Jesus Sinned? A New Survey on American Biblical Beliefs

By Kris W. Sky | Posted May 23, 2022

For the past 12 years, the non-profit organization American Bible Society has conducted an annual study called State of the Bible, wherein it surveys a sample of the American people, “asking them their opinions and practices relating to the Bible.”

Over the course of 18 days, from January 10 to 28, 2022, “the study was conducted in English and was presented both online and via telephone to NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel, using a 15-minute questionnaire. The study produced 2,598 responses from a representative sample of adults 18 and older within all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

The results shocked the researchers.

The survey found “an unprecedented drop in the percentage of Bible Users in the United States,” which equaled an exodus of almost 26 million people; “an alarming rate” of growth of “38 percent” or “45.2 million adults” in “the Bible Disengaged category”; and a deep dive in “the Scripture Engagement Scale score for Bible Users.” The study defines “Bible Users … as those who use the Bible at least 3-4 times each year on their own, outside of a church setting.” Its “Scripture Engagement Scale” is based on these criteria: “how often people interact with the Bible,” “how the Bible influences people’s relationships with God and others,” and “how the Bible influences people’s day-to-day choices and decisions.” An individual “who scores 100 or higher” on this scale is deemed “Scripture engaged.” According to the researchers, these individuals are proven to “regularly read/listen to/engage with the Bible.”

In short, it seems like the Bible is in a pretty poor state in the United States.

A Sinful Savior?

Perhaps most alarming was the study’s outcome of this statement: “When he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins, like other people.”

Eighteen percent of “Scripture engaged” individuals thought this statement to be true. Those surveyed were also categorized by generation: Gen Z; Millennials; Gen X; Boomers; and Elders, otherwise known as people “77 years and older.” Of those five generations, Gen Z came in at the highest, with 38 percent in agreement with that statement. That’s “nearly one in four” of our young adults, ages 18 to 25, who believe that the Savior of the world sinned. But the preceding generations were little better: 37 percent of Gen X, 35 percent of Millennials, and 35 percent of Boomers also agreed with the statement. Only Elders dropped below 30, to 26 percent.

This specific question about Jesus was included in the survey’s typical portion “of basic biblical theology.” In other words, it wasn’t a trick question. The researchers gauged that any person reading the Bible could easily determine the falsehood of this statement. So how could it be that even some of those deemed “Scripture engaged” were not able to answer correctly?

Looking into the survey’s other results, it becomes obvious. In what the researchers discovered was “the steepest drop” in “people’s root beliefs about what the Bible is,” only 15 percent of those surveyed believe that “the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word.” That was an 11 percent decrease from last year’s respondents.

Life Everlasting

John Farquhar Plake, editor-in-chief of the State of the Bible reports, assessed, “Culture tries to bend doctrine to fit its own categories and its own structures.”

Our post-modern society presents just such a breeding ground, where truth is in the eye of the beholder. We are currently witnessing the unfolding of 2 Timothy 4:4: “They will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

The Bible clearly states: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (3:16). You are “not [to] add to the word …, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 4:2). The Bible itself is telling you that it “is the actual word of God.” The Bible also says that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17).

So if God’s Word is the Bible and God’s Word is true, it follows that the Bible is true. Furthermore, if the Bible is all true, then whatever the Bible says about Jesus must also be true. And what the Bible tells us over and over is that Jesus is “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But who cares? So what if the Bible is losing relevance in America?

Here’s the kicker. The Bible says that Jesus Christ, “who committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22), “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (v. 21). “He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5), “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

See, the earthly life of Christ wasn’t just about Him—it was for you. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Understanding who Christ is matters because in His life is your salvation. But the Bible does not only possess the path to eternal life; it also reveals the quality of your life. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life as a human being on this earth—so that, by His power, you can too.

For a biblical and eye-opening read on how to overcome sin in this life, check out our free, online book Christ’s Human Nature.

That’s why what you believe about the Bible matters. That’s why believing in the Bible matters. In this Word is your life. And that’s the truth.

Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.

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