Study: Evangelicals More 'Christ-like' Than Other Christians

Among various Christian groups in the United States, evangelicals were found to be the most "Christ-like," according to the findings of a recently released study on Christians.

Overseen by the Barna Group, the results, released Tuesday, showed that 23 percent of evangelical respondents exhibited both Christ-like actions and attitudes. The 23 percent number puts evangelicals above the other categories, which included "Practicing Protestant" (16 percent), "All Christians" (14 percent), "Practicing Catholic" (14 percent), "Non Evangelical Born Again Christians" (13 percent), and "Notional" (13 percent).

The findings were derived from 1,008 telephone interviews of which 718 respondents self-identified as Christian from Nov. 11 until Nov. 18, 2012. Respondents who identified themselves as Christian were asked 20 questions, ten of which compared their responses to Jesus' actions and attitudes and ten of which compared their responses to the Pharisees of the New Testament.

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David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, said in a statement that the purpose of the survey was "to create some new discussion about the intangible aspects of following and representing Jesus."

"Obviously, survey research, by itself, cannot fully measure someone's 'Christ-likeness' or 'Pharisee-likeness'," said Kinnaman. "But the study is meant to identify baseline qualities of Jesus, like empathy, love, and a desire to share faith with others – or the resistance to such ideals in the form of self-focused hypocrisy."

Other findings included practicing Catholics being most likely to have Christ-like attitudes but Pharisaical actions and non-born again or "Notional" Christians being the most Pharisaical in both attitudes and actions.

While according to the survey evangelical Christians were the most Christ-like in attitudes and actions among surveyed groups, the findings also found that 38 percent of evangelicals were Pharisaical in actions and attitudes.

In general, 51 percent of all Christians who responded to the survey's questions were Pharisaical in actions and attitudes, with an additional 35 percent showcasing either Christ-like actions but Pharisaical attitudes or Christ-like attitudes but Pharisaical actions.

"Many Christians are more concerned with what they call unrighteousness than they are with self-righteousness. It's a lot easier to point fingers at how the culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians in their comfortable spiritual patterns," said Kinnaman.

"Perhaps pastors and teachers might take another look at how and what they communicate. Do people somehow get the message that the 'right action' is more important than the 'right attitude'? Do church leaders have a tendency to focus more on tangible results, like actions, because those are easier to see and measure than attitudes?"

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