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Salvation by Works

Glendale, California. - A survey by the Barna Research Group suggests widespread confusion about the gospel - even among churchgoers who feel responsible to spread the gospel. Almost half of the respondents (46 percent) say they have a personal responsibility to explain their beliefs to others. Most of those “evangelizers” (81 percent) believe that the Bible is accurate in all its teachings and that Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected (94 percent). But 48 percent of the evangelizers also believe that “if people are generally good, or do enough good things for others...they will earn places in heaven.”

“There is plenty of reason for churches to worry if nearly one-half of their people who believe in evangelism also believe in salvation by works,” says George Barna, president of the Barna Research Group. “The central message of Protestantism is in salvation by faith alone in Christ, yet (many) Protestant evangelizers seem to be preaching a different message.”

Respondents from “mainline” Protestant churches tended to believe in salvation by works more frequently than those from “evangelical” churches. Yet pastors from mainline churches seemed more confident in their members’ ability to evangelize. Almost half (46 percent) of mainline pastors believe their congregations are qualified to present the gospel, while only one-fourth (24 percent) of Baptist pastors do.

Moody Monthly, October 1993, p. 67