Stunning – 57% of evangelical, yes I said evangelical church attendees believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. The results of the second part of a study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released in late June indicate “a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don’t know fundamental teachings of their own faiths” (AP article).
Here is the common definition of evangelical from Webster’s: “of those Protestant churches that emphasize salvation by faith in Jesus” and from Dictionary.com: “… salvation is achieved by personal conversion to faith in the atonement of Christ.” To be an evangelical then means that one believes John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How can evangelicals then say that many religions can lead to eternal life? Is this simply ignorance of scripture or a lack of belief? It seems that either we have broadened the definition of evangelical or people are not understanding what Scripture is saying. Am I missing something here?
The study also revealed that Protestants as a self-identified group have shrunk from 65% in the 80’s to 51% today. In the 18-29 age group only 43% identify themselves as Protestant. The category that grew was “unaffiliated” with now 16% of adults identifying themselves that way and 25% of young people 18 – 29.
Source: Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life