Pentecostals top pollster's 'theological purity' ranking
August 10 2001 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

Pentecostals top pollster's 'theological purity' ranking | Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

Pentecostals top pollster's 'theological purity' ranking

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press VENTURA, Calif. - Members of the Assembly of God and other Pentecostal churches ranked ahead of Baptists in "theological purity," or strong commitment to traditional Christian beliefs, in a recent poll by the Barna Research Group. In a nationwide survey of more than 6,000 adults, lay members of the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal denominations were found most likely among 12 denominational groupings to "strongly" hold orthodox beliefs on topics such as Satan, salvation and that Jesus lived a sinless life.

Non-denominational Christians came next, followed by all kinds of Baptists. Catholics and Episcopalians came out on the bottom of the ranking.

Just 41 percent of all those surveyed strongly agreed that the Bible "is totally accurate in all that it teaches." However, 77 percent of Assembly of God respondents said they strongly agree, compared to 66 percent of Baptists.

A strong belief that Christians have a personal responsibility to share their faith was held by 32 percent of adults, 61 percent of Assembly of God and 51 percent of Baptists.

Slightly more than one in four churchgoers (27 percent) strongly disagreed that Satan is just a symbol of evil and not a real being. Among Baptists, the percentage was 34 percent, compared to 56 percent for the Assembly of God.

Thirty percent of those surveyed disagreed strongly that a good person can earn a place in heaven and 40 percent that Jesus Christ committed sins while on earth. Baptists responded to those queries 43 percent and 55 percent, respectively, compared to 64 percent and 70 percent for Assembly of God.

George Barna, president of the research firm that conducted the poll, said the findings challenge the stereotype that charismatic and Pentecostal churches attract people who respond on the basis of emotion but lack strong biblical training.

Barna, however, expressed concern about the overall pattern of beliefs among the various denominations.

"The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy," he said. "How else can you describe matters when most church-going adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?"

The survey, based on telephone interviews of 6,038 adults from January 2000 through June 2001, claimed a sampling margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent.

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8/10/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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