A majority of Americans and nearly a third of evangelicals say Jesus was a “good teacher” but was not God, according to a new survey for Ligonier Ministries that was conducted by LifeWay Research.
All total, 52 percent of Americans say they believe Jesus was a “good teacher, but he was not God,” according to the survey. Although the poll’s finding about the general population may not be shocking, Ligonier said it is surprising that nearly a third of evangelicals (30 percent) affirm the statement and believe Jesus was a good teacher and nothing more. Sixty-six percent of evangelicals disagree with the statement.
“The confusion illustrated in these results suggests a dire need for Christians to be taught Christology, the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ,” Ligonier said in a news release.
The question was part of Ligonier’s biennial State of Theology survey.
Meanwhile, 65 percent of evangelicals believe “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God” – a statement that conflicts with the Bible.
“Statistics like these from the State of Theology survey can give us quite a shock, but they also shed light on the concerns that many American Christians and churches have expressed for decades,” said Stephen Nichols, chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries and president of Reformation Bible College. “As the culture around us increasingly abandons its moral compass, professing evangelicals are sadly drifting away from God's absolute standard in Scripture. It's clear that the church does not have the luxury of idly standing by. This is a time for Christians to study Scripture diligently, engage confidently with people in our culture, and witness fearlessly to the identity and saving work of Jesus Christ in the gospel.”
To help Christians understand and better articulate the Bible’s teachings about Jesus, Ligonier has formulated the “Ligonier Statement on Christology,” available at ChristologyStatement.com.
LifeWay defined “evangelicals” as those who strongly agree with four statements:
“The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.”
“It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.”
“Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.”
“Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.”
The full results from the survey will be released Sept. 8 at TheStateofTheology.com. The survey was based on interviews in March 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.