“Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” – The False Dichotomy

My apologies for the long post, but I thought this video, which is quickly going viral, is in need of some thoughtful reflection.

If you have Christian friends and you’ve been on Facebook in the past 48 hours, then chances are you’ve already seen it.

As of “press time” the video was already closing in on 1 million views on Facebook after having only been posted on Tuesday. No question about it that’s impressive.

Aesthetically speaking it’s not hard to see why. It definitely has “the look”  and “feel” (however you define those words) that appeals to a 18-35 year old demographic (with a little leeway in both directions).

As a Christian person in that demographic I should probably “like” it and share it with all of my Facebook friends.

But I don’t like it.

At all.

Now, to be fair I do think Jeff Bethke (the guy in the video) makes some good points about voting Republican, sexuality, and Christian identity being defined by your Facebook status.

And, once again, the production quality is great and the speaker is very articulate. That’s not my issue.

My issue with this video is that it panders to a false, but widely accepted Protestant Evangelical narrative; one which has come to supplant Christianity itself as the “true gospel.”

Here’s the narrative in brief:

Jesus came to abolish religion. Then the church came along and re-instituted it, telling people there was a particular way to live in order to be a Christian. Now, we need once more to be liberated from the shackles of religion in order to be able to “freely” worship Jesus.

It sounds nice. And if you were to survey most people walking out of Protestant churches this Sunday morning, I feel pretty confident is saying that most of them would agree it’s the gospel, or at least pretty close to it.

But it’s not. In fact, there’s very little in either that narrative or the narrative presented in the video above that are actually true.

Here’s the problems as I see them…

1. We don’t know what our target is.

Religion is not the evil Bethke or so many others portray it to be. Simply defined religion is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor or faith.” See? Not that scary.

In fact, religion can be very good.

For example, how do we know what Jesus taught? We read it in the Bible. Where did that book come from? Well, as much as we may not want to hear it the Bible is a product of religion. It didn’t magically fall from the sky one day. It was written by men (and possibly a few women) who were members of a religious community which was marked by a common “cause or system of beliefs.” It was that religious community that gave importance and meaning to these particulars books, letters, and writings and not others. Then that religious community organized and appointed councils to canonize those books and called them the “Holy Bible.” In other words, without religion there is no Bible.

Likewise, there are countless soup kitchens, food pantries, medical clinics, and schools that minister to countless men, women, and children across the globe every day. Who organizes, funds, and operates the vast majority of these places? Religious organizations.

Simply put, Christianity is and always has been a cause (Jesus) or system of belief (the gospel) that we hold to with ardor and faith. And that’s ok.

2. When we seperate Jesus from the religious community then we are left with a Jesus out of context whom we are free to shape and mold in any way we see fit.

In other words, the “Jesus and me” gospel this video and so many of us proclaim is a path that has only one destination: idolatry.

Not the kind of idolatry that has us bowing down to golden calves, but the kind that has Jesus looking and acting suspiciously like ourselves.

At the end of the video the claim is made, as it is in so many of our churches, that when Jesus was “dangling on the cross he was thinking of you.” As nice as this might sound I find it to be the height of egomania. Aside from the fact that we have no way of knowing what Jesus was thinking on the cross (not least of all because the Bible doesn’t tell us), when we direct all of Jesus’ thoughts and actions to ourselves as individuals, then both the narrative of Jesus as well as the understanding of that narrative are exhausted by our own personal experience. In other words, Jesus becomes all about “me”, so we shape and form him in our own image, in ways we see best to meet our own needs and desires.

“I” don’t own Jesus and neither do “you”. Jesus belongs to the church and the church to Jesus. This is why we are “the body of Christ.” A hand cannot say to the body “I don’t need you”. Likewise, we can not take Jesus outside of the church and have any hope of truly understanding him or what he taught.

3. Jesus didn’t have a problem with religion, he had a problem with legalism.

Obviously legalism stems from religion, but anything can be turned into legalism, even grace. People have been spreading the “Jesus is here to abolish religion” message since the beginning of his ministry on earth. Since he was around to actually respond we should probably listen to what he thought about this message. It may come as a shock, but he wasn’t a fan. In fact, he rebuked these people saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus’ issue wasn’t with the Jewish faith, i.e. religion, which he himself was a part of. He took issue with those who would use God’s commandments to exploit and oppress others. This is a profoundly important distinction.

Furthermore, what do we do with Jesus’ declaration “on this rock I will build my church” if we think Jesus hated organized religion? Sure, we could take the popular sentimental route and talk about how the church isn’t a building or an institution. Which certainly has some truth to it. But if we go in that direction we’re going to need to explain our reasoning to the early church who would strongly disagree with us. Likewise, we’ll need to go ahead and toss out the New Testament since all of Peter and Paul’s writings (along with at least Luke-Acts) address the life, structure, and function of the church both spiritual and physical.

4. If you’re looking for the person that hated organized religion, by which you really mean “the institutional church”,  then you’re looking for a guy named Martin Luther, not Jesus of Nazareth.

Without Martin Luther Bethke doesn’t make this video. Likewise, without Luther we’re all Roman Catholic. Not that that would be an awful thing.

It is Luther, not Jesus, who raises such a fuss about the institution of religion and rightfully so. The church during his day was profoundly corrupt at the highest levels and was in deep need of reform. Note, however, that even Luther was interested in “reform” (thus the term “Reformation”), not “abolishment”.

Likewise, nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus say he hated religion, neither does he ever call anyone fools for being religious. That’s the popular mythos, but go back and actually read the Bible. It’s not there. Certainly Jesus wasn’t a fan of Pharisess and Sadducees, but once again he hated their legalism and exploitation, not the religion to which he, as a Jew, was also a part of.

If you say that Jesus, who was a devout Jew, hated religion then you also have to say that Jesus hated himself because he was religious.

5. Jesus never preached that we are saved by faith alone.  

[UPDATE: Click here to read what I mean by this statement]

If there is anything that is at the heart of the modern Protestant Evangelical gospel it’s the belief in “sola fide”; the idea that we are saved by “faith alone.” Once again, your champion for this cause is Martin Luther, not Jesus. Jesus didn’t preach this idea and if you think there is such thing as a “Christian life”, then you don’t really believe in sola fide either. Absolutely, it is Jesus’ faithfulness to the Father that is the mechanism for our salvation, but we cannot willfully continue in sin and claim to have accepted this free gift.

Bethke says that religion is just “behavior modification, like a long list of chores.” I think this speaks to a profound “don’t tell me what to do” attitude that dominates, if not defines, my generation. If you don’t want to be told that you’re not perfect and are in need of change, then Jesus is not the guy you want to speak to. To claim that “religion” is trying to tell you how to behave, but Jesus doesn’t want to tell you what to do demonstrates at best a profound ignorance of the Bible, in particular the Gospels themselves, and at worst a dangerous self-centeredness that is fundamentally antithetical not only to the Christian faith, but to Jesus himself. Jesus’ entire ministry was centered around how to live a particular way of life, or as Bethke puts it “behavior modification.” To call it “a long list of chores” reveals a true lack of interest in fulling Jesus’ command to bring the kingdom of God “to earth as it is in heaven.”

Likewise, Bethke says “salvation is freely mine and forgiveness is my own.” Well, yes and no. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be quick to remind us “ye were bought with a price…and what was costly for God must also be costly for us.” Likewise, we don’t have ownership of our forgiveness. If we did then it would be something we purchased or earned which would be counter-intuitive to Bethke’s argument. And while he’s right that that forgiveness stems from the actions of Jesus and not our obedience, our obedience is the demonstration of our acceptance of that forgiveness. The two are not as separate as we have come to believe.

Of course, Jesus does tell us exactly who will be “saved” and who will not and he makes he clear that “not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God.” When Jesus does describe how he will decide “who gets into heaven” he is pretty clear that he’s not all that interested in who “believed” that he existed. Rather, according to Matthew 25, he will ask each of us “I was hungry. Did you feed me? I was thirsty. Did you give me something to drink? I was naked. Did you clothe me? I was sick and in prison did you come and visit me?” These are the questions we need to be really worried about answering “yes” to, not whether or not we think Jesus existed, was crucified, and rose again. For, “even the devil and his angels believe these things and shudder.”

6. The premise of this video and the gospel it proclaims is simply disingenuous.

If you go to, participate in, and support a local church, whether it’s a huge mega-church, an “average” sized rural church, or a small house church that meets in somebody’s living room then you support organized religion. And that’s ok.

Even Bethke says he loves the church, but I think completely destroys the case he is trying to make. The church is organized religion.

When we try to deride “organized religion” as the instrument of Satan out to deceive the world, and then joyfully participate in organized religious activities like sanctuary worship on Sunday morning, Sunday School, Bible studies, mission trips, volunteering at the church’s soup kitchen, or even playing church softball then we ourselves are just as duplicitous and hypocritical as the message of this video.

7. When we create a dichotomy between Jesus and religion we simaltaneously create an unnecessary and dangerous antagonism towards the church and the people that participate in it.

Bethke says “If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?” I’ll give the guy a pass for the first half of this statement. I assume he’s a product of our American educational system and if so, it explains his understanding of history or lack thereof.

It’s popular, if not cliche, to say that religions are the cause of all the world’s wars. Have they been that cause from time to time? Sure. But if do a little more digging (beyond what you see on the History Channel or in this case what Richard Dawkins tells you) you will discover that the vast majority of battles that have been fought were not started for religious reasons. And even those that supposedly were, often simply used the guise of religion in order to gain more territory or wealth for the king who went to battle. Obviously, we have the Crusades and the Protestant/Catholics battles in Britain, but beyond that the pickings get slim at least as it pertains to battles or wars that you’ve heard of. For example, did the conquest of the Roman empire (that’s several centuries of warfare) have anything to do with religion? Nope. Revolutionary War? Nope. Civil War? Nope. World War I? Nope. World War II? Nope. Korea? Vietnam? The Gulf War? Nope. Nope. Nope Sure you could make a case that the current battles in the Middle East have religious connotations, but it’s murky water there and that’s the point. Religion isn’t the great starter of war we’ve been told it is.

As for the second accusation that church fails to feed the poor. I don’t know how to label this charge anything but absolute ignorance. Even the biggest mega-churches that so often get ridiculed for any number of reasons, almost always have ongoing outreach ministries. There are very few outreach organizations in this country or any other that are not faith-based or at least affiliated with a religious organization.


There are several other points in this video that I could nit pick, but to sum it all up, what I think we have here, if not across the greater swath of protestant evangelicalism, is lazy, soundbite theology. We take bits and pieces of information that we hear on the news, read on the internet, or hear about through gossip at church and in turn create a narrative of a lost and dying church that is in need of our rescuing from the evils of religious boogeymen out to take over, or at least corrupt, the world.

That’s not to say there aren’t bad churches or bad church leaders out there. There are. But to make such broad sweeping claims is naive, arrogant, ignorant, and dangerous.

Despite what Bethke claims religion and Jesus are not “two different clans” full of all the dichotomies he lists. The religion called Christianity exists only because of Jesus. It is certainly “man searching for God” (which is in no way a bad thing), but it was founded by “God (Christ) searching for man.” Simply put, false dichotomies do far more harm than good.

To make a long story, just a bit longer, I don’t think Jeff Bethke is evil, or that he’s out to deceive anyone. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of things we would agree with. He’s just off-base with his theology.

So, please don’t get your theology from the internet. Find a church, also known as a religious community, to be a part of them. Listen to what they have to say. Learn from them. If they’re connected to the broader, orthodox church (and they probably are even if they play the “non-denominational” card) then they’re part of a people who have been doing this for at least 2,000 years. There will be bad apples in the bunch, but they are good people who have organized around a common cause (Jesus is Lord) and system of belief (the gospel) in order change the world. And in many corners of the world they are doing just that.

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt

  • Kmerian

    Great post! My thoughts almost exactly after seeing this video.

    • lightworker

      light workers, from past sunsets have said it,Father let me know myself so that i may know thee….. if you knew yourself you would know what jesus was all about,how his person,and his teachings were modified…. take out jesus from the preachers interpretation,from rome’s interpretation from evangelical’s interpretation,or simply from analyzed versions,thus from your own mind’s interpretation and open his meaning in your heart……. you are in the image of the father so is he,you and him are one under the father…he showed you the way to the father,so follow him…he didn’t show you the way to him but the way to that which he was a slave to ….it’s the father,our common denominator,the highest truth,the invisible spirit which is the foundation of the highest order of existance…jesus preached and lived as the highest order because he was unified he is calling for your unification with God,just like he did,,,not for your unification with him,so that you may become one with the father…….. don’t seperate the christ story from yourself,because you are the sons and daughters of God as well…..only if you know this truth and u live it……knowing yourself and knowing your power ,that is the true conversion, going from one organized religion to another is not conversion….dont think the video maker is not from an organized religion,yes he is…it’s organized ,the only difference is that money is not spent on large cathedrals but for other puposes on that level of intention.we ‘re calling for you to take what is yours….the place in your heart,intact by the world and it’s preachings,a place where true christians,true muslims,true buddhists,true humans gather ,dine and drink,the place where we are free of this worlds mind fashion and we sing along with birds and praise the invisible streaching our hearts wide open just like the flowers thirsty for the light of the 1 sun.meet jesus there,it’s on another level,it’s beyond hate or proving who is right or who is wrong ,it’s all about food for everybody,drinks for everybody,it’s on another plain of existence,no it’s not in space it’s right here on earth……..lightworker 3456 the abway.

    • Jerome

      Jeff Bethke’s point, which clealry went over the head of Zack Hunt is that religion is very often a system that is void of personal relationship with Jesus in many churches and denominations. Jeff’s generalisation in regards to religion is a bit like Jesus saying that money is a root of many forms of evil, well you could say hold on Jesus God tells us to tithe so your out of line. Jesus generalised when he wanted to address the widespread Godlessness in regards to money in his day, Jeff generalised when he addressed the widespread Godlessness in regards to religion in his day.. Hunt also wants to say that faith alone in Jesus Christ doesn’t provide salvation, that is crazy and a false theology which creates Godless religion in itself. Zack Hunt needs to read the Bible a little closer for the only person Jesus ever said word for word will be with him in paradise was a man who never went to church, nor tithed, nor prayed and was a criminal sentenced to death. FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE SAVED HIM NOT RELIGION!

      • Tom

        Just to correct some of your own ‘false theology’, I’d like to use some scripture to help you get your facts straight.

        First, Jesus never said ‘money is a root of many forms of evil’. Timothy said that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Jesus made lots of references in parables to people who loved money, but at no time did he say money was the root of evil. It’s when money becomes more important than people or God that evil starts to show it’s head.

        Secondly, ‘faith alone in Jesus Christ doesn’t provide salvation’ is a perfectly Biblical statement. I’d ask that you go away and read James 2:14-26, where it is clearly stated, several times, that faith without deeds is no faith at all.
        Yes, we are saved through by grace through faith in Christ, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). But because of that grace we should be moved to action, and if we are not moved to action then we haven’t understood the salvation we have received. Jesus said in Matthew “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20) If people cannot see we are Christians by our actions then our faith is worthless. We become the tasteless salt Jesus talks about in Matthew 5.

        God Bless

        • August

          Let us continue praying for the Gospel of Christ.

        • mike

          All scripture is held equal. Just cuz jesus didnt say it doesnt mean its not true. You are taking jesus words higher than the rest of scripture, and you cant do that pauls letters has the same athority as jesus words. Same with all scriture. Paul says in romans that salvation comes only through faith in jesus. Do you all not get what he is trying to say in this video. He is refering to religion as the rules that man has made in the church. Also talking about the poor, we are called to help the poor. There are mega churches out there that put more money into their buildings than they do to help the poor. I am not saying gettiing ppl to churches is bad but a church is not a building its the people. If you really wanna read something good read radical.

          • Leigh

            I agree with Mike and Jerome. The entire Bible is the Inspired Word of God, written by men who were inspired to do so by God. It doesn’t mean they wrote what THEY thought was important, it means they wrote what God put in their heads. They were simply tools. It doesn’t matter if Timothy said it or Paul said it or Jesus said it, it all came from God.

            “Do you all not get what he is trying to say in this video. He is refering to religion as the rules that man has made in the church.” There are many in the church today who claim to have faith and have no works, and there also are many who have many works and yet no faith. Your works are only evidence of your faith, they cannot save you. I think many Americans are blind to the downward decline of the church today. There are many chruches out there that simply don’t preach the TRUTH.

            “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8

            “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” – Romans 3:28

            You have to read the entire verse, you can’t pick out the parts you like or don’t like.

        • Dom

          Great reply Tom, except that it wasn’t Timothy who said that the “love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), it was the apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy.

        • Lloyd Myers

          It seems that a lot of nit picking is going on here. Scripture does say that you must be Born Again and works cannot get you into heaven.
          I believe one must believe that Jesus shed His Blood for our sins. As a hmyn I love so much. What can wash my sins away. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

      • ExCathedra

        Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus wanted a personal relationship? Where in the Bible does Jesus say that he came to abolish religion? Bethke preaches a false gospel, not Hunt.

        • M

          I think the very fact that Jesus became flesh implies he wanted to have a relationship and commune with us. Otherwise he would’ve just let us squander and work for something we could never attain by ourselves. Didn’t Jesus actively participate in the lives of others while he was here? I encourage you to read many of the other comments on this thread, as I believe many other people have posted many great thoughts on the video. I ask you this question, though. Where in the bible does it say God doesn’t want to have a relationship with us? In the end, though, I believe all this bickering and nit-picking is doing way more harm than good, on both sides of the argument. I really don’t believe Bethke meant what this article implies, as if you watch his other videos, they will relieve any concerns you may have with Bethke’s views of the church. All he is doing is trying to wake those churches who act like it is a “museum for good people” and not a “hospital for the broken.” God bless you guys. God’s love is AMAZING though, isn’t it? :)

        • Lloyd Myers

          Jesus did not say it. He showed it. He threw them out of the house of God. Said you have made it a den of theives. Only way to the Father is threw the son. You must repent believe Jesus shed his blood for your sins. You must be born again..

        • Lloyd Myers

          ExCathedra. Bible does show that Jesus came to obolish religion. He abolished works as a way to get to heaven. What do you call that?

      • /stephanie_marks1 S Penn

        Um Jerome… I think you also haven’t been reading your bible. Show me the verses where you see any of what you just said. And show me where in the Bible it says we are supposed to have a personal relationship with God. I have talked to Biblical scholars and they laugh at people who believe this. Nowhere does it say God or Jesus wants us to be their best friend. They want us to do the things Hunt talks about and to follow him. He is our shepherd not our Facebook buddy who we dish all our problems too. He wants to be our guide, our teacher and our LORD. He only says this hundreds of times in his WORD. He put a great deal of effort into getting us to follow him and him alone.

        • Hank

          With all due respect S Penn and your Bible Scholars, I disagree…

          John 15:14-15
          “You are my friends if you do what I command. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” -ESV

          John 17:20-21
          “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” -ESV

          Luke 11:10-13
          “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – ESV

          I would say that if Jesus calls us friends, tells us He wants to be one with Him and eachother, and gives us the Holy Spirit (a good gift indeed) He means it.

      • shar

        Totally agree with you, Jerome, couldn’t have said it better myself. I think in the grand scheme of things, they are both saying the same thing, only one finds Him in the church, and one finds Him in the Word…we have to be careful not to throw the baby away with the bathwater, all the while realizing that the bathwater gets cold and eventually has to be changed. The church structure that has reached millions in the 70’s is NOT the same church that has to reach out to this generation, but, we hold on to what worked in the past not realizing that God is always doing a new thing. We are all in this together. We are all on this journey, so why do Christians all have to shoot each other in the feet!? Why doesn’t Zack Hunt find some positive way to reach people who are unreached people groups, instead of shooting at the very people who are doing the work they believe God has called THEM to do. Jeff will reach people that Zach won’t and vice versa. Let’s encourage each other and all the more as we see that day approaching!

    • Amelia

      I think I just want to be a word of encouragement to anyone who has gotten themselves too heated on this discussion board… There is always one person who has to interject concerning this matter, but it’s always a good reminder: It is very good to dissect scripture and be critical of what the truth is, because if we discontinue the practice of hashing out scripture we would fail to uphold the value of understanding the inspired word of God. But as all of you go on disagreeing, and agreeing, and commenting and presenting your opinions, remember that in the process of discussing what the church should be, that it’s necessary to be nice to your fellow body parts. There is NEVER a time when being right about something is more important than the love you have for God or your fellow man. Mark 12:30-31 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Choosing truth over love can be sticky, as men like Luther will probably tell you (I hate using this example, but it was called the reformation, and not the separation), but in the end, speaking truth must ultimately be because you love. Without love, truth is nothing but harshness, no matter how true it is, just as love without truth is fruitless, no matter how loving it is. I’m sure my argument for this is not exhaustive, and someone will surely find a loose end to chew on, but for all intents and purposes I just want to discourage the arm from slapping the face or the teeth from biting the fingers. We are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden from the world, and this includes any traffic flow on this website, people you have never met whose lives you will never know you affect. Let’s live as though we actually believe and live out what we say, because we have the power to do so in Christ. The love we have in Christ is the vehicle by which we preach the truth of the gospel.

      • http://carrolinnan.tumblr.com Caroline

        Thank you! Such a good and very true comment, I believe we all need to be reminded that even the truth can be harmful if it isn’t spoken out of love.. I might actually copy this down on my own blog, if you don’t mind, it was very well said :)

    • Heyy

      WW2 had a religious aspect… Hello… Jews were killed. Judaism is a religion…

      • MS

        The Jews did not start WWII. They were a victim of it including many Catholics and Protestants who died in the death camps for opposing Hitler. The point Zach was making is that religion in not responsible for the majority of wars. Of course some of the people involved will be people of faith.

        • joe


        • joe

          If you think that the Jews had nothing to do with ww2 then u must be crazy. Jews were kept in concentration camps for being Jewish. And they didn’t just die off from age In camps. They were poisoned in huge groups using toxic gas. Killed off from beatings. They were starved to death they were tortured cruelly. Brandedlike cattle every person was given a number. And ha e you ever read the book “night” by Elie wiesel? The whole thing starts off in a Jewish community with the Germans coming in. By the way I am 13. Its pretty sad you (MS) were powned by me. I should scold you for not knowing your history on one of theworlds biggest wars. Oh wait I am. LEARN YOUR HISTORY.

          • Aaaaaaaargh

            Sorry, you didn’t “pwn” anyone. Hitler was certainly killing Jews, and he riled up the German people against them, but that was hardly the main reason why the Allied powers went to war. No, it was because Hitler was invading Poland and threatening France (and therefore the rest of Europe & possibly the world) for “Lebensraum,” not out of any religious motivation. You’re not reading these arguments carefully enough, kid.

    • John Furchaw

      The idea here isn’t that religion should be abolished. The idea within the video is that people are putting the cart before the horse. Christians have to understand the fundamentals of what it means to be Christian and develop a foundation of faith before they learn the rituals and detailed scripture of the Church. Without this religion is pointless, Christianity it pointless. Confucius, an Chinese philosopher who wasn’t religious, saw this in his own faith and other parts of his life. He believed mourning a friends death was greater than having a funeral service. Isn’t this the same idea with Christianity? People go through the motions and try to follow rules, but there are only so many rules you can think about at one point in time. If you believe though, and have a fundamental view of faith and the way Jesus lived, then everything else comes more naturally. That’s the point and I feel that it is distinct from disowning religion.

    • Jewel

      You put my thoughts about this video into words perfectly!

  • http://thewholedangthing.wordpress.com JBen

    Awesome. When I saw this video, I had a lot of the same thoughts. You pretty much nailed it. I’m sharing this so my students get mad at you and not at me. :)

    Great post.

  • http://www.jonstallings.com Jon Stallings

    I can not agree totally with point #5 but I am so glad you made this post. Sure their are failing in the Church community, but we are all imperfect. Yes Jesus spoke out against the Sadducee and Pharisees but his grace was sufficient for Zacchaeus and Paul just to mention two. Let’s quit throwing religion under the bus and lead where we God has placed us.

    • Monica

      I agree that I can’t agree with you point 5 either, but otherwise a great post. We are saved by grace alone, not works (even good work). Serving the poor doesn’t get us into heaven; rather, it’s an outpouring of thankfulness because we have been saved by grace. Having faith is trusting that God is faithful, not that we’re faithful…

      • Monica

        Also, while I agree that we shouldn’t forget the Jesus-church relationship, we shouldn’t minimalism the Jesus-and-me relationship. God the Holy Spirit lives inside each one of us, and if you look at the gospels Jesus loves individuals.

        • Monica

          Oh, and not to mention, the church is made up of individuals, each with the Holy Spirit living within.

      • Greg

        But, it is the full understanding of grace that leads to a transformed heart, which leads to a transformed life that is lived in similitude to the one lived by Christ. Can one accept the gift of grace, through faith, without then living a different life from the worldly one we leave behind? It is a trio that must exist for us to live in a fully committed relationship with God.

        • Monica

          Hi Greg, I completely agree with what you’re saying, that grace leads to transformed heart, which naturally leads to serving. But if you read the last paragraph in #5, that’s not what he’s saying at all…

      • ExCathedra

        So why do you disagree with Jesus in Matthew 25?

    • Julie Montione

      Why can’t you agree with #5? How do you respond to Matthew 25 — the verses he quotes? These are the words from Jesus explaining salvation.

      • Monica

        Hi Julie, I think we need to know the entire Bible to get the full story, and in particular about salvation, there’s Ephesians 2:8 that says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” and the famous 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” these are just some of the verses. My point about salvation is that we are saved by GRACE alone – its a free gift, not something that we earn by doing good works. If at any point we say to ourselves, “I’m going to heaven because I’m a good person”, that’s moralism, not the gospel. If we can save ourselves by good works, then why did Jesus have to die to save us?

        Secondly, the Matthew 25 verses that he referenced are misinterpreted. The parable of the sheep and goats (verses 31-46) is not about how/why we are saved. If you read it carefully, and I suggest reading the preceding chapters to get a fuller view, Jesus is using this parable to teach us the basic principle of Christianity that to love Christ is to express this love in action to believers on earth.

        • ExCathedra

          What about in Revelation, where everyone is judged by their works?

  • http://charitymercyrestraint.blogspot.com/ Sara

    Great post Zack. I’d seen this video awhile ago and my initial reaction was, “Yeah! Religion sucks!” even though I was a little turned off by some of the things he said. Your post is really thoughtful and you make some great points. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • dan mcm

    Great post. The claim that “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship” has never really made sense to me either.

    Christianity is a religion, but the heart of the religion is based on a relationship.

  • Alex Parisi

    Semantics shemantics

  • http://www.SendHopeToday.com JP Fishbourne

    Great post! Thank you. I think “Sola Fide” is a bit more about simple grace in the sense that we can’t earn salvation, but you are correct that our behavior does in fact matter as true faith must result in actual behavioral change. Faith without works is dead…

    I heard a speaker once remind those who are so critical about the church that “The Church is Jesus’ wife – how would you feel if someone attacked your wife in the same way you just attacked the church?”

    • Stefanie

      That’s a really good point.

  • Tyler

    I completely agree that it’s disingenuous to set the church up as separate from organized religion. In fact, I agree with most of the points you make in this article. At the same time, I think the video in question was a little better than you’re giving it credit for.

    I don’t believe the point of the video is necessarily that religion is inherent evil, but lucky us, Christianity falls just outside of the line that marks organized religion. Rather, I think the point of the video is that the church has often gotten caught up in the organized part of organized religion, which has been detrimental to the mission.

    Basically, I think the largest flaw with the video is that it operates under a faulty definition of the word religion. But unfortunately, his understanding of religion is a fairly common one. As Dan has mentioned above, Evangelical Christians have tried to separate Christianity from religion for so long, that we’ve actually started convincing people that the two aren’t related. And as long as the two don’t have to be related, then people can make videos like the one above that are universally accepted by the church.

    So quite honestly, I think the thing that needs to happen for the church is to reclaim the word religion. The word carries such negative connotations that it’s easier for Christians to simply distance ourselves from it than to embrace it, flaws and all. Because when you get past that, there’s really some good things being said in this video.

    We ARE supposed to give to the poor, and despite the fact that most charities are faith-based, there’s not nearly enough feeding the hungry going on in churches. Shame on us for failing in that. We need to be rebuked for that.

    Too many conflicts are started (not only wars) by people who claim things about God that God doesn’t claim for himself. And we need to be known for more than just what we’re against. That needs to be said.

    Too often, we’ve been defined by our strict rules and not by our Father’s abounding grace. Shame on us for failing in that.

    So sure, but there are also some great truths that are good for the church and those outside it to hear. God can work through flawed theology. He does it in my church all the time.

    • Natalie

      I agree that he needs more credit for this video. We have chosen to point out all the flaws while failing to realize the intentions of the heart. Thank God that he works through flawed people! There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. Romans 3:11
      How many of us practice what we preach? How many of us are bold enough to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him? How dare anyone judge without first giving due credit to our brothers and sisters? God help us..

      • Unknown


      • Karina

        He WAS given credit for this video…did you read the beginning? “I do think Jeff Bethke (the guy in the video) makes some good points about voting Republican, sexuality, and Christian identity being defined by your Facebook status. And, once again, the production quality is great and the speaker is very articulate. That’s not my issue.” The author of this article did what God has instructed us to do: Use RIGHTEOUS judgment. Zach (the author)used sound doctrine and correct theology to examine some very bold statements made by Bethke that are in no way supported by scripture.

      • jshane

        Exactly it takes alot for someone to be so public about being a follower of God anything that comes across “extreme” to people these gets you hated on. When i was in highschool i was always made fun of for being a christian why is it when we share our love for God we get slammed more then when someone does something that is counted as a wrong action. Jesus wants that relationship with us he in the bible wanted to be with the sinners more then the religous law makers. I love this video and agree with it all

    • JulieAnn Personius

      Here, here.

    • Matthew Newton

      Good response there. While there are flaws in the video, he is trying to speak against something that has become an epidemic in our society. We have mistaken the “church” for the associations and the buildings rather than understanding that first off the “church” is the body of Christ and the body of believers. There is definitely nothing wrong with being organized as Paul even talks about believers coming together to worship and fellowship. The problem arises when we are more concerned with making a “show” for God rather than actually having our hearts in what we are doing.

      As Christians we must be careful because we are our own worst enemies and the biggest threats to Christianity are Christians themselves.

      Thanks for the great article!!

      • Steve

        I couldn’t agree more. While he does have valid points I believe he’s trying to see it in a light that wasn’t intended. “religion” meaning the doctrines and nonsense we get caught up with is what America has fallen in love with because we flourish on drama. The Truth that ultimately matters is the writing in red letters.

    • Britt

      great response…i agree that the video is mainly good but that perhaps what he termed “religion” should have been more along the lines of legalism.

    • Kyle

      “I think the thing that needs to happen for the church is to reclaim the word religion.”

      I will run the risk of sounding slightly postmodern and suggest that we need to find a new word because the word religion has become strongly associated with with bigotry and legalism.

      What I like about the video is that it speaks to people in a way they can understand. It’s like he’s saying “Ok, if this is what you think of organized religion, I will show that Jesus wanted just the opposite.”

      Still, it is a very simplistic view. Using a dichotomy like this is very effective, but it doesn’t really give you the whole story, and I appreciate Zack’s thoughtful post.

    • Haley


      One of my friends showed me this article in criticism of the video. Your response sums up how I, and my father (who is a pastor) feel.

  • Tyler

    And let me clarify that last statement. I’m a minister at my church. So I’m admitting that I have flawed theology, and yet God still uses me.

    • Boofer

      Tyler, I don’t think any clarification was needed. In fact, that last paragraph says it all, and very well. God is capable of doing so much more than we can even imagine.
      I thought I was a Christian for years, because as a child I had attended church and gone to Sunday school and been confirmed. Then some 15 years later I met a man who spoke of God as his friend, and I knew he had something I didn’t have and that I wanted. And thanks to Jesus and what he allowed to happen on the cross I now have that. Doesn’t mean I’m perfect, but I have a friend in God, who will never forsake me. I have had my sins washed away by the shed blood of Jesus. I know that I know that I have been saved, not by anything I have done or could or will do, but by what has already been done for me by God. Does this not reveal at least part of the character of God? Who else but a friend would do what God has done?

  • http://www.ronamundson.com/twitter/ Ron Amundson

    I concur the Jesus and me thing is problematic… On the other hand, many churches throw so many folks aside, what are folks really left with? There are likely hundreds of thousands of folks who will never ever enter a church again due to the damage done to them. Jesus and me is a whole lot better than just me… and eventually such might just lead some of these folks back to a community of faith.

    I also agree that churches do have food banks and help for the poor, likewise many individual Christians also step up to the plate. However, it is not the churches as much as government who provide the majority of assistance to the poor. Rather, aggregate data puts the majority of US church financials towards going towards building and staff rather than Matthew 25 type activities. Granted there are exceptions.

    A Christless moralistic behavioristic gospel is rampant. A ways back Relevant magazine published some research data where 1 out of 3 heavily involved Christian young adults when asked managed to leave Jesus completely out of the Gospel and instead parroted a line of does and dont’s. Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, moral therapuetic deism/theism, and other closely related inventions dont always lead to a Christianity without Christ, but they sure seem to set the stage for it. Just read some of the heart breaking comments on youtube… its as if this video was the first time viewers had ever heard the Gospel.

    • jshane

      I agree…..this guy is getting so much crap for stating what he believe and me as christian looks and sees where ppl will post about homosexuality and things we dont believe and they get all the praise for standing up but if we christian we get knocked back down

  • Nathan S.

    Interesting perspective, but I feel he’s taking the video out of context. First, it’s a poem not scripture or a doctrinal thesis… but mostly the term “religion” that he (the poet) uses, he uses to connect with the unsaved and unchurched. The people who say, “I hate Christians, they’re all hypocrites!” For them, the last thing they would ever want to be called is religious, so from that perspective I see why he wrote the poem.

    • Traci

      I definitely agree here. There are some bold points in the video that may seem like they are downing the church, but I think the real point the video is making is that the church has made “religion” an idol, rather than making Christ the center of their lives and actions. Jesus called the religious leaders in His day, “whitewashed tombs”, meaning they were dead inside. They had all the “right” going on on the outside, but failed to recognize the Son of God when he was in their midst. He is not so much addressing religion as the organized faith, but the religious spirit and legalism that comes out of that. We, as the church, have fallen in love with our rituals and outward appearance, and not fallen in love with Jesus.

      • Annie

        Amen! It seems those that are not truly getting the point of the video are the ones a bit wrapped up in the notion that religion or organized faith is more important than “being disciples to all nations.”

        I also like how the author has pushed some much needed church buttons for church self-reflection, as I think that’s what Jesus’ grace is about. Accepting our humbleness due to God’s grace. Too often, we are simply praising our goodness, which the author is trying to point out is a stumbling block for non-believers, which is our great calling. Not ego stroking those within the church all the time.

  • Nathaniel Wallace

    You had me until point 5…

    • adam

      What do you find wrong in his point? Did you only the bold print?

      • adam

        Excuse me *read the bold print.

        • Monica

          This whole paragraph is incorrect theology — it preaches salvation by works. We are saved by grace, not works. Salvation is a gift, we don’t earn it by feeding the poor. If we do, it defeats the whole purpose of Jesus dying on the cross.

          “Of course, Jesus does tell us exactly who will be “saved” and who will not and he makes he clear that “not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God.” When Jesus does describe how he will decide “who gets into heaven” he is pretty clear that he’s not all that interested in who “believed” that he existed. Rather, according to Matthew 25, he will ask each of us “I was hungry. Did you feed me? I was thirsty. Did you give me something to drink? I was naked. Did you clothe me? I was sick and in prison did you come and visit me?” These are the questions we need to be really worried about answering “yes” to, not whether or not we think Jesus existed, was crucified, and rose again. For, “even the devil and his angels believe these things and shudder.”

          • http://www.npuglobalpartnerships.wordpress.com Julia

            The paragraph you just quoted (and the author quoted) is in the Bible. Jesus really said that (Matt 25:31-46).

            I understand that a lot of reformed theologies rely on “sola fide” but what is faith? Just belief, or a strong “clinging to” and following that to which we have been called? And if faith is stronger than belief, I think works are apart of it. Faith without works is dead and profitless. (James 2:14-17,24). If through Christ we are all saved, we should not keep on sinning (Romans 6:1-2), but live out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

          • Monica

            Hi Julia, I posted this above, but I think these are important points to reiterate. (also, can’t reply to your comment for some reason so this might be out of order…)

            First, the Matthew 25 verses that he referenced are misinterpreted. The parable of the sheep and goats (verses 31-46) is not about how/why we are saved. If you read it carefully, and I suggest reading the preceding chapters to get a fuller view, Jesus is using this parable to teach us the basic principle of Christianity that to love Christ is to express this love in action to believers on earth — because we have been saved, THEREFORE we love and serve. (NOT I serve therefore I will be saved.)

            Secondly, i think we need to know the entire Bible to get the full story, and in particular about salvation, there’s Ephesians 2:8 that says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” and the famous John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” these are just some of the verses. My point about salvation is that we are saved by GRACE alone – its a free gift, not something that we earn by doing good works. If at any point we say to ourselves, “I’m going to heaven because I’m a good person”, that’s moralism, not the gospel. If we can save ourselves by good works, then why did Jesus have to die to save us?

  • http://roadtothecross.wordpress.com laurengracie

    I wrote a blog post a number of months ago about the whole fad of “no religion, just a relationship.” One thing to understand, though, is that this generation views the word “religion” very differently than its dictionary definition. And from their perspective, from their definition, what they’re saying is accurate. I think we all believe the same thing, just use different words to express it as our language evolves.

    • http://wisegirlsguide.blogspot.com/ JewelsChohan

      Well said. Cultural misunderstandings sometimes necessitate a re-defining of sorts.

    • JC

      Well said! It seems to me that many terms need to be defined or at least clarified in this case.

    • Traci

      Yes! That’s what I’m sayin’!

    • David

      Exactly. “Religion” as Bethke uses the term is almost synonymous with legalism or the pursuit of empty rituals–“whitewashed tombs” that look spiritual on the outside but might be dead on the inside. It makes me sad that the word “religion” has been redefined in the public consciousness from a neutral, descriptive term to mean this instead, but I’m not sure that fighting to get back to the original definition is worth the effort.

      • Anita

        Although, avoiding the original definition is avoiding something that Scripture itself says is good (and using the word religion):

        James 1:27
        Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

    • http://everydayepistle.com Aimee

      Agree with what laurengracie said… To get to the heart of what the poet’s really “saying,” we need to understand his vernacular.

      And although I agree the fruit of faith is works–works we were created in advance to do (Ephesians 2:10), let’s begin at the very beginning, especially when it comes to the Gospel. Repeating what Monica wrote bc it’s worth repeating: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  • http://wisegirlsguide.blogspot.com/ JewelsChohan

    I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your comments here. I think they are well grounded. I agree with most of what you have to say, but I think that in many, many ways you misunderstood the video. Ultimately, it seems like you are arguing semantics. I don’t believe the point of the video was to cause people to make a mass exodus from their churches, but to examine where their heart is. Is their heart in going to a country club and playing the part to fool themselves and the world, or is their heart genuine. Simple. To me that was the point. You are right, Jesus came to fulfill the law. He came to establish the church. But ones relationship with the Lord isn’t about his religious affiliation, but about his worship. And yes, true worship should always be action oriented and within the larger body of believers. And yes, that is true religion. But sadly, religion is largely misunderstood in our culture.. The greater public equates religion with legalism, as you also noted above, as well as scandal, corruption, and greed. So, what this young man has done is build a bridge to that true relationship which leads to action-filled worship. It’s easy to pick this apart, but better to recognize the impact for good that it can have. I hope that you will consider a more critical but bridge-building opinion of this young man’s passion after some more consideration. I think @jeffuhsonbethke has done a great job with his message. I think you should see his broader picture.

    • JC

      Cathy, I could not agree with you more. Perhaps the point was to get non-believers a differnt perspective as to create bridges to share the Gospel.

      • JC

        Sorry, meant Jewels. LOL

    • Natalie

      I completely agree

    • http://thouhgtsof-faithblogspot.com Faith

      Jewels Well Said.

    • http://everydayepistle.com Aimee

      Agree with JewelsChohan, too.

  • Cathy

    One of my gripes about the video was that he had to get a dig in about Republicans (but not Democrats, of course) not once but TWICE at the very beginning of the video.

    At least you waited until 8 or so paragraphs in.

    I realize it’s been en vogue in Evangelical circles to bash Republicans in the last few years (especially amongst Evangelical bloggers!) but it’s completely tedious.

    There are good and bad people on both sides of the aisle. Democrats are right about some things, and wrong about others. Same for Republicans.

    I will be glad when bloggers stop doing one of the very things they complain most about…showing disdain for a large group of people based on a single aspect of those people’s lives.

    I agree with your overall opinion. I just could’ve done without the sarcastic “talking points” dig. It cheapened your argument.

    • Cathy

      By the way, before somebody says, “All they’re saying is that voting Republican doesn’t make you a Christian”:

      First off, that’s a straw man argument (which is, ironically, one of the main criticisms of the video.) In the 1980’s, yes…many church people thought you weren’t Christian if you didn’t vote Republican. In the year 2012, I don’t know anyone who thinks that.

      And secondly…I still say that invoking Republicans at all is part of that current popular Christian trend against the “anti-social-justice party-of-greed.”

      Much like the recent, “it’s-not-a-religion-it’s-a-relationship” popular trend.

      I’m not making a political statement here. I’m making a plea for logic and honesty, always, in every debate.

      • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

        Cathy, what part of the country do you live in? Different areas have different cultures, but I can tell you for sure that here in the South there are plenty (I’d even say almost the majority) of people that say you’re not Christian if you don’t vote Republican. It’s practically church doctrine in a lot of places. Even if someone doesn’t come out and specifically say that, they’ll be people who prayed for Pres. Bush because “he’s God’s man” and are now members of the Tea Party because “Obama is a Muslim.”

        • Cathy

          Wow! Maybe you are going to the wrong church?

          I live on the West Coast now, but I lived in a suburb of Atlanta from 1989-2000, and even though there WAS a higher percentage of Republicans there, I never had anyone tell me (or even insinuate) the things you’re saying…and I was in church every single Sunday.


          Church people should not tell each other how to vote, either which way.

          • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

            The church I go to doesn’t say things like that, but I’d say it’s safe to say almost every fundamentalist church in the South does.

          • LisaMarie

            I’m with Josh. I know people who said they could not understand how a Christian could vote for anyone by George Bush, and I have a friend who told me I was the first friend she ever had who was not a Republican (and she was from Ohio.)

          • Shirley Stoll

            I so agree. When a church starts telling one how to vote they should NOT get tax benefits.
            And I do not believe Jesus preached for any one political party either. That is a prevailing message today that is quite disturbing. We go to church to get spiritual nourishment much as we feed our bodies to keep our body alive and our soul needs to be fed also. If the Churches had only saints sitting in the pews there would be no need for a church. Jesus is there for the sinner and we are all sinners.

        • AgapePerceiver

          Well we can’t save everybody, can we? What do you believe Josh? I would agree with you since I learned of just how stupid our government thinks their constituents to be…much like entertainers in entertainment business and the couch potatoes and tabloid readers. More false dichotomies there and yes those citizens exist. Doesn’t help to spread more with this video…politics needs media to state more truths not more lies. If he is going to state one he should state the other in comparison, that’s only logical. Honestly, he could’ve left that provoking statement out but I guess it flowed with the rhyme. A good contrast for Democrats would be something about their no value system. I mean we can do stereotypes all day but this is not aligned with Bethke’s ongoing topic of “I HATE RELIGION BUT I LOVE JESUS”. If he loves Jesus in his action, I would beg to differ with this statement because Jesus was neither Democrat or Republican and politics is on the same plateau as religion…so why hate one and not the other. I’m with Cathy…illogical at best and just unsound theologically, honestly. I don’t think anything he said is biblically sound and if by chance something is found…it’s half sought out in all 66 books of the great work that is the Word of GOD.

      • Jai

        Yeah, Cathy, where are you from?
        I voted independent in 2008 and I had countless friends and once-friends come up to me and denounce me as the reason Obama won and the reason the country was now going to hell.
        Maybe you never saw it but I cant seem to get away from it….

    • LisaMarie

      Cathy, I think one big thing you’re missing is that the Democratic party does not have the kind of relationship with the religious right that the Republican party has. That’s the crux of the issue and the reason why “Evangelical bloggers” pinpoint Republicans moreso than Democrats.

  • Pingback: “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” is Theologically Bankrupt « Thoughts in the Dark()

  • Trey

    This post is great. I do believe that we are justified by faith alone, however works prove the faith. Indeed, faith without works is dead. Beyond that, I resoundingly agree with this post.

    • AgapePerceiver

      Amen, Trey!!! Very well put, concisely I might add. I soundly agree.

      • http://freedomarise.blogspot.com/ AtrainHull

        Trey I agree with you as well. Works proves our faith. If we were to look at some churches, we could see a lot of faith and little works. Wonder why some churches aren’t growing? I’m not just talking number strictly, but that would be a large part of my point.

        If a church (which I have seen and have experienced) lives by faith alone, who are they reaching out to? What about the Great Commission? Who are they serving beyond themselves? Are they only doing good deeds to those who can return the favor?

        Why else do we have so many dying churches if we honestly believe faith alone is good enough? We as Christians cannot have one without the other, but we should take notice to why we do good works.

  • Billy

    I really don’t agree with your assessment, Zack. I’ll go point by point and try to explain why. Forgive me if I at all seem angry or attacking.

    1. Perhaps Bethke (whom I do not know personally) could have been more explicit that by “religion,” he is referring to a system by which individuals’ personal righteousness or right appearance puts them in a right standing with God. I would argue that he more than clearly defines religion this way, but he could have been more specific.

    2. At no point does he ever claim that people should separate from institutional Christianity or approach things from a “me and Jesus” perspective. Again, his context is self-righteousness and churches/groups of Christians that base their existence on it.

    3. I’m arguing that when he uses the word religion, he really means legalism. Again, I’m taking this in context of the whole poem.

    4. Look to my previous response.

    5. John 3:16. The Apostle Paul. Scripture as a whole points to and looks from the Cross.

    6. Again, nowhere does Bethke say that the Church is bad. Legalistic American “Christianity” is the problem.

    7. I agree with the war thing, but I think this video is doing a lot of good for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, I think this nitpicking causes more antagonism than anything else. People who are sick of hearing legalistic and unbiblical Christianity, both inside and outside of the church, have been challenged to look at who Jesus is.

    Jesus came to fulfill the law, die on the cross, and rise from the dead for sinners like you and I. Somehow, our fallen selves keep trying legalism, and this hurts people and the cause of Christ. I still argue that Christianity is not a religion in the strict sense. What sets Christianity apart from other belief systems is grace. In every other systems, people pursue God. But the Gospel is that God pursues us. Look at the story of the Prodigal Son. God pursues us in our lost-ness. We don’t do anything to earn God’s grace.

    • Monica

      Yay! Grace! Good responses, Billy.

    • Kristi R.

      Exactly Billy! You know most churches have a book of laws/rules that are to be followed in order to stay in good standings with the church… sounds like religion to me.. Not Jesus! Church is great if you find one that is bible based, not man based, or theologian based!

      • AgapePerceiver

        I do agree with this point Kristi. This would be legalism and synonymous to the Pharisees way of thought, biblically speaking but as Zack pointed out — legalism isn’t religion as a whole. I don’t think Bethke understands the magnitude of his powerful words. He knows what they mean but there are so many that are clearly interpreting what Bethke’s words mean to them and that’s ok but lets not be blind to what that is. In other words, if you listen with the Spirit you can tell what their underlying issues are with the institutional churches, sects, denominations, etc of the Church not religion but sinners. However, lets not use universal words like “religion” (that sinners by grace use) to spread false dichotomies to get the point across. That is the devil’s playground, not spreading the Gospel <— and I wish people would stop saying that because it does more harm than good for the Christian faith. If anything just on the surface — Christianity is a religion therefore it helps the Gospel to be spread if that tool is capitalized upon. Jesus said to go therefore and teach all nations BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That is religion. Bethke is religious…he's just trying too hard not to be.

    • AgapePerceiver

      I disagree with you, Billy but I do understand a few points that you are trying to make on behalf of Bethke in your counterpoints to Zack. Universalism is harming the faith and that is what is happening today.

      Legalism is not “religion” and if Bethke doesn’t know that he should be seeking counsel on that subject, not be teaching the Gospel to a dying world as if he does – basically telling people to lose their way of seeking GOD. Bethke is spreading false religion by trying to dissuade people from their religion (not only the Christian faith). No Holy Bible= no religion — Bethke is assisting the prophecy of false religion by spreading “the abolishment of religion by Jesus Christ”. A thorough misunderstanding of the Word of God and why Christ came to fulfill the law is present in the video. Christ came to enable us to accomplish the purpose of the Law as he did by fulfilling it. He came despite not in spite of our limited human nature in carrying out the law; therefore God’s laws will always stand even if they are not obeyed. As Christians, we now have faith unto righteousness…that’s what the Spirit teaches us by grace through faith we are saved- we know this through our religion believe it or not – the requirements set forth in the Word of GOD as we seek to understand HIm. There is nothing wrong with living by faith unto righteousness (sanctification)– that is why GOD came in the form of Jesus to SAVE US from our selfish flesh. I find, the context of this video reaches ready acceptance of its content to those believers who have an issue with submission to authority. Jesus is the authority. We follow God’s laws because we are saved not because God saved us – yes but we still follow God’s laws with faith unto righteousness. We follow God’s laws with faith unto righteousness because we are suppose to trust and obey, humbly as Christ did; commandments are just what they are commands by GOD. God’s son now makes what was impossible before, possible now. After saved, then what? LIVING SACRIFICE, that’s what Romans 12:1,2. At some point Christians need to internalize God’s Word pass John 3:16– there are 66 books in the work of the Holy Bible. I implore –those who have ears to hear and listen to the Spirit. God speaks through His Word and those who are pure in heart will see GOD and continue to seek him. It is our true religion. Amen.

      This video is an abuse of grace and a disgraceful and disservice to the spreading of the Gospel. IT’s an afront to everything Christ-like. Relationship comes from true religion and Jesus tells us what religion is in the new testament. Bethke does not mean “legalism”, he means “sin”. Replace religion with sin — all men are sinners even those sinners that are saved by grace tho’ we do not continue in sin. The living Word of GOD tells us how to cling to the Spirit in order to do this, tells us how to follow Jesus. With sin running rampant in this world and in our flesh, we cannot do this alone and the Spirit speaks through the Word of GOD. Bethke is telling us all to go into battle without our swords…and I don’t even think he knows it which is even more of a shame. But it is clear that the devil is sifting like wheat among the body of Christ. Hebrews 10:25,26+ speaks of the faithful believers through the spreading of false religion such as this. Jude and Revelation also speaks of false religion. I would do a study to compare Bethke’s thoughts in his video to that of the warnings in God’s word against false religion and ty to glean the difference. There is none except he is using the obvious for his acceptance speech- JESUS. Satan also comes as light…test the spirits, that is what God tells us through his word…test ALL spirits.

      I agree with every point in this article. I will try and return with a scriptural study breakdown at a later point. I would love to share this with my Ladies Discipleship Class. Narrow is the gate and strait is the way. Godspeed Zack Hunt — thank you so much for sharing brother in Christ. Understanding that God operates outside of our idea of time, these are the last days and Revelations needs to be consumed especially for the compromising churches. *please note: “church” takes on various meanings especially in the Spirit. EVERYONE shall give an account for themselves. The true church cannot be abolished, it is the living temple of everyone who believes, accepts, and follows Christ. Keep yours cleansed in repentance. Godspeed.

  • Grant

    I stopped reading at “Likewise, without Luther we’re all Roman Catholic. Not that that would be an awful thing.”

    That would be a horrible thing. Probably one of the worst things in history, shortly following Hitler’s Final Solution and the *cough* “holy” crusades.

    Luther, if you’re referencing correctly, brought about a fundamental shift in how people view the church. He proposed the idea that the church could be wrong, with glaringly specific examples.

    This line that you wrote, and hopefully proofread, implies that we should all go back to a time when some dude in a fancy hat ruled our lives because some mystical space hypocrisy gave him the “right”.

    To summarize my complaints succinctly you complain, no, whine about a YouTube video that points out problems in something you believe in. You fail to admit that anything is wrong, reacting much like small children do; ignoring the topic at hand in hopes of a loud distraction to take attention from yourself. You know all of the points made in the video are valid, but refuse to accept your ideology to be susceptible to error.

    For the sake of humanity, grow up. The world needs more independent minds capable of thinking for themselves, not more crusades.

    • Sarah

      Not to mention it was King Henry VIII that broke away from the catholic church first, not Martin Luther…

      • Angela Bultemeier

        what history class did you take? lol. sweetheart, Martin Luther preached in the 1500’s. he was ordained in 1507, and generated and acted upon his beliefs in 1517. King Henry the VIII did not begin his reign until 1509, and they only started thinking about religion after they got a hold of Luther’s writings which were smuggled into England. King Henry did not even make changes to religion in his reign until 1531.

        • Sarah

          Honey-pie, Martin Luther is known for publicly stating his dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church, however, King Henry VIII was the one who broke away from the Catholic Church and brought others along for the ride. Martin Luther did set it up for King Henry VIII, King Henry VIII broke away with a lasting effect.

          • LisaMarie

            Wow, Angela and Sarah, if you two count yourselves as Christians, I’m saddened by the way you’re writing to each other here. i’m pretty sure your uses of “sweetheart” and “honey-pie” were not meant in a kind way.

            Just because we’re hiding behind our computer screens does not mean it’s okay to be sarcastic and rude to one another…

    • Lydia

      Very well put grant. It’s very easy to get offended and pick apart everything about this video but I think that’s unfair and self righteous to do. I think it’s mature and healthy to take a look at ourselves and assess what we believe and why we do the things we do, where are our hearts in it all… Why can’t we just take this video with a grain of salt instead of completely blasting this guy for thinking outside the box? At least he is thinking for himself and not just going through the motions like a mindless robot. People who are legalistic like control and outside thinkers get deemed dumb or misinformed and simply put to the side, but I think he is simply trying to make sense of it all, and I think you proved his point by blasting him like this.

    • James

      Wrong Grant! The world needs more servants of truth and followers of Christ. Your last statement completely summarizes your previous ignorance. Stop thinking for yourself and read the bible bro. Your mind is flawed and broken. There is hope though.

      • Grant

        I don’t pretend to know more than I do, and often I admit myself to be wrong.
        That said, I am not a believer of your faith, despite having been raised in a Southern (U.S.) Lutheran church. Your comment seems to be an attempt to bait me into an empty argument, so I shall choose my words carefully and without malice.
        I would appreciate if you could point out a few things for me:

        1) Exactly why more people of your specific religion are what the world “needs”.

        2) How my response summarizes my ignorance.

        3) I have read your Bible. (Most of the Christians I have encountered vehemently demand it be capitalized) I have found glaring hypocrisy and double meanings throughout, and will not allow for the literal interpretation of one obscure part while another is allowed to be thought of only as an idea.

        4)I know I am not perfect, I accept there are areas in which I could better myself, this is how I improve as a person and how I intend to improve upon humanity. I hide not behind a veil of importance, no air of grandeur stains my appearance. I have not, and never will push my own beliefs upon others, I would appreciate if you could do the same.

    • Shirley Stoll

      Hey Grant, it is obvious you do not like the Catholic Church but the history part is a TRUTH of FACT.

    • http://everydayepistle.com Aimee

      The Luther dig bothered me too.

  • Zack

    Thank you all for the feedback. Positive or negative I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond.

    Thought I would try to clarify a couple of things….

    Sola Fide – I believe we are absolutely saved by faith alone, but it is the faith-fulness of Jesus’ actions (life/death/resurrection) and not our faith (by which we almost exclusively mean intellectual ascent) in the reality of his death and resurrection. Again, even the devil believes in the reality of these things. Does that mean Satan is “saved”? I think our role in our salvation is to accept or reject and live for Him or live for ourselves. This may seem to be a semantics issue, but I assure you it’s an incredibly important hair to split.

    Speaking of semantics…

    Several of you have noted that the word “religion” has come to have a different meaning than what we find in Webster’s. I think you’re right that in many circles it has become interchangeable with legalism and that this video does the same. However, I think his disdain for the formal, organized religion and the physical, institutional church is very clear, i.e. “Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?” That statement, among others, is not simply false, ignorant, and (if he attends church) hypocritical, it’s hateful.

    Frankly, and I rarely say this, I thought this video was incredibly offensive; particularly as someone whose life is deeply indebted to the religious institution called “church”.

    • Billy

      Perhaps there’s a deeper issue here than this video. If you don’t see the connection between his disdain for “religion” and legalistic, moralistic, self-righteous “Christianity,” that is your issue. To say that Jefferson is being hateful is simply untrue, and quite unfair. You don’t know his heart, and because he never, ever says that he holds hate for the Church, calling what he says hateful is totally uncool and inappropriate.

      My life has meaning, and I’ve heard about the saving love of Christ again and again at churches. I know that it hurts when the church is unfairly critiqued. But calling his words hateful because you disagree is just plain wrong, in my book.

    • JC

      Not to be “THAT” guy, but I think the Pharisees were probably just as offended by Christ… hmmmm. Yeah, they were. Just saying.

      • Traci

        Thank you for being “That Guy”. This whole thing is great. Loving all the posts.

      • James

        Wow JC! It’s amazing how you could display your biblical ignorance and immaturity in a two line comment. Read your bible bro. Read the article again. And then read your bible. Seriously. Trust me.

        • 42

          As a person briefly scanning the texts, I am saddened to see cheeky responses that seem to drip with sarcasm and bitterness. As Christians, I think we need to watch what we are saying on public forums.

          • LJ


    • JC

      If anything, Zack, your life should not be “deeply indebted to the religious institution called ‘church,'” but rather to Christ. For without Him, there is no purpose. The church is a group of people (albiet they are God’s people) who are still broken, sinful, and limited. Being “deeply indebted” to a group of people is dangerous. Find your purpose in Christ, not His “followers.” And I put followers in quotes because not everyone who attend church (the building you may visit on Sundays) are in THE church (the people of God in Jesus Christ). I am in THE church, my brother. I am like everyman. I WILL fail you. Christ will not. Your pastor, your friends, your small group leader, your wife (assuming you are married), your kids (assuming you have kids), your parents (obviously you had parents, you are here) will all fail you. I am not speaking out against church leadership or your family. I am just cautioning you being “deeply indebted” to people. Christ did any and all work in your life. He may have chosen to use people through the work of the Holy Spirit, but HE did the work. So please, be “deeply indebted” to Him and Him alone.

  • Robert

    I agree that so-called Christianity in the USA is far from the Christianity of Scripture. We have an ignorance among “believers” just what the Church truly is! The bride of Christ. The body of Christ. It is not the denominations or institutions that we call churches. the “Church” is made up of the Elect true believers that are saved Eph2:8 by grace alone through faith alone (Yes it is our faith, but it is a faith that has been given to us) I understand the faithfulness of Jesus to His Father saves us in the sense he fulfilled His fathers will and brought salvation, but in Rom 4 “Abraham believed God and he accounted it to him as righteousness.” Whether or not we have faith in Jesus He was still faithful, but only those that have faith in Jesus are truly saved.

    In continuance, we also need to get back to the truth of Evangelism. Evangelism is not becoming like the world, distancing ourselves from what people think of the ‘church’ and talking in new terms in order to reach people. Evangelism is not “Sharing Your Faith”, It is not telling people that “God Loves them”, It is not even living a good life before them. We live our lives before God and other will see our witness. True Evangelism is not sharing its declaring, and that is the problem. We are so afraid to offend people that we don’t tell them the truth about themselves or their condition before God. The Great Awakening came because the Holy Spirit convicted people of their wickedness through preachers who told them exactly what they are in God’s sight, We have fallen into Wall Street mentality that if you want to catch flies you have to use honey, but in God’s way if you want to catch souls, you have to tell them the truth. The bible says in Rom 3:10-18 that we are totally corrupt. Rom 10 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (In case you haven’t noticed, Romans gives you the perfect outline for evangelism. Romans 1:18-3:20 Man is wicked, corrupt and under the wrath of God. Romans 3:21-11 Man is saved by Faith and what is that faith. Romans 12-15 How then shall we live?) Man must come to the same view that God has of himself in order to come to the point “Sirs, What must I do to be saved?” We preach gospel without truth and the Holy Spirit does not inhabit that falsehood, which leads us to the next…

    With regarding the Church, this is the reason why we are afraid to be associated with the ‘church’ and why people have a bad view of what the church is. We call people Christian when they are not, even though they may have said that prayer, the Holy Spirit did not “REGENERATE” “BORN-AGAIN” their hearts, and they live like heathens mon – sat, and go to church on sunday. Proof: If the US was 75% Christian like they profess to be we would NOT have legalize abortion in this country, because every time the vote came up it would be 75 against 25 for. Why? because God hates abortion, and so should Christians. We need to go back to Bible truth. Salvation = New Man, New Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit lives inside the Christian, and Eph 5 says this is the fruit “Evidence” of the Spirit “Love, Joy, Peace….”

    This brings forth the next discussion on legalism. Legalism = Working for Salvation. Legalism = Working to maintain salvation, but the bible says “Good Works” are “evidences” that you have truly been saved, and these evidences flow forth from a heart that has been changed.

    So we have 1. a Wrong definition of the Church 2. A wrong idea of evangelism 3. and a wrong idea of legalism. This is all because we do not study God’s Word and We do not Know Who God Is!

    We declare people who have prayed a prayer to be saved, they go out, they act like the world or worse, and give all true believers a bad name. Proof: There is just as much divorce inside the church as out of the church. Proof: There is just as much pre-marital sex inside the church as outside.

    Forgive my long-winded post, but you do not have to be a prophet too see why we have people who make videos like this, and it is the reason why persecution is coming and must come to the ‘church’ in America, because it separates all true believers from those who pay lip-service but their hearts are far from Him.

    There was a large church group in Africa, and one week a group of soldiers came before them and told them that any who came to church next week would all be killed. A week later a small group of people showed up for church, fearful of what might happen but trusting in God. Sure enough halfway through the worship service, the men came into the church and stood up at the front with their guns as they did the week before. They looked at the small group and then the leader said to the Pastor “Pastor, know you know who are the true believers in your church and they left.”

    God Bless

    • JC

      Well written!!!

    • James

      Robert, man, I don’t have time to comment on all you said, but this platform of why people don’t want to be associated with the church or have a bad view of the church is getting so tired bro.

      The reason people have a bad view of the church is because they don’t know the truth. That’s it. End of story. You want people to have a good view of the church, then they must know the word of God. They must understand the Bridegroom to understand His bride.

      Do you really think that if we were to radically modify our behavior, (which we should for His glory), that people would say, “oh wow, I love the church now, I was blind and I hated Christ and His bride, I didn’t want to be associated with her, and was ashamed of her, but now I love her!”

      Give me a break man. The reason the world and even so called “Christ followers” don’t love the church was, is, and always will be because they don’t love her Bridegroom.

    • David LaDow

      The main thrust of this blog entry seems quite apropos. In spite of whatever differences there may be between the author’s and the video’s understanding of the term “religion,” it still seems that the video caters to a form of Christianity that has more in common with contemporary American individualism than with the 1st century Church. The sense of identity that one would have had in the 1st century was not primarily as an individual, but as a member of a community, tribe, people group, etc. To promote an idea, therefore, wherein one can have a full personal relationship with Yeshua, and that apart from real fellowship in a community of his followers, would have been foreign to the earliest Christians.

  • Tara

    He came to save us from our sin. The law (10 commandments) is a mirror to show us how we fall short of His glory. The Law does not save us…only shows us our sinfulness. We are only saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not by works – so that anyone can boast.
    Yes, believe. Put your faith in Him. But following Him is the thing – the ‘religion’ if you want to say it that way…but when we ‘take up or cross’ we begin to live our lives more and more as the Law would intend us. Not out of bitterness – but Joy and with gladness and with an obedient heart to our new Master. The one who bought us with a price!

  • Pingback: (Its ok To Critique) Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus « Let's Talk About It.()

  • http://www.arewa-aid.org Brad Blake

    I think that audience, balance, and context are certainly issues that require reflection here. The video’s speaker obviously produced this out of some brokenness both through self-infliction and religious baggage. The idea that the video plays into the American Jesus is certainly appreciated having spent 7 years in northern Nigeria. Nevertheless, contextualization is critical in our assessment of the effectiveness, impact, and overall value. The seasoned theologian will poke holes through this clip but the seeker whose experience with Christian faith was less-than-ideal will find this worthwhile. If this draws some into fellowship, then we should praise God for uses clay pots such as the me, the speaker, and you.

  • Dave

    If you continue to hate anything while saying you love Jesus and grace, then your logic is flawed. Didn’t Jesus teach us to show grace and love to others as he did? The video was wrong from the title onward.

  • max

    Garbage…..the video was much better, I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this…

    I hope that video reaches everyone.

    • ben

      The video has good intentions, as does the author of the article. It really is asinine to call the article garbage. Which points out a bit of “religiosity” and judgment on your part… Just sayin’

    • James

      I’m guessing you’re not much of a thinker are you Max? The writer of this articles statements were well thought out, biblically based, and seemingly carefully written.

      Your comment on the other hand seems like something a child would yell at his mother as he’s slamming his door. Bravo buddy. Bravo.

  • Alex Madlinger

    Grant, you’re kind of a jerk.

    • Lori

      I liked what Grant had to say. Go Grant!

  • Sarah

    Like he says in the video, he is religious, and religion is necessary, but I think he is saying that we should focus more on Jesus as our savior, and not on following the stipulations of the religious culture that has been created. And he did come to “abolish religion”, just not in such a poetic word. In those times he came to be the ultimate sacrifice, in place of the animal sacrifices that surrounded the Jewish religion. So, in other words, he came so that we can focus on Himself and God instead of spending our time with the rituals and rules in order to participate in sacrifices.

    In today’s world, it means that instead of filling our time being sure to go to church, reading the bible for hours a day, and donating our money to the church (although these all bring us closer and make our relationship with Him stronger) and instead go outside the confines of the church wall to let others know what He is all about.

  • JC

    Totally disagree with the assessment of the video. The points the author makes are quite ignorant and reveal that he hasn’t really thought much on the topic.

    His first point about targets… The idea of religion is still a man-made concept. Christ DID NOT come to create a new religion. His claim about the Bible being a product of religion is absolute RUBBISH. He completely disregards that while it was written by men, it was God that used the men to write it. Not a religious system. In this case, then, we should have nothing to do with the Bible, because we cannot trust it for it is a religious text, not a divinely inspired text.

    His second point. We CAN separate Jesus from the religious community and He WILL stay intact. The very relationial nature of Jesus DOES make it about “me.” The whole point of His life, death, ressurrection was about restoring ME (YOU) to GOD. There is no idolatry here. I DO own Jesus. He is mine. I am His. The church owns Jesus, and He DOES own the church. Yet, we cannot forget what the church is… something our author has done a good job in overlooking with a few of the remaining points.

    Point three: Yeah, He did oppose legalism. Of course He did. Yet, the claim of the author in that Christ was in favor of religion needs to be reassessed. Fulfill means to complete, right? Abolish means to put to death. Similar meanings, but different. Yet, Jesus completed the religiosity of the Jews. The “rock” Jesus refered to was His truth. The church to be built is not an organization, but an organism made of PEOPLE. Not ideas, concepts, or principles. PEOPLE, NOT FACTS, as the video clearly stated.

    Point 4: Martin Luther??? Give me a break. He was one of several men in seperate movements. There was Calvin, Zwingli, and many others during that time. There is nothing wrong with the “institutional church” except when it becomes void in light of the PERSONAL RELATIONAL side of Christ. The church is a living organism, remember? Not a system of belief, ideas, principles.

    Point 5: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 best answers this. GRACE THROUGH FAITH ALONE! Right there! Also, religion is baseless, emotionless, callous rules and facts. Relationship is what needs to be the driving force for “behavior modification.” If you are close to someone and loved them, wouldn’t you do pretty much anything to make them happy and pleased to know you? Christ’s only rules, “Love God, love people; and share His message.” (Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 28:18-20)

    Point 6: He is taking the video a little too far here for the sake of hyperbole. All the activities listed fall under the important roles of church life: fellowship, worship, instruction, discipleship, evangelism. Remember the church is a living thing… not lifeless. Or at least it is supposed to be.

    Point 7: I am just going to ignore this point altogether. LOL

    In his conclusion, he says that the church is a religious community. Again, he is wrong. THE CHURCH IS AN ORGANISM LIVING THING. Never was supposed to be a relgious community. Christ never intended to create a religious system, but to create a relationship between God and man. A relationship to bring transformation to humanity from the inside out. Religious thought very much focuses on the outside picture and never really diving much to the inner soul.

    SO ROCK ON VIDEO! (Which I think the purpose of is not to create a theology on the internet, but to at least get peope thinking and talking… so I guess it did it’s job! LOL)

    • Mary

      Exactly, Alex! Amen, and amen!

    • James

      Haha, this is incredible, I’ve never seen anything like this! You are literally wrong in EVERYTHING you said. I mean, more than you know bro. You’re biblically wrong, you’re historically wrong, you’re culturally wrong, you’re definitively wrong.

      I’m amazed that you would write this to dispute the writer’s claims, and almost everything you said supports him because it’s so blatantly obtuse!

      I’d love to have a conversation with you about literally EVERYTHING you said, and find out who taught you this. Wow

      • 42

        This is rather unfortunate. Calling out someone as ignorant is not humble.

      • JC

        Actually, I have a seminary education. So thank you for being encouraging.

        I do have to ask, however. How am I biblically, historically, culturally, and definitively wrong? Because it is one thing to tell someone they are wrong, but it is a totally different thing to show them their error. I am an open book. Perhaps I may be wrong, but until I am given a clear case as to what specifically is in error, I stand by what I have said.

    • Jannie


      I THINK you might find this article about the Jesus hates Religion video more valid.


      • JC

        Jannie! This was good, thank you for sharing. I think the author of THIS (meaning the link) article actually makes a much stronger case than the author of THIS (meaning the existing article) post.

    • http://everydayepistle.com Aimee

      I had the similar thoughts about the argument that Bible being a product of religion. The Bible is a product of God’s gracious gift to us of His Word. It was written by many different human authors inspired by God.

  • Alex Madlinger

    Also, I’d have to take some issue with point five in light of Paul’s preaching which, although Jesus obviously couldn’t have said it like Paul, Jesus would (I think) affirm: That absolute loyalty in Jesus and belief in his resurrection from the dead is the grounds of our (present) justification. Those who are now justified will most certainly say ‘Yes’ to Jesus’ judgment questions at the end of the age and thus be finally vindicated.

  • Adam L.

    I think you are wrapped up deep in the organized church system and anything speaking out against what you’ve grown up in will offend you. I grew up in the church, spent years in ministry and serving and giving everything I had for “the church”
    You claim people are not getting a clear understanding of history, or the new testament, but you yourself need to get acquainted with the history of the church. I encourage you to read “pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola. It will challenge you in multiple ways, and open your eyes to how many followers of Christ (myself being one) are feeling these days.It has a detailed history of the early church as well as how many things that the organized church does are not what the early followers of Christ intended for us at all.
    The organized church is not what the apostles are referring to in the new testament, in any way. Check out the book!
    I’m not trying to come across as a jerk, I’m just extremely passionate about my beliefs, and the things I’ve been learning.

  • Bill

    Sorry Zack but I can’t take anyone seriously who dresses Jesus up like Unle Sam and then has the audacity to criticize someone else. Your page and your comments are laughable.

  • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

    At least we can all agree that it’s bad poetry, right? That’s something that reaches across the aisle!

  • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

    I took a different angle, a sort of sympathetic reappropriation instead of critique. Here it is: http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/why-i-hate-doctrine-but-love-jesus-response-to-a-similarly-named-video/

  • max

    Why is everyone getting butt hurt over this video? He’s expressing his views, haven’t you heard of freedom of speech? Apparently millions agree as do I. Instead of shoving religion down people’s throats, let them decide.

  • Andy B.

    Zack – I may not agree with all the points made here, but excellent work sir.

  • SBC

    I think this is a good assessment of the video. I read your article before watching the video. I believe the video is cracking down on legalism and corruption today’s churches may be facing.

    I firmly believe in the role of the Church and the institution of it as described in Acts.

    Behavior modification? Our actions and works are produced naturally due to the salvation experience. Jesus has saved us from our lives of sin and brought us into a new life, one apart from sin. We are still able to sin but are aware of the choice not to and practice that, by his power. Isn’t transformation due to the Holy Spirit. How can one say they are saved, transformed, and living the Christian life without changes in their behavior? I’ve struggled with this myself for years. Accepting Jesus Christ when I was a teenager strung out on drugs/alcohol, I stopped those as they were harmful towards my relationship with Jesus Christ, but also harmful towards those who I worshipped and served alongside, and those who haven’t yet come to the Lord. Was I told to be a Christian, I had to not do these things, no. While I was yet in sin, Christ died for me.

    As for owning Jesus, not possible. The created can not own the Creator. Now idols, you can own those easily, make them whatever you like. As owner you have power to change and manipulate based on your needs and desires.

  • Shawn Few

    Holy Cow Zack, you can bloviate almost as good as Alec Baldwin. That goes for the rest of you too. Full disclosure, are you not a paid employee of the “CHURCH”? Zack, I find you to be a religious bomb thrower. Your Uncle Sam Jesus makes this clear. You spend countless hours tearing down various forms of religion (or religious acts, & yes some are ridiculous) for your own amusement. Sad. Yours in prayer. Molitov Cocktail

  • Daniel

    Sorry man but you need a history lesson in the wars portion. The American Revolution was rooted in religious freedom. It’s flaunted all the time by churches so I don’t reall know how you missed that. The civil war not religious? Those on the side of the north were quite often fueled by religious thoughts that slaves deserved freedom and those in the south were and ARE deeply religious. As for the World War II, you have made a GROSS misquote in saying it was not fueled by religion. Hitler believed himself to be cleansing the earth for the arayan race in the name of what religion? OH YEAH. Christianity. Religion causes war A LOT. Don’t try and downplay it dude.

    PS I think this video is GREAT and exactly what a church living in luxery and denial needs to hear.

    • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

      The American Revolution was rooted in religious freedom? I supposed the founding fathers wanted to break from the Church of England so they could… go to Anglican churches here in America? And of course there’s that famous quote, “no religion without representation,” right?

      The Civil War wasn’t about religion either. While there were those in the North who opposed slavery on religious grounds, the South was the one who started the war (remember that whole secession thing?), and a large number of people in the North couldn’t have cared less about freeing the slaves. Even Lincoln only freed the slaves in the South as a way of crippling their economy during the war.

      WW2 was a culmination of a lot of things, including a preexisting Japan-China war, the rise of facism in Italy, and a lot of leftover resentment from WW1. Hitler believed in German racial and national superiority, not Christian superiority, and in fact he was antagonistic towards the Church and believed Christianity a religion for slaves.

  • Ruth

    The dude in the video is essentially right. These days, Religion is very different to Christianity and the church. The guy in the video in no way dismisses the church. As most people living in the real world (I know too many Christians living in a bubble) would agree, the word “religion” carries a lot more weight than the dictionary definition.

    I don’t believe the guy in the video at all meant what you took him to mean. He loves the church, loves God, loves the bible, believes in sin, but hates religion. Our relationship with God is living, not dictated by religious traditions.

  • http://nickrynerson.com Nick Rynerson

    Thank you SO much for this post. I am glad to see that there are a good many believers out there willing to question the theological validity of some of evangelicalism’s sacred catchphrases.

    I wrote a post on this EXACT issue about four months ago. Crazy how it’s popping up again. I think it goes right along with this:


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  • Helen

    The reason why I liked the video: it was simple and got to the point. This blog, while it makes some good points, and all of it’s comments have just complicated love that should just be simple.

  • http://joshsdavies.blogspot.com Davies

    i think that what Jeff was trying to do was give an introductory to Jesus; not a theological, doctrinal, pragmatic, exegetical, homiletical, and complete work of Jesus’ role in the world and in Christianity. There were things that made me scratch my head in the video, but for the most part, he had good points. Ultimately, the point that he was trying to drill home is that Jesus is about relationships. Jesus loves sinners. Jesus saves sinners where they currently are (and then he sanctifies with the whole faith/works paradox). Jesus loves people, not institutions. Jesus loves the church because she is his bride, not because she is pretty with all of her programs and temples. Jesus loves you. Jesus loves us, period. I think the video was incomplete, but not heretical. Many of the things in that blog were just way to much for a critique of a Youtube video that was made as an introductory to make people think and talk. I think if someone sat down and talked with the guy, a bunch of this would be cleared up easily. Can a personal relationship with Jesus be deemed a religion? Of coarse. He’s just trying to show in different words that this religion is the only true one and that its very different than any other system.

    He has other videos out… have you watched them?


  • Brittany

    Natalie, Nathan S., & JewelsChohan: You all are awesome. I totally agree with your points, not the author’s.

    Billy, Grant, and JC: PREACH IT!! So good. Seriously. I want to give you all hugs. (JC, your last post was EXACTLY what I was thinking!)

    May God work in the hearts of all who see the video to have a TRUE RELATIONSHIP with HIM, and not fall into religion.

    ps. Bethke goes to Mars Hill Church (Mark Driscoll’s church). It is also my church when I visit Seattle (where I used to live) and Driscoll is good friends with my pastor, James MacDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel). Let me just say Bethke is learning from a church that backs up everything they preach with biblical evidence and does not take the Word out of context.

  • Lori

    I read through all of these comments, trying to make sure I didn’t step up onto a soap box already spoken from. But has no one else noticed your obvious misquoting of scripture? The demons don’t believe in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They simply believe there is a God and they are afraid of Him, as well they should be.

    Your denial of the “salvation by faith” thing has already been addressed, so I won’t go there, but another awful misuse of scripture. Having said that, I MUST point out, for believers, our works are not our own. They are the deeds that were prepared by God for us to complete. He is, after all, the “author and finisher of our faith.”

    Oh and just a few flyby thoughts, we are heirs with Christ, and he GAVE that to us. There’s no way to earn the acceptance of God. That is why my Jesus is mine and the forgiveness He gave me is mine.

    Your sentimental statement that Jesus didn’t “call anyone fools for being religious.” Really? Matthew has a very bold (and most likely pretty righteously angry) Jesus telling the Pharisees that they take a convert and make him “twice the son of hell as themselves.” I understand that you know Jesus didn’t agree with the Pharisees, but what were those Pharisees teaching that convert? DO. DO. DO. The Jews were already God’s chosen people. God was supposed to be the only God they served. The religiosity they chose to serve instead created divide between the Jews and the rest of the world, the gentiles. God chose them to tell a lost world about the One True God. Instead they created a religion to devote themselves to and outcast those who weren’t “good enough.” That, my friend, is the problem with taking God’s Word and making it into a religion. The “Church” is supposed to be those who have been set apart from this world… having been saved from their sins. It’s a sad reality that the world (and you) can’t tell the difference between an invisible Church and an all too visible religion loosely based upon Biblical principles.

  • Leah

    Do people not know that CHURCH is meant to be the people of Christ NOT a building? Not an organized institution?

    Why did you apologize for the post… but post it anyway?

    Like others have said, you have CLEARLY misunderstood the context of this video. The youth of this nation will be the generation that reaches the world, not the generation before us.

    Because of this video, my ATHEIST friend wanted to know CHRIST. Even if Jesus through this video saved just ONE, that’s all that matters. This video is reaching the world unlike many people who show up every Sunday to sit in the pews to feel good about themselves, walk out like nothing happened, and then come back the next Sunday repeating the same routine over and over.

    People are afraid of church because no one is really honest with themselves. We act like we have it all together. We need to start being open about the sins we struggle with and lift each other up instead of staring people out of the church when we realize they’ve had an affair!

  • M

    I know Jeff. I remember when he was working on this poem. It was never meant to be a doctrinal dissertation; he just wanted to write about grace in a way that college students would connect with (he first presented it a few months ago at Pacific Lutheran University to a group of 50 or so students.) If he had known that theologians would be going over it with a fine tooth comb, he might have changed a few things- he’s no moron, he knows his theology. But it wasn’t written for the intellectuals, and people should interpret it as such.

    • James

      “But it wasn’t written for the intellectuals”. Gotcha, well that explains everything M! Had we known this video was just written for imbeciles then those of us who think things through and examine what’s being said would have just moved on.

      • M

        Haha! Well, I would assume that you use a different tone for your kids than you do for your professors. If asked why the sky is blue, do you REALLY say to your three year old, “The sky isn’t blue, it merely appears blue to the naked human eye due to molecules in the air that scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light”? No? If yes, I’d say parenting classes might help. :) And if no, apparently audience DOES matter for message. :)

        • 42

          Thank goodness someone tackles the “who was the intended audience” question. Theological issues matter, but areas like “who was this made for” and “who is going to watch this video” and “what is the actual information given in the video” are also important questions to tackle as well. Was this video a marketing scheme? I do not think so. Was it a sound intellectualized production piece? Or intended to be one? I don’t know.

  • Drew

    I think what the guy in the video was getting at is more-so legalism, not religion as it’s defined here. I think he was making the point that sometimes the church gets so caught up in following rules and looking good that it fails to actually do good and make a difference in other people’s lives. And that’s a timeless thought that everyone can use a good reminder of from time to time.

    • Collin

      totally agree, the title of the video doesn’t accurately depict what he’s getting at.

  • Collin

    Thank for providing some excellent points in response to this viral video, and it is a video that I fail to understand the appeal. The video essentially has very little information, functioning more like an advertisement trying to spin the popular, but incorrect, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” He goes further by stating that, “I hate religion.” So now we are very concerned, and we find out that he has paid attention to the power brokers on 5th Avenue and understands that facts don’t need to get in the way of a good message. Because the creator of the video fails badly at defining anything he says, we are left to fill in the blanks and make assumptions about his definition of religion. Interestingly, how can one “hate religion” when the doctrinal assumptions stated are rooted in a religious movement that occurred 1500 years after Christ ascended into heaven?

    Honestly, this video would be cute shown on a projector screen on Sunday morning in a reformed, coffee-drinking hipster church while every waits to get spoon fed a word from God, but a broader public simply needs more information to understand what in Hades this guy is trying to communicate.

  • Will

    I know the guy who helped record this video. It is important to note that he DID mean that you can’t have religion(legalism) separated from Jesus.

  • http://majorhillman.com Major Hillman

    I agree completely. Thank you for the post. I had the same feeling after watching the video, but didn’t know how to explain it well.

  • Erica

    Thank you so much for writing this! I was searching for something that explained things like this after I first saw the video and I am so glad somebody wrote it up! Sharing with my friends… Since 95% of them have posted the video. Lol

  • Collin

    While i agree with many points being made from both the video and this critique of it, I think you (Zack) need to widen your definition of religion.

    To say the revolutionary war had absolutely nothing to do with religion is just stupid. Dealing an absolute anywhere is usually a bad idea. Also, world war 2 and the nazi party parading around under beliefs of a superior race isn’t religious? What made them superior in the eyes of those who believed it? Obviously it was believed a higher power granted them that superiority.

    Also, (again this is nitpicking at how literal you’re taking what he’s saying) “violence” could be substituted for “war” in the video. I believe he’s just trying to make the point that religion and a blind following of it in any form has caused much violence in history, and to refute that would be absolutely moronic, that being said the point being made about religion starting “violence” or “war” is pretty mute because there are many institutions that cause violence and singling out religion isn’t very fair or helpful to the argument.

    Now for my own opinion. I am “a product of the american educational system”, which you clearly and briefly opposed, but i am also a product of a complete submersion in christianity for 18 years, which i now openly oppose. To get into why i feel this way would take up more time that any of us have, but i feel the negatives of religion heavily outweigh the positives. Sure, all religion isn’t bad. You know what i’m talking about. The stupid, ignorant, bible freaks like Bachmann and all the other stupid cows who prance around on their high horses with a bible in one hand and a fucking gun in the other. People all too often use religion as a crutch and an excuse to justify any flaws that could be pointed out in their actions. “Yeah i did this bad thing but i’m a christian” or “the bible says under the book of blah blah verse blah blah that we can do this one bad thing if blah blah is happening at this certain point of time because jesus blah blah fucking blah.” Its idiotic and it doesn’t deserve a place in civilized discourse.

    I enjoyed the critique and i agree that the video is hypocritical and has some very big plot-holes, but i feel a critique of the critique is in need as well.

  • Fer

    I love the video… I don’t like this post.

  • Pastor Joe

    Let me rephrase….God hates. religion which is based on cleaning the outside of the cup instead of the inside. Jesus said the religious proletariat of His day like mine are like a grave that is painted white….it is a pretty looking grave that is dead on the inside. The church is a group or body of true believers who should gather in His name on any day they choose for accountability purposes. But the true unadulterated way to worship or hear from God is in our prayer closet…which is with our hearts bent before God with our bibles open without the need for a filter for mans deceitfully wicked hearts and intents.Jesus told the woman at the well not to worship on this mountain or that place but to worship in Spirit and Truth. America needs a biblical revival to get back to big local truth….that is why this country was formed….to flee hypocritical religion and those that in Gods name told others how they should live. Just read Gods Word it is our teacher thru the Holy Spirit….for it says we have no need of a teacher on this earth if we have the Spirit of God leading us with the blood of Jesus on the doorposts of our hearts. Only once in the bible is religion mentioned and it references providing and helping widows and orphans which is a result of God getting us outside ourselves and esteeming others more importantly than ourselves.

  • Diane

    Great conversation and comments. However, I respectfully disagree with the author of this blog post on one item. He states that possibly some women wrote the Bible. No women wrote the books of the Bible. We know who wrote each book and none of them are men.

    • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

      We don’t really have much of an idea who wrote a lot of the Old Testament. Could have been women. At the very least women in the Old Testament Jewish culture may have been the ones who would have passed down the oral histories of their people to their children, and their children, and so on, leading to those oral histories being written down in the form of the OT historical books.

  • Michael

    It is interesting that the man that wrote this took the video out of context and has some skewed beliefs. Let me first expand the definition of religion, instead of just posting the parts that pertain to my point. “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Now after reading the whole definition, is Christianity really a religion? Is it really about creation? Is it really about devotion? Is it really about observing rituals? And keeping a moral code? No where in that definition does it leave room for a relationship with our creator. That definition is clearly about what we do for God and has nothing to do with what God has done for us. That is why Christianity is so radically different than all religions. It says God wrapped himself in flesh and came to die so that we could join with him. Not the other way around, which is expressed by this word, religion.
    I cant believe a man who considered himself a Christian would even write but back to my second point. There is only one form of religion accepts. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Nowhere in the bible does it ever use the word religion or religious positively. But this author disagrees. He thinks that religion has done more good than bad yet has no biblical proof for that. He calls the church religion/religious..Its NOT it’s a family gathering to worship and praise and grow closer to God! Again all about relationship nothing about moral code of conduct.
    Without religion there is no Bible. Really? Without religion there are no words from God. Jesus is called the WORD at the beginning of John. So according to this guy without our “holy religious ways” we would not have Jesus. Really? Okay maybe we can just ask God when we meet Him if He could have created the Scriptures without us.
    Religion says what can I do to please God? What can I do to get God to love me? To accept me? The answer is nothing. Isaiah 64:6 says “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” The literal translation for filthy rags is “menstrual rags”. Grossed out? Good because that is what our righteous/religious acts are. We cant earn God’s love. He already loves us. We just have to accept that love. Now it was written “faith without works is dead”, 100% true (it’s God’s word). That means if we have faith in Jesus and we see that Jesus Christ loves us even though we produce nothing but dirty tampons, then that means that you will love those in need. You will love those who need help. You will love those religious wing-nuts who think that without religion God cannot work. Jesus loves us and if we accept that love than that means we will outwardly show it. We do not do good so that God will love us. We do good because God does love us.
    Jesus hates religion because religion produces traditions that are not scriptural. Jesus never did like the traditional rules of Judiasm therefore He was not a devote Jew. He was a Jew by birth but not a religious Jew. Doesn’t that sound weird? Jesus was a religious Jew. It sounds weird because its wrong. Jesus drank alcohol (He was called a drunkard by the religious people) and He ate food that was not traditionally acceptable to Jews (glutton). He was not devote to their religion, He was devote to His Father!
    I could write more but I think my point has been made. Jesus does hate religion because being religious is a sin. Following some moral code of conduct and walking through some rituals is not what Christianity is all about. The word Christianity actually came from a group in Antioch that called the group of people that were crazy about Jesus Christ, Christians. The Bible actually likes to use the word Saints instead of Christian (saints is used over 60 times and Christians is used twice). Saints means, “collective body of those who are righteous in God’s sight”. Why would we be called righteous? Because Jesus died for us and made us righteous! It was nothing we did or our man made religion.

    • http://www.joshshope.com Josh

      Jesus wasn’t a devout Jew? Is that why people called him Rabbi and he was allowed to teach in The Temple? Maybe he won a raffle to be able to get up and teach.

      • Kurt

        Um Michael, can you show me in the New Testament or Old Testament where specifically religion is called/claimed/described a sin as you so adventurously state in your last paragraph?

  • http://I'mabitoutsidethestatedtargetdemographic,but... Atmospheric

    I found more truth than not in the video. The real problem I see with religion is that while it starts with the divine, as soon as man lays hold of it, it begins to die as man’s sinful nature corrupts it by piling ever more rules on top of what was originally given. Brick by manmade brick it soon becomes an exercise in who can follow the rules more precisely, not live out their faith by doing the next right thing God would have us do. However, the person of Jesus is incorruptible. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is this relationship with the risen Christ upon which everything rests. Just to clarify, I take issue with many things in the video, but I think the spirit of what he’s trying to articulate is (sadly) largely true. Also, “hate” is a word that I try not to use in any context.

  • Jo

    I love Jeff’s video. No arguments necessary, this is all about what we personally interpret ‘religion’ to be. We don’t all have to be right! :)

  • http://www.arnizachariassen.com/ithinkibelieve Arni Zachariassen

    About that war thing. I completely agree: Religion is not a great starter of war. It’s a big myth of our society that it is.

    I would add to that that the individualistic and anti-institutional form of Christianity Bethke is promoting is probably a worse stopper of wars than institutional Christianity is and has been. If everyone is going around trying to be all authentic about their relationship with Jesus all the time, it’s difficult to for a common voice of protest against the wars our governments fight. It’s also more difficult to get in touch with those voices of the past who can teach us to resist war. The lack of problems a lot of Evangelical Christianity has had, on both sides of the ponds, with the recent wars in the Middle East are good examples of this, I think.

    I’m sure there are Catholics out there quite annoyed that modern Catholicism is becoming so “Protestant” and individualistic that when the Pope declared the Iraq war “unjust”, no one cared. Specifically, the Catholics fighting in our allied forces didn’t. If they had a stronger institutional spirit, fighting would at least have become a problem for them.

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  • Ry

    I don’t have time to respond to this whole article but you make some good points Zack. However, those points you made only attack a straw man. Almost everything in this article claims to know what Benthke believes, but in reality, Benthke never said half the things you claim.

  • Larry

    Point number 2 is a huge problem for the church. I have attended church(s) for over 50 years and the church has always (as far back as I can remember) “made Jesus into what they wanted (needed) Him to be. This is NOT a new problem. It is a human nature problem that was around even in Jesus time. The Jews had made God into what they wanted (needed) Him to be. Churches need to set aside their dogma, rules and traditions and get back in touch with just two things. 1) What Jesus said, and 2) What Jesus did, or how He treated people. That is the only thing that will put any church back on track. P.S. I have not attended church for the past 6 years.

  • Kyle

    I just saw the video last night, and even before I watched it I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I didn’t know exactly what my reasons for that were, but after reading this I know why. Thanks for posting.

  • Peter

    Here’s the thing – no matter how much you deconstruct videos like this and no matter how right you may or may not be, you’d be doing a lot more good for the world if you didn’t spend your time dissecting religious arguments that deal with concepts that are OPEN FOR INTERPRETATION and just spent your time out in the world doing good things and being a good person, in the name of helping humanity and not under the guise of a specific set of rules that some may or may not take to be true. No one cares what your faith is when you’re busy just being a good person instead, and that’s how it should be.

    • http://pulp-truth.com PulpTruth94


    • Kurt

      Peter, your response is a thinly veiled ad-homonym attack on the author. How do you know the author ISN’T doing good things in the world outside of this article? Sad to say, but you’re also wrong in mentioning that no-one cares about your faith. EVERYBODY cares about other peoples faith. You choose your friends, people you trust, where you work, etc. with some inclination about the other people’s faith. Where it lines up, mimics and or shares similar values to your own, you gravitate towards, it’s human nature and inescapable.

  • http://pulp-truth.com PulpTruth94

    This article is just another denomination of Christian trying to discredit another. The fact that this article goes after a successful viral video preaching the love of Jesus is hate filled.

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  • Marcus Bell-Winston

    Good article up to point 5. I would seriously pray and seek God concerning your understanding of the gospel, church history, Matt.25, before you say your brother’s theology is off-based

    Though there are few minor things I disagree with in the spoken word video it’s nothing compared to point 5 in this article. In fact, it contridicts everything you wrote and ends of making the real point of the video. Salvation is not by works and will always be by faith alone. Luther didn’t come up that but the apostle Paul guided by the Holy Spirit (the Forgotten God ) in Eph. 2:8-9.

    • http://pulp-truth.com PulpTruth94


  • John Gourley

    Zack Hunt just wants to get publicity. Though the “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video isn’t all true, there is a lot of that he probably sees in himself and does not want to accept it. So, he created a long post so he feels better amount himself. Well, Zack Hunt, you’re an idiot.

  • Leann Horne

    I think this guys is trying to win the lost! Theology comes later! So many people don’t come to Christ because of this very type of artical. Are we more concerned about theology than the lost comeing to Christ? Jesus is LOVE! The lost will know HIM by our love for them.

  • Isaiah61:3

    I think his post was more targeted to those who think they can achieve salvation by a to do list or the idea that they have to change their behavior before Jesus will accept them. The message meant to be delivered is that all those things come after a true salvation once we have the holy spirit in us. Notice that he says “don’t get me wrong, I love church and I love the Bible.” The reality is that if one person stops in their tracks to seek Jesus because of this, so be it. The gospel does speak of behavior modification but that can only come from us seeking the Lord and seeking to please him. Some are called to preach like Paul with boldness and to the Gentiles… everyone has a different calling.

  • Caleb Rivera

    Well … Religion is not bad in and of it’s self.and in the words of Jesus him self! James 1;27
    Says pure religion is looking after orphans and widows in distress and to abstain from being polluted by the world! paraphrasing. I think that todays Christianity is equal to a rebellious son that felt like he was over sheltered. then when he come of age he had to do it his way the prodigal son is an exilent comparison. Jesus is the father. the older son who was obedient still lacked understanding of his place also,because he did not know that he had the liberty in his fathers house. also they both had a different perspective.but the one who wanted total liberty fell hard on his butt.the other son on the other hand was a little to proud to see that he was free in practicing Good religion. anyway I would not remove the old boundary lines placed by our for fathers of faith but I would encourage those who seek a deeper truth to dig deeper into the character Of Christ.Jesus said if you love me you will do what I say! thank you.

  • Jebediah

    You are confusing the free gift of salvation (once saved always saved) with the reward of the kingdom (the millennial kingdom here physically on Earth).

    Therefore your post is invalid.

  • http://www.macholara.com Macho

    This was nothing short of “amazing.” I probably have to chew through a great deal of this in my own life.

    I didn’t see this as you “attacking” anyone. I believe you were, hands-down, right on target with at least making us question where we get what we believe.


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  • J

    You can tear this whole thing apart if you want, but you are looking at it from the wrong perspective and not hearing what he is talking about. He is not talking about religion as it looks in the New Testament, with the church actually fulfilling their desting as the bride of Christ and drawing others into the heart of the Father with their actions. He is talking about the religious spirit that is flooding American Churches. So many people sit in pews every Sunday, sing a few songs, hear a good message and leave never feeling fulfilled or satisfied. And that is because the Christian “religion” has boiled down to a list of things to do and not do, like he talks about with the behavior modification. He is talking about so many churches where people never experience the freedom in worshiping the Father in so many different ways because they will be judged if they sing too loud, dance in the aisle, or cry out the the God who has given them everything. He is not bashing the churches and the organizaition of Christianity, he is acknolwedging that many people are simply Christians because they agree with the morals, or had a really cool experience once but they never fall in love with Jesus and therefore do not understand what they are called to do. Because of this non-Christians witness many “Christians” actling like the world does, or worse, and decide that they do not need what the so-called “Christian” has. Don’t take this as an attack on your life. If you are living in a way that is drawing other closer to Christ then you are part of the cure to which he was talking about. This is more of a wake up call, than a condemning message. Hear the heart and don’t assume that he is talking about every other Christian besides himself.

    • G

      This was a great post, couldn’t have put it better myself. I really enjoyed this video and gladly shared it with my other friends and on my facebook because I felt that I saw things the same way that Jeff (in the video) does. It’s so hard to read all of these hurtful and defensive posts because people just always have to argue and tear things apart even when someone has good intentions. I’m not saying that people aren’t entitled to their own opinions but I just wish that not every single religious thing would be such a controversy. This post that I am replying to and the one below are excellent contributions to this whole discussion about the video.

  • Ryan

    While you’ve made a wonderful argument here you have missed the entire point Bethke was making in the video. He is not saying to abolish organized religion hence his statement “I love the church”. He is fighting against the belief that simply being part of a religion is the key to salvation. A personal relationship with Jesus is the key. The church is simply a group of people who all have personal relationships with Christ and are striving to follow after Him together as best they know how. Bethke is not putting down organized religion and uplifting the idea of everyone experiencing their own version of “god” in whatever way they see fit. He is simply saying, “the church isn’t a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken.”

  • crista

    Unfortunately this idea is what I run into most with my non Christian friends…they believe in a god, don’t know much about him but have determined (through bad media and negative personal experiences) that his followers are nothing like him and want nothing to do with the “church” part of the whole thing. As Christians we need to be careful about being balanced. Not legalistic like the pharisees that Jesus called a “brood of vipers” but not so far removed from the “rules” that we think of God as ONLY full of grace and love and spirit…while many of our brothers and sisters need to acknowledge that following what God commands in the NT means NOTHING if our hearts are not changed and we are making God personal and part of everything we do…there are others that need to remember that dishing out love and acceptance is great but there are things God REQUIRES of us to show we are different, set apart and willing to follow His will and not our own emotions all the time. Balance in everything.

  • Price

    This is a very well-reasoned argument against a popular video, but it really misses the point of the video. Maybe it’s simply a situation of using the word “religion” differently. For example, the last point argues that even the ridiculed mega churches “almost always have ongoing outreach ministries.”

    That’s a neat sentiment. But looking at the resources of those ministries in institutional churches and it’s clear that they regularly get a sad portion of the money, man hours, # of volunteers, etc. Most money tends to point inward.

    And I make this point AS an Associate Minister. I’m currently beginning to work towards creating a separate income so that I can serve the congregation for less pay. Why should that money go to me instead of towards helping someone further their education and provide for their family that is well below the poverty line? I’m tired of pretending like the actions of the church in the Bible and today are the same. We simply do things in a very far different way than they did and I for one am willing to put my money where my mouth is.

  • anonymous

    You’re splitting hairs in this rebuttal because this video makes you uncomfortable. It make you uncomforatable because it challenges what you believe to be true. This video is about people like you.

  • Danny

    1)Where did you get that definition of Religion you used? Religion is man seeking after God’s approval through practices. You defined the practices as Religion but it is the situation that is Religion.

    2) The church is not “organized Religion” the church is ORGANIZED WORSHIP” Jesus was not against Organized worship and when he said ” on this rock will I build my church” he was talking to Peter.. not an actual rock because Peter means Rock/ Stone.

    3) Jesus is the head of the church, Church does not refer to the temple or chapel , church refers to the collection of all born again christians anywhere they might be. thats why he said to the woman at the well ” I tell you a time will come when people will not worship here or in Jerusalem”

    4) And yes it is only through faith that anyone can be saved.

    5) If you go to participate in a church whatever the size , you are not participating in organized religion, you are participating in ORGANIZED WORSHIP.

    6) Jesus CAME TO ABOLISH THE LAW. the confusion here is that as you quoted ” I came to fulfill the law” Fulfill the law because the law was given to restrain and keep man in check but no one could keep the law so he came to fulfill the law by dying in our place so that the law’s requirement that anyone who breaks it be killed was fulfilled, ” Now we are dead to the law” but alive because he rose again.

  • Denise

    I agree! Everyone is making to much of this. How i take it is some one who loves God who is upset about how people take ” religion ” out of context, by some of the responses I can understand that. What everyone needs to ask themselves first is: Are you a follower or a fan of Jesus? I choose to be a follower and not to judge and try to tear someone’s feelings apart especially without knowing more about that person and the reasoning behind their thoughts and feelings. As a follower of Jesus we are to try to live as He taught us, with love for everyone. It is not always easy but that’s where faith and trust come in.

  • Kyle

    I think it is important to remember that this video is nothing more than a Christian making his opinion known. All of these comments that are refuting it or trying to say that it is wrong and what they think is right are nothing more than opinions in response. It is not for us to judge what is right or wrong when it comes to being a Christian. That has already been done through the words of God in the Bible. It is for us to do as we do and let others do as they do. Christianity is broken into so many different groups that it is only natural there would be many different opinions about what it should be. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches all have different ways of commemorating and celebrating the life of Christ. Then within these three main groups there are countless numbers of different orders all with their own creeds. This video represents the only fundamental creed that is consistent with all who claim to be Christian. Jesus Christ is the son of God who was sent to Earth by his Father to save humanity. The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life. There are a lot of viewpoints that different churches offer to explain this core concept. The real key to being a Christian is accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and Savior and as the son of God. My opinion is that the only true church is within us all, in our heart and our soul. Our relationship with God and his Son is the only true religion. I don’t feel that I need to go to church or belong to a religious congregation to be a Christian. I believe that is the long and short of what this video is trying to say. He has opinions of a lot of things that don’t matter a whole lot in the end. The only things that matter are the core concepts. People feel that they must add something more to these concepts. I personally do not add anything more to these concepts. I read my Bible and I know what Jesus and his Father mean to me and that is all that their needs to be.

    • Danny

      I agree

  • http://multichurchdc.wordpress.com Tom Corcoran

    Interesting the amount of time being spent on determining “truth”. Jesus is truth. Both this blog and the guy in the video are expressing their view based on their experience; their knowledge of God. What clearly comes through in both is “Jesus”; the same Spirit…there is only one. I’m confident that the name of “Jesus” is so powerful that God can/does/will use both this blog and that video for His purpose. That’s worth celebrating! Differences expressed between believers are usually based on a discussion about the things of God…we seldom discuss just God – who He is. We don’t need more of God – He can’t give more, He’s already given all He can…we simply need less of everything else.

  • Alex Crowe

    Can’t say i agree with point number 5 either. the bible is VERY clear that it is faith that saves us and nothing else. Jesus did it all we owe him nothing, because if we do then it was not a complete work and there was something else added to his work that saves us (yes even the idea that if we were “truly” saved then we will persevere until the end) we must get away from this idea that we have to “prove” our faith to others or to God because he did not mean it this way. as for your statement: “So, please don’t get your theology from the internet. Find a church, also known as a religious community, to be a part of them. Listen to what they have to say. Learn from them.” this is very sad if you believe this because the bible teaches that God’s word should be the authority of our lives and the basis of our lives and all our decisions, NOT the church. if you are naive enough to believe that just because somewhere is the “church” then you will always be misled. our source of truth and authority comes from God the father the author and finisher of our faith.

  • James Cook

    Great article, I think with such a big video as this it was very helpful to have something that stops all the hype and really looks into it. I agree that what this is is the result of a culture where we’re fed millions of quick information bites, and put them together to form theories. Among my friends this video is very big and very popular and after looking into it more (including reading your article), they’re all mostly blind to why they like it. Thank you for providing some wisdom.

  • James Cook

    Although, I do disagree with your last point about religion not being a main factor in starting wars. I agree that religion is commonly a mask to cover true desires for land and wealth, but I think you very much are overlooking the power of religion in our society. Not to mention, the longest war we have seen, in Israel, is at its roots about religion and a people who believe God gave them that land. Religion is a hugely powerful entity, either in a good way or a bad way, depending on its interpretation and execution. For example, in its best execution religion is a group of people joining together, sacrificing themselves (time, money, materials…) to give to those who are in need. At its worst religion can become motivation to kill. Think about the wars Native Americans fought with those who came over the American territory with hopes of making it their own. Many of those wars were fought because these new Americans were trying to push their religion onto the Native Americans, and they did not want it. Usually this “pushing” was brutal and destructive to Native American culture, thus motivating the Native American people to fight back (Peublo tribe in New Mexico, upon the arrival of Spanish Catholics). In the last 200 years American may have not seen many religious wars, but how about the thousands of years before our existence (as America)? I’d argue that religion may be the biggest factor in war our earth has seen.

  • http://www.christianpiatt.com Christian Piatt

    Interesting to find your piece with this title. We must be sharing some collective consciousness. I wrote a similar piece on my Patheos blog called “Hating Religion, Loving Jesus: A Well-Meaning False Dichotomy:


    Mine, like yours, is blowing up today. seems we’ve touched on an important subject.

    • Zack

      Hey Christian,

      I did get a chance to read your post the other day. Loved it. I thought your observation about his perception of religion as a Protestant was brilliant. My father-in-law is a Benedictine monk, so my wife especially enjoyed your post. Absolutely crazy how this whole thing exploded. I’ll definitely be following your blog more in the future. It looks great. Thanks for stopping by!

  • joy

    Honestly you have way to much time on your hands to sit and disect all of this . You are precisely why people turn from christianity and find other ways to explain there beliefs . You have made a mountain out of a mole hill. Take a step back , read your bible , take the words in and stop with the disection and the 30 different meanings you “may” come up with for one passage. Take it for what it is and stop reading into it.

  • http://www.MattMeeks.com Matt

    I really enjoyed this article Zack. Thank you for taking the time to draft it. I also, really did not enjoy this video. I’ve seen his other videos – the one on abstinence was great. This video, however, showed a very shallow and self-focused understanding of Christ. That is Ok, he is focused on Christ first which is a good thing and Christ is a pretty good teacher.

    Christ absolutely instituted the Church which is his bride. That is biblical and impossible to logically refute. The sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb does replace the fallen priesthood of the Jews that Malachi, as one of the last prophets, so vehemently spoke against. The promise of the Father given to Malachi instituting a new priesthood comes at 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.”

    After naming Peter as the rock upon which he will build his Church, Christ institutes a new Christian priesthood through the laying of hands on his apostles. Christ selects a few of his followers, not his entire group of disciples to be set apart through the laying of hands. The priesthood we learn about in Leviticus, chastised by Malachi is re-instituted under Christ as high priest. We later see the laying of hands continued in Acts and in 2 Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy that he was made a Bishop through the laying of hands. In addition, after the Resurrection of Christ, Peter undergoes a resurrection of soul re-instituting him as the head of Christ’s Church on earth. Upon seeing Christ on the shore, Peter runs to Him and meets with Christ privately. Christ asks, “Peter, do you love me?” Christ asks this three times to negate the three times Peter denied him. Upon Peter’s final, “Yes Lord, You know I love you,” Christ re-institutes Peter’s holy charge with the commandment, “Feed my sheep.” We even have evidence that Paul accepted Peter’s post, referring to him in his letters as “Cephas,” the name given him by Jesus which means “Rock.”

    So what is it that Christ was referring to when he asked Peter to feed his sheep? This will bring about contention from many evangelicals in the bunch, excluding Lutherans, Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox – Christ was referring to the Eucharist – the symbol of the new and final covenant established by Christ on behalf of mankind with God the Father. Biblically, every covenantal bond between mankind and God is solidified by a physical sign: Circumcision, the Rainbow, etc. The Eucharist extends God’s covenant from Israel to all nations. Celebration of the Eucharist is a task delegated to the priesthood established by Christ as it is a re-institution of his sacrifice beginning at the last supper and concluding on Calvary.

    When Christ says, do this in remembrance of me, we have to understand the Jewish concept of the word “remembrance” was one not just of recall but actual re-representation and physical reliving of past events. Christ is both sacrificial lamb and manna from Heaven. We must physically rely on him for our spiritual sustenance. In John 6:56 Christ tells us, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.” After many of Christ’s more difficult parables, he would often try to explain it another way to help his Apostles and disciples better understand. However after this one, there is no other explanation. Christ lets a multitude of his disciples leave him without trying to further explain, which basically means that this is not a parable but direct truth. I’ll just include the full text below:

    The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

    60 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” 61 Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? 62 What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

    66 As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. 67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve?”

    These chosen 12, which Jesus spent an entire night without sleep praying to God the Father about whom to elect, are the first of His priests of the new and everlasting covenant, the ones who he gives very special instructions about regarding the Eucharist.

    In fact, we can even go so far as to assume that in the Lord’s prayer, Christ is referring to the Eucharist.

    Give us this day, our daily bread,
    and forgive us our trespasses.

    Christ also instructed his faithful to fast but to not make it known when they are fasting. How is it possible for us to both pray to God for daily food but also to be instructed to fast. Christ did not mince words, He was very careful with what He said. Our daily bread, is the Eucharist. Christ wanted us to pray to God the Father to never take it away from us but for us to have the option to receive it daily if we so wished.

    And this is how the Church operated for 1,500 years. A Holy priesthood across Orthodox, Roman and all other Eastern Rite Churches. Under an ordained Clergy who re-institute Christ’s offering at the Last Supper every hour of every day upon alters across the nations – from the rising to the setting of the sun.

    This fulfills God’s promise in Malachi for a pure sacrifice, a pure offering and this happens within a Church structure instituted by Christ, built by the apostles and carried on through sacred tradition.

  • http://www.MattMeeks.com Matt

    Also, regarding the Bride, think about the Bride worthy of Christ.

    Is his Bride Schizophrenic? Totally at odds with herself and with her beliefs. This is the current state of Christianity. So many sects, so many denominations and so much disagreement.

    Christ did not want his Church in this state. The more we individualize Christ and remove our Faith from an individual relationship with him supported by community and sacred tradition to only an individual relationship with Him, the more off base we can become. The further we remove ourselves from the true unity that is his holy church, that is his bride, the further we remove ourselves from an eternal marriage with Christ.

    Return to the early Church. I implore you to put your faith in Christ, the apostles, the early Church fathers and not in a man some 1500 years later who, though well intentioned, had the audacity to change the very bible, to alter sacred scripture and throw out sacred books used by Christians from the very beginning of the Church. A man whose flawed theology fundamentally attacked Christ’s bride and sadly the very heart of our Lord. Martin Luther’s split spawned thousands of splits and fragmentation to a Church that until then remained united.

    The early Church still stands strong today, seek it out. Pray about it.

  • Loved and agree with the video

    “So, please don’t get your theology from the internet. ”

    I won’t. Starting with this article.

  • Blake

    Seriously praising God for this post. I was beginning to think I’d gone crazy with all of the blind support of this video. Physically breathed a sigh of relief upon reading it.

    Thanks for your biblical encouragement.

  • Scott

    While I am sure your post will be very popular with pastors & those who worship them the American church (small c) has allowed itself to become Christ for too many people instead of showing the way to Jesus Himself.

  • Heather

    Great post and great point. However, maybe this youtube video is a message to the church. Maybe, all the “views” and “likes” of this video shows how many people feel like the church is not doing a good job at preaching the basics. What if each of those “likes” or “views” represented a person who has been hurt and brought down by the church. I was born and raised in the church. I love God with all my heart and I feel like I am at a great spot in my life, with God. The only part the church has ever played in my life was the villain, yet I still believe in God because I did the research myself. The church puts down so many people everyday instead of raising them up because of their lofty side glances at people, their rich coffee shops right outside of the sanctuary, their “make you feel good” preached messages on Sunday where the preacher recommends the church read his newest book. Maybe Religion isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s denomination and broken Unity in the body of Christ. None the less, I still agree with the youtube video. I finally feel like someone gets it, and understands the hurt the church has caused!

  • Chris

    `Thanks for this post! The video caused uneasiness, mainly raised by the latent bitterness of the author. Your words have clarified why I was uneasy with the message, and I agree with your points.

    Two parts I would like to clarify, though:
    “2. When we seperate Jesus from the religious community then we are left with a Jesus out of context whom we are free to shape and mold in any way we see fit.” Not quite, unless you include the Bible as part of the religious community. If you are in isolation (Chinese prison comes to mind), but adhere to the Bible and its teachings on this topic, which you’ve expounded in this post, the lack of religious community doesn’t leave you free to reform Jesus according to your desires.

    “4. If you’re looking for the person that hated organized religion, by which you really mean “the institutional church”, then you’re looking for a guy named Martin Luther, not Jesus of Nazareth.” Wrong! Martin Luther didn’t hate organized religion, he hated the legalism and abuse of power in the organized church. As you acknowledge later on, he set out to reform the church and only when he was confronted with persecution on that behalf, he made the -horribly painful- decision to leave the Catholic Church. Still, he didn’t abolish the organized church, he instituted reforms in a part of the church that continued on as the so-called Lutheran or Protestant church.

  • Denis Corder

    Acts 2:38-41 – Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day…”

    God calls us to Him and when we respond and do His will (repent of our sins and turn to Him) and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, His free gift of Grace is given to us. After this, the Lord adds us to “The Church” (Ekklesia) – His Church, the Body of Christ. This is the one and only Church (Body of Christ) Jesus calls us to and calls us to be a part of. NOT a member of First Church of XYZ, NOT a worshipper at Central Church of XYZ, NOT a vistor at The Best Little Church in XYZ, or NOT a member of What Church do you go to XYZ………..We become a member of His Church (Ekklesia – The Body of Christ) and God’s Word leads us in the direction He intends for us to live, worship, pray, love, grow, etc…..in Spirit and NOT in the flesh. Open your heart, ears, eyes and He will guide you. God Bless.

  • Peter

    Interesting, but I think he’s being a bit too pin-pointy on what religion actually means. Religion, is simply holding a set of beliefs, which means, that everyone in sense has a religion, theist or atheist. However, the modern western hemisphere tends to view religion as legalistic, mainly due to the many examples have, i.e: Judaism, Catholicism, Muslim, Buddhism, etc. All religions except the gospel we know have rules and guidelines as the way to right yourself before God. Christianity is the ONLY “religion” where you need only accept the grace of God and believe in his Son. That’s what no other religion understands. True, Jesus didn’t preach salvation by faith alone, neither did he preach another salvation. Fact is, he din’t really preach “salvation” at all. He DID say, however, that he came to FULFILL the law. Meaning, he came to do what the law couldn’t do by itself. He fulfilled it with his death. The purpose of the law, which many people associate with so-called “religion” was to show people’s need for a savior, that no one could appease God with their deeds, or sacrifices. I think it’s dangerous when the writer says that salvation isn’t only by faith alone. Grace and works CANNOT be combined to bring salvation. One rules out the other. The whole meaning of grace is to give someone something they could never do or attain by their own strength. If a police officer lets someone off without a fine but says they have to do his laundry for a month, that’s not grace, it’s goodwill, but not grace. He simply lowered the “fine”. Grace does for us what the law could not do. And I think that is why Jesus and “religion”, rather, the legalism of the law, NEVER went together. We can never please God on our own, but through Christ’s work “we have become the righteousness of God.” Now, I agree that grace is misused and misunderstood, and I agree with him in many other areas, but I think he doesn’t understand that when many people see religion, they see legalism, and for Christianity, that is a dangerous labeling. We SHOULD keep his commandments and instructions, but out of a love for him and what he did for us, but not as a side order with grace, and most certainly not because we fear that we may never appease him or become right with him if we don’t. Sorry, that was kinda long.
    P.S: the writer said that being a Roman-Catholic wouldn’t be bad. Has he looked into the heresies of Catholicism? 😛

  • Ali

    I understand your thoughts on his misplaced use of the word religion, however the message of this video does need to be heard. we can pick apart everything he has said but at the end of the day, the majority of unbelievers have a huge problem with organised religion and the Church needs to define herself apart from that. I think the definition of the word religion has changed in recent times. Perhaps you are talking more about the historical use of the word religion and not what we understand it to be today?

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  • Crystal

    I have to disagree with your post and agree at the same time! I see both sides! However, if you look at A LOT of religions (penecostal and a few others) you will notice that they choose to pick and pull things from the bible. I have seen churches call people out for not tithing correctly and make that person extremley embarrased, I have seen ministers tell my Mother to NEVER come to his alter again wearing pants yet his daughter wore them to church all time. I have seen head women of churches tell other mothers that because they had a n abortion, gave their baby for adoption or had a baby out of wedlock that they were not welocme in their “House of the Lord”. I have seen MANY people “of the church” belittle and mock others because of their social status or because this person was trying to change their life and came from drugs and sex and was told that they were not “clean” enough to come to church and needed to go home! SO those points being said do you see where he is coming from! I dont think he means ALL religions, I think that he is being very vaguein that aspect. You would be lieing if you said you have NEVER seen any of this take place! Yes there a few points that he made that are questionable…but really!!! And for you say that Jesus wasnt thinking of us when he died on that cross, although we dont REALLY know I think its safe to say he probably was since thats why he was dieing was for us! Did Jesus judge ANYONE…NEVER. Look what he did with Saul…turned him into Paul! Do you really thiink the Church would open their doors and say “oh look theirs serial killer that attacks Christians, he’s going to go far and God is really going to use him.” I highly doubt it, thought they MIGHT and thats a big Might pray for him, they will talk about him and judge him for all the things he has done and how it is Satans work. Thats just how religion is, its man made!! Did Jesus create Penecostal and Mormons and Ladder Day Saints and Lutherans??? No, he didnt, man did! So thats his point! Reiligion itself has transformed into what man says the “rules” are. Jesus was the only one who made the 10 commandments…he didnt say women cant wear amke up at all or you cant come to the cross in pants or women cant cut their hair or any other crazy things, man has said these!!! SO I think if you look at his poem from that general look, you will find he is probably about 80% correct in what he is saying on everything! Hope you can see it from this side too!!

  • http://www.MoreThanADream.com Sharon Thiel

    Zach makes some good points, but I beg to differ on a few of his criticisms.
    #1 ‘the church’ is NOT organized religion, it is the universal body of Christ, consisting of all true Believers in the Gospel; and
    #2 the Lord’s Prayer speaks to GOD and says “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”….nowhere did Jesus ‘command’ US to bring to bring the kingdom of God “to earth as it is in heaven.”!

    While the kingdom of God is within us who are in Christ, and therefore we are to live a kingdom life while on earth, making OUR choices according to His desires, that in no way makes us directed to BRING the kingdom “to earth as it is in Heaven”. Also,when Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” He meant what he said….he FULFILLED them, and that which has been fulfilled is no longer needed to perform its previous “waiting for fulfillment” purpose!

    Bottom line, Jeff Bethke has created a wonderful video that honors God and removes the complications of a hierarchical governing group from the message of hope and salvation that is the Gospel. Discipleship can only come after the initial connection with Christ through an understanding and acceptance of the gospel. There is time for that after the preaching of the initial Truths.

    Nothing is perfect (but Jesus), and whatever its flaws, this video honors God and Christ’s commission to us to preach the Gospel to every creature. Not all who shun ‘religion’ are forsaking the gathering together of the saints :-)
    Peace and God’s blessings!

  • mary

    Thank you putting into words what (I hope) a lot of people are feeling! I’m Catholic but still feel that all of your points are relevant for “religious” Christians and Catholics alike.

  • John Griffin

    Thanks Zach, for the post.
    Amen, brother.

  • Matt

    I think it is important that people realize this is art. This guy has taken a lot of heat from both believers and non believers and I don’t think it’s justified. He is not attacking the church, he is challenging believers to seek and love Christ in doing so, loving the world. Christians who dislike the poem rip it apart taking phrase by phrase and approving or disapproving of the rhetoric used. Come on people it’s art, used to express this mans passion and challenge believers not to get caught up in the spirit of looking Christian but rather living in humility. I don’t think he said anything that hasn’t been said before but the way this thing spread, we should be pleased that the Gospel was presented so quickly, creatively, and wide spread. His resenting of religion is not resenting the church, as Christians we don’t have to have an opinion about everything. We can acknowledge goodness in something’s other than Tim Tebow.

    • Kelly Taylor

      Exactly. There was a rhyme in there about religion starting wars and churches not feeding the poor, etc. People have proceeded to insult his intelligence about world history. That phrase was not at ALL about physical world history, but WARS…among believers. NOT the earth. They insult his intelligence, but theirs isn’t so up to par themselves.

      Lighten up a little. He didn’t mean it literally. It’s an art, and not EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD IS LITERAL.

  • Daniel Swofford

    My reply to the “false dichotomy” argument of Zack Hunt
    I’m not sure if Jeff Bethke’s video actually says that religion is evil (I’d have to go back and review it again), but Mr. Hunt definitely says in point 1. We don’t know who…. that the video “portrays” religion as evil. What I say is that religion as a thing is neither good or evil but can be used for both purposes. God can and does use religion as a vehicle (means) to draw people unto Himself – but too often humans tend to venerate the vehicle too much and that’s a slippery slope. As Mr. Hunt points out religion has been used by God throughout history to preserve true Christian faith, but history is also full of examples of religious people committing very un-Godly acts convinced they were acting on His behalf. Increase Mather (Cotton Mather’s father) who sat on the council that condemned people to death during the “Salem Witch Trials” later in his life said, “…perhaps we went too far.” Duh! You think?! My Dad used to point to a hammer and a saw and say, “A person can use those tools to build a fine house or someone else using those same tools can destroy that house.”
    In point 2. When we separate… I personally don’t think a “religious” or “church” context is absolutely necessary to, as Mr. Hunt put it, “…have any hope of truly understanding Him or what He taught.” (caps on “Him” and “He” are mine). What I think is necessary in order to gain this understanding is the leading, guiding of the Holy Spirit within the individual person’s heart and mind. Jesus Himself said as much if you read John 15 & 16. Any contextual meaning we as individuals or the church/religious organization tries to attach to Jesus and what He taught and use as a means of gaining understanding has to be filtered through the Holy Spirit within the individual believer. I can personally testify that the Holy Spirit has for me both confirmed and cancelled different meanings that I’ve been exposed to through various religious organization/church teachings.
    Point 3. Jesus didn’t have a problem… Mr. Hunt makes an interesting dichotomy himself when he separates “religion” from “legalism”. I don’t want to get into a tangled web of semantics but to me both words are “obey rules” based in their common usage and meaning. I would simply make the point that St. Paul made when he said the Mosaic Law is like a schoolmaster (now there’s a context I can relate to) to bring us to a point in our understanding of God’s Holiness and our sinfulness that helps us realize our utterly hopeless condition in depending on our ability to obey rules (laws) to gain God’s acceptance. Again, in my opinion, each individual believer needs the sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to parse it out in a way that doesn’t put “obeying rules” (not a bad thing in and of itself) in place of the righteousness only Jesus can impart to us through our faith in Him. That’s what makes us acceptable to God.
    Point 4. If you’re looking… I don’t think this point by Mr. Hunt has any direct relevance to the video. I don’t remember any reference to Martin Luther or his intentions (again I’d have to go back and review it). But Mr. Hunt’s assertion that Jesus was “religious” because He was a Hebrew and would have to hate Himself if He hated religion is too much of a stretch for me. Again, I don’t agree with Mr. Hunts semantics.
    Point 5. Jesus never preached… I don’t know the exact meaning Mr. Bethke intended for “forgiveness is my own”. I would venture to say he used his “poetic license” because this wording was the best fit he could come up with for the phrasing and rhyme he was using. That’s always been a problem for poets who are sometimes willing to obscure their true meaning and risk being misunderstood rather than try a little harder to invent a better phrasing/rhyme (of course some intentionally use double entendre and let you guess their meaning – but I digress). Mr. Hunt’s point that believing alone is not enough is absolutely true, but to me the video never tried to make the claim that it was. In my opinion, Mr. Bethke was trying to elaborate on the “obey rules” mind-set of religion versus the “fulfill righteousness” mind-set a true believer should operate from. You may fulfill righteousness by obeying rules but fulfilling righteousness is not limited to rules guided behavior. It should also be Holy Spirit guided behavior because you can definitely obey rules and not come anywhere near fulfilling righteousness but if you are truly being led by the Holy Spirit you can’t help but fulfill righteousness. People who do acts (feed, clothe, & visit) to gain God’s acceptance are in the same boat with those who only believe (acknowledge or give mental assent to) but never allow it to affect their behavior. Jesus said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things I say…” to those who give lip service to their beliefs with no resultant behavioral change, but He also said to those who performed miracles in His name (they did more than lip service), “depart from me…I never “knew” you” (quotes around “knew” mine). The word used for “knew” is the same word used when the Bible says Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and bare a child. Well of course he knew who she was, but knowing who she is won’t produce a child. God wants to have an intimate relationship in the same way a husband and wife can be intimate, but one is physical and one is spiritual. Without this intimate relationship, following rules and performing miracles (behavior/acts) means nothing to God, but if the same behaviors (feeding, clothing, visiting, miraculous acts) are done as a result of the relationship, then it means everything to God.
    Point 6. The premise of this… I would caution Mr. Hunt to back off and let God judge who is being disingenuous, duplicitous or hypocritical. His arguments under this point have already been made in previous points. After Pentecost, when the Jewish leaders were discussing a strategy to effectively deal with the disciples, they were admonished by Gamaliel to do nothing simply because if this gospel preached by the disciples was not of God it would come to nothing on its own, but if it was of God they couldn’t stop it anyway and would find themselves in the unenviable position of opposing God. I think this is good advice for Mr. Hunt because, although he’s convinced the video is off message with what God wants, I believe that God both can and will use the video to reach some who would never set foot in a church or expose themselves to anything that smacked of religion, but might be receptive to the gospel presented by this means. Using a religious context to reach those to whom that context has an appeal or using an anti-religious context to reach those to whom it appeals, well that’s just how God rolls. I kinda think that’s what Paul meant when he said he tried to be all things to all people in order to win some.
    Point 7. When we create… OK, now I think Mr. Hunt is just being tedious – rehashing points that are well taken within the context of how he interprets the video’s message, which, he considers guilty of the heresy of false dichotomy. He is entitled to his opinion but his arguments fail to persuade me that Mr. Bethke’s video message represents a false dichotomy. As I see it, Jesus’s expressed purpose for coming into this world was to seek and save that which was lost. He did His part and returned to Heaven then sent the Holy Spirit to work within the hearts and minds of believers with the desire that not one should perish but all come to repentance. Anything the church or religious organizations have done throughout history that was not Holy Spirit inspired and nurtured cannot be used to save anyone, but thankfully many things within the church and religious organizations were useful to the Holy Spirit. But here’s the part that I think the message of Mr. Bethke’s was aimed at and is right on target. Things done by the church or religious organizations down through history that the Holy Spirit never intended can definitely be used to deceive people into thinking they have salvation when all they have is a white washed sepulcher.
    I truly hope Mr. Hunt reconsiders his false dichotomy accusation, but regardless I definitely don’t consider Christianity a religion. I consider it a relationship with a Living Lord and as such has an experiential component unique to the individual. I hope both Mr. Hunt and Mr. Bethke continue to be used of God to spread the gospel.
    In the Love of the Lord, Daniel Swofford

  • Kelly Taylor

    As you mentioned the responsive age group, 18-35, that is the main key to this. That specific generation has grown up seeing religion negatively. They did not get to see “hometown” churches where everybody knew everyone else, etc. They’ve seen people of different beliefs and “religions” ARGUING just as everyone else is on the video response about exactly that. Their differences! They’ve seen these massive, separated religions adding on extravagantly to their “churches” and wasting their resources. We tell our children to read their bibles and do as Jesus would do, but then we all boycott eachother in the name of “religion,” judge, hide flaws so people in the church won’t think anything of us, and spend money on useless things like bigger walls in the name of it as well. THAT I think is what the young man was getting at. He grew up watching this and was afraid to even step foot in a “church!” I would be too. It’s hard to drop your flaws at the feet of other people! And many of our churches these days aren’t making these lost kids feel like they can do that without being harshly judged. We’re failing! THIS is not how church was intended. Church was a body of believers! Coming together in the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior! Forgiving each other as brothers and sisters. At this, God smiles! But not at nitpicking the bible, plastering human, opinion-based rules on a piece of paper, giving it a name, and referring to it as a new religion. These kids have seen many broken masses of people trying to play church, but calling it their religion. They just see rules, and what you have to be. There ARE good churches out there! Solid, bible-based churches…but many ARE exactly as this boy describes. I think that is why this generation is connecting with him so deeply. It’s a perspective of its own.

    • Stefanie

      Its interesting, there are some good arguments, but that is the problem I see so many believers arguing against each other, because of “verbage” and did Zack Hunt, who wrote this post go personally to speak and ask Jeff Bethke these questions instead of posting this argument all over the web, which is also not biblical? If he had a problem with this video he should have first gone to Jeff and have this conversation with him first. I agree with the last post by Kelly Taylor on this. I also think because most Christians haven’t even really even read the bible all the way through and allow others to speak into their lives telling them what to believe is the dangerous part speaking out of context and arguing a point. 2nd I see division amongst this posting in Mark 3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Jesus was talking to the people who had called him satan that it was impossible that he would be, because a kingdom can not be divided against it self. I find this in our own churches, we are divided against ourselves, so we can not stand. What will it take to bring unity amongst the Bride of Christ? Its no wonder people outside our faith have a hard time excepting Jesus because the church argues amongst itself in public! its not religion we need its changed lives by being save through Christ. If we are truly Christian “Christ like” we would look like Jesus and then this discussion wouldn’t even be here.

      • Kelly Taylor

        Thanks! You sum it up so well! That is exactly what I was getting at! God must be so disappointed in us. :( Arguing in HIS name, instead of coming together in it.

    • http://www.worlddeafnews.org John W Dudley
  • Kelly Taylor

    On a side note, he didn’t mean literal wars in the phrase “If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?”

    You refer to him as a “product of our educational system” etc. You literally BASH his intelligence, when you clearly didn’t even understand the phrase yourself.

    He lightly rapped this. It’s an art form, and not everything is literal. By WARS, he means wars among religions. Arguments. Separations. Not world wars and civil wars.

    If you didn’t catch that, then WOW. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge his intelligence and education? There’s somethin’ in the bible about that too. Read up.

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  • Sam

    Actually is your definition of religion is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ador or faith” then that IS the reason for just about every war started, including both World Wars.

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  • Daisy

    When I saw the video I agreed with everything he said 100% and I honestly didn’t expect this much criticism from something that made such clear sense to me. I didn’t read the article in its entirety, but why is it so hard to see the big picture of what Jeff is trying to say. What he hates is the rules and guidelines that organized religion has created, debilitating people from acknowledging what really matters, which is that we are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God, no matter how perfect we try to live our lives. This was the sole purpose of Jesus dying on the cross; to save us all from sin, As Jeff mentioned, Jesus said it is already done, so why does religion put so much emphasis on following rules that are not even stated in the Bible? As if that is what will enter us into the kingdom of God. I was raised Catholic, I went to church every Sunday and did all the things “Catholics” do, but I knew nothing about God’s word, much less had a relationship with God until I began practicing Christianity. Repentence, faith, and knowing the word of God in order to have a relationship and live a better life is what matters, not man-made rules.

    • Matt

      Daisy, You have to be careful not to differentiate Christianity and Catholicism. What it sounds like is that you left Catholic Christianity for Protestant Christianity. Catholicism has been the primary method of practicing Christianity since the very beginning. Protestant Christianity came some 1500 years later. Also, because you did not find what you were looking for in Catholicism does not mean that Catholicism does not bring people to a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. There are many protestants who do everything their minister instructs them to do and they have no concept of a relationship with Jesus Christ. What matters is the heart that you offer up to God. It sounds like while you were a Catholic, your heart wasn’t yet ready to fully give itself to God. I’m glad that it is now.

      • Matt

        Also, I think Catholics would fully agree with your following statement:

        I knew nothing about God’s word, much less had a relationship with God until I began practicing Christianity. Repentence, faith, and knowing the word of God in order to have a relationship and live a better life is what matters, not man-made rules.

        In fact, the Pope himself would probably high-five you for that. At the beginning of every Catholic Mass – if you can remember – the community starts by confessing its sins, “I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.” We then ask for repentance and prayers. So, every Sunday, we humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. Not to mention confession. Basically, practicing Catholics repent all of the time. Regarding Faith, we recite the Nicene Creed every mass stating what we believe and proclaiming our Faith. We then go ahead to state, “We lift up our hearts!” along with the Eucharistic offering. A direct statement of faith that we are trusting God with our very hearts, trusting him so much we are making an offering of them. Finally, knowing the word: We have 3 readings every mass – old testament, letters/acts and then gospel. Within a three year period of time, if a Catholic attends Church every Sunday, he will have heard the entire Bible. So, God’s writen word is discussed and broken apart every Sunday, not to mention the fact that the physical Word, the Word made flesh is represented through the Eucharist on Catholic alters around the world every single hour of every single day.

        Im sorry for you confusion about Catholic Christianity and that it caused you to eventually leave before truly understanding it, but I am truly glad you have Christ. I just ask you to pray about your disappointment towards Catholicism and realize that there is a richness present and while many of the practices may have been lost on you. Every word and every action in a Catholic mass is Biblical, intentional and directed towards Christ.

      • http://carm.org/roman-catholicism Radical Catalyst

        Roman Catholicism is NOT Christianity. Just sayin’. http://carm.org/roman-catholicism

        • http://www.MattMeeks.com Matt

          Radical Catalyst, I believe you are confused.

      • David

        Actually, Orthodox Christianity was first but continue….

      • David

        Actually Orthodox Christianity was first, but please continue….

      • David

        The above comments were meant for Matt 2 posts up but this stupid thing keeps posting them in the wrong place. Sorry people.

        • http://www.MattMeeks.com Matt

          Hey David,

          Catholicism and Orthodoxy were one in the same until the “Great Schism” of 1054, where divisions arose out of a change the Orthodox Church wanted to make to the Nicene Creed referred to as the filoque:

          Greek: “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, from the Father proceeding”

          Latin: “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life, who from the Father and the Son proceeds”

          This seemingly small detail over the nature of the Trinity spawned the first big split in Christendom, creating the Orthodox Church from the Church which was presided over by the Bishop in Rome (Pope). The Orthodox Church has since split to include multiple patriarchs, no longer having one central Bishop in Constantinople – Greek, Russian, Georgian, Armenian, etc. The Catholic Church however held to the original Nicene Creed and has yet to divide since the early church. In fact, there are many Orthodox Catholics in Greece, Israel, Egypt, etc. who still live according to the old liturgy and respect the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

  • http://www.progressivechristianitybook.com Roger Wolsey

    What a wonderfully thoughtful post! I do believe we’re kindred spirits in many ways. Jefferson’s video slamming Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” (last April) showed us that he’s a conservative Christian. But this new video of his let’s us know that he’s probably a fundamentalist. see my blog about this: http://wp.me/pWVFb-17rf

  • Michael

    I’m not wanting to debate theology here with anyone, I would like to just comment. The single most important thing I have in this life is a personal relationship with the Lord Christ Jesus. My belief in him is not what is taking me to heaven to be with our Father,it’s my relationship with Jesus. To say I am a Christian is easy, it is just a word – a name. To live as a Christian is to be completely re-newed from the inside – out. Christianity is a form of religion. This form is centered by our Father, God. Religion of what ever a person chooses to worship is a way of life. For some people money and the source of how they obtain it is their God. For many in the protestant churches, being a Christian is somewhat misunderstood. For example: To be a Christian am I not supposed to shave my beard? Are women not allowed to cut their hair or wear pants? Since I am not a pastor of the church, am I not allowed baptize a person into Christ, even though I am a follower of Christ?
    The misconception of many proclaiming to be a Christian is the system that they believe they must adhere to to gain his (Jesus) favor. Too many believers fall into this group who are with Jesus when things are going good, and then fall off when things are not. They give up on this journey with Christ when they are required to pick up their cross and follow him through some dark and unknown valleys of their life. Being a fan( an enthusiastic person) of Jesus is not what he(Jesus) wants of us. To you to truly know him and he(Jesus)to know you, YOU must surrender your life – every aspect of it. You can’t hold anything back.
    Living as a follower of Christ and a person of his church is an honor that I can only begin to describe, because he( our Father )has called me into this life. Answering this call, surrendering my life, accepting Jesus as Lord over my life, repenting of the sinful lifestyles I lived, and following his pure example of what our Father(God) wants us to do and be is and has been an incredible journey unlike any other. To see him(Jesus) face to face is going to be wonderful. To give thanks and praise him in person one can hardly describe. To stand in the presence of God and worship him without ceasing will be the greatest reward of any, knowing right now I don’t deserve to, except for Christ saving me.
    I attend a non-denominational church that states it is a ” great commandment, great commission church”.
    I personally believe the evangelical fundamentals of the new testament are how we have to live our lives as “Christians”. I believe that Jesus lived his life in this manner to give us a perfect example of righteous living.
    So, live as Christ, die to self. Die to live.

  • Jacki

    In response to the author’s second comment on feeding the poor, “However, I think his disdain for the formal, organized religion and the physical, institutional church is very clear, i.e. “Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?”…Frankly..I thought this video was incredibly offensive ”

    This is where I, a church goer, find the author’s comments offensive. As a social worker in a community that is home to more than 200 churches with “outreach ministries”, the majority being Catholic, the rest Protestant, with 75% of the population being Republican, our food banks are constantly empty. Of course each church claims and supports a certain assistance program as its own and has a nice little special offering every so often to guilt parishioners into donating to its designated food bank and thus they have “fed the poor”. I understand it costs money to maintain a church and people do want a nice sanctuary in which to worship, but let’s be honest: If every Christian church in just the US actually did make feeding and clothing the poor its main focus no one in this country would go hungry and I’m pretty darn sure a lot of other countries would be better off as well. I’m with Bethke, all the way. I love my Church, but I’m quite sure Jesus isn’t all that proud of us.

  • Jason

    Seems as if plenty of scripture is used to make your points legitimate… When it comes to point 7, though, have you read the old testament?

  • jay

    Your post was articulate and easy to follow. I can understand the points you are making. I did not realize, however, that there would be this kind of issue at this early point. I’ll just tell you what I saw when I watched it:
    I saw a man step out in courage and confessed his sins to the world. I heard a man tell how he was enslaved to the mind of the world while professing he believed in Messiah. I would like to think he spoke that the power of pornography was crushed from the power of the freedom from grace; giving him both desire and power to live a more holy life. According to his fb:”Hope this page will encourage, shape, and convict”. And so, he does not seem to be of the school where this is taught: “sin is not a big deal.”
    So what I wanted to say was, even if his entire theological structure was in disorder (and I know you are not at all saying this), but for the sake of the point– his heart was the thing that was right in God’s eyes, and this is someone that God can use, despite his lack of understanding.
    If we are a body, as you rightly mention(and evangelicals are just one part), then we all feel the pain together, and also as Paul mentions, “rejoice together”, likewise. We have the hope in Tikkun Olam, that the lord will restore all thing to himself (Ephesians). So, let’s not forget the heart of the matter. This is a time for the body to encourage that young man, and not jeer him as a solder coming home unwelcome. Although, at times, i can indeed feel your frustration, but in this case it seems that his hope was to lift up freedom for struggling and hurting people.
    Sure, this body does need some work, but all it has to work with…broken vessels. And some of these do want to make it better. Be encouraged brother.
    Now i believe we know that we are in a war and that we need to focus on the inside all the more. but what i am trying to say is, “let’s be careful with how and where we use our resources, and remain sensitive to who is leading us”.
    A fan of religion. A man who is loved.

  • Lance

    While there were things that I disagreed with in the Video and the Article, I am glad there has been so much discussion generated. I feel that both the video and the article have valid points.

    The things that amazes me is how people purporting to be Christians have responded to one another on this forum. When Christ came into my life, He changed my heart. I think we as Christians need to respond to one another in a loving and caring way. There is a way to tell someone you disagree without calling them ignorant or stupid. I also never want to get to the place where I believe I, and only I, have an absolute lock on the truth. I commend both the author of the video as well of the author of the article.

  • Marilyn King-Pierman

    I think you completely missed the point of the video and have way, way over analyzed. Lighten up. Jesus is way more important than any organized religion, and churches often turn people away from Jesus when they have their own “agendas.”

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  • Prettyinblue

    well to argue the point maybe you should get you facts right, the bible was not based on a religion it was GOD BREATHED!, check your first answer….

  • http://iamsogladtoseesomanyderrerentviewsothoughtsonthemanwhowasblessedfromgod BUD NAYLOR SANTA ANA CA 1-14-10:50pm

    born of a vergin laying in a simple manger ,lived around 30 to 34 years old. started a lot of problems, solved a lot of problems, made a lot of miricles, was condemed by his own people, crucified, died , put in a stone room, raised on the thired day and accended into the right hand of god almighty, about three thousand years ago and is comming again to rule all the kingdoms of this world as we know it for a thousand years unto the end of this world and the dead in christ will rise and spend “eteral life with this great holy living soul by the name of jesus.jesus christ is the only one who said “I am the way, the truth, and the light. no man(woman)shall come to the father but “THRUGH ME”. end of story. you can ever believe it or you don’t. “by faith we are free and saved.” churches are just teaching places and of worsup places to recieve the holy spirit and bible study and pray and socialize and do christian deeds to help the poor and disablied with food and medicine and health aids as well as food and clothing banks.and medicine and doctor visits as well as dental.

  • David

    I think that the majority of the objections to both the video and the article and the objections to those objections etc, are saying alot of the same things in different ways. Now certainly there are points to be made here on Bethke’s side about the pitfalls of what many of the viewers (myself included) deem to be legalism. There is also a good poor to be made about Zach’s expository on the community that is the religion of Christianity and the fact that it is in itself inherently good when abiding by Biblical principals and fully endorsed by God and stated as such by his son. Also he makes fantastic fundamental arguments in favor of correctly quoting, understanding, and walking in biblical truths although perhaps even Zach has not quite got it all sorted himself 100%. I think the danger, and hence the irresponsibility, lies in the lack of consistent language used in these works and the consistency in definitions of key words used in the works. While a message may be worth delivering, how it is delivered is perhaps even more important than its delivery. We as Christians are the voice of God to those without a relationship with him and it would go a long way towards that goal if we could figure our own stuff out in order to convey a consistent message to those we try to save. Tha is not to mention the confusion such equivocation errors create internally in the Church. This is not to say that different denominations are not going to have different beliefs. But for the sake of the lost let us find some consistency.

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  • http://www.writingsofryu.com Sora Ryu

    I’ll agree that “Why I hate religion” isn’t an airtight video. It’s only about five minutes; that’s hardly exhaustive. Whole essays could be written on the subject and have been. I’ve studied Girard’s work for Pete’s sake. But the creator of the video offers something to the faithful who believe in the message of Christ but feel it has become woefully muddle by the “list of chores” people are forced to do just to get into the Christian club and be considered religious. It’s as Jesus said “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” “Religious” people have it backward.

    Now while the video may not be airtight, it offers something new, a new understanding of what it means to be faithful, what it means to be a follower of Christ. That’s why it’s getting so many views. Your post on the other hand offers “more of the same.” You are a critic and an apologist. This is the kind of complacency that has allowed Christians to back away from the fundamental change Christ brought for centuries. You end your essay by saying we can find the true understanding of the Gospel at the church as opposed to with this video which is like sending someone to the source of poisoned water when someone has warned that the water is poisoned. “Why I hate the Church” is a soundbite right now, yes. But with further exposition its message will grow. Your reactionary qualms offer nothing and start nothing.

  • jshane

    i thimk everyone needs to leave the guy in the video alone he says “I” th whole time hes stating what he believe why cant people do that in peace hes doing whats hes supposed being a christian your are to go out and preach the gospel. And these teens(which is who he is mainly speaking to) doesnt like the word religion because they think of the old people who judge them on what they wear their clothe, hair, etc…so what hes saying speaks to teens more then the elders

  • Joel


    I really did enjoy this post. I thought it was very insightful and reinforced with some solid scripture. But it is the reason this comes off a little too condescending is the purpose of this reply. I’m not saying you are wrong entirely and I don’t want to write a long paper on why I think I’m better than you. I would just like to present my concerns with what you have here.

    I assume you are a Catholic, (If you are not then never mind) but I have no problem with that if you are. however I find a reoccurring theme in the Catholic community present in your essay. Most of the practicing Catholics I talk to all run under the idea that they wrote the bible and can interpret and twist it in which way they seem fit. Practices like exalting of Mary and the saints are actually unbiblical. The catholic church actually replaced Venus with Mary. I find this misconception of scripture in your post In the second paragraph of your first topic.

    “Where did that book come from? Well, as much as we may not want to hear it the Bible is a product of religion. It didn’t magically fall from the sky one day. It was written by men (and possibly a few women) who were members of a religious community which was marked by a common “cause or system of beliefs.” It was that religious community that gave importance and meaning to these particulars books, letters, and writings and not others. Then that religious community organized and appointed councils to canonize those books and called them the “Holy Bible.” In other words, without religion there is no Bible.”

    I would try and counter this idea with a reading of 2 Timothy 3:16 which says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. While Paul, the apostles and many elders of the early faith may be responsible for the physical dictation and canonization of the scriptures, the ultimate Father of the bible is God himself. Taking that power away from God and putting it in the hands of the apostles is not only leaving them with the responsibility of defending it, but it is also running along the lines of blasphemy.

    I would however like to commend you on the body paragraph of topic #7. Most of the wars which uneducated accusers say were fueled by religious motives were just under the banner of faith while attempting gain power for their given monarchy. Bravo I’ve been trying to preach that for years.

    But the main point I would like to present is exactly what doctrine Jesus actually attacked in his ministry. Many Protestant and Evangelical Christians have a different Idea of Religion which actually undermines legalism. To them “Religion” means that you are to be good, wash your hands, say grace before every meal and then Jesus will somehow have pity on you and welcome you into his kingdom. “If i’m good and only if I’m good will I go to heaven and I don’t need any Savior”. Jesus actually rebuked the pharisees saying “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess”.

    When you say in your 5th topic that we are not saved by faith alone. I would also make sure you understand that we are not saved by works alone either. In fact you will find more scripture condemning the idea that our works will get us to heaven then there is scripture to tell us that faith in Jesus just isn’t enough. Not to take any power away from the scripture that says faith without works is dead but Jesus is very clear that being good little people doesn’t get us to heaven. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”.

    I would like to examine Ephesians 2:8 which you actually didn’t completely quote in your post which says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. While I agree with you about reacting in a way that signifies you have accepted salvation, you can’t go on saying that unless we perform and keep all the commandments we are not saved. Jesus didn’t preach that either. Faith and works are hand in hand yes, but I’m afraid you have the cart before the horse in this post. Works should be a product of faith and a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus rather than the fear of judgement scaring us into obedience.

    If you are going to stand by what you are saying in this post I’m afraid you are actually condemning yourself. While through our faith we can escape sin and obey God to our fullest extent we cannot undermine the fact that in the midst of our spiritual enlightenment we fail. We fail everyday, every hour and even when we are closest to God our motives are always humanly tainted. We are sinners and without the sacrifice of Christ and ONLY the sacrifice of Christ we can stand before God as undefiled. Even when we are doing good works that is a product of the holy spirit’s work in us and is only credited to Jesus and not us. We litterally cannot boast about anything. While we don’t mean to use this to avoid obeying Jesus we certainly don’t use this to justify ourselves before God.

    What Bethke was trying to get at was a little bit more down to earth than what you presented it as. Jesus does not like “mega church pharisees” who hide under the misconception that by praying long prayers on the street corner and giving lots of money for offering they will gain Jesus’s approval. In contrast Jesus also does not like people who squander the grace of God and use it as an excuse for sin.

    Grace and Peace to you as well, I hope Jesus leads you and me to understand his Grace even more and seek a deeper intimacy every day,

  • Caroline Lee Wei Jun


    I think both Zack and Bethke have good points. Yes, we need a strong foundation on the Bible. But knowledge without the understanding of the heart then it is just head knowledge. We also need a relationship with God to know Who are we in Him or Who God is in our life?

    We don’t want to just wear a the BRAND of being CHRISTIAN. But to truly understand why all of us are really called Little Christ.

    Food for thought: Who am I in God? Who God is in our life?

    Let’s u-turn and recover AUTHENTIC spirituality with Him

  • Chris

    About point number 5. Ephesians 2:1-10 is all he is saying. Salvation by faith alone is found in the Word of God.

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  • Haley

    Check your theology! Martin Luther was a Catholic priest who wanted to REFORM THE CHURCH, not REBEL. We actually are SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH ALONE! Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – Jesus is talking to a criminal who just at that moment confessed Jesus as LORD! I saw from other comments good people have been sighting Eph 2:8-9– Thanks to ALL of you for keeping it REAL!! Romans 5:1 “THerefore, having been justified by faith, we have a peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    The gift of God is Jesus GIVES us eternal life! We were DEAD in our sins and could do nothing about it, Jesus’ free gift is eternal life. Your headline of “Jesus never preached that we are saved through faith alone.” is VERY misleading, so be careful there.

    • Matt

      Haley, I recommend you take a look at the following video with an open heart. I think you will find it interesting:

      Also, when you have some spare time, you should revisit the book of James. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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  • http://angelagant.com Angela Gabt

    Angela Gant K now I’m going to say something. Read the critique. In the 600’s I believe 633 the Catholic church took out the teaching that Christ did not believe you needed the church to go to heaven.

    Angela Gant He never refers to Himself as the Son of God except in one version of the Bible, anywhere. How can anyone forgive a religion that started the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the burning of witches (who btw weren’t witches)?

    Historical account range widely to from 500,000 to 9 million people were burned in Europe. Wide ranging statistic; however, there weren’t a whole lot of people populating the earth at that time. There’s always the Spanish Inquisition…oh and didn’t we kill4 million native americans for being on our land before we got here because they were heathens and savages.

    Yes, back when archbishops were keeping whores you could buy your dead family’s way into heaven, Think I’m wrong pick up a history book. All of Christianity comes as off shoots of the Catholic church. Think of that when you tithe your 10 percent that you probably can’t afford.

    Why are churches constantly raising money for bigger buildings, or play rooms. They enjoy their 501ce status and don’t pay a dime in taxes. Ever been to a megachurch? That’s a complete waste of time and money. Find Jesus on your own. You have a manmade book that may not be accurate at all, but Jesus was a pretty amazing guy, and I don’t think He had anything bad to say about anyone or wished anyone harm for any reason. Can you say the same for every church service you’ve attended?

    I think of Him as more of an amalgamation of preachers at the time. The Church didn’t vote to make him the Son of God until the 4th century ie He wasn’t a shoe in, And He almost loss. I always wondered who was the back up guy.

    Jesus and the New Testament have alot of nice, if not completely conflicting and unfounded stories. What does it matter who exactly said it. I mean the who “let thee who is without sin cast the stone ” was inserted in the Renaissance, I believe. It certainly wasn’t from the original material, but there’s no way I would argue that because it makes the religion more tolerant. The character of Jesus, The Buddhas, who cares who gets it attributed to.

    Just like under God was added in the 1950’s to the pledge of alliance and In God We trust was added to our money. Our forefathers never intended us to be a Christian state most were Deists and a few Atheists.

    All religion reads the same no matter what. Be a good person, you will have a good life or afterlife, be bad and you will be punished. People excusing the mentally ill know right from wrong. I know Atheists that lead better lives than people who claim to be Christian (but so what you may know the inverse). And if you want to know what destroyed my faith, 2nd grade Bible class, and the story of Noah’s arc ( i couldn’t get over that that God flooded and killed the whole world killing all the bunnies, puppies and babies, even if they were born that day (this is innocent inquisitive very, very, shy Angela who believed very much, and did not want “God to be mean” . Of course I was sent to the principals office.That got me to researching. The Bible was put together between 50-300 CE. That’s like me writing about the early 1800’s with no internet, libraries, and my source of information is primarily world of mouth, and we’ve all played the telephone game.

    I think too many people in this world are just handed down religion from the elders. People never question it. They should. Everyone should decide what they believe based on faith and empirical evidence if possible. The churches might be overflowing then with Christians, Catholics, Taoists, Buddhists, Islamic or Zoroasterism for all I know.

  • Shelly

    Please read the entries for Jan 13th & 14th at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

    His grace-filled analysis of Jeff’s post is great. And Jeff responded! (And that is what’s posted on the 14th.)

  • Finious

    I think what he means by this, is that Christians don’t have to worry about getting into God’s good graces because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for them and released them from that duty. As he says in the video “Because when Jesus said IT IS FINISHED,Romans 8:2 – He died for our(christian) sins. Just believe that he died for sins and they are saved. That is nothing less then organized-atheism.

  • godless

    These comments which are full of Christians arguing with each other over the correct interpretation of their myth is one of the most hilarious things I have seen today.

  • Jessica

    I had actually asked God to show me once if it was true that Jesus was thinking of me when He was on the Cross.

    Later, I heard the verse from Isaiah in which the Messiah was on the Cross, and He was thinking of His children.

    Those children were us.

  • Holly Payne

    Dear Jerome, Jeff has actually gone back and apologized for the video. He said that he was wrong and he didn’t really mean what he said. Also why don’t you read the post Zack has made today. He discusses how everyone should change their thoughts and feelings so “I” am right. Here I linked it for you. http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=5061

  • Lloyd Myers

    I think the real point of the vedio was saying that you must be Born Again. All the things like works etc will follow. How many churches today make the most important thing in the service is Win Souls for Jesus. That is truly what the Church should be all about. He is showing that no matter who wins the GOP nomination the so called Bible Belt will vote Republican. I will not vote for anyone that wants to destroy Medicare and SS. Jesus said help the poor Medicare does that.

  • http://mikesnow.org Michael Snow

    The video is NOW at over 15 million hits. Which makes your article a refreshing breeze in a world of dumb-downed definitions. I understand what our brother in the video was saying, and he clarifies it somewhat in the first sentence under the video that few will read.

    But, of course, there is nothing new in his title. It flows from the ‘evangelical’ mantra that “Christianity is not a religion, it is. a relationship.” This is a sad state of mind for those who cannot handle “the holy conjunction”=AND.

    Over a half century ago, Elton Trueblood described our culture as a cut-flower society. Cut off from its roots, it withers and dies. Anyone who is rooted in the history of the first two millenia of Christianity knows that those from Augustine to Wesley to Trueblood, wrote of true religion versus false religion. But today, many have abandoned truth and smothered it with experience.

    This points to a major ‘disease’ of our day. C.S. Lewis provided an antidote for the spirit of our times, for any who wish to take the medicine, with his rule for reading:
    “…after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one…keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds…”

  • Dean

    Hebrews 5:8-9, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that OBEY HIM.”

    Jesus said, “If you love me, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.”

    We can never be good enough to earn salvation. We must depend on the Grace of God. Not grace only, because that would preclude faith, which is imperative in scripture. Not by faith only, because James 2 clearly says we are not saved by faith only. We are saved by grace, in which we believe, and by acting in obedience to God to take advantage of that grace that is extended to all men (Titus 2:11).

    Your uncle died in California and you live in Alabama. In his will he leaves you $2 million. His will states that you must come to California to receive the money. If you fly out and receive that money, have you earned it? NO. You have met the terms or conditions to receive this free gift of $2 million. When we obey God, we do not earn salvation, we cannot do that. But we do take advantage of the Grace the has been extended.

  • http://www.pastormattrichard.com Matt Richard

    The answer to… “Why do people hate religion, but love Jesus?”


  • http://deanministries.page.tl Matt

    http://deanministries.page.tl – enjoy! Exposing false churches, helping with debates and just plain spreading the Good News, from South Africa!

  • Amarinh

    …lets not start a battle among believers.
    The world already criticizes us. They don’t need more ammunition – lets just love on both non-believer and believers. (the end)

  • Cameron

    I am a Christian, one who still hangs on to some sins I should have long let go of. I like to read. Long ago I discovered something that many people today seem not to comprehend. That I am not the brightest light ever to exist. That my answers to lifes big questions can be superficial when not actually wrong. That I am not that knowledgeable, wise, insightful, but there have been many people, whose writings still exist, who have been all these things. I decided to learn from them. They include: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Francis de Sales, Samuel Johnson, John Henry Newman, Etienne Gilson, Christopher Dawson, Frank Sheed, Mortimer Adler, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Ravi Zacharias, Pope Benedict XVI, Theodore Dalrymple, Thomas Sowell, Paul Johnson, etc. “If I see far it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” Modern people think their own opinions are worth hearing just because they are their own. We are a society of narcissists.

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  • Wade Heilig

    Jesus said: He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled, and if he is troubled, he will be amazed, and he will reign over the All.


    You must first break away from the herd, from all things you have considered normal, understanding that all you have learned in your life only served self-interest and group-interest; that so far your life, driven by vanity and selfishness, has been a mistake, and that you did not live as you might have. You must see that your character has been a learned behavior, until you have redeemed your last penny and stand completely naked. Then you will be granted the last step, from despair to rest. Then you will be able to see clearly. It is then that you will understand you are only man. At that moment, you will see everywhere around you people acting out their play, adorned with the masks of their character, occupation, religion and other group masks, and initially you cannot imagine that they cannot see this. It disturbs you when you realize you know more than all the great men of earth, because such knowledge is not needed. If you know yourself, you realize you only need knowledge in order to live in society, and that you must refute that same knowledge in order to live free from the world system. But, you understand everything

    • Tim

      Where exactly did Jesus say that Wade? Thanks.

    • Emily

      This is the most confusing, made up thing I’ve seen so far. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say that :)

    • Stephen Sponsler

      Jesus never said that unless we consider the Gospel of Thomas valid, which it isn’t.

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  • Brian Midmore UK

    I think the Bethke piece, though highly innaccurate, may prove useful evangelistically. God spoke to the 3 magi by the stars and I think will speak to many through this dodgy medium. By religion Bethke intends to mean hypocritical religion. As most unbelievers see religion as hypocritical this might be an acceptable approximation. Yes it does reiterate a number of protestant shibboleths that need countering.

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  • Artur Sebastian Rosman

    I believe what you’re doing is an awesome example of dialectics dialectically turning on dialectics:


  • https://twitter.com/Jn3_16_21 Eddie

    Jesus minus organized religion equals biblical Christianity.

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  • Stephen Sponsler

    James 1:27 “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The problem with the concept is not religion, but the way so many think of what religion is and how people define it. However, it might help to understand how God defines it, which is live a life worthy of God’s Good Purpose for it. To say I hate religion borders in the darkness between the lines of logic and the lines of reason and services unbelief by inferring I can be one with the world and one with the Lord at the same time viz 1:27). “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and unrigtheous mammon”. Religion is Life in Christ according to God’s Will; religions of the world are ritual righteousness.