If you are Christian, chances are you believe Muslims, Buddhists and atheists do not go to heaven. The heavenly afterlife is available only through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as God incarnate sacrificed to save humanity from its sins and resurrected to live as king of heaven.
John 14:6 reads: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. Where those of other religions – or those with none at all – go is another, rather unpleasant, story. Although non-Christian religions have their own versions of heaven, Christians believe they are condemned to hell.
Now, a new study shows that friendships forged at church seem to play a mysterious and major role in people’s religious activities and beliefs — even when it comes to their views about how exclusive heaven is, according to a national study by a Baylor University sociology researcher.
“Although church-based friendship networks seem to bolster religiosity across the board, the effect of how enmeshed people are in congregational friendships is stronger on religious behavior than on beliefs.
“This makes sense — church-goers may not necessarily chat about the finer points of theological beliefs, such as the existence of demons, but they do seem to talk about things like prayer requests or upcoming church events, things that more directly lead to an effect on religious behavior,” said Samuel Stroope, a doctoral candidate at Baylor. “Also, friends at church can see behavior. Beliefs are harder to monitor.”
His article will be published in the online in the journal Sociology of Religion summer issue and may be viewed here.
“….regardless of where you go to church — to a Catholic, evangelical Protestant or mainline Protestant congregation — if you have more friends there, then on average you’re more likely to hold an exclusive view of heaven and believe that non-Christians are excluded from heaven,” he said.
Stroope found that the effect of congregational friends on religious activities was weaker for Catholics than for Protestants. He suggested that this pattern may in part reflect the fact that the contents of Protestant and Catholic congregational social networks have different norms.
Meanwhile, when it came to the view of the Bible, drawing a greater proportion of one’s friends from church was associated with increased odds of affirming that the Bible “should be taken literally, word for word on all subjects,” Stroope said.
To read the entire article, click here.
Sources: Baylor University and Eurekalert.com