Jesus = Religion? Jesus > Religion? Jesus < Religion?

OK. I got called out on Facebook to respond to the latest viral video, “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” (AKA “Jesus > Religion”). So, what better reason to give the old blog a re-boot than to answer the call here in a place where I can use more than 140 characters (are you following me on Twitter?).

The video in question is on its way to 14 million views. To put that in context, the latest Kia Hamstar commercial only has 13M (like that shameless plug?).

Due to its controversial nature, there have been a ton of responses online. Just do a YouTube search and you’ll see the responses from Catholics, Muslims, atheists, et cetera. I did a Google search and Bethke’s video has totally surpassed a similar video that Mark Driscoll did four years ago (only got a little over 250K hits).

There have been several articles written in response as well by guys like Voddie Baucham (an old article re-posted; i.e., this is an old topic) and musician Justin McRoberts. The one that was brought to my attention is the one that seems to be getting the most buzz. It’s by Kevin DeYoung and was posted at the Gospel Coalition site. For an update on the discussion between Bethke and DeYoung, you can check out this article that was posted yesterday in the Christian Post.

What do I think? I’ll keep it simple, because I know you don’t want to read an essay. As is often my response, I say . . . it is all a matter of semantics. I don’t want to diminish the importance of word-choice, but really . . . it is all a matter of semantics.

I don’t think Bethke has to apologize for anything. He is speaking out against false religion and hypocrisy (which is something about which Jesus spoke; e.g., Pharisees). The Christians who are criticizing him are defending true religion (which is also something about which Jesus spoke). You’ll notice that many of the Christians who have been criticizing him have updates on their sites about phone calls they have had with Bethke. Let me summarize their conversations, “We talked. We’re good.”

Again. A matter of semantics. I am also against a religion that emphasizes a list of do’s and don’t’s and “tradition” and the idea that we should do things simply because “that’s the way we have always done it.” This is not biblical. I am for a religion that provides structure and guidance in bringing people into an encounter with Jesus that moves them into a relationship with Him. Through that relationship, religion should then move that individual to action for the sake of Jesus. This is biblical.

By the way, I love what Bethke is doing and I hope one day to bring him down to the OC. Check out this other video by him. Sorry, it’s only at about 2.5M views.

  • Sam L.

    I showed this to my youth group kids. It was an interesting debate, but we came away with very similar conclusions… basically about separating the church as an institution from Jesus and his teachings.