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Active Christians flourish in life compared to others, study finds

Christians who are heavily engaged with the Bible and their faith “flourish in every domain of human experience,” according to new research from the State of the Bible 2023 report from the American Bible Society.

“Our research confirms something millions of Christians know through personal experience — that the Bible has the power to transform our lives and make us happier, healthier and whole,” the organization’s John Farquhar Plake said. “We find that Christians who are committed to their faith, fully engaged in the Bible and transformed by its message flourish in every domain of human experience.”

The research examined respondents’ scores on the Human Flourishing Index, which asks about people’s “happiness and life satisfaction,” “mental and physical health,” “meaning and purpose,” “character and virtue,” “close societal relationships” and “financial and material stability.” On the Human Flourishing Index as a whole, practicing Christians received an average score of 7.8 compared to 6.9 for non-practicing Christians and 6.7 for non-Christians.

This phenomenon extended to the happiness and life satisfaction domain, where practicing Christians received an average score of 7.8, followed by non-practicing Christians at 6.8 and non-Christians at 6.5. When it comes to meaning and purpose, practicing Christians turned in an average score of 8.1, while non-practicing Christians and non-Christians registered average scores of 6.9 and 6.4, respectively.

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Scripture-engaged Americans received an average score of 7.9 on the Human Flourishing Index compared to 7.1 for the movable middle and 6.7 for the Bible disengaged. With an average score of 7.8, scripture-engaged respondents also scored higher than the movable middle (6.9) and Bible-engaged (6.6) in the happiness and life satisfaction domain.

“While these scripture-engaged Christians go through the same hardships as everyone else, the difference is they experience life’s ups and downs through a worldview shaped by the Bible’s message of hope,” Plake said. “No matter the circumstances, those who trust in God and connect with him through Scripture are happier than those who haven’t yet sought God in his word.”

Two other takeaways from the study include:

  • Forgiveness is key to human flourishing. Without exception, the more forgiving people are, the more they flourish. Those who strongly agree with the statement “I am able to sincerely forgive whatever someone else has done to me, regardless of whether they ever ask for forgiveness or not” score 7.7 on the Human Flourishing Index, compared with 7.1 for those who somewhat agree, 6.6 for those who somewhat disagree, and 6.0 for those who strongly disagree (page 57).
  • Knowing and using your spiritual gifts leads to greater meaning and purpose. Christians who agreed with the statement “I know and use my spiritual gifts to fulfill God’s purposes” also scored the highest on the “Meaning and Purpose” domain of the Human Flourishing Index at 8.4, compared with 6.3 among those who disagree (page 59).

Between July and December 2023, American Bible Society will release six new chapters in the State of the Bible story, including Gen Z perspectives on the Bible, faith and church; and the impact of emerging technology on Bible engagement habits.

To download the first three chapters of State of the Bible 2023, visit StateoftheBible.org.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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