Many Americans believe in heaven–majority disagree on how to get there

A new study from LifeWay Research commissioned by Ligonier Ministries reveals that Americans hold a variety of beliefs when it comes to faith.

Researchers asked more than 40 questions on topics such as sin, salvation, heaven and hell.

While 67 percent of Americans believe in heaven, 45 percent believe there are a variety of ways to gain admittance.

Belief in hell is slightly less popular, with just more than 60 percent holding to the literal nature of it. Evangelicals and Black Protestants hold to the literal nature of hell more than Catholics and Mainline Protestants, according to the survey.

If you are a pastor or a strong proponent of the necessity of regular church attendance, you might be worried about how Americans view the local church.

More than 50 percent of respondents said spending time at home or with your family worshipping is just as good as going to church.

In addition, “Almost all (82 percent) say their local church has no authority to ‘declare that I am not a Christian,’” writes Bob Smietana on the LifeWay Research website. “More than half (56 percent) believe their pastor’s sermons have no authority in their life, while slightly less than half (45 percent) say the Bible was written for each person to interpret as they choose.”

When it comes to specific doctrines, the survey reveals an American public unsure of the Trinity. While 70 percent of Americans believe in the Trinity, few of them can define it in terms of traditional Christian views.

Fifteen percent believe the Holy Spirit is the least divine, a third believe Jesus is less divine than the Father, and nearly 20 percent “say Jesus was the first creature made by God.”

To read the report in its entirety, visit www.lifewayresearch.com/2014/10/28/americans-believe-in-heaven-hell-and-a-little-bit-of-heresy.

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