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20 Percent of Christians Say They Don’t Believe in the God of the Bible

A new poll has found that only 80 percent of those who identify themselves as Christian say they believe in the God of the Bible. One percent said they do not even believe in a God or higher power of any kind. Meanwhile, about one-fifth of the religious "nones" said they believe in the God of the Bible, and more than half of them said they believe in a higher power or a spiritual force.

A vast majority of U.S. adults (80 percent) said they believe in God but that the Bible did not always determine the type of God they believe exists. Just over half (56 percent) said they believe in the God of the Bible, while 32 percent said they believe in "some higher power or a spiritual force." Many who point-blank said they do not believe in God still said they believe in an impersonal higher power or spiritual force.

Even a substantial portion of those who identify as Christians said they do not believe in the God of the Bible. Only 80 percent of self-identified Christians said they believe in that God, while 18 percent said they believe in some other higher power. Roman Catholics (69 percent) and mainline Protestants (72 percent) were least likely to say they believe in the God of the Bible, while historically black Protestants (92 percent) and evangelicals (91 percent) were most likely to say they believe in the Bible's God, according to the Pew Research Center.

More than a quarter of Catholics (28 percent) and mainline Protestants (26 percent) said they believe in some other higher power, while 13 percent of Protestants did so, along with 8 percent of evangelicals and 6 percent of historically black Protestants. Two percent of Catholics said they "do not believe in God or other power of any kind," along with 1 percent of mainline Protestants.

These numbers seem to confirm the idea of a cultural Christianity — that many Americans identify as Christian and go to church, but do not actually believe in Christian doctrine. While the Roman Catholic Church values tradition on the same level as the Bible, official Catholic doctrine still involves the God of the Bible. Why do Christians disagree with the doctrine that defines their religion?

Many Americans go to church occasionally, have Christian friends, and think of themselves as Christian, while rejecting what the Bible teaches about God. Nevertheless, unlike Jews, Christians are only defined by their religion. Therefore the fact that only a third (33 percent) of Jewish Americans told Pew they believe in the God of Bible should not be as surprising. A full 56 percent of Jews said they believe in a higher power different from the Bible's God, and 10 percent said they do not believe in any kind of God. While Judaism is an important and historic faith, one need not believe in God to be a Jew.