Agree or Disagree: Christians tend to act more like the Pharisees than Jesus

Agree or Disagree: Christians tend to act more like the Pharisees than Jesus

If you are not familiar with this group, this is The Barna Group. What they do is observe trends within Christianity. So they do study on some perceptions of Christianity. One book you might want to read is a book called UnChristianThat was a book that did some extensive research about what is going on in Christianity.

As you can see with the report, this question comes from this. Do Christians act more like Jesus or the Pharisees. According to the article, the way they conducted the research was with 20 statements. 10 statements that they would use to examine Christ-likeness. And 10 statements that they would use to examine Self-Righteous. They then divided the 10 into 5.  They are Actions and Attitudes of Jesus and actions and attitudes of the Self-Righteous, or the Pharisees. 

From the article here they are

Actions like Jesus:

  • I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith.
  • In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.
  • I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.
  • I try to discover the needs of non-Christians rather than waiting for them to come to me.
  • I am personally spending time with non-believers to help them follow Jesus.

Attitudes like Jesus:

  • I see God-given value in every person, regardless of their past or present condition.
  • I believe God is for everyone.
  • I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.
  • It is more important to help people know God is for them than to make sure they know they are sinners.
  • I feel compassion for people who are not following God and doing immoral things.



Self-Righteous Actions:

  • I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.
  • I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.
  • I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.
  • I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
  • I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.

Self-Righteous Attitudes:

  • I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
  • It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
  • I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.
  • I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.
  • People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.


As you will be able to see in the graph, according to the questions, the perception is Christians would be classified under the Pharisee attitude. By a margin of 51%, they tend to have an attitude of self righteousness.

While this study was done in the USA, I have heard this as a perception in Canada as well. And perhaps if you re not in Canada or the USA, you may have a similar experience.

But if you are a Christian, how do you react to this research? And if you would not classify yourself as a Christian, how do you react to this research?


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