A majority of all American Christians (52%) think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. Indeed, among Christians who believe many religions can lead to eternal life, 80% name at least one non-Christian faith that can do so. These are among the key findings of a national survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life from July 31-Aug. 10, 2008, among 2,905 adults.
What’s their point in being Christian then?
Did it mention which faith they think save?
“…thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.”
Does “do not know the Gospel of Christ” ONLY apply to people who have never heard of Jesus? Because in this day and age the number of people who have never heard of Jesus must be pretty miniscule.
I tend to think it also applies to those whose principal relationship to Christianity has been with any of the myriad terrible representations of Christ’s church that masquerade as the real thing. Such a relationship is bound to sour one on “Christianity” per se, but that doesn’t stop many earnest seekers in orienting themselves towards God.
This certainly is a “feel good” kind of answer but it is wholly incorrect. While those outside of the body of Christ may be saved it is wrong to think that the means of their salvation is through any means other than Christ. I suspect there are a number of Catholics who don’t understand that point.
Exactly. It is making the choice to orient themselves towards God that they are brought into relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. The fact that such a person would use that terminology isn’t substantive. No one is questioning that it is any “entity” other than Christ doing the saving.
Wait, did the survey include only Catholics?
Uhm…I just realized that my post may have been taken as an attack on yours. It wasn’t and I’m sorry if it came across that way. The “feel good” I was referring to is the poll respondents. Sorry for the confusion.
No, but it did break out the results for white Catholics. Among these Catholics,
83% thought Protestantism could lead to eternal life
77% thought Judaism could lead to eternal life
62% thought Islam could lead to eternal life
65% thought Hinduism could lead to eternal life
49% thought Atheism could lead to eternal life
66% thought people with no religious faith could achieve eternal life.
Interestingly, Catholics were more likely than any other Christian group to believe that 3 or 4 different religions could lead to eternal life.
And, unlike other polls, the Catholic numbers don’t change with frequency of church attendance. Usually those who depart from Church teaching are more likely to not attend church weekly. But in this case, those attending weekly mass had the same numbers.
I wonder if Pew’s researchers have latent racial problems. Why is it they survey white Catholics. Since Catholic means universal, white universal seems to be a contradiction. If I knew where to submit a complaint, i would. A Catholic is a Catholic is a Catholic. I prefer to see Catholic numbers that support Church teaching and numbers dissenting.
Second, the question seems to be deliberately confusing for Catholics. Can the less then fullness of the truth found in other religions lead to salvation through Jesus Christ?
Well, the reason for your observations is that the Church does in fact allow for the possibility of people of other faiths to be saved. Protestants, on the other hand, tend often to be more exclusivistic.
Yes, I think it is a misunderstanding on the part of some Catholics who took the poll. The choices were:
*My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life. *
Many religions can lead to eternal life.
The correct Catholic response is the first. However, we do leave open the fact that God can save other individuals who are non-Catholic/unbaptized. I can see where that can confuse some people. Others, I’m sure, have just bought into the relativism that is popular in today’s culture.
It shows the tendencies of people to go to extremes. After Vatican II,many Catholics went from thinking of Luther as a heretic to thinking of him as a saint. Well, he was more certainly a heretic than a saint. Maybe the truth is that he was mishandled and pushed from the Church, but there is no doubt that he did great harm to the Church and to Europe,
That’s reverse of the religious situation. Catholics seem far more exclusivistic in terms of salvation; and of course, it depends on the Protestant.
IOW…it’s all relative.
That pretty much matches the poll.
Well, I think it highlights something valuable; a majority of individual Catholic Christians and non-Catholic Christians are more concerned about their own souls than about other people, when they need to be worrying about their personal salvation. I know I have a problem at times, of bickering about other issues when I need to focus on my own affairs.
But, that wasn’t the poll question Roamin_Xian. :shrug:
If someone doesn’t believe that their “religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life,” then they are either uncertain of their religion, still searching for the one, true religion, or relativistic.
Maybe the results are skewed because people are interpreting the question “Does only Christianity lead to eternal life?” to mean “Does God only grant Christians eternal life?”. There is a difference between the two questions.
From a Catholic perspective, this was a badly worded question. The grouping of “White” Catholics is also poor from a Catholic perspective.
I’m guessing the grouping by race has a lot to do with the differences within say Evangelical Christianity by race and Islam by race. From what I have seen here in Chicago, although the Black Churches are Evangelical, there is a big difference, not just in terms of style of worship but also of emphasis of different values as compared to say a mega-Church attended primarily by whites (say Wheaton’s Willow Creek Church). Also, the Black Muslim experience and worship style seem quite different from that of the immigrant Islamic community. And I’m not including Nation of Islam here as it is not exactly Islamic (I’m not sure what it is, there is obviously a strong tie to Islam, I suppose I would group it as analagous to Mormonism vis a vis Nicean Christianity).
I’m not sure if there is a difference among Black Catholics, certainly mass at St. Sabina is different from mass at St. Mary of Celle, though the base rubrics remain the same. I know next to nothing about the Latino Catholic experience and what the differences are with Catholicism as experienced by “whites”. I do know that the voting patterns of these groups are distinguishable from “white” Catholics at least in the 2006 & 2008 elections.
Give them some credit. Perhaps they are smart enough to realize that the best religion is the one that claims there is no one true religion. That’s actually a good thing.