Nearly 70% of born-again Christians say other religions can lead to Heaven: study
Nearly 70% of born-again Christians disagree with the biblical position that Jesus is the only way to God, according to a new survey from Probe Ministries, a nonprofit that seeks to help the Church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview.
The survey, which looked at religious beliefs and attitudes toward cultural behaviors, polled 3,106 Americans ages 18 to 55 from all religious groups, including 717 respondents who identified as born-again Christians.
Born-again respondents were identified based on their affirmative response to the question, “Have you ever made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today?” They were also identified by their belief about what happens after they die. Born-again believers agree that “I will go to Heaven because I confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.”
Despite this claim by the self-identified born-again Christians in the study, however, among all respondents ages 18 to 39, who profess an affiliation with some religion, fewer than 1 out of 5 of them strongly disagree with the statement that Muhammad, Buddha and Jesus all taught valid ways to God.
Still, some 60% of this cohort said they shared their faith with someone else at least annually with the intent of converting them.
“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? Of course, you could be sharing with an unaffiliated person who needs to choose a valid religion,” noted Steve Cable, senior vice president of Probe Ministries, in his analysis of the data.
The survey also 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.
Cable argued that pastors and churches need to make the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to Heaven a stronger focus in teaching 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.”
He added: “God will not force reconciliation on us. We can choose to reject His grace. But as Paul tells us in Romans, ‘How are they to believe in one they have not heard of?’ If we think we can slough off our responsibility to tell others, we do not understand the grace of God and our role as citizens of Heaven living on this Earth.”
In 2008, a Pew Research Center study found that more than half of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to salvation. Nearly a decade later, a Pew survey found that even among the most traditional Christian groups, significant minorities have been rejecting God as described in the Bible.
While 80% of all Americans surveyed in the 2018 study said they believe in God, only 56% said the God they believe in is the one "as described in the Bible."
The strongest supporters of God as described in the Bible were Christians who self-identified as members of historically black Protestant churches at 92%, followed closely by evangelicals at 91%.
Significant minorities of Christians who identified as Catholics, 28%, and mainline Protestants, 26%, also indicated that they believe in a higher power or spiritual force, which is not God as described in the Bible.
This confusion among Christians and what they believe was also recently reflected in the American Worldview Inventory published last month by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University.
Of an estimated 176 million American adults who identify as Christian, just 6% or 15 million of them were actually found to hold a biblical worldview.
The study showed, in general, that while a majority of America’s self-identified Christians, including many who identify as evangelical, believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and is the Creator of the universe, more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.
Strong majorities were also found to errantly believe that all religious faiths are of equal value, people are basically good and that people can use acts of goodness to earn their way into Heaven. The study further showed that majorities don’t believe in moral absolutes, consider feelings, experience or the input of friends and family as their most trusted sources of moral guidance, and say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue.