The 95 theses Luther nailed to the door at Wittenberg served as the catalyst for one of the world’s largest religious splits, as thousands broke off from the Roman Catholic Church. His legacy, 500 years later, is 560 million Protestants across the globe, making up more than a third of the world’s Christians.
But many of them don’t actually agree with him.
Today, half of American Protestants say that both good deeds and faith in God are needed to get into heaven (52 per cent) the same number believe that in addition to the Bible, Christians need guidance from church teachings and traditions, according to two studies released by the Pew Research Center.
The numbers don’t change in Western Europe. In Luther’s home country of Germany, 61 per cent of Protestants believe good deeds are needed for salvation. In Reformation theologian John Calvin’s Switzerland, 57 per cent agree, as do 47 per cent in 18th century theologian Abraham Kuyper’s Holland.
“In fact, in every country (in Western Europe) except Norway (where 51 per cent of Protestants say salvation comes through faith alone), belief in sola fide is a minority view even among Protestants,” Pew reported. About half of Catholics and Protestants in Europe say that the two religions are “more similar than they are different,” while only about a quarter say they’re “more different than they are similar.”
In America, where many followers of the Reformation fled to escape Catholic persecution, more than half of Protestants now say that Catholicism is more like Protestantism than the two are different (57 per cent).
- Christianity Today