OK, I’ll share my scores from Belief-O-Matic, the online test that asks you a bunch of questions and tries to guess your religion.
1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%)
2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (87%)
3. Eastern Orthodox (87%)
4. Roman Catholic (87%)
5. Seventh Day Adventist (84%)
6. Orthodox Quaker (79%)
7. Jehovah’s Witness (78%)
8. Orthodox Judaism (72%)
9. Baha’i Faith (69%)
10. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (67%)
11. Islam (63%)
It got me right. I think I know which questions cranked up the Mormon score. One of the questions asks if works are required. It’s an incomplete question. Are works required for salvation? The answer is no. Are works expected of us? Yes–faith without works is dead. I’m guessing that’s what cranked up the Seventh-Day Adventist score as well. I’m much closer to them than I am to the Mormons, but I know I’m closer to being an Orthodox Quaker than I am to either of those religious bodies. I know the reason I didn’t score higher there was that I didn’t take a strong stance on nonviolence, and I did take a strong stance on the sacraments.
Obviously, in cases of a tie, Beliefnet returns the results in alphabetical order. I have no qualms about going to a Roman Catholic service, and the idea of going to an Eastern Orthodox service doesn’t bother me (I’ve just never had reason to). But I would not go to a Mormon service, under any circumstances. Its teachings on the origin and nature of God are wrong, its teachings on the divinity of Christ are wrong, its teachings on heaven and hell are wrong, and caffeine is God’s gift to help people like me get through the morning.
I found that I didn’t like some of the questions. They were good enough to distinguish between polytheistic and monotheistic religions, and from there, between eastern and western polytheism. In my case, they were able to distinguish between Judeo-Christian monotheism and Islam. I think the reason Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox ranked high is because of my Lutheran background. I find fewer fundamental differences between Lutherans and Roman Catholics than I do between Lutherans and Baptists. I’m more at home at a Baptist church service than I am at a Catholic mass, but I’m much less likely to get into an argument while talking theology with a Roman Catholic than I am a Baptist.
The 63% score on Islam bothers me, but I suspect it’s the result of my monotheism, belief in heaven, certain stances on social issues, and my grudging acknowledgment that works are required (but I disagree with Islam on why the works are required and what they get you after you die).
What am I really? I’m a conservative Lutheran with strong evangelical tendencies and an intense regret that there are multiple Christian denominations. In conservative Lutheran circles that makes me a flaming liberal, but that’s OK. I believe that mainline Christian denominations are more or less equally wrong, in that none of us gets all the details right, but there aren’t any teachings in mainline Christianity that’ll keep you out of heaven. I believe that a Lutheran interpretation of scripture will get the majority of people to heaven with fewer scars than other Christian interpretations, but if you believe that Jesus Christ died to save you from your sins and that’s the only reason God could/would/should let you into heaven, then you can believe just about anything else you want and still go to heaven. You might adversely affect your life here in the process, but our life on earth isn’t God’s highest priority.
So, what would be an accurate ranking for me? Something more like this:
1. Conservative Christian Protestant
2. Roman Catholic
2. Orthodox Quaker (There are elements I love about both of them, but both would say I have serious disagreements with them)
4. Eastern Orthodox
5. Mainline Christian Protestant
6. Seventh Day Adventist
7. Orthodox Judaism
8. Liberal Christian Protestant
9. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormoms)
9. Jehovah’s Witnesses (I have similar problems with both of them. They’re cults.)
11. Baha’i Faith (essentially monotheistic universalism–it’s a big stretch)
12. Islam (don’t get me started.)