Many Christians Claim Unbiblical Spiritual Gifts, Survey Finds

A surprising number of Americans who said they were familiar with spiritual gifts identified ones that are not listed in the Bible as gifts, a new survey found.

About one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents who said they have heard of spiritual gifts claimed to have gifts such as a sense of humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, compromise, premonition, creativity, and clairvoyance – ones that are not among those deemed to be spiritual gifts in the passages of Scripture that teach about gifts, according to a Barna Group report released Monday.

The report is based on three nationwide surveys that included 1,006 adults in 1995; 1,003 adults in 2000; and 1,006 adults in 2008. In each survey, the first question related to spiritual gifts was limited to people who had described themselves as Christians. The follow-up question regarding what spiritual gifts they possessed, if any, was limited to people who said they had heard of spiritual gifts.

Overall, two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans who described themselves as Christian said they have heard of spiritual gifts.

Among the self-proclaimed Christians, an astounding 99 percent of evangelicals have heard of the term, which is far more than the 74 percent of non-evangelical born again Christians and the 58 percent of notional Christians.

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2 Responses to Many Christians Claim Unbiblical Spiritual Gifts, Survey Finds

  1. Andy Box says:

    The article implies that there are no spiritual gifts besides those listed by Paul, as if God limits Himself only to those. I think God is bigger than that. I believe God gives each of us special abilities or talents that we can and should use to serve Him. You could call these spiritual gifts even if they aren't part of "the list". I think mine include "list" gifts such as teaching and service but also non-list gifts such as administration and writing, both of which I currently attempt to use to serve Him and others.

    You, among other things, have the gift of blogging. Obviously Paul couldn't have listed blogging as a gift, but that fact doesn't negate the power of your gift. You reach a wide audience and make them think about God, Christianity, and a host of other topics with the goal of helping everyone seek the truth. Your gift has a huge impact.

  2. I agree. While a job or a house don’t fit the definition. “Word of knowledge” isn’t defined so it could be premonition (not to be confused with psychic premonition which comes from the psychic, not a revelation from God). I’ve often joked that I have the gift of going first in line for food and starting applause (both varients of leadership) and noticing when women get their hair done (which is edification), but that’s a joke.

    I am gifted in encouragement, creative communication, craftsmanship, leadership, discernment, among others. I don’t believe God’s creativity could be limited to a list. That’s just silly.


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