Many Americans, including churchgoers, hold theological misunderstandings about Jesus Christ’s existence before His birth in Bethlehem.
While a significant majority celebrate Christmas and believe in Jesus as the Son of God born over 2,000 years ago, less than half recognize His existence prior to this event. Moreover, a notable proportion incorrectly view Jesus as the first and greatest being created by God.
Historically, Christian doctrine affirms Jesus as coeternal with God the Father, not a created being. This is supported by biblical passages in John 1:1 and Colossians 1:16-17, which portray Jesus as eternal and the creator of all things.
Regular church attendance, surprisingly, does not always resolve these confusions. Frequent churchgoers are more likely to understand Jesus’s birth story and recognize Him as the Son of God. However, they also exhibit significant confusion regarding His pre-existence and the misconception of Him being a created entity.
To address these misconceptions, it’s suggested that church leaders emphasize scriptural teachings and use Christmas events to clarify theological concepts such as the Trinity and Jesus’s eternal existence. The goal is to aid church members in integrating these fundamental aspects of their faith more coherently.
Aaron Earls at Lifeway writes:
According to most Americans, Jesus was born in a manger 2,000 years ago and He is the Son of God the Father. They just aren’t quite sure He was around before that first Christmas. Even many churchgoing evangelicals are confused about Jesus’s existence before Bethlehem.
Lifeway Research found 9 in 10 Americans celebrate Christmas. And 72% believe the Jesus Christians believe in was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. Additionally, 80% say Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father. Yet, just 41% of Americans believe the Son of God existed before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
To make matters even more theologically muddled, 71% of Americans say there is one God in three Persons. But 55% believe Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, according to the State of Theology study.
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