Published on March 7, 2014
The Jesus Gap Jen Bradbury ymjen.com @ymjen
“I presented a gospel to Christian Bible college students and left out Jesus. Nobody noticed.” - Don Miller, “Searching for God Knows What”
Relevant Research ● NSYR – Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – “De facto dominant religion” ● ● Sticky Faith 35% of students “gave an answer that didn't mention Jesus”
Research Question: What's the nature of the Christological understanding of high school students in the ELCA?
Where were participants from?
Is Jesus God? 12% Jesus is God Jesus is not God Don't know 44% 44%
Was Jesus fully human? 15% 54% 31% Jesus was fully human Jesus wasn't fully human Don't know
Who is Jesus? 30 26 25 23 20 17 15 12 10 5 0 us es J is ly ful Go fu d, lly ma hu n su Je Go is s lo n da e su Je s si jus the no ta ma hu r us es J i n he eit sn od rG no ma hu r n
Who is Jesus?
● ● 2010 th th 877 7 - 12 grade participants from 24 states and various denominations ● Reach Workcamps
Is Jesus God? 34% - Affirmed Jesus is God 25% - Jesus might be God, but he might not be. 30% - Don't know 11% - Jesus is not God
Kenda Creasy Dean “Conversational Christianity requires Jesus-talk, not just God-talk... Jesus is simply not an optional category for Christians.” – Almost Christian
Even language not understood impacts Christology 73% of the language used by students to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” was creedal in origin “Son of God” Apostles': I believe... “in Jesus Christ, his only Son” Nicene: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God”
Was Jesus perfect? 9% Jesus was perfect Jesus was not perfect I don't know if Jesus was perfect 34% 57%
Did Jesus sin? 15% Jesus sinned Jesus didn't sin Don't know 49% 36%
Did Jesus sin? “All who sin fall short of the glory of God. If you sin, you can't get into heaven. It would make no sense for Jesus to have sinned and even get into heaven, let alone be the sacrifice for all of us.” - Redeemer Student
Did Jesus sin? “Jesus sinned because he was a human being like the rest of us. Even the best people in the world sin.” - Trinity Student
Did Jesus sin? “Jesus was God's son after all. He was human. It's really hard to know. You'd think he would be perfect. But humans – it's impossible to be perfect.” - Faith Student
Did Jesus sin? 39% of students strongly or somewhat agreed “Jesus was a great, great man, but he was not 100% perfect so he may have sinned”
Who is Jesus? 35 29 30 25 21 20 Percentage of Students 20 15 10 10 5 0 Pe G ct rfe od Im rf pe G ct e od rf Pe um th ec an Im pe ct fe r h um an
WDJD, not WWJD
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet did not sin. - Hebrews 4:14-15
God vs. Resurrection 50 45 43 43 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Jesus is not God & rose Jesus is God & rose “God was in Jesus. He was like a puppet for God that was supposed to come down to earth and show everyone what he could do.” - Faith student
Is it possible to be a Christian and not believe in Jesus? 28% 30% Yes No Don't Know 42%
Other religions? 1 out of 3 students affirmed Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and other great religious leaders all have equal standing in leading people to heaven
Other religions? “The overarching value of supposed tolerance for other religions has trumped the value of truth, making it natural for Christian students to deny their own beliefs when they may be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as intolerant.”
The Christology of the ELCA Representative view of atonement Jesus does not replace us. Christ suffered for us, but he did not suffer instead of us. We still have to suffer. Christ died for us, but he did not die instead of us; we still have to die. He is not our substitute in the sense that he replaces us. He is qualified by his life, death, and resurrection to be our representative. He has the right credentials to be the ambassador of the human race before God. (Who is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers, 106).
Who are students talking about Jesus with? 5 4.5 Jesus Talk Score 4 3.5 With Youth Ministries With Friends With Family 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 1 2 3 4 5 Christology Score 6 7 8
A final question If you were to ask your students these 7 basic Christology questions, what do you think you'd find?
The Jesus Gap Jen Bradbury ymjen.com @ymjen
Is Jesus God? Did Jesus sin? Can you be a Christian and not believe in Jesus?
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