Sunday, November 18, 2007

Only 45% of Kentucky Southern Baptists Say Jesus is the Only Way

A new survey of Southern Baptists in Kentucky found that most are pretty strong in orthodox Christian beliefs, somewhat likely to work through the church, and about even in the likelihood of having actually evangelized recently. Southern Baptists are the largest denomination in the state, making up about a fifth of the population. Louisville is home to Southern Baptist Seminary, traditionally the flagship seminary of the denomination and notably conservative under its current president, Al Mohler. In the broad spectrum of Southern Baptists in the United States (which, despite the name, is a nationwide denomination), Kentucky Baptists are probably in the middle.

So it is particularly interesting that when Kentucky Baptists were asked if a person sincerely seeking God could obtain eternal life through a non-Christian religion, only 45% disagreed. That is, less than half clearly took the official Baptist position that salvation is only possible through Jesus. The article does not make clear how many of the remaining 55% actually embrace the pluralist position, and how many didn't know what they thought. Lifeway Research, which conducted the study, has not yet posted the results.

Still, it is remarkable that this key claim of orthodox Christianity can't muster even half the respondents' assent in a conservative evangelical denomination.

I live among Kentucky Baptists. They are nice people. They are Southern people. They don't want to be mean or make a scene in public. So I take these survey results with a grain of salt. I am confident that most Kentucky Baptists are sure in their own minds that Jesus is the Way. They are also sure that it might seem mean to say so in public.


Anonymous said...

This may seem like a silly question, but as a Southern Baptist I'd like to make absolutely sure: were all of the Baptists in that 55% who disagreed that Jesus is the only way, Southern Baptists? Because I know that there are many different Baptist sects in KY, and there are some pretty spectacular differences between some of those sects.

Gruntled said...

Since Lifeway is an agency of the SBC, I am pretty confident that they were surveying Southern Baptists (and know the difference).