(Read the survey introduction.)
The ‘09-‘10 SI Reader Survey has been in progress for a few weeks now, and the results so far are quite interesting. The survey will continue for another month or so, but I’d like to share some results now in the hopes that first, many of you will find them interesting and second, many who have not yet taken the survey will take a few minutes to go to that.
At the moment, 428 have completed surveys. 55% of these are readers who signed up for membership after June 1 of this year. The rest are split about half and half between readers who used to have memberships at SI (but no longer do) and readers who have never been members.
Here are some survey results so far.
- About half of SI readers are between age 25 and 44. About 38% are between 45 and 64.
- Vocationally, 38% are pastors, 13% are teachers, and about 19% chose “other.” (Note: this question allows multiple selections so there is overlap in the responses.)
- Education: 30% have earned Bachelor’s degrees from Christian institutions. 39% have earned Master’s degrees. 16% are currently doing Master’s degree work.
Use of SI and views about the site
- Patterns: the vast majority visit the Front Page when reading SI. A majority read the Filings. Less than half read the Forums, Foundry or Blogroll.
- Well over half of those who do not post often in the Forums say this is because they do not have time. 26% cited a wide variety of other reasons.
- Slightly more than half of those surveyed felt that SI should challenge the status quo in Fundamentalism about as often as it does now. 22% said it should do this more often.
Views on issues
- Fundamentalism: 50% identify with “the best of the Fundamentalist movement,” while 24% expressed distance from the movement but belief in “the idea.”
- 62% are multi-translational and prefer more literal translations over more “dynamic” ones. 3% believe it is wrong to use anything other than the KJV.
- On Calvinsim: 22% claim to be five pointers, another 22% claim to be four pointers. 34% do not claim “Calvinism,” though acknowledging some beliefs in common with it.
- Eschatology: 82% are pre-millennialist and pre-tribulational. 42% are confident of whatever position they take. (We’ll eventually “cross-tabulate” to see how many of the premillennial, pretribulational believers are confident, etc.)
What folks are saying
Below are samples from the “other” and comment portions of various questions. These have received many entries and I’ve selected the few that appear here with no conscious criteria in mind other than a vague sense of “that’s interesting” and some effort to balance negative with positive.
Why some do not post often in the forums
“The forums are dominated by New Evangelicals claiming to be fundamentalists.”
“I’m not a fundamentalist, therefore I can’t join.”
“I don’t want to offend.”
“Thought I had to be a member” [You do].
“Most of the contributors are too young to know if they are right, and the older ones aren’t open to change.”
“…It is apparent to me that being too honest on this site is not generally welcome by the new publisher and owner. BTW, the site has noticeably deteriorated in the past year in debate quality and thought-provoking information provided. Hence, even though I have considered posting, I have resisted. And to further clarify FYI, I do consider myself a historic fundamentalist even though I share a YF view.”
“I’m simply not as verbally skilled as the majority of the posters here.”
“I rarely have anything of value to contribute. The discussion tends to be more educational for me than for others to benefit from my input.”
“Some folks get very rancorous in forums. Not a battle worth fighting.”
“Mainly enjoy reading the dialogue.”
Does SharperIron give people who are ill-informed or ill-mannered too much influence?
“Ill informed people may post a lot, but the # of posts doesn’t = influence.”
“Maybe a little; when it first started, it seemed like many were trying to make a name for themselves on SI; such behavior seems to have dwindled.”
“Self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who take over discussions.”
“It often allows those that are ill-informed to have a place to post, but other posts usually point out their flaws.”
“At times. However, I dont know how one would monitor this differently.”
“It seems to me that the young computer geeks get all the space. Older gray beards who have thought through the issues and have the Bible knowledge are scared of computers. As a result it isn’t good balance.”
“You’re talking about censorship, you have moderators deciding who is ill-informed, and personal bias often gets involved, SI has a history of allowing non-Fundamentalists to join.”
“In the past there were times when accusations and slander against individuals being discussed was permitted; I haven’t seen it in a while.”
What changes would you welcome?
“It needs to be much more positive and Christ-centered—that’s why I lack interest—too negative and too many hills to die on—ugh!”
“I enjoy the site as is!”
“A worldview among members which is actually consistant with fundamentalism, so you believe in the fundamentals of the faith, if you’re living like the world, so what?”
“Stay independent and don’t get sucked into being beholden to any school or group.”
“I can’t think of anything that should be changed. Online courses could be a good thing. Like I said earlier I am mainly using SI as a learning tool. Since we are out of the US, much of the controversial issues are in some ways new to me. Or rather I have missed the details. I have appreciated SI for how these things have been handled. The discussions have made me study my Bible more, so that is a good thing.”
“I would welcome more relevant articles on apologetics and true issues (like, personal holiness in regards to living out the Gospel), not bickering about things that are non-issues. It also seems like (especially in the Filings sidebar) that this blog is turning into one of those ‘watchblogs’ where all we like to do is talk about the evil in the apostate churches and the unregenerate world and get all excited about how terrible it all is. Why is that so exciting? Unsaved people are going to act unsaved. Not worth reading about.”
“While this survey might be helpful to you, the horse left the barn. You already lost virtually every non-Calvinist, balanced Fundamentalist. You have little idea how many have been driven away by your hosting, backing and running interference for Bauder. You aren’t going get any one back and the rest aren’t going to join SI as it is still moving toward evangelicalism and promoting those views and practices. You’re too late! No one believes SI can be returned to a balanced, biblical Fundamentalism because under Janz it never was in the first place and is still moving away under Blumer. You’re too late!”
“There’s too much ‘clutter’ on the front page, it’s hard to follow. I come here much less now, since the changes, just because it’s harder to follow. Perhaps getting rid of so much ‘stuff’ and streamlining things down would be helpful. When time is short, it’s easier to follow when there isn’t so much ‘stuff’. :)”
“Some comments on front page articles moderated before they post, according to the desires of the author, and only if this gains new authors.”
“Not much should change. You’ve got a good balance right now.”
“I wonder if you would consider allowing one forum category that specifically allows non-members to input comments, although they could be restricted from starting a new topic. This would allow opinions from outside fundamentalism, if anybody ever wanted them. You could consider having these comments moderated before posting them.”
“The 5 points of Calvinism are in error but this does not void all of John Calvin’s works or license one to simply dismiss his contribution to theology seeing his works to not all revolve around the 5 points.”
“I am neither a calvinist nor an arminian; I believe both to be serious and damaging error and stick to scripture.”
“I have several beliefs in common with Calvinism, but I cannot explain or fully understand the biblical tension between points like free will and predestination. I am comfortable in rejecting any label and seeking to serve the Lord with what I do comprehend.”
“I was chosen bt a Soverign God before the foundation of the world. This substitutionary atonement dealt with every sin I’ve ever committed or will commit. Someone else will have add up my ‘points.’”
“Calvin was Catholic, Baptist killer, French and did I mention Catholic.”
“Dumb question. This is a human idea.”
“Defined historically, I do not accept any points of the so-called ‘five points.’ I believe that the Arminianism and Calvinism debate is a false dilemma (do not accept either).”
“The Bible proves both Calvinism and free will.”
Until next time
As you can see, weighing a boatload of feedback all at once is challenging! Our readers are all over the map on a number of things. But that does make the survey interesting (if sometimes pretty painful) reading. To those who have not yet taken the survey, please do it soon (click here). The more responses we collect the more valid the results. To the several hundred who have already taken the time, thanks so much for sharing your point of view. It is extremely valuable, and we’ll be reflecting on it for quite some time to come, I’m sure.