A 2003 poll of American adults found that while 91 percent "absolutely believe" or "mostly believe" Jesus Christ was a real historical person, they are much fuzzier on the implications of that belief. Of those surveyed, significantly smaller percentages actually believe He was born to a virgin, was resurrected from the dead, was the Son of God or was divine (Scripps Howard News Service report, Dec. 26, 2003).
When it comes to actual Bible knowledge and understanding, the numbers drop even further. A 1990 Gallup Poll found that only half of American adults interviewed could name a single one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and only 37 percent could name all four! And while 70 percent could name the town in which Jesus was born (Bethlehem), barely one person in four could name even half of the Ten Commandments or identify Jesus as the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount (George Gallup, Jr., The Role of the Bible in American Society, 1990, p. 17).
Sadly, these numbers may well be considerably worse in other Western countries where people don't even make much of a pretense of going to church. What such disturbing trends lead to is the result discovered in a 2003 survey by the Barna Research Group. It found that among professing Christians, half considered cohabitation and "enjoying sexual thoughts and fantasies about someone" who was not their spouse to be morally acceptable; roughly a third considered adultery, pornography, drunkenness and having an abortion to be morally acceptable; and one in five thought the same of homosexual behavior (Barna Research Online, Nov. 3, 2003, report).
Keep in mind that these percentages aren't for the population as a whole, but for people who claim to be Christian! What we have, then, is a Christianity in which millions accept Christ in name but know little about Him, what He did and what He taught. Or, worse yet, perhaps they do know what He taught—but choose to ignore or reject it!
If you would like to know what Jesus is really like as well as what He taught, please request or download our free booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story. GN