USA (MNN) ? A study published this week in the journal American Sociological Review hints that church is a social club after all.
Rather than satisfaction in an interpersonal relationship with God, the researchers think that the happy people they found in church congregations may be finding their fulfillment from closer ties to earthly neighbors.
The report said that personal happiness couldn't be attributed to individual prayer, strength of belief, or an understanding of God's love and presence. Instead, researchers found empirical survey data showing that the happier a person reported themselves to be, the more close friends they had in their religious congregations.
Evangelist Sammy Tippit summarized the findings from the article this way: "People who have 10 more friends in church are happier than people who have 10 or more friends in the secular world, but it doesn't have anything to do with God. "
He also notes that the researchers don't make a distinction between faith as a way of "being" and religion as a way of "acting." Or perhaps they made too clear a distinction and compartmentalized friendships from the ethos that governs the motivation behind how people live their values.
Tippit says, "The people who have 10 or more close friends in church are the people who are the more involved, the people who have been walking with Christ the longest. The people who have the strongest faith are the ones who are the most involved. So how do you separate their faith from their friendships? "
It's more than the social ties that create this bond being explained by the report. "The tie that binds us is the Spirit that dwells within us. The study has taken some tangible things, made some great observations, and then drawn conclusions about the INtangible. They got out of the realm of science and into the realm of personal bias."
How does a believer explain that bond found in a church halfway across the world in sweet worship? How can you quantify a relationship created by instant closeness? The Gospel calls it Love, as in, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Please click on "external source" (below) for the complete article.
Perhaps the sense of society, friendship and belonging that one finds in a religious group is nothing more nor less than the experience of the Brotherhood of man. And contrary to what Mr Tippit has said in the above article, it really does have everything to do with God, in my opinion...
Please see our topical study on the Brotherhood HERE