Re: [asa] Attaining heaven -- a poll

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Sat Dec 27 2008 - 13:39:21 EST

Whether or not the results of this poll are surprising depends on how the
pollster identified people as Christians. I would expect a difference
between the results based on self-identified Christians and those based on
members of evangelical denominations.

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

On Sat, 27 Dec 2008, John Burgeson (ASA member) wrote:

> Of course, a poll that says most folks think that Jesus is not "the
> only way" has no effect on the truth or falsity of that claim. But it
> is interesting..
> Published: December 26, 2008
> In June, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a
> controversial survey in which 70 percent of Americans said that they
> believed religions other than theirs could lead to eternal life.
> Earl Wilson/The New York Times
> Charles M. Blow
> This threw evangelicals into a tizzy. After all, the Bible makes it
> clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for
> Christians. Jesus said so: "I am the way, the truth and the life: no
> man cometh unto the Father, but by me." But the survey suggested that
> Americans just weren't buying that.
> The evangelicals complained that people must not have understood the
> question. The respondents couldn't actually believe what they were
> saying, could they?
> So in August, Pew asked the question again. (They released the results
> last week.) Sixty-five percent of respondents said again that
> other religions could lead to eternal life. But this time, to clear up
> any confusion, Pew asked them to specify which religions. The
> respondents essentially said all of them.
> And they didn't stop there. Nearly half also thought that atheists
> could go to heaven dragged there kicking and screaming, no doubt
> and most thought that people with no religious faith also could go.
> What on earth does this mean?
> One very plausible explanation is that Americans just want good things
> to come to good people, regardless of their faith. As Alan Segal, a
> professor of religion at Barnard College told me: "We are a
> multicultural society, and people expect this American life to
> continue the same way in heaven." He explained that in our society, we
> meet so many good people of different faiths that it's hard for us to
> imagine God letting them go to hell. In fact, in the most recent
> survey, Pew asked people what they thought determined whether a person
> would achieve eternal life. Nearly as many Christians said you could
> achieve eternal life by just being a good person as said that you had
> to believe in Jesus.
> Also, many Christians apparently view their didactic text as flexible.
> According to Pew's August survey, only 39 percent of Christians
> believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, and 18 percent
> think that it's just a book written by men and not the word of God at
> all. In fact, on the question in the Pew survey about what it would
> take to achieve eternal life, only 1 percent of Christians said living
> life in accordance with the Bible.
> Now, there remains the possibility that some of those polled may not
> have understood the implications of their answers. As John Green, a
> senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said, "The capacity of ignorance to
> influence survey outcomes should never be underestimated." But I don't
> think that they are ignorant about this most basic tenet of their
> faith. I think that they are choosing to ignore it ... for goodness
> sake.
> --
> Burgy (In the above, I'd object to the claim that "the Bible makes it clear.")
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Received on Sat Dec 27 18:06:09 2008

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