Are American evangelicals abandoning the exclusivity of the Gospel? A new report out from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that many evangelical Christians are, at the very least, badly confused about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today reports:Most American religious believers, including most Christians, say eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Christ as their savior, a new survey finds.
Of the 65% of people who held this open view of heaven's gates, 80% named at least one non-Christian group - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all- who may also be saved, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
This most recent report, released today, clarifies a report issued earlier this year. That earlier report became the cause of some controversy because some researchers questioned the accuracy of the responses, since some of those surveyed may have confused other Christian denominations for other religions.
In releasing this updated report, the Pew Forum isolated the question and made it far more specific. Those who affirmed other ways of salvation were then asked to specify what they meant. As USA Today reports, the vast majority of those who affirmed other ways of salvation went on to specify "Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists or people with no religion at all" as valid options.
The report indicates that 52% of those belonging to churches and denominations that teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation reject that teaching.
Mohler was interviewed for the USA Today story:
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, calls the findings "a theological crisis for American evangelicals. They represent at best a misunderstanding of the Gospel and at worst a repudiation of the Gospel."
Overall, the new findings are "an indictment of evangelicalism and evangelical preaching," said Mohler. "The clear Biblical teaching is that Jesus Christ proclaimed himself to be the only way to salvation."
Mohler sees behind the statistics the impact of pluralism and secularism in U.S. society and the challenge of facing family and friends with "an uncomfortable truth."
"We are in an age when we want to tell everyone they are doing just fine. It's extremely uncomfortable to turn to someone and say, 'You will go to hell unless you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus,' " Mohler says.