See also: Christian Fundamentalism

Protestants are divided into other categories 
   (there are many different ways of categorizing Christians, but this is one
of the more common ones.)

* Conservative wing: (e.g. Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God 
                            Presbyterian Church of America).
They firmly believe in historical Christian doctrines, such as: 
 -The inerrancy of the Bible (except for a few copying errors).
 -The Bible not only contains the Word of God, it is the Word of God; God 
  inspired the individual authors to prevent them from error.
 - Creation science: that the universe was created by God less than 10,000
years ago.

  They emphasize God as a Lawgiver, Father, Judge, Creator & Redeemer.
  They take a literal interpretation of the Bible.
  Their social views tend to be conservative (e.g. pro-life)
 The Princeton Religion Research Center says:
 (See Divisions Within Protestant Christianity)
"Religious conservatives are sometimes viewed negatively as overly strict on
moral issues, close-minded, intolerant of other religious views, fanatical
about their beliefs, too harsh, and placing too much emphasis on guilt or sin,
 too concerned about their own salvation, and too rigid and simplistic.

* Liberal wing: (e.g. United Church of Christ). They see major parts of the
Bible as reflecting God's will. But they generally reject other portions of the
Bible as being no longer valid: 
 - They see such stories as the Genesis creation sequence, and world-wide Noahic flood, etc. as myths: 
 -They regard the Bible as errant, having been written by individuals
  without the direct inspiration of God, whose motivation was to promote
  their own theological and spiritual beliefs.

 They emphasize God as a Parent, Lover, Healer & Liberator.
 They view the Bible as Some literal, some symbolic; some as simple propaganda
  which should be ignored.
 Their social views tend to be liberal (e.g. pro-choice)
The Princeton Religion Research Center (PRRC) says:
"Liberals are sometimes viewed as substituting social concerns for the true
 Gospel, too compromising with the world, morally loose, having a shallow
  knowledge of the Bible and too much influenced by secular humanism." 

* Mainline wing: (e.g. Presbyterians (USA) and Methodists). As the name implies,
these are faith groups whose beliefs, priorities and policies lie between the
conservatives and liberals: 
 - They look upon the Bible as containing the Word of God but do not
necessarily view all passages being the inerrant word of God. 

 - They are divided about belief in the origins of life and the universe.
D.R. Hodge & D.A. Roozen, Eds., "Understanding church growth and decline,"
 Pilgrim Press (1979) , Page 185. Cited in B. Spilka, et al.,
"The Psychology of Relgion: An empirical approach," Prentice-Hall, (1985), Page 41

Assemblies of God (the most conservative)
Seventh-Day Adventist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Church of the Nazarene
Southern Baptist Convention
Churches of Christ
Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern)*
American Baptist Churches in the USA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) *
United Methodist Church
Episcopal Church
United Church of Christ. (the most liberal)

* The United presbyterian Church merged in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Forgetting about the atheist and agnostic views there are a whole range of views within the Christian community on how to interpret the Bible.
Some of the most popular resources representing each view are:
"Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" by John Shelby Spong, an Episcopal Bishop
Spong argues that the Bible and Christianity are still relevant without a literal interpretation of the Bible. He points out some of the obvious inconsistencies in details which make it imposible to claim inerrancy. He argues that fundamentalists who make inerrancy claims are turning people away from Christianity.

What's So Great about Christianity, by Dinesh D'Souza
D'Souza is a theistic evolutionist and leaves the possibility of miracles open, however he does not try to explain any particular miracle.

The following provides arguments for the trustworthiness of the Bible, deity of Jesus and existence of miracles. It is popular with "Campus Crusade for Christ", a conservative Christian organization which gets all profits from the book.
"The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict Fully Updated To Answer The Questions Challenging Christians Today", by Josh McDowell
  There are over 100 reviews at amazon, read some of them before getting this book. The take I got from looking at some is:
- It is good for conservative Christians by giving them some "facts" to support their faith.
- The "facts" are not strong enough to be used in a serious debate with a skeptic. McDowell is not a scolar of ancient history or languages.
See for a summary.
One reviewer recommends the following for a conservative view.
"Christian Apologetics" by Norman Geisler
The following are defenders of young earth theory and literal interpretation of the Bible:
The New Answers Book, 2008, by Ken Ham by Ken Ham

The Institute for Creation Research ( founded by Henry Morris

Survey on Beliefs of protestant Ministers

A survey completed by the sociologist Jeffrey Hadden. In this survey the beliefs of ten thousand Protestant ministers were questioned in May 1982 (7,441 responded) Results were published in 1998 (1). Here they are :
I don't believe this. I haven't been able to find any current surveys. I believe there is a general trend in religion as there is in politics to polarize people to the extrems rather to move toward the middle.

1. Is the Bible the inspired, inerrant Word of God? 

Over 80% of ministers said "no."

67% of American Baptists said "No."
82% of Presbyterians said "No."
87% of Methodists said "No."	
95% of Episcopalians said "No."

2. Was Jesus born of a virgin? 

Over 50% of ministers said "no."

The following ministers do not believe in the virgin birth: (4)

American Lutherans 19% 
American Baptists 34% 
Episcopalians 44% 
Presbyterians 49% 
Methodists 60% 

3. Was Jesus the son of God?

Over 80% of ministers said "no."

4. Do you believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus?

Over 36% of the ministers said "no."

1998 poll of protestant clergy (1) Percentage of resurrection doubters were found to be: American Lutherans: 13% Presbyterians: 30% American Baptist: 33% Episcopalians: 35% Methodists: 51% Genl. Populaation: 40% Born Again Christians: 30% ... Other polls: A 2008 poll in England from public theology think tank Theos says: 34 per cent of people agreed that the statement “Jesus was born to a virgin called Mary” was historically accurate, while only 32 per cent said they believed it was fictional. Harris polls done in '98 - '03 say 91-93% of christians believe in the virgin birth.
"In a survey of students at 16 evangelical colleges and seminaries, "over 50% of those surveyed, for example, said the Bible should not be taken literally in matters of science and history.
Over 30% said that those who never had an opportunity to hear of Jesus Christ could nevertheless go to heaven."

In a 2013 article, Mainline Churches: Past, Present, Future in the Huffington Post, William B. Bradshaw talks about the decline in mainline churches and says,
"The doctrinal clarity of fundamentalism leaves no doubt about how biblical passages should be interpreted, leading to certainty about how members should live their daily lives now and providing them with a faith that assures everlasting life. The lack of discord about participation in the liberal social and political agenda leads to a sense of contentment and security. All of this has proved to be very popular, as the fundamentalists have increased in membership as Protestant mainliners have continued to decline."

Other stats:
Generation differences

Other surveys at:
Nearly 2/3rds of the parables Jesus gave deal with money.
See money on the bible page.


Christian Fundamentalism
The Christian Left Welcomes You
The Liberal Tradition - Fr. Richard Rohr, The Center for Action and Contemplation
Presbyterian Church USA Issues

last updated 18 Mar 2010