Friday, January 13, 2012

Why loving Jesus doesn't mean I have to hate religion

So apparently there’s been a lot of buzz about Jefferson Bethke’s viral video rant/poem, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Some people think it’s the best thing since Martin Luther got himself some paper and a hammer. Others want to start piling up wood while they look for some matches.

Personally, I admire the guy’s passion and apparent love for Jesus. I understand where he’s coming from with his anti-religion/pro-Jesus position. There was a time not that long ago I would probably have been giving him a big thumbs up, but I would have been wrong and so is he. I think what he’s really upset with is “false religion”, aka hypocrisy, and that’s a good thing to be leery of, but we can’t allow ourselves to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Here’s some things he’s just plain wrong about.

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?

"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 (Mt 5:17)

“The Law” refers to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Maybe Jefferson needs to read some passages from The Law. Might I suggest Exodus 25-30? I see directions for liturgical feasts, calendars, vestments, and vessels. It describes using gold & silver, the finest linens woven by master craftsmen, and ornate jewels. There’s a good bit of effort put into explaining various rules and procedures both for how to worship and how to live. None of those ideas came from Moses, they were revealed to him by God.

If religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?

Religion doesn’t start wars. Man does. And we have started wars for all kinds of reasons: power, land, pride, good looking girls, etc. The 20th Century saw more lives destroyed by wars initiated by religion-hating individuals than all of prior human history combined.

Why does it build huge churches but fails to feed the poor?

Once again, I’d like to defer to Jesus’ answer when asked a similar question.

May I also point out that religious organizations provide the greatest amount of charitable services to the poor than anyone else? The Catholic Church, for example, is the largest worldwide charitable organization at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and comforting the suffering.

Jesus hated religion and for it called them foolish.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Mt 23:1-2

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:20

Jesus was against self-righteousness and hypocrisy, not against religion.

Let me clarify: I love the Church, I love the bible, and yes I believe in sin.
But if Jesus came to your church would they actually let him in?

He loves the Church that he’s been bashing throughout his poem. Apparently he’s also fond of proof texting and taking the bible out of context.

And Jesus actually resides in my Church 24/7/365. So yeah, we let him in.

Religion says do. Jesus says done.

Um, Jesus tells us to “do” a whole lot of stuff, and some of it isn’t easy to hear.

While being murdered he yelled "Father forgive them they know not what they do.”

Jesus wasn’t “murdered” he became our high priest and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. They didn’t take his life, he laid it down. See John 10:11-18.

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