It was done more than a year ago but I’ve only just seen it – a survey by the Barna Group about whether US christians more resembled Jesus or Pharisees.
Like Hans Solo said: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
[Note: A reader has pointed out that using Pharisees as a point of comparison may be unfairly stereotyping them. I think the comparison may be fair based on the views expressed by Jesus in the gospels. But I want to make very clear that in referencing this survey, I am not seeking to criticise Jewish people or infer that all Pharisees or all Jews are self righteous in a bad way. The main criticism is of christians, including myself.]
Actions and attitudes
The study recorded christians’ responses to questions on actions and attitudes. And found that about half gave answers that were more pharisaical, and only 1 in 7 gave answers judged to be like Jesus. Those in the middle were slightly more likely to have good actions but lack a ‘Christlike’ attitude.
More committed and less conservative christians were slightly less likely than conservative and other christians to have pharisaical tendencies.
These results confirm other research that found that 5 out of 6 young non-christians say they know a Christian personally, yet only 1 in 6 say the lifestyles of those believers are noticeably different in a good way.
Of course the validity of these conclusions depends on the validity of the questions. So here are the 20 questions, so you can judge for yourself – and judge your own answers.
Actions like Jesus:
- I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith.
- In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.
- I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.
- I try to discover the needs of non-Christians rather than waiting for them to come to me.
- I am personally spending time with non-believers to help them follow Jesus.
Attitudes like Jesus:
- I see God-given value in every person, regardless of their past or present condition.
- I believe God is for everyone.
- I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.
- It is more important to help people know God is for them than to make sure they know they are sinners.
- I feel compassion for people who are not following God and doing immoral things.
- I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.
- I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.
- I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.
- I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
- I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.
- I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
- It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
- I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.
- I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.
- People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.
I’m sure there would be many who’d disagree with these measures of Christlikeness and self-righteousness, but I wonder whether their views are based on the church or on Jesus?
How do I rate?
To my chagrin, I don’t rate so well. My attitudes would be more on the Jesus side than the Pharisees’ side, but I score poorly on Jesus-like actions. I believe in doing the things listed, but at this time in my life, I’m not doing them much.
What do you think?
I’d be interested in comment from christians or non-christians.
- Do you agree with the criteria?
- Do you agree with the results?
- How do you rate?
Next post I’ll have a go at what we might all do to change this.