Who Is Evangelical? 4 Views

LifeWay Research

Should Evangelicals Look for a New Label?

LifeWay Research released the results of a survey in December that centered on "evangelical beliefs and identity" that featured responses from over 1,000 U.S. adults 18 or older that were collected between Nov. 10–12 with a plus or minus 3.1 percentage-point margin of error.

24 percent of respondents considered themselves to be an evangelical Christian, while 12 percent were unsure and 64 percent said they were not evangelical. Meanwhile, 29 percent labeled themselves "born-again."

While 24 percent of respondents claimed to be evangelical and 29 percent claimed to be born again, the survey found that only 15 percent actually agreed with evangelical beliefs defined by LifeWay, which included the following four fundamentals:

"The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.

It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.

Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation."

The survey found that among respondents who self-identify as evangelical and born again, only 45 percent of them were categorized as having evangelical beliefs.

"There's a gap between who evangelicals say they are and what they believe," said LifeWay Research Executive Director Scott McConnell in a statement.

Based upon Lifeway's crosstabulations, there are three types of evangelicals: 1) those who identify as evangelical but don't hold evangelical beliefs, 2) those who identify as evangelical and hold evangelical beliefs, and 3) those who don't identify as evangelical but hold evangelical beliefs. 

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