A new study from Lifeway Research found that most Americans believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, but less than half believe that Jesus existed prior to being born on that first Christmas.
“Most Americans consider Jesus’ birth a historical fact,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “It can be easy to only evaluate Jesus like you would any other historical figure—thinking about when He lived and what He did. However, the Bible also describes Jesus in a way that one must evaluate who you believe He was. Most Americans believe His origin was from God the Father, but half as many believe He existed before His birth.”
According to Christianity Today, Most Americans (80 percent) agree Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, while 10 percent disagree and 10 percent aren’t sure.
However, the study also found that many Americans are not sure if Jesus existed before his birth or are unsure about the Trinity. About 40 percent said God’s son existed before the birth in Bethlehem, and about 32 percent said they disagreed with that. About 28 percent said they weren’t sure.
“The 2020 State of Theology Study showed that 72 percent of Americans believe there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,” McConnell said. “Prophecies such as those in Isaiah 9 reflect that the Messiah would be the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
“While these titles reflect the Trinity, some Americans do not connect the Jesus born in Bethlehem with the Messiah who already existed as God now coming in the flesh.”
Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans incorrectly identified reasons for Jesus’ coming to earth: 9 percent believe Jesus said He came to be served, 8 percent think He said He wanted to abolish the Old Testament law and prophets, and 8 percent say Jesus came to condemn sinners.
“Despite widespread belief that Jesus really came to earth as a baby, there is far less familiarity with why Jesus said He came,” said McConnell. “However, the majority of Americans believe Jesus came to give His life for many, which is reflected in the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’”
In a previous Lifeway Research study, more than 9 in 10 Americans say they celebrate Christmas.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.