Saturday, June 28, 2008


26% of a recent survey sample of 35,000 Americans identified themselves as Evangelicals according to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life U.S. Religious Landscape Survey . Of these, a surprising 57% felt that "many religions can lead to eternal life."

On the other hand, it is not so surprising. And while the survey results should be interpreted as a warning siren to pastors and teachers in evangelical circles concerning the degree to which the flock apprehends essential doctrine, there also appears to be some conclusive weaknesses in applying these numbers to the typical evangelical as held in the perception of most Americans.

For example, we think of an evangelical as one who attends church regularly, yet according to the survey, only 58% of those who said they were evangelicals claimed to attend church at least once a week. It would be interesting to know how the regular attenders would respond to the "many religions" question.

Also, according to the survey, 88% of evangelicals agree that the Bible is God's word. I'm not exactly sure why the other 12% identify themselves as evangelicals, but such are the strange tendencies of humankind at times. So it is entirely possible that some of those responding to the question of whether many religions can lead to eternal life mentally replaced the term "religions" with "denominations" when considering their answer. If 88% agree that the Bible is God's word, it would be expected that a similar number would agree with Jesus' statement in John 14:6:

"...'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' "

Likewise, the 88% should concur with Peter's statement in Acts 4:12 when he referred to Jesus by saying:

" Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

At least if the question were posed this way, it would remove the ambiguity. Still, the results show that there is lots of opportunity to proclaim the gospel, both within the Professing Church and outside it.

There were a number of other interesting things in the report. It seems 21% of atheists believe in God. Huh? But I thought...oh, and in a similar vein, 12% of atheists believe in heaven and 10% believe in hell, according to the report. fact, per the report, 8% of atheists are absolutely certain they believe in God, while 18% of agnostics undermine their nomenclature by being absolutely certain of their belief in God. And while the 18% of agnostics who pray weekly or more can be understood to be perhaps attempting to cover all their bases, I'm not sure why 10% of atheists pray at least once a week.

Well, we have church tomorrow, so if you're an evangelical, be there and improve on that 58%. Hey, you atheists are invited too.

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