This last month or so I watched as the “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video really made the rounds. I couldn’t tell you how many times that link showed up on my on my Facebook news feed. I was slow to watch because that whole Jesus vs. religion thing is a pet peeve of mine. Why aggravate myself? But, with all the glowing testimonials of how profound and spot-on this guy was, I went against my better judgment and clicked the link.
If you haven’t seen it and you can spare the time, take a minute or two to watch.
I’m sorry to say, I was not pleasantly surprised.
The production is interesting and the guy is talented. And I can certainly appreciate some of his critiques on compassion-less, facade-driven, pseudo-Christianity. He just goes too far by equating religion with hypocrisy and self-justification. In his view, Jesus and Religion are at odds.
Religion says ‘do’; Jesus says ‘done’
That’s a problem since loving and following Jesus according to HIS criteria does amount to ‘religion’ by any normal definition of the word.
The ever-popular quip, “It’s a relationship, not a religion,” is catchy, but misguided.
Rather, Christianity is a religion based on a relationship.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15
I guess I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I did have one link to a response show up on my news feed this week. It is done by a Catholic priest. While my theology is probably much closer to Mr. Anti-religion on paper, I definitely have sympathies with the good father on this one.
This post was my Johnny-come-lately response to an imbalanced video that was being embraced with an alarming amount of enthusiasm. I have since become aware that the video sparked a torrent of criticism toward its featured artist, Jeff Bethke. One blogger, Kevin DeYoung, offered a particularly kind and constructive critique…and Mr. Bethke responded with grace and humility. Below is an excerpt of an email from Jeff Bethke to Kevin DeYoung. Good stuff.
I just wanted to say I really appreciate your article man. It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100%. God has been working with me in the last 6 months on loving Jesus AND loving his church. For the first few years of walking with Jesus (started in ’08) I had a warped/poor paradigm of the church and it didn’t build up, unify, or glorify His wife (the Bride). If I can be brutally honest I didn’t think this video would get much over a couple thousand views maybe, and because of that, my points/theology wasn’t as air-tight as I would’ve liked. If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly… My prayer is my generation would represent Christ faithfully and not swing to the other spectrum….thankful for your words and more importantly thankful for your tone and fatherly like grace on me as my elder. Humbled. Blessed. Thankful for painful growth. Blessings.
Grace and Peace,
This I can learn from.