Two-thirds of Americans say they believe the Bible’s account about Jesus’ bodily resurrection, although most also deny Scripture’s teaching that He was God, according to a new LifeWay Research survey that shows adults in the U.S. holding conflicting views on Christianity and theology.
The State of Theology survey, conducted by LifeWay Research and sponsored by Ligonier Ministries, shows that 66 percent of U.S. adults say they believe the “biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate” and that the event “actually occurred.” Another 62 percent believe Jesus will return in the future to “judge all the people who have lived.”
A large majority (65 percent) believe God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake, and 72 percent affirm the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, that “there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,” according to the survey’s wording.
But while Americans affirm several major teachings of historic Christianity, they also deny some of its core doctrines. For example, 55 percent say they believe “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God,” and 52 percent believe “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” Both statements conflict with the Bible’s affirmation of Christ’s deity and eternality as taught in such passages as John 1:1, John 8:58, Romans 9:5 and Hebrews 1:1-4.
Additionally, two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans say they believe “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
“Christianity has historically started with an understanding of God as the Creator and source of reality itself,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “While many Americans repeat with agreement a definition of this one Triune God, a further look at their beliefs reveals a majority do not believe in each Person of the Trinity as described in the Bible.”
Among the survey’s other findings:
65 percent believe “most people are good by nature.”
A plurality, 48 percent, believe the Bible is 100 percent accurate “in all that it teaches.” A plurality of 48 percent also disagree that “modern science disproves the Bible.”
56 percent believe hell is “a real place where certain people will be punished forever.”
61 percent disagree with the statement, “the Holy Spirit can tell me to do something which is forbidden in the Bible.”
“Many Americans treat theology like a choose-your-own-adventure book,” McConnell said. “It’s clear from certain beliefs that some people feel truth is something people are free to define on their own, and in doing so they possess seemingly incompatible beliefs.”
The survey involved interviews with 3,002 U.S. adults.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.