In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament.They broke it down further as summarized in this commentary:
The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.
On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.
About one-quarter (23 percent) of evangelicals were "Christ-like," somewhat above the average, but they were also the only group more likely to be Pharisaical in attitude but Christ-like in action. (That's food for thought.) Women were more likely to be "Christ-like" (18 percent) than men (9 percent); "liberal" Christians (22 percent) outranked "conservative" Christians (eight percent).
In earlier research, Barna discovered that 84 percent of young non-Christians say they know a Christian personally, but only 15 percent say the lifestyles of those believers are noticeably different in a positive way. The new study suggests that "many Christians are more concerned with what they call unrighteousness than they are with self-righteousness. It's a lot easier to point fingers at how the culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians in their comfortable spiritual patterns."