According to 1,004 Americans surveyed by Newsweek/Beliefnet, 79% believe that “a good person who isn’t of [their] religious faith” will go to heaven. Not surprising. Slightly more surprising is this: 68%, 83%, and 91% of “Evangelical Protestants,” “non-Evangelical Protestants,” and “Catholics,” respectively, believe that that same hypothetical “good person”–emphasize “hypothetical”–will go to heaven.
Now, there are some ambiguities in the results. For example, how the researchers define “evangelical” and “non-evangelical.” If they let the respondents choose from only those few choices, where the heck is a Lutheran supposed to fit? [See this post.] I see now: according to this question, the respondents could choose from the following: “Evangelical Protestant”; “Non-Evangelical Protestant”; “Roman Catholic”; “Mormon”(!); “Orthodox Church”; or “Other Christian” (that’s me!). It also says 22% were Roman Catholic, or around 220.
There is also the question of how they define “your religious faith.”
Do they mean Christianity, or do they mean Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, etc. It appears to be the former, but how did the respondents hear the question? Can it be true that 91% of Roman Catholics believe that non-Christians will go to heaven just because they’re good? (Of course it can, but is it, even in spite of the Magisterium?) That brings up the whole question of how many of each “faith group” were questioned. If you survey 1,004 Americans and only 30 are Roman Catholic, naturally that can’t be considered representative. It’s not that I doubt the veracity of the findings; American Christianity can only be so shocking anymore. However, to find out how representative the numbers really are, I’d want to know more.
Nevertheless, once the centrality and scandalous particularity of Christ and His Cross have been lost, there is nothing left to hold back the floods of Spirit-less “spirituality.” And we should not forget this truth: the Spirit only testifies to what Christ has said–nothing less (lowest-common-denominator religion), nor nothing more (Enthusiasm of the “feathers-and-all” type). Steven Waldman, and, according to Waldman, Newsweek, has it right: “Americans have become so focused on a very personal style of worship—forging a direct relationship with God—that spiritual experience has begun to supplant dogma.”
Oh, you like chicken? I like beef. It’s all good, man. You say to-mae-to, I say to-mah-to. To each his/her/its own.
Hey, like, whatever works for you, you know?