Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sorry, but the claim "I hate religion, but love Jesus" is plain stupid

This video has been shared at least 10 times by others on my Facebook page. My fellow theological student also experienced the same thing on his page. 

Honestly, though crude, the claim made in this video is plain stupid. As a theological student, I have concern when such stupid claim is being widely shared around by other believers, thinking that it speaks the truth. The problem is that it is not the truth.

Brian LePort, who shared similar concern, has written two posts on this video. The first one titled 'Remember, Jesus practiced religion too!':

Jesus is used as a poster-boy for people who want some mystical connection with him, but dislike the practices of others.

If Jesus stands against anyone it is not because they are “religious”. Yes, some religions and religious practices can distract us from Jesus, but so can being irreligious!

If you participate in the Eucharist, if you were baptized, if you gather together to worship, if you pray, if you meditate, if you sing and play music, if you observe holy days, if you do any of these things you are using religious practices to connect with the risen Christ.

Leport's second more elaborate post basically reiterates the same claim.

Kevin DeYoung has written a substantial comment on this video too. He analyzed each of its claims and helpfully showing why some of them are wrong:

More important is Bethke’s opening line: “Jesus came to abolish religion.” That’s the whole point of the poem. The argument—and most poems are arguing for something—rests on the sharp distinction between religion on one side and Jesus on the other. Whether this argument is fair depends on your definition of religion. Bethke sees religion as a man made attempt to earn God’s favor. Religion equals self-righteousness, moral preening, and hypocrisy. Religion is all law and no gospel. If that’s religion, then Jesus is certainly against it.

But that’s not what religion is. We can say that’s what is has become for some people or what we understand it to be. But words still matter and we shouldn’t just define them however we want. “Jesus hates religion” communicates something that “Jesus hates self-righteousness” doesn’t. To say that Jesus hates pride and hypocrisy is old news. To say he hates religion—now, that has a kick to it. People hear “religion” and think of rules, rituals, dogma, pastors, priests, institutions. People love Oprah and the Shack and “spiritual, not religious” bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.

The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion. This was the central point behind the book Ted Kluck and I wrote a few years ago. (Emphasis original)


reasonable said...

religions no longer exists?

now and then we hear religious people saying their religion is not a religion.


Buddhism is not a religion; it is a philosophy of life

Islam is not a religion; it is a way of life

Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship

Hinduism is not a religion; it is a.......

Suddenly all the world religions just became extinct ;)

Sze Zeng said...

Hahahaha Yea.. probably because there is a general perception that "religion" is something not authentic if not something really bad.

sz_098 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.