Americans in general, and even evangelicals in particular, seem confused about important details of their faith. A study done by Lifeway Research found that Americans don’t know much about theology, and many evangelicals seem confused as well. Tyler O’Neil wrote about the “12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe.” Here are a few of them.
Americans generally believe that their personal salvation depends on good works. The survey found that three-fourths (77%) agreed with the statement that people must contribute to their own effort for personal salvation. More than half (52%) said good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven. On the other hand, 60 percent said Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of sin. This statement is closer to what the Bible teaches in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the results of works, so that no one may boast.”
Americans seem to believe that everyone goes to heaven. The study even found that almost two-thirds (64%) of evangelicals described heaven as a place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.” Just over half of Americans (54%) agreed with the biblical view that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.
Americans also believe that salvation can come through many means. Nearly two thirds (64%) said that God accepts worship of all religions. Nearly half (48%) of evangelicals agreed that God accepts all kinds of worship. This survey correlates with the survey Probe Ministries did with Barna Research of born-again Millennials. Americans in general, and evangelicals in particular, accept a pluralistic view of salvation.
These surveys remind us that churches need to focus even more attention on teaching sound doctrine. And when we are witnessing to nonbelievers, we need to define our terms and clearly explain the message of salvation.