, while 72 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed.
The survey was also featured on the website Think Christian.