Everyday Supernatural

Summary

 The significance of this report should be read in the context of the respondent, it might be assumed that belief in the supernatural would be higher amongst groups such as Pentecostals, charismatics etc. but although this cohort was predominantly mainstream  (largest groups being Anglican, Methodist and Baptist) belief in the supernatural was high. Only 5% said they did not believe in the supernatural although a further 6% felt such events were caused by something beyond our scientific understanding but not necessarily divine or occult.

Two thirds significantly believed that the supernatural may be caused by occult or evil forces as well as divine, implying belief in the devil.

Only 8% had never had a supernatural experience and a quarter had experienced on in the last month. Indeed over half of respondents had had a supernatural experience in the last year.

When we looked at how they described their experiences these ranged from a feeling of God’s presence during prayer or through the communion or mass to observance of physical effects of the supernatural or miracles and several respondents reported being visited by angels. The great majority of experiences involved answered prayer and healing experiences.

Overall nearly half believed that experiencing the supernatural should be part of every Christian’s life and a further third felt that it possibly should. Less than a quarter felt that it definitely should not. Interestingly this was one area where Anglicans were significantly less likely to believe this although still one third felt this should be part of Christian life.

The survey revealed both a wide spread belief in the supernatural and a widespread experience of it together with a significant belief that it should be part of every Christians life.  However one word of warning, about two thirds felt that any over emphasis on ‘miracles’ may give Christians a bad name. This was a view more strongly held by the older groups, possibly due to the greater interest in the ‘spiritual’ often shown by the younger generation.  To many non-Christians the supernatural will immediately refer to the many current television programs in that genre and the survey suggests there is potential for education in this area.

 


 

Chapter 1. Introduction and demographics

 

The survey was conducted amongst 1,409 practicing Christians during the week beginning 10th July 2016.

The demographic breakdown was as follows:

Age groups

 

Gender

TOTAL

Male

Female

Other

Prefer not to say

TOTAL

1409

763

642

2

2

100%

54%

46%

0%

0%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

16 - 24

6

2

4

0

0

100%

33%

67%

0%

0%

0%

0%

1%

0%

0%

25 - 34

38

17

21

0

0

100%

45%

55%

0%

0%

3%

2%

3%

0%

0%

35 - 44

81

41

40

0

0

100%

51%

49%

0%

0%

6%

5%

6%

0%

0%

45 - 54

240

123

116

1

0

100%

51%

48%

0%

0%

17%

16%

18%

50%

0%

55 - 64

461

258

202

1

0

100%

56%

44%

0%

0%

33%

34%

31%

50%

0%

65 - 74

432

242

189

0

1

100%

56%

44%

0%

0%

31%

32%

29%

0%

50%

75 or over

103

56

47

0

0

100%

54%

46%

0%

0%

7%

7%

7%

0%

0%

Prefer not to say

48

24

23

0

1

100%

50%

48%

0%

2%

3%

3%

4%

0%

50%

 


 

Region

East Midlands

88

6%

East of England

81

6%

London

118

8%

North East

52

4%

North West

89

6%

South East 

364

26%

South West

183

13%

West Midlands

111

8%

Yorkshire & Humberside

83

6%

Wales

61

4%

Scotland

60

4%

Northern Ireland

7

1%

Other

112

8%

 

Denomination

Anglican/Church of England

629

45%

Baptist

167

12%

Catholic

44

3%

Independent

118

8%

Methodist

123

9%

New Church

45

3%

Pentecostal

47

3%

Presbyterian

15

1%

Prefer not to say

26

2%

Other

195

14%

 

 


 

Chapter 2. Understanding of the supernatural

 

In order to know better what was understood by the term ‘Supernatural’ and how it was used, we asked respondents which of the following

  • The manifestation of occult or ‘dark' forces beyond scientific understanding
  • The manifestation of divine power; something miraculous
  • The manifestation of either occult or divine forces, depending on the nature of the supernatural event
  • The manifestation of neither occult nor divine forces, but another force beyond scientific understanding
  • I don't believe in the supernatural

most closely matched their understanding of the supernatural.

By far the largest section said “The manifestation of either occult or divine forces, depending on the nature of the supernatural event” (68%) followed by those who said “The manifestation of divine power; something miraculous” (19%).  This leads us to believe the vast majority of Christians (87%) believe in the miraculous or supernatural, but that two thirds also believe that supernatural events can be caused by evil or occult forces as well as by divine.

 

This belief was highest amongst the Pentecostal and independent evangelical churches at just over 80% with those groups also less likely to believe that supernatural events were only caused by the divine at about 13%

Although all age groups believed equally in the supernatural those aged 35 to 54 were more likely to believe that this could be caused by occult forces than either the youngest or oldest groups.

For the rest of the questionnaire respondents were asked to assume that supernatural events were those that emanated from divine sources.

Respondents were asked whether they felt that the supernatural was a vital part of the Christian message

 

Unsurprisingly perhaps only 8% said 'No'.

Chapter 3. Experience of the supernatural

 Turning to their personal experience of the supernatural we found that 65% (895) had definitely had a personal experience and only 21% had definitely not. 14% were ‘don’t knows’, possible reflecting the difficulty many have in deciding whether an event is supernatural or miraculous or just coincidental.

 And when they were asked when they last experienced the supernatural said:

 

Base = 886

 

Chapter 4. Description of the experience

 

Respondents were asked to briefly describe their supernatural experience. The table is a selection of typical, interesting and representative accounts selected from the more than 800 responses received to this question.

The full list is available on request

I witnessed a lady's leg grow 2 inches in a matter of seconds, when prayed for, so that it matched the length of her other leg. This had to be seen to be believed, and was clearly an answer to prayer

The presence of Christ was experienced and made known through the hearing of the Gospel, the breaking of bread and the sharing of fellowship.

My son, then aged about 10, needed glasses because he could not see distance clearly, and had some astigmatism.  He was prayed for - and his sight was fine.  He is 39 now, and still no glasses

when in trouble in a rough sea I experienced the presence of another

This is foolish. If the supernatural is God's power, how could a Christian not experience that every day? Supernatural doesn't need to mean miraculous.

Whilst attending a woman with Cerebral Malaria (in Africa whilst working there as a doctor) who was delirious and fitting, she stopped and became conscious and rational in response to prayer

Just a sense, a feeling, that everything is good, you feel complete happiness; the hairs go up on the back of your neck.

Motorcycle accident, head on collision at 80mph closing speed. On impact, I (motorcyclist) did not fly over the car but instead travelled backwards turning over and landing on my back on soft turf

In Cambodia, lost on lonely unopened road, getting dark. Grandson, 8, got us to pray. Man appeared in the gloom, silently smiling, pointed us in right direction. Looking back, he'd gone

Whilst being prayed for healing I experienced feelings of heat, I also experienced my legs feeling weak and a sense of weight on me. I also experienced a physical touch from someone who was not there

Speaking in tongues, a gift of the Holy Spirit which I was blessed with

Praying for someone after church, a great sense of God's presence and seeing them start to relax and feel peace.

Words of knowledge/details that I sensed from God about a person I was speaking to, that I couldn't have otherwise known.

A Christian friend had a stroke last Sunday, in the street at that time a minister from another part of town and her GP husband were passing and stopped to provide the precise help needed.

At the of 36, my left leg which was 3' shorter than the right as a result of polio, grew to be the same length following prayer for healing.

God's provision in Nigeria when I think an angel came and help my Tear Fund Team through customs - in and out of Nigeria. Angel in Soldiers uniform!

At the time of the Toronto blessing a real experience of light, the presence of God and him speaking to me.

During a service at Spring Harvest in about 1990 I was knocked over backwards by the Holy Spirit and unable to stand up for about 10 minutes.

Every time I make my communion I experience the supernatural

I work in a voluntary capacity for a Christian healing and discipleship organisation and am involved in prayer ministry and frequently witness deliverance, healing and people being set free.

A massive inoperable cancer stopped growing as a result of prayer and the residual growth was absorbed by the body over a 6 week period

People prayed for my frozen shoulder to be healed.  During the prayers I heard a noise like a howling wind (which no one else heard) and I was healed.

receiving guidance or insight about a problem, a remarkable set of coincidences bringing you to a situation you seems right yet unexpected

Premonition of oncoming car out of control, causing road accident to be avoided

I regularly get clear 'prompts' to contact people who often turn out to be in some kind of need

I failed to post a time sensitive document entrusted to me due to an accident, I prayed, posted it. It arrived before I posted it.

I believe the sacrament of the Mass is a supernatural event

I felt the Lord ask me to pray for someone specifically and He gave me special words to say to them and when I gave them the words they said it really helped them and they thanked and praised God

 

All the responses were used to develop the following word cloud, representing the most commonly used words and illustrating the frequency of their use by the size and boldness of the font.

 

 

Most reported events involving healing, both mental and physical, some recalled physical interventions by angels or other influences.

 

Chapter 5. The everyday supernatural

All respondents were asked whether they thought that experiencing the supernatural should be part of every Christian's life.

 

Base: All respondents

Overall 43% felt that the supernatural should be part of a Christian life but this rose to around 80% for the New Church and Pentecostal groups. ‘No’ was consistently around 20% for all demographics except for the above mentioned denominations were it fell to just under 5%

Interestingly ones attitudes closely followed ones experience, in that, 97% of those who had had a personal experience of the supernatural felt that it should be part of every Christian’s life whereas only 19% of those who had not had such an experience felt that way.

However at 37% compared with 49% Anglicans were significantly less likely to see that the supernatural should be part of everyday Christian life than those of other denominations.

Finally respondents were asked whether they felt that "An over-emphasis on 'miracles' proclaimed by some ministers gives 'ordinary' Christians a bad name."

 

Overall 68% thought that this did give ‘ordinary’ Christians a bad name. The only noticeable difference in demographics was that those over 50 were more likely to agree than the younger groups and men were slightly more likely to agree than women.

Possibly inevitably those who felt that the supernatural should be part of every Christian’s life were less likely to feel that miracles gave Christians a bad name (60% cf 80%)