Tobin Grant recently wrote an insightful article calling attention to the fact that just because American Christians believe in God does not mean that they believe in is a personal God. Using data from the 2007 Religious Landscape Survey Grant provides graphical representations of what percentage of American Christians in each of 43 religious traditions believe in God followed by another illustrating what percentage of these believe in a personal God.
Focusing on belief in a personal God among the Christian groups can be divided as follows:
- 80-99% – LDS/Mormon, Assemblies of God, Non-denominational (Evangelical), Jehovah’s Witness, and Seventh-Day Adventists
- 60-79% – Reformed, Pietist, Southern Baptist, Holiness (black), Baptist (white), Pentecostals (black), Pentecostals (white, not AOG), National Baptist, Holiness (white), COGIC, African Methodist Episcopal, Church of Christ, Methodist (not UMC), Presbyterian (not PCUSA), Disciples of Christ, Lutheran (not ELCA), Progressive Baptist, Baptist (black), and Restorationist
- 40-59% – Methodist (UMC), Non-denominational (not Evangelical), Lutheran (ELCA), Catholic, Presbyterian (PCUSA), Anglican, United Church of Christ, American Baptist, Orthodox, Congregationalists
- 20-39% – Friends
Since I write primarily about mainline (oldline or sideline if you prefer) Christianity, they appear next in order from highest percentage belief in a personal God to lowest:
- Disciples of Christ
- Methodist (UMC)
- Lutheran (ELCA)
- Presbyterian (PCUSA)
- United Church of Christ
- American Baptist
Interestingly, of the seven only the Disciples of Christ fall in the 60-79% range. The remaining groups are all in the 40-59% range.
In rough terms, about 1 out of every 2 mainline Christians believes in a personal God.
- Is this statistic close to what you would have guessed?
- What percentage of people in your local congregation do you think believe in a personal God?
- What are the implications of this statistic for the ministry in which you are personally most involved?