With Holy Week upon us, a new BBC poll found that fewer than half of Christians in the U.K. — 46 percent — believe Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of their sins.
A BBC Radio program that aired Sunday said the online poll was taken in early March and surveyed more than 2,000 British adults. The host said the results raise the question: "How much of the traditional Easter story is actually optional for Christians?"
'It just doesn't make sense'
The program aired commentary from Dave Tomlinson — an Anglican priest and author of "How to Be a Bad Christian ... and a Better Human Being" — who said the reason why it appears fewer people believe the traditional Easter story as the Bible presents it is because "it just doesn't make sense."
"I think it makes God out to be some kind of weird monster, really," Tomlinson said, adding that he sees some Evangelicals also questioning the Easter story and Christ's atonement for our sins.
The program added that, according to poll, 82 percent of Christians who attend worship services at least once a month overwhelmingly agree that the Easter story is true.
So it would seem the numbers depend greatly on how individuals define themselves: Respondents can say they identify as Christians, insist they don't believe Christ died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of their sins — but it appears most of them don't identify as Christians enough to attend church at least once a month.
The BBC program also featured a pair of guests who debated the issue. The bulk of the content can be heard after the 34-minute mark.
Among the replies to the BBC tweet about the new poll's findings were those who questioned the Christian faith of those who don't believe the traditional Easter story:
- "Um.... then they are not Christians."
- "How can they say they're Christian if they don't believe in the main part of the story?"
- "This makes them not Christians."
But one commenter countered, "What do you call someone who lives their life in the way Jesus did (loving everyone, fighting injustice, following the Sermon on the Mount), but who doesn't think Jesus was/is God and didn't rise again after his death?"
That was met with following reply: "Tragic. Because if you're living the way Jesus did, it's impossible that He wouldn't have inspired your soul to search for Him and understand that being holy is infinitely more than just being nice and good. That means you've turned down His invite for you to really follow Him."
A similar poll was taken two years ago, and a quarter of survey respondents who identify as Christians said they don't believe in Christ's resurrection — but 57% of "active Christians" (again, those who attend church at least once a month) believe the resurrection took place.
And believe it not, that 2017 BBC poll said 9% of non-religious people believe in the Resurrection — and 1% of them say they believe it literally.