Friday, September 25, 2015

"Can a Catholic Be Born Again?": Evangelical Pastors Respond to Pope Francis

An organization called LifeWay Research asked 1000 Protestant pastors a few questions about Pope Francis and Catholicism.  Here are some of the results, as reported by Christianity Today:

90% of Protestant pastors believe that a Catholic can be "born again Christian."  This is interesting since it appears that LifeWay's definition of Protestant includes both evangelicals and mainline Protestants.  Mainline Protestants rarely talk about being "born-again."

63% of Protestant pastors view Francis as a "genuine Christian brother" and a "brother in Christ." This has to be the highest percentage of Protestants who see the Pope as a "brother in Christ" in American history.

42% of Protestant pastors "value" Francis's theological views.  I think this number is very large. When Protestants find common ground with Catholics is it is usually on social issues rather than theology.

37% of Protestant pastors have a more positive opinion of the Catholic Church because of Francis. (43% said the Pope had "no impact" on their view of the Catholic Church).

But the numbers change a bit when evangelical pastors are surveyed. Here is a taste of the CT piece:

Evangelical pastors report more skepticism about Pope Francis than their mainline Protestant counterparts. While 80 percent of mainline Protestant pastors believe the pope is a true Christian, only 58 percent of evangelical pastors agree. About a quarter of evangelicals (23%) disagree, while one-fifth (19%) are not sure.

This survey revealed some other interesting results:

Favorable views of Pope Francis are most pronounced among highly educated Protestant pastors and those in the Northeast, the survey finds.
Fifty-one percent of Protestant pastors in the Northeast say Pope Francis improves their opinion of the Catholic Church, compared to 38 percent in the Midwest, 34 percent in the South, and 31 percent in the West. Most Northeastern pastors (53%) also say they value the pope’s opinions on theological matters, a view shared by fewer than half of pastors in the Midwest (45%), South (39%), and West (38%).
More than two-thirds of Protestant pastors with a master’s or doctoral degree (69%) view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and brother in Christ, compared to 42 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or no college degree.
Those with a master’s degree or higher are also significantly more likely to say they value Pope Francis’ opinions on theological matters (49%) and the pope improves their opinion of the Catholic Church (43%). Among those with less formal education, 22 percent value the pope’s theological opinion and 18 percent say he has a positive impact on their view of Catholicism.