Who is Going to Heaven? Enquiring Minds Want to Know!
The context here is understandings developed within a context of religious diversity. And the answer to the question -- who gets in? Well, according to the Faith Matters Survey undertaken by Robert Putnam and David Campbell, 89% of Americans say that people outside one's own faith will get to heaven. They write:
Their hesitation to adopt a "members only" perspective on who goes to heaven illuminates their positive attitude toward religious diversity. It is not just that they have adopted Jefferson's minimal standard of avoiding picked pockets and broken legs. Rather they endorse the legitimacy of others' religious beliefs. Large majorities of even stricter religious traditions believe in an equal opportunity heaven. Eighty-three percent of evangelicals, for example, say that other religions can bring salvation; eighty-seven percent of Black Protestants believe so. (American Grace, p. 535).
Indeed, their studies show that the group with the highest percentage of people saying that a good person not of your faith will get to heaven are Mormon at 98%, with Mainline Protestants coming in second at 96%.
What is even more interesting is that they're not getting this openness from their clergy. Indeed, whereas laity by and large have an open view of heaven, even mainline Protestant Clergy take a predominantly exclusivist view. Consider that 63% of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) clergy say that salvation is through Jesus alone, while 59% of United Methodist and 57% of PCUSA clergy agree. Now, it's possible that these mainliners have a more nuanced view -- that salvation come through Jesus, but one need not confess Jesus in this life to be welcomed into the presence of God. This view is often called inclusivist rather than universalist. I myself would sort of fit into this camp. But what is clear is that one's view of salvation for those outside one's religion is being determined not by one's clergy, but by one's context living in a pluralist society.
So, what should we do? Should we work harder to teach people the "truth"? Or do we admit that maybe the pluralists have a point? The fact that even Missouri Synod Lutheran Clergy, one of the most conservative Christian denominations, can't convince their people is telling.