Friday, November 20, 2015

Evangelical by belief

Christianity Today reports on a new survey attempting to define "evangelical" by doctrine rather than by sociological criteria or political behavior:
The new report identifies four key statements that define evangelical beliefs, creating what may be the first research-driven creed.

Those statements are:
  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.
Only those who strongly agree with each of those statements should be considered “evangelical by belief,” according to the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals). ....

People who strongly agree with one statement tend to strongly agree with others, indicating the statements measure a “theological package” of evangelical belief, Stetzer said. Those who strongly agree with all four statements are more likely to attend church frequently and identify themselves as evangelical. ....

“African American Christians historically have high levels of beliefs that align with evangelical beliefs but tend not to use that term,” Stetzer said.

The report found that 41 percent of self-identified evangelicals fall outside the new definition of evangelical belief, and 21 percent of those who disavow the evangelical label have beliefs that actually fall within the evangelical definition, reports Facts & Trends. It also notes:
  • 23 percent of Catholics and 47 percent of Protestants hold evangelical beliefs.
  • 46 percent of Americans who attend church at least weekly hold evangelical beliefs.
  • 39 percent of those who identify themselves as Christians hold evangelical beliefs.
  • Americans with a high school education or less are most likely to hold evangelical beliefs. Forty percent of those with no more than a high school education strongly agree with all four statements, compared to 26 percent of those with some college, 22 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees, and 18 percent of those with graduate degrees.

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