American Christians Aren’t Very Reformed, or Protestant…

Pew Research reports

  • About half of U.S. Protestants (52%) say both good deeds and faith in God are needed to get into heaven, a historically Catholic position. The other half (46%) say that faith alone is needed to attain salvation.
  • U.S. Protestants also are split on another issue that played a key role in the Reformation: 46% say the Bible provides all the religious guidance Christians need, a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. But 52% say Christians should look for guidance from church teachings and traditions as well as from the Bible, the position held by the Catholic Church.
  • Just 30% of all U.S. Protestants affirm both sola fide and sola scriptura.
  • However, belief in sola fide and sola scriptura is much more prevalent among white evangelical Protestants than among white mainline Protestants or black Protestants in the United States. Among self-identified white evangelicals, 44% express both convictions, and this figure rises to 59% among white evangelicals who say they attend church at least once a week.
  • In a series of multiple-choice questions, most U.S. adults (65%) correctly identify the Reformation as the term commonly used to refer to the historical period in which Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church. And a similar share (67%) correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Reformation. Far fewer (23%) know that only Protestants traditionally teach that salvation comes through faith alone; 45% erroneously say both Protestantism and Catholicism traditionally hold that position, while 19% say neither religious tradition espouses sola fide, and one-in-ten U.S. adults (11%) say only Catholicism traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone.
  • Views on sola fide are tied to levels of knowledge about it. Among U.S. Protestants, knowing that only Protestantism traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone is closely linked with believing that salvation comes through faith alone. Among Protestants who know that only Protestantism traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone, about three-quarters (77%) embrace the concept of sola fide. But among the much larger share of Protestants who are not aware that sola fide is solely a Protestant teaching, far fewer (35%) believe that faith is all that is needed to get into heaven.

Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli pretty much wasted their time when it comes to modern American Christianity… bless ’em. I know how they feel… Anyway, read the whole depressing report.

2 thoughts on “American Christians Aren’t Very Reformed, or Protestant…

  1. Don 6 Sep 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Regarding the second bullet point, is “all the religious guidance Christians need” a good description of Sola Scriptura? I don’t think I would have answered yes to that.


    • Jim 6 Sep 2017 at 1:21 pm

      there’s always a better way to word things. but it gets to the point such that people have a good idea what the question means.


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