Remember the survey that I wrote about last week? We had Press Institute break down the answers into different religious groups to get a better understanding of the religious culture and how individuals use Eagle TV. There is some startling new information. Here’s what Buddhists and Christians had to say about terminology. Keep in mind that “Burhan” and “Tenger” are traditionally Buddhist and/or shamanist words. “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” was originally developed by Christians for the Christians community.
- 79% of Buddhists associate the word “Burhan” with Buddhism, and only 10% associate it with Christianity
- 59% of Buddhists associate the title “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” with Christianity, and only 0.3% associate it with Buddhism
- 78% of Christians associate the words “Burhan” and “Tenger” with Buddhism, and 89% associate “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” with Christianity
- Only 8% of Christians associate the word “Burhan” with Christianity (this would seem to fly in the face of real-world practice, but I’ll touch on that later)
When asked what they believe Christianity is about:
- 10% of Buddhists said Christianity was about becoming prosperous (prosperity gospel), whereas (and here’s the shocker) 44% of Christians said the same thing
- 20% of Buddhists think Christianity is about societal development (social gospel?), whereas 17% of Christians think the same
- When combining categories we see that 60% of Mongolian Christians think Christianity is about prosperity gospel and social gospel.
That last statistic is significant and alarming. While there is certainly a role that material blessing and society play within the Gospel (such as with the Old Testament covenants and their application in modern times), primarily placing these values as “the” or “a” driving force in Christian expression is, at the very least, problematic for spiritual growth and community witness. May this also undercut the church’s chances of growing theologically and properly into the next generation? Theologically, I think this says dire things about the role that believers think God plays in their lives. If this were an election, prosperity/social gospel categories would win by a landslide. It seems clear to me from my own observations combined with these survey results that the sovereignty of God is not much taught or adhered to here.On questions of compatibility:
- 53% of Christians think Christianity and Buddhism are compatible or share some things in common. This is also highly alarming. Could it be that this statistic lends credence to the idea that key scriptural concepts are not being carefully unpackaged to both the believing and non-believing audiences? This is an area where better discipleship and community education can make a real difference—and how TV can augment this should be strongly considered
- 33% of Buddhists say Christianity and Buddhism have some things in common, but 36% say they have nothing in common
Where do they get their information:
- 38% of Buddhists get their information about Christianity from Eagle TV
- 36% of atheists get their information about Christianity from Eagle TV
- 31% of shamanist people get their information about Christianity from Eagle TV
- The three stats cited above are staggering. But the big turn comes here: 53% of Christians report that they get their information about Christianity from church and only 11% from Eagle TV.
When considering the problems already mentioned above we should consider, and perhaps do a formal study on what churches are specifically teaching Mongol believers. One thing that might be considered in this vein is that if Mongol believers are primarily prosperity/social gospel oriented, and they are therefore getting that education through their churches, it might shed light on the low number for Eagle in this report, because, Eagle TV does not allow prosperity/social gospel programming on air. Thus, we might be able to say that since we don’t meet that desire in the believing audience, that believing audience goes elsewhere for that kind of information. The challenge for us may be to find a way to tactfully address these issues (non-supportively) and hopefully help correct the problem (over time).
In all four cases above, these were the overwhelming large numbers for the questions asked. But after this it gets kind of freaky. The survey was broken down by multiple religious groups, including shamans and atheists. When it comes to terminology usage, look at what those identifying themselves as shamanists had to say. When it comes to terms:
- 82% of shamanism adherents say they associate “Burhan” with Christianity, whereas they associate “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” with Buddhism by 49% (I cannot help but think that there is a problem in the survey data on this question. However, our in-country missionary friends might have some light to shed on this
- 52% of atheists associate “Burhan” with Buddhism, and only 3% associate it with Christianity
- 60% of atheists associate “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” with Christianity and none associates it with Buddhism
I think that the terminology associations are significant. If this survey is accurate, it would seem to indicate that most Mongol believers know that the most popular word-choice (Burhan) is Buddhist in meaning/origin, but in practice, they don’t care how it’s used. Clearly, only 8% of respondents associate it with Christianity (in this survey), but it still remains the most popular word choice in the vernacular. What does this say, theological and socially, about the Mongol church? That would make a very interesting study.In light of this survey, we should be asking ourselves questions about the relationships between terminology usage, prosperity/social gospel, and information sourcing.Perhaps more thoughts from me at a later date. There’s certainly enough here to stew over for some time.