A new online survey on theology, released by LifeWay, shows that while two-thirds of Americans with evangelical beliefs say heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones, a slightly lesser number of Americans in general believe so.
While 64 percent of evangelicals say everyone will go to heaven, the percentage decreases to 60 percent for Americans in general who believe so, according to the survey, released by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Orlando-based Ligonier Ministries.
The survey notes that by definition, all those with evangelical beliefs affirm that only people who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation. And it adds that even more than half of Americans, or 54 percent, also say only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.
The survey, which asked 47 questions on topics from prayer and the Bible to heaven and hell, also found that the majority of evangelical believers say hell is for real, but other Americans aren't so sure.
Eighty-four percent of those who hold evangelical beliefs say hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ, but only 30 percent of Americans who don't have evangelical beliefs hold that view.
Overall, only 40 percent of Americans say those who don't believe in Jesus will go to hell.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, says in the survey report that while most Americans still identify as Christians, they seem to be confused about some of the details of their faith.
For example, he says, about two-thirds of Americans believe Jesus is God while half say Jesus is a being created by God. Those two beliefs don't seem to match, he adds. "Contradictory and incompatible beliefs are OK for most people."
The survey also found that 64 percent of Americans say God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Only 24 percent disagree, and 12 percent are not sure.
About sin, 74 percent of Americans disagree with the idea that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation, the survey shows, pointing out that the figure includes almost 62 percent who strongly disagree.
However, 64 percent of Americans say the biblical accounts of the physical, to bodily, resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. About 23 percent disagree, and 13 percent are not sure. But 98 percent of evangelicals agree, as do more than half of Americans who do not hold evangelical beliefs.
Among other findings of the survey, about half of Americans say sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin, while 44 percent say it's not a sin. Forty-nine percent say abortion is a sin, and 40 percent say it is not. Forty-two percent of Americans say the Bible's condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn't apply today, while 44 percent disagree.