By Brandon Mercer

(CBS SF) — Jesus Christ, whether believed to be God incarnate, a prophet or just a man, is undeniably polarizing, controversial, or inspiring for billions, and with that in mind, researchers set out to determine how Jesus is viewed this Easter, 2015.

Barna Research Group found the views of Americans about Christ are changing, and 2,000 years later, we remain divided on who Christ was.

Twelve key results show young adults taking a polar opposite view of Christ from older generations.

MILLENNIALS ARE NOT BIG ON THE BIBLICAL JESUS:
• 13% of Millennial Americans do not believe there was ever a real person named Jesus Christ who actually lived, whereas 92 percent of all Americans believe Christ was a real person walking the Earth.
• 52% of Millennials (born between 1984 and 2002) do not believe Jesus was God or aren’t sure what they believe. 48 percent believe Jesus was God.
• Over a third (35 percent) of young adults believe Jesus was not a god, but a spiritual leader like Buddha or Mohammed. This is in stark contrast to the 60 percent of all U.S. adults who believe in the deity of Christ. Only 26% of all U.S. adults believe Christ was merely a religious or spiritual leader. 18 percent aren’t sure what they believe.

DID JESUS LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT SIN?
• 52% of Americans believe Jesus was human and committed sins like other people.

AMERICA IS STILL COMMITTED TO JESUS, UNLESS YOU’RE A MILLENNIAL:
• 62 percent of all adult Americans made a personal commitment to Jesus and that commitment remains important in their lives.
• Directly opposing that, a large 64% of Millennials have NOT made a commitment to Jesus that is still important today.
• Higher paid Americans are less likely to have made a commitment to Jesus. 53 percent of those making more than $100,000 reported having made a commitment to Jesus that remains important.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, directed the national study and said, “As much of our previous research shows, Americans’ dedication to Jesus is, in most cases, a mile wide and an inch deep.”

As for the future of young adults, Kinnaman adds, “Many of the institutional, cultural and familial tendons that connect young adults to life in Christ are stretching. Much has been made about whether Millennials will get more serious about church and faith as they age, but the fact is younger Americans are not as connected as older generations are to Christ. Jesus is a friend of sinners, but many Millennials are ‘unfriending’ him at a time when their lives are being shaped and their trajectories set toward the future.”

FULL RESEARCH: Barna Research Group

Barna studied 1,036 U.S. adults from September 2 to September 10, 2014. The estimated maximum sampling error for this study is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level.

(Barna Research Group)

(Barna Research Group)