Better still, a quarter (that's 25% for the non-mathematical out there ;-) ) of those aged between 18-34 thought Jesus was a fictional (or mythical) character. Isn't that brilliant for us who are doing 'the stuff' now because it means that we have before us the opportunity to bring those 'don't knows' up to speed with those who do know - now that has to be cause for celebration in my book!
Of course, it does pose a few questions for the generation that are heading towards the exits, like:
How the heck did you manage to do cosy church on a Sunday, wear your dog collars, ring your bells, hold your church fetes (worse than death) and forget to mention the fact that Jesus was a real bloke what walked the earth and did stuff?
Were you too busy holding you blessed Beetle drives (no sir, no need to get agitated, the only emissions to be concerned about is hot air emanating from the church buildings, let's leave VW alone) your cosy little bridge evenings and the like? The reality is that the Church - meaning those who consider themselves to be Christians, who are so overjoyed that they have been given their lives back that they are committed to? Committed to what exactly ... you tell me!
How will they know unless someone tells them?
And how can people tell them unless they understand?
And if they don't, then the finger points at us - the clergy; and them - the bishops in their cosy little clubs and comfortable gatherings as they continually change the tactics and look to regroup as they pore over spreadsheets rather than the Word of God**
So here's a quick test for you all:
And in case you think that the Bible and jesus and all that were made up, let me give you a starter from some relatively unbiased (well not for I think) historians.
Well there was a Jewish geezer who, although being billed as a bit of an historian was also a bit of a 'suck up' to the Romans, so much so that he apparently took a Roman name: Flavius Josephus to look like he was one of them. Well, this bloke wrote his history with an eye to pleasing his masters (bit like some of the journos we have these days) and yet even he mentions Jesus by way of reference to James, Jesus' brother (Antiquities 18) who he refers to as: “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”
He continues (18.3):
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats....He was [the] Christ...he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.”
There are also the words:
“At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”
Not even a dodgy historian can leave Jesus out of the contemporary historical notes :-)
A more trustworthy first-century historical account comes from the doyen of historians, Tacitus, who makes mention of 'Christians', people drawing their name from the Christ) who had a bad time during Tiberius' reign under Pontius Pilate. Yep, Jesus was a real character and the poor old puppet Governor seems to be real too.
So, have you worked out which one is the real character in the question above yet or are you still wondering why, seeing we have a yellow sin Jesus just didn't break free and fly into space or get Alfredus, his man servant, to make a distraction and send in the bat Chariot to get Him out?
*You know the young, those people who are totally different to us (now) and yet oddly are exactly who we were when we had that job!
** Now this, as a generalisation has to fall - BUT: I have seen one bishop in the media five times of late and ALL he talks about is numbers: money, attendance, age profiles, etc. Perhaps he, and we, might worry less if he talked about Jesus now and then. (I'm sure he does, but he needs to do that publicly and stop looking like a businessman in a pink shirt!)