A majority of Americans are vague about theology and do not rely on everything in it even though they maintain that Bible is written by God, according to a new study conducted by LifeWay Research.
About 58 percent of Americans say that the Bible is inspired by God, and 52 percent say that this is the only book inspired by God. A majority (64 percent) of Americans believe that it is a historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead.
A significant proportion (66 percent) agree that Jesus Christ's atoning death on the cross is the only way our debt of sin can be removed.
Most people (69 percent) agreed in one true God, and 65 percent said he is perfect (65 percent). A high proportion of 66 percent believe that he answers prayers.
About 54 percent believe that only those who trust in Jesus as their Savior receive the free gift of salvation.
But, many Americans appeared to have an incohesive theology, and did understand the deeper themes of Bible.
A majority (65 percent) of Americans say that "everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature." Only 28 percent do not think so.
As many as 74 percent disagree that even the smallest sin deserves eternal punishment. A tiny proportion (19 percent) believe this to be true.
However, 57 percent do say that God would be fair in showing his wrath against sin. Some 27 percent disagreed.
Only 40 percent of the people believed that hell is an eternal place of judgement where God sends people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ.
While 69 percent of the Americans say that there is one true God in three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, some 56 percent say that Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being. Some 51 percent disagreed with the idea that Holy Spirit is a divine being but is not equal with God the Father and Jesus.
Some 77 percent of Americans thought that people must work as well for personal salvation. About 52 percent said that doing good works will get them a place in heaven.
About 64 percent of Americans think that God has his ears equally inclined to the worship of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
As many as 60 percent of Americans believe that all people will be united with their loved ones in heaven.
The online survey was conducted on 3,000 US adults between April 14 and 20, and they were asked 47 questions covering basic tenets of Christian theology.
Evangelicals were more likely than the rest of Americans to be more grounded in theology.
Only 48 percent of evangelicals held the view that God accepts worship of all religions. An absolute majority of 84 percent said that hell is a real place of eternal judgement. Some 30 percent of evangelicals did not have this view.
A slightly higher proportion of evangelicals (64 percent) as compared to other Americans (60 percent) believe that heaven is a place where all people will be reunited with their loved ones. But, at the same time they do believe that only people with faith in Jesus Christ receive eternal salvation.
"Much depends on how a question is phrased," Timothy Larsen, professor of Christian thought at Wheaton College, told Christianity Today. "There is a lot in this survey which shows that the respondents are not even being internally consistent, but have been led to contradict themselves based on how the question sounded to them."
Theological experts said that while the survey results may not necessarily accurately show the belief patterns of Americans, they point to a vacuum of sound doctrinal teachings in churches around the country.