Less than half of U.S. Christians expect to experience eternal salvation because of their confession of sin and acceptance of Christ as their Savior, while a larger number of professing Christians believe good works will get them into Heaven, a new survey has found.
The American Worldview Inventory 2020 survey conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that a majority of people who describe themselves as Christian (52%) accept a “works-oriented” means to God’s acceptance.
In contrast, a minority of adults (46%) who describe themselves as “Christian” expect to experience eternal salvation because of their confession of sin and acceptance of Christ as their savior.
The study also found that “huge proportions of people” associated with churches whose official doctrine says eternal salvation comes only from embracing Jesus Christ as savior “believe that a person can qualify for Heaven by being or doing good.” That includes close to half of all adults associated with Pentecostal (46%), mainline Protestant (44%), and evangelical (41%) churches. A much larger share of Catholics (70%) embrace that point of view.
The survey of 2,000 individuals found that one in three Americans (33%) say they consider themselves to be a Christian and affirm the statement that “when you die you will go to heaven only because you have confessed your sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior.”
Len Munsil, president of Arizona Christian University, said the “lack of understanding of basic Christian theology is stunning,” with “potentially devastating consequences for individual souls and really for all aspects of American life and culture.”
“It’s a wakeup call for the church, and for leaders in all areas of influence, to speak, teach and work to restore biblical truth,” Munsil said. “Many souls will be lost if people are misled by the false notion that we can earn our way to heaven, rather than recognizing the truth that Christ alone and His righteousness are the basis for our salvation.”
Overall, 54% of U.S. adults believe they will get to Heaven after they die and only 2% believe they are going to hell. Additionally, 63% of adults believe “having faith matters more than which faith you have.”
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