Jesus Versus Religion

As of starting to write this post, the video below ("Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus") had 14,720,480 views (with 255,425 likes and 37,048 dislikes). I’m gonna make a guess here and say it has struck a nerve. 🙂

Hearing about it second hand I figured it was going to be a standard false dichotomy between religion and spirituality (or, in this case, Jesus). And it does start off sounding that way when the spoken word poet says, "What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?"

But, to really understand what Jefferson Bethke is saying, you have to understand how he defines "religion":

ChurchLeaders.com: Can you clarify your definition of religion?

Jeff Bethke: I would love to. Essentially, I come from a Mars Hill context, because that’s my home church. I didn’t realize this, but outside Mars Hill, religion means different things to other people. Inside Mars Hill, the word 'religion' is pretty much synonymous with hypocrisy, legalism, self-righteousness, and self-justification. That was really the heart of my definition of that word. If you went through the entire poem and replaced the word religion with either legalism or self-righteousness or hypocrisy, it would have not changed my intention or the heart of that poem whatsoever. To me, those words are interchangeable. (From "The 'I Hate Religion but Love Jesus" Guy Answers 5 Tough Questions."

If you defined religion that way, wouldn't you agree Jesus came to abolish it?

Now…I have to admit I’m still not terribly fond of the video…I don't think most who watch it will have any clue as to Bethke's definition of religion…and will give him a hearty, "Amen!" to their picture of him bus-chucking all organized religion. Additionally, he does a bit of an unnecessary straw man early on at the expense of Republicans (why implicitly mix politics in it?), but I can't say the video's intended message is way off base. Additionally, he does't act like he's perfect, at one point giving an example (in the video) of his failings by admitting, "Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography."

And…he does have a pretty correct view of how religion doesn't save us…and how we cannot save ourselves.

So, please watch the video and let me know what you think. Heresy? Wisdom?


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