Nearly a third of evangelicals think Jesus was only a great teacher

(Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Gresham)

A significant proportion of evangelicals do not believe in the deity of Jesus, a major new study has found. 

In preliminary findings teased ahead of the study's full release next month, nearly a third of US evangelicals (30%) agreed that Jesus is only a great teacher. 

Two thirds of those surveyed disagreed with the statement, "Jesus was a good teacher, but he was not God."

A similar proportion (65%) agreed that "Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God."

The findings are from the State of Theology, a major study project conducted by Ligonier Ministries every two years in partnership with LifeWay Research. 

The study asked the views of 3,002 American adults, including 630 professing evangelicals - defined as those who "strongly agreed" that the Bible is the hghest authority for their beliefs, that it is very important for them to personally encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Saviour, that Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice to remove the penalty of sin, and that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Saviour can receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.

Ligonier Ministries said the findings illustrated "confusion" among evangelicals and a "dire need for Christians to be taught Christology, the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ".

Dr Stephen Nichols, chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries and president of Reformation Bible College, said: "Statistics like these from the State of Theology survey can give us quite a shock, but they also shed light on the concerns that many American Christians and churches have expressed for decades.

"As the culture around us increasingly abandons its moral compass, professing evangelicals are sadly drifting away from God's absolute standard in Scripture.

"It's clear that the church does not have the luxury of idly standing by. This is a time for Christians to study Scripture diligently, engage confidently with people in our culture, and witness fearlessly to the identity and saving work of Jesus Christ in the gospel."