In a book examining the findings - The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why - former youth pastor and bestselling author Mike Nappa wrote the results left him a "bit shell-shocked."
"Among these Christian kids in our youth ministries, a full 10 percent have decided that the biblical accounts about Jesus simply can't be trusted," wrote Nappa, president and publisher of Nappaland Communications Inc. and the chief literary agent at the Nappaland Literary Agency.
"And the clear majority of the rest (60 percent) are either uncertain or unsettled and confused about whether or not the Bible can be trusted.
As spiritual descendants of the 'people of the Book' who spend our days, weeks and years teaching the Book to teenagers, the news that our finest and most faithful kids simply don't have confidence in God's Word is shocking - and devastating."
didn't offer a definite assessment as to why so many teenagers struggle with basic Christian beliefs, but he
did raise several possibilities ranging from a "religiously antagonistic society" to the increasingly virulent attacks in the media on the Christian faith.
For instance, hit TV comedies such as The Big Bang Theory
and How I Met Your Mother often portray people who believe the Bible as "nutty, ignorant and bigoted," Nappa
In the book, Nappa
cites an illuminating passage from Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
, a book by Kenda Creasy Dean, a professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary
Dean lays part of the blame for the "blasé religiosity" of many teenagers on a "watered-down gospel."
Youth culture researcher Christian Smith calls this a "tolerance over truth" attitude that's a result of mainstream, social indoctrination, Nappa says.
"There's probably some validity to Smith's opinion, but it's always easy to blame the outside world for problems we find inside the church," Nappa
"Realistically, an enormous error in basic Christian truth like this one wouldn't be widespread in our youth groups if adult Christians in our churches weren't also embracing - and promoting - the fallacy."
The survey found only 5 percent of Christian teens study the Bible on a daily basis.
"If you can't believe the Bible, then whatever it says is irrelevant," Nappa
In terms of evangelism, the survey found 56 percent of Christian teenagers are sharing their faith with their peers.
More than half told someone about Jesus "with the intent of leading them to be a Christian too."
"However, if the things they're saying about Christ reflect what they actually believe about Christ, then (according to The Jesus Survey at least), three-fourths of them (74 percent) are actually spreading untruth about Jesus to their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and more," Nappa
"The sad fact is Christian teenagers are spreading the gospel that we taught them."
To help teens better understand and trust the basics of their Christian faith, Nappa
says parents and church leaders should work to help them grow more confident in the trustworthiness of the Bible.
"Teens who believe the Bible is true also are substantially more likely to embrace authentic Christian beliefs-and according to the data, are significantly more likely to experience an authentic, noticeable relationship with God as a result," Nappa
A comforting finding is that 94 percent of the teens believe Jesus answers prayer and 86 percent believe Jesus has answered their specific prayers.
"This gives us an encouraging sign that, perhaps deep down, even the vocal skeptics of Christ in our youth groups and Christian families at least want to believe that Jesus is who he
claims to be," Nappa
has hope that parents and Christian leaders will take to heart the importance of passing on the truth faith to the next generation.
"During the time of Elijah, it would've been pretty easy to predict that true faith would be obliterated within a generation - but that didn't even come close to happening," Nappa