Monday, 24 March 2008

Britons not as secular as once thought?

Christ rose again, say 57 per cent in British poll

by Ed Beavan
Church Times
http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=53776
March 20, 2008

MORE than half the British believe that Christ rose from the dead, a survey for the theology think tank Theos suggests.

In the think tank's Easter survey, carried out on its behalf by ComRes, 57 per cent of respondents said that they believed Jesus had been executed by crucifixion and buried, and had risen from the dead. More than half of these (30 per cent of the total) believed in a bodily resurrection, while 27 per cent of the total believed that Jesus had risen in spirit form.

Asked about life after death, 44 per cent said that they believed their spirit would live on after death. Only nine per cent believed in a personal physical resurrection.

The director of Theos, Paul Woolley, said that the research had received "diametrically opposed" interpretations. Some had seen it as evidence of a decline in the UK in faith; others had seen it as a boost for belief. He suggested that the truth was somewhere in between, and that Britain was not as "secular" as was often reported.

"There is perhaps a surprising commitment within our culture to the belief in the resurrection of Christ. We live in a culture where there's less familiarity than there was in the past with the Christian story, but there remains this commitment to it; and there is an openness to spirituality," he said.

The survey found distinct differences between different age groups. Fifty-three per cent of 55- to 64-year-olds agreed that Jesus was the Son of God, compared with 29 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds.

Mr Woolley said: "The fact that younger people are less clear about what they believe than older generations reflects a more general rejection of the certainties of the past among that age group, whether religious or atheistic."

The widespread belief in the soul's escaping to heaven rather than in a physical resurrection suggested the influence of Plato rather than the Bible, he said.

The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, said that the findings showed that people still cared about Jesus, and the confusion over the resurrection was "predictable".