This is a follow up post from the one I did last week on this video…
‘ Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word ‘ video is sparking heated debate around the Christian world. It’s crazy.
I’ve been following it on YOUTUBE over the past week and it’s amazing how many people are watching it and commenting on it. This video is a global phenomenon. It’s everywhere on Facebook and most Christian websites.
JESUS vs RELIGION where do you stand? What do you believe?
FAITH ‘WHY I HATE RELIGION, BUT LOVE
JESUS’: CONTROVERSIAL VIRAL VIDEO LOGS
10 MILLION HITS IN FOUR DAYS
- Posted on January 15, 2012 at 1:05am by Dave Urbanski
It’s the poem about Jesus versus “religion” that’s lighting up the blogosphere at a dizzying pace.
“Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by spoken-word artist Jefferson Bethke has received more than 10.2 million YouTube views as of Saturday night since it was posted just four days ago, eliciting more than 100,000 YouTube comments and plenty of debate elsewhere on the Internet.
Why all the hubbub? Its message—which Bethke wrote “to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion,” according to its YouTube entry—is striking a chord with viewers. Love it or hate it or something in between, it seems impossible to not have an opinion about the controversial, hip-hop styled clip.
Here’s more from the author on the YouTube page:
In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it‘s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!
There’s plenty of praise for the piece. JacobAngieWard’s YouTube comment (“I hear your heart and praise God he used you to bring hearts and minds to think about him”) was common. But others ridiculed it, even adding spoken-word video replies.
Bloggers have posted mixed responses.
Tony Jones, a theologian of note in many evangelical circles, didn‘t care for Bethke’s line of reasoning:
It’s cool to be pissed at “religion” when you’re 20. I get it (though I can’t say I ever went through this phase). And then, as you age, you realize something: Religion is simply the social and psychological framework by which human beings organize their experience of the Divine…And it’s not bad that we do this. It is, Mr. Bethke, inevitable.
Others, such as Nadia Bolz-Weber, were more sympathetic:
I believe in participating in sacred traditions that have a whole lot more integrity than anything I could come up with myself. I believe I need someone else to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to me because I cannot create that for myself. I believe that Jesus is truly present in the breaking of the bread and that where 2 or more are gathered he is there. That’s religion AND Jesus. May God make us worthy of it all.
Bethke, a Tacoma, Wa., resident, has been following the frenzy and had this to say on hisFacebook page Friday:
If you are using my video to bash ‘the church’ be careful. I was in no way intending to do that…The Church is Jesus’ bride so be careful how you speak of His wife. If a normal dude has right to get pissed when you bash His wife, it makes me tremble to think how great the weight is when we do it to Jesus’ wife. The church is His vehicle to reach a lost word. A hospital for sinners. Saying you love Jesus but hate the Church, is like a fiancé saying he loves his future bride, but hates her kids. We are all under grace. Look to Him.
The following is a transcript of Bethke’s poem. What do you think?
What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?
What if I told you voting Republican really wasn’t his mission?
What if I told you “Republican” doesn’t automatically mean “Christian”?
And just because you call some people “blind” doesn’t automatically give you vision?
I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?
Why does it build huge churches but fails to feed the poor?
Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce?
But in the Old Testament God actually calls religious people “whores”
Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice
Tend to ridicule God’s people, they did it to John the Baptist
They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it
Not realizing religion’s like spraying perfume on a casket
See, the problem with religion is it never gets to the core
It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores
Like, “Let’s dress up the outside, make it look nice and neat”
But it’s funny, that’s what they used to do to mummies while the corpse rots underneath
Now I ain’t judging, I’m just sayin’, “Quit puttin’ on a fake look”
’Cause there’s a problem if people only know that you’re a Christian by your Facebook
I mean, in every other aspect of life, you know that logic’s unworthy
It’s like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey
See this was me, too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Actin’ like church kid while addicted to pornography
See, on Sunday I’d go to church, but Saturday gettin’ faded
Actin’ as if I was simply created to just have sex and get wasted
See, I spent my whole life buildin’ this façade of neatness
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness
Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean
It’s not a museum for good people; it’s a hospital for the broken
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
’Cause it doesn’t depend on me; it depends on him
See, because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan
He looked down and said, “I want that man!”
Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools
Don’t you see it’s so much better than just following some rules?
Now lemme clarify: I love the church, I love the Bible, and yes, I believe in sin
But if Jesus came to your church, would they actually let him in?
See, remember he was called a “glutton” and a “drunkard” by “religious men”
But the Son of God never supports self-righteousness; not now, not then
Now back to the point: One thing is vital to mention
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums
See, one’s the work of God, but one’s a man-made invention
See, one is the cure, but the other’s the infection
See, because religion says “do,” Jesus says “done”
Religion says “slave,” Jesus says “son”
Religion puts you in bondage while Jesus sets you free
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see
And that’s why religion and Jesus are two different clans
Religion is man searching for God; Christianity is God searching for man
Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own
Not based on my merits but Jesus’ obedience alone
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face
He took what we all deserved; I guess that’s why you call it “grace”
And while being murdered he yelled, “Father forgive them; they know not what they do”
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you
And he absorbed all your sin, and he buried it in the tomb
Which is why I’m kneeling at the cross, saying, “Come on! There’s room!”
So for religion, no, I hate it; in fact, I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” I believe he meant it
Why I Hate Religion Video Raises Question
If ‘Religion’ Is Opposed to ‘Gospel’By Tullian Tchividjian | Christian Post Guest ColumnistA lot of attention has been paid to Jefferson Bethke’svideo Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus. Jefferson is agreat, humble, teachable brother who loves the gospel.But the response to his video has been varied. Many love it. Others hate it. And still others have raised a caution flag – uncomfortable with the way “religion” is often contrasted with the gospel.
Wary of the trend amongst younger evangelicals to justify their jettisoning of the institutional church and theological traditions and the importance of obeying God in favor of a vague, individualistic, a-theological, a-historical, version of modern licentious spirituality by saying “All of that other stuff is religion…and Jesus hates religion,” is a point of contention for those who questioned the fruitfulness of Jefferson’s video. If that’s what people think when they hear the word “religion,” then I understand the concern. I too am concerned by the individualistic, church despising, “moralistic therapeutic deism” that seems so palatable and popular amongst some younger evangelicals today.
But, this does raise some important questions. For example, in the Bible, is the word “religion” ever opposed to the gospel? Or, is the main idea of “religion” opposed to the main idea of the gospel? What about what people hear when they hear the word “religion”? Do they hear the word and understand something different than what the Bible says about the gospel? Good questions. Obviously words have their meaning in context and thankfully Jefferson provided context for his use of the word “religion” in the video by writing on his website:
[This is] a poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it’s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth.
Regardless of what you think about the video, Jefferson’s definition of “religion” above and Tim Keller’s definition of “religion” below does highlight a crucial distinction between “religion” and the gospel (a distinction that, ironically, even those who raised concerns about the video agree with).
Justifying the contrast between religion and the gospel, Tim Keller has pointed out that the Greek word for “religion” used in James 1 is used negatively in Colossians 2:18 where it describes false asceticism, fleshly works-righteousness, and also in Acts 26:5 where Paul speaks of his pre-Christian life in strict “religion.” It is also used negatively in the Apocrypha to describe idol worship in Wis 14:18 and 27. So, according to Keller, the word certainly has enough negative connotations to use as a fair title for the category of works-righteousness. In the Old Testament the prophets are devastating in their criticism of empty ritual and religious observances designed to bribe and appease God rather then serving, trusting, and loving him. The word “religion” isn’t used for this approach, but it’s a good way to describe what the prophets are condemning.
Keller goes on to tease out this distinction with this helpful comparison list:
RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.
RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.
RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”-simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life-family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
So let’s not lose sight of the fact that, as defined by these two brothers, there is an antithetical relationship between religion (the burden of achieving rescue and right standing with God) and the gospel (the blessing of receiving rescue and a right standing with God in Christ alone).
One final thought: as I mentioned above, for a thousand different reasons people hear different things and draw different conclusions when they hear the same words (Cornelius Van Til). So, let’s not forget as missionaries that if the gospel is ever going to reach people in our day it’s going to have to be distinguished from religion (as described above) because “religion” is what most people outside the church think Christianity is all about-rules and standards and behavior and cleaning yourself up and politics and social causes and ascetic appeasement and self-salvation and climbing the “ladder”, and a whole host of other things that Jefferson rightly points out.
Soli Deo Gloria!