An increasing number of Christians say faith in God is not required to go to Heaven, and Christianity is not the only way to get there. Now, a new study has revealed that a majority of Americans need to be certain they’ll make it to Heaven, and African Americans are more certain than any other racial group that they “will be with God in Heaven” in the afterlife.
African Americans are also more likely to be certain they’re going to Heaven if they hold Christian beliefs, according to the findings of a recently published Evangelism Explosion Study of Americans’ Openness to Talking about Faith conducted by Lifeway Research from Dec. 8-17, 2021. Some 1,002 Americans from a national pre-recruited panel were surveyed for the report.
The Bible assures Christians in Scriptures like John 3:16 "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
According to the study, however, only 37% of Americans are sure they will be with God in Heaven, while 23% hope they get to Heaven. Another 17% say no one can really know that they are going to Heaven.
Still, some 55% of Americans, in general, note in the survey that it's very important to have the certainty they will go Heaven or have eternal life.
In the survey, 49% of African Americans chose the response “I am sure I will be with God in Heaven” when asked about their place in the afterlife" compared to just 37% of white respondents. Only 28% of Hispanics selected that response.
Some 63% of Americans who are sure they “will be with God in Heaven” hold Christian beliefs, while 21% who do not hold Christian beliefs say they are sure they will go to Heaven.
When it comes to the certainty that they’ll make it to Heaven, more women, 44%, selected “I am sure I will be with God in Heaven” compared to 30% of males. Older American adults were also more certain about their place in Heaven than younger ones.
While women and older adults were more likely than men and younger adults to say they deserve to go to Heaven because of their “trust in Jesus Christ alone,” a significant share also said they should be allowed into Heaven just because they are a “good person.”
Respondents from the Northeast were found to be more likely to hold this view than those in the Midwest or South.
The study also showed that while a majority of Americans were open to talking with a friend or a stranger about God, six out of 10 say that many of their friends who claim to be Christians rarely talk about their faith.
“Now, perhaps more than ever, people are open to conversations about faith, yet few Christians actually take the opportunity to engage in personal evangelism,” John B. Sorensen, president and CEO of Evangelism Explosion International, said in a statement published by Lifeway Research.
“Our mission at EE is to equip Christians to have the confidence to share the Gospel naturally, lovingly, and intentionally with family, friends, and yes, even strangers. We imagine a world where every believer is a witness for Christ to His glory.”
“It really isn’t about religious liberty, people not wanting to hear, or religion being off-limits,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, added. “The reason conversations are not happening about the Christian faith is that Christians are not bringing it up.”
While many Christians still maintain that their faith in Jesus alone will take them to Heaven, a recent survey from Probe Ministries, a nonprofit that seeks to help the Church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview, showed that nearly 70% of born-again Christians disagree with the biblical position that Jesus is the only way to God.
And according to Steve Cable, senior vice president of Probe Ministries, that could contribute to Christians not sharing their faith in a society where Christianity is losing its cultural dominance on faith in America.
“If you think that there are multiple ways to Heaven, why would you want to go out of your way to convert someone to your religion?” Cable asked. “Of course, you could be sharing with an unaffiliated person who needs to choose a valid religion.”
The Probe Ministries survey found that among the top reasons given by born-again Christians for not telling others about their faith is the acceptance of pluralism. When asked why they don’t share their beliefs with others, born-again respondents chose, “They can get to Heaven through their different religious belief,” “We shouldn’t impose our ideas on others” and “The Bible tells us not to judge others” as their top three responses, respectively.
“At first glance, this may seem surprising. But in a culture where pluralism is a dominant part of all religious groups, it begins to make sense. And the pluralistic reasons were dominant, attracting around two-thirds of the population across all religious groupings,” Cable said.
He stated that pastors and churches need to focus on teaching the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to Heaven in their congregations in order to push back against the tide of pluralism.
“On the most common reasons (which indicate a belief that other people don’t really need to know about salvation through faith in Jesus), we need to make the exclusive role of Jesus Christ in any hope of salvation a recurring and prominent theme in our teaching,” he said.
“This is not a topic to tiptoe gingerly around. Rather, we need to boldly proclaim, ‘There is salvation in no other name under Heaven other than the name of Jesus Christ.’ God would not have planned from before the beginning of time to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our salvation if there were any other means to reconcile sinful men and women to Himself.”