November 27, 2014

Hate Religion? Love Jesus?

Jefferson Bethke has certainly received a lot of attention for his video, “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus, which went viral on YouTube last week (over 10 million views). In it, he raps a poem expressing a common evangelical perspective: Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. In fact, Jesus came to abolish religion and establish something completely new in its place.

I wonder what you might think about it?

 

Then, on the other hand…

Jonathan Fisk calls out Bethke and charges him with not adequately defining his terms and with promulgating a false dichotomy. I don’t post this for you because Fisk specifically promotes Lutheranism (though I personally agree with him), but because on a broader level, I think he offers a better way of thinking about how Jesus and religion relate to one another.

Oh yeah, and the clips from the Scott Wesley Brown video from the 70’s are worth twice the price of admission.

 

OK, it’s all yours. Have your say. Play nice.

Note: please make sure you watch the videos. Don’t just comment on what you may have heard elsewhere.

Comments

  1. Bethke’s heart’s in the right spot, he just hasn’t thought it out all the way through.

    Also, Lutheranism re-introduced to western Christianity the relational idea of faith that Bethke wants to promote. Luther rejected Catholicism’s teaching that one’s acts improved one’s merit before God, and taught that being in a right relationship with God, i.e., being justified, is all that is required to receive his gifts. One is either in a good relationship with God or not.

    Bethke’s problem is that he doesn’t see that God establishes that right relationship only in the church. The church is the place the Word is preached. Also, part of that Word is Christ’s promises for forgiveness in baptism and communion, which also occur in church, where the sacraments are administered. It’s a completely foreign idea to Christianity that one can be a Christian without hearing the Word or receiving the sacraments outside of a church.

    If he wants to complain that churches are full of sinners and hypocrites, the response is, well duh. If one does not believe himself to be a sinner, then one has no need of Jesus.

    • Also, I’m becoming convinced of the power of production values. There’s nothing in the argument Bethke makes that is new or really even that interesting.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      “God establishes that right relationship only in the church.” Sorry, Boaz, God’s a lot bigger than that. If I have to sit in some corporate American church every week — and pay for some slick pastor’s sports car, trophy wife, and cushy retirement, and listen to bad music and bad theology, and listen to people complain about the coffee or the music — when I could actually be out loving people, establishing relationships, or reading the Bible or NT Wright — then forget the whole thing. I believe that theoretically you CAN encounter the presence of God in an American church, but there’s sorry little evidence that it actually happens to anyone.

      • But see, Matt, that is the kind of dichotomy Bethke’s video plants in our minds — Religion = everything bad I can think of about the “institutional church.”

        It’s not just that our view of God should be bigger as you said, but that our view of the church and “religion” should be bigger too.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Or, to put it another way, if your church has a slick pastor with a sports car and a trophy wife, and bad music and bad theology, then you need to find a better church. But it is simply bad logic to generalize from this experience.

      • Boaz says “church,” you hear “Consumer driven American revivalist fundagelicalism.” Since when does “church” mean American corporatism, pimp pastoral rides, everyone looks great and is a coffee snob, bad music and no thinking ability? I certainly hope God is bigger than that. But then again, so is the church. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. To be saved IS to be in the church. What you describe is probably the antithesis of the salvation dispensing organism built on Christ and the apostles. (Yikes I sound Catholic there…)

      • what, then, do we do with the early church fathers who, like Cyprian, said things like, “You cannot have God as your Father without the Church as your Mother”?

        i guess he should have just got out of the church and built relationships. he didn’t really get what faith was about when he was martyred.

    • Catholicism doesn’t teach “that one’s acts improved one’s merit before God” but that they evidence one’s love for God.

      Tom

    • boaz,

      In Catholic theology, works done in God’s grace only come into play after one is justified. No works can merit justification, but God has prepared works for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-11) after we are justified, and these can and do contribute to our sanctification (which is also called ongoing justification in Catholic parlance, confusingly).

      Luther rejected a lot of things, including most of the sacraments. Other Protestants like Bethke just took it another step further and rejected all the sacraments and even the notion of “church” as something important. I understand why you want to keep some and reject others, but the principles of the Reformation allowed Protestants to decide for themselves what they will accept and reject.

      • Catholic theology says that works come after Justification? Catholic theology distinguishes between Justification and Sanctification? Hold the phone! Why have I been lied to about Catholic theology my whole life? Well, in Luther’s time, I imagine the whole “sale of indulgences” thing certainly made it look like at least a portion of salvation was merited, since it was up for sale. Yes, we Protestants are guilty of undermining the importance of the church as an institution, but don’t believe for a second we’ve rejected the sacraments. We just call them by different names. We still practice all of them (especially Lutherans and Anglicans), but since Jesus doesn’t directly connect them to Justification, we call them by other names, such as “rites.” Marriage, ordination, confession, unction… We still do them. But since we don’t view sanctification as ongoing justification, then they sort of become optional tools of spiritual growth. I bet they will yet come back into prominence as important practices with the confessional high-church groups.

        • Hi Miguel,

          No doubt well-meaning people told you things about what Catholics believe that were misconceptions they themselves had been taught.

          Because one cannot earn or merit the grace of going from a state of unrighteousness to righteousness. Only actual grace given by God can move one’s heart and mind to accept His gift of faith. Hence the council of Trent condemned the idea that a person could work to merit the actual grace of God.

          The confusing thing is that Catholics will use “justification” for both initial justification (which Protestants just call justification) and ongoing justification (which Protestants call sanctification). So we have different ways we use those words which is unfortunate.

          There are other, paradigmatic, differences between us on justification, but I won’t go into details on it here. You can read this article for to understand them better: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/10/a-reply-from-a-romery-person/

          • This is off-topic with regard to the subject of the post, but is in reply to this particular comment thread.

            Actually folks, the problem with Catholicism (at least in my country) is the huge gap between what theologians and Church documents say, and what the people in the pews hear from their religious ed teachers and parish priests and the popular Catholic culture in general.

            Having grown up Roman Catholic, with no idea of conversion or a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and then come to faith in an Evangelical setting, I learned all of the theological complaints Evangelicals have with Roman Catholicism, and they matched what I knew of the Church and its members.

            It is only in the past ten years or so that I have been engaging with Roman Catholics who, like Evangelicals, believe in a personal conversion of heart and a personal relationship with God, and they can explain most of the controversial issues in ways that at least make sense, even if they don’t fully convince me. And the reason they don’t fully convince me is that there is no evidence around me that the majority of Roman Catholic parishioners, clergy, and even bishops believe that way.

            And lest this be just Catholic-bashing :-) today of course there is another issue: the increasing theological liberalism within both the Catholic and Lutheran churches, again, at least here in Europe. At my mother’s funeral eight months ago, her parish priest said in his graveside homily, “She was always to quick for me with her belief in the resurrection and the afterlife,” while more than one prominent Lutheran pastor (or pastoress) will spout, on the radio and tv, denials of original sin or the notion that Jesus’ death has any salvivic effect. With those, of course it is no longer their (no-existent) Catholicism or Lutheranism that is the problem and the issue.

    • I was under the impression that the church was a people, not a place.

      • What is the church vs. who is the church. The “church is the members” idea is taught to distinguish the body of Christ from buildings and institutions. But it doesn’t answer the “what” question. It tells us who makes up the body of Christ, but gives us absolutely no details concerning what it might be supposed to look like or function as. There is more to being a Christian than just “having a personal relationship with Jesus.”

  2. Kenny Johnson says:

    Ok I didn’t watch the 2nd video yet, but saw the first because dome FB friends posted it. I thought there was a lot to like about it, but also felt uncomfortable about it. I think he says a lot of right things but uses the wrong words.

  3. I’m not a fan of the first video at all (I generally roll my eyes at evangelicals who say “I don’t have a religion, I have a relationship with Jesus”) but just for the record the title is “Why I Hate Religion but *Love* Jesus”…

  4. I don’t know which bothered me more: The shallow/trite/clichéd nature of Bethke’s video or the number of FB friends who thought it was awesome.

  5. Bethke’s video hits me right in the middle of a pet peeve: Religion, properly defined, is our beliefs and actions that stem from the knowledge of (and, preferably, relationship with) God. Jesus didn’t come to abolish religion; he came to make complete the incomplete knowledge of God that the Pharisees had, and call them on their hypocrisy–claiming to pursue a relationship with God when they really could care less.

    Saying “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” might make you sound like you understand the core of what Christianity is about, but the folks who say this old saw tend to lousy at both the religion and the relationship. And really, what sort of relationship ought you expect when you’re not going to put any effort into it?

    • This “It’s a relationship, not a religion” theme is evidence that the revisionists are not just in the liberal camp.

      This is evidence of Evangelicals re-defining words (in this case ‘religion’) to suit their ideology. I have struggled against that for so long that Bethke’s video didn’t really surprise or shock me, nor did the applause it got.

      What I found particularly funny, though, is the way he says, “Religion is this, Christianity is that.” Faith in Jesus can be defined as a relationship, but “Christianity” IS A RELIGION. If one really wants to make this “relationship not religion” argument, from an Evangelical perspective, one must avoid the word Christianity like the plague, because it encompasses all the liberal churches, all the nominal Christians, etc., etc. which do not fit into that argument.

  6. Bethke has apparently already responded to criticism of his video, criticism which he welcomes and agrees with:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/14/following-up-on-the-jesusreligion-video/

    • Thanks for linking to that. What a great example of how differing Christians can graciously come humbly together and discuss those differences.

    • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

      Very good response from Bethke in that link. I wish Bethke’s response would follow his original video!

    • Maybe we’re making the same mistake in interpreting Bethke as we often do with the Psalms? Poetry does not equal theology?

      • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

        Except that he’s making theological and polemic claims with his poetry. It’s not for art’s sake; it’s for argument’s sake, which begs such analysis.

    • Now THAT’s a good sign! If only all the “fans” of the original video would read the critique and response, that would be going in the right direction. And as much as I personally enjoy Fisk’s rhetoric, I will concede that DeYoungs is certainly more helpful.

  7. sayla1228 says:

    After hearing about all the opinions and listening to this video, I have mixed feelings about it. I resonate the overall message, especially nowadays. It’s hard to be remain positive when certain churches just are fake.

    But as a writer and spoken word addict, it’s not good art but rather too propagandic. The message is overall meaningful and he has natural rythym but his writing needs more work because he’s too vauge. The fact people all over fight over the use of word religion tells you he failed literary art 101. If the theme and message of art is good itself, one doesn’t need to be propagandic but rather just work on your craft to take your audience on a journey to your truth. Plus, it whole “relationship not religion” is not the best use of words. I think part of my problem with it is that he doesn’t actually define *what* it is that he has a problem with. It’s extremely vague and generic, and probably purposefully so. The viewer can then fill in their own ideas about what religion they want to condemn. It’s appealing in that way. There is a level of swallowness in how he is engaging culture, something dualistic.

    Here are articles that explain more what I thought:
    “Religious but Spiritual” by Gregory Wolfe at Image Journal
    “Nominally Speaking” by Bethany Hudson at her blog Apple Cider Mama

  8. This ‘religion vs. relationship’ spiel is one of my pet peeves too, not least because ‘religion’ in this context usually means liturgical/sacramental churches (read Catholicism/ mainline Protestant). I think that’s a caricature even in that limited context. Broaden the context and it takes on an aura of whiskey-tango-foxtrot.

    ‘Religion is man’s search for God’. Really? What about Buddhism? Buddhists aren’t even obliged to believe in God, let alone search for Him. Is Buddhism not a religion? What about the ancient paganisms? None of them believed in a single God, and the gods they did have they didn’t want to search for, they just hoped they wouldn’t smite them and ruin their crops. Were these not religions?

    Sloppy thinking of the worst kind. Grrr…

    • I’d disagree with saying his context implies Catholic/Mainline. He bashes on the Republican party hard and early, and while some Catholics/Mainlines may be pretty GOP friendly they are typically much more tolerant of Democrats. If I had to guess I’d say he’s coming from a Baptist or Christian Church/Disciples of Christ background. On the other hand It’s dogmatism, authoritarianism and legalism that he is primarily against, and you can find those anywhere.

  9. I was annoyed by the first video. And somewhat annoyed by the second one. Maybe the tone of rap always sounds adversarial, but if Fisk had kept to his less contentious points he would have ended with more people on side. Plenty of bloggers have addressed Bethke comprehensively.

    I’ve often thought the “do v done” used by Christian apologists isn’t really about other religions v the gospel, is about Christianity misunderstood. “Religion” is a straw man.

    Why do people not like “religion”? Or not want to identify as “Christian” (but maybe “follower of Jesus”)? There are non-Christians who see something they don’t like, and Christians who want to say “it’s not like you think it is”.

    We have to deconstruct – to get down to exactly what things we object to, and consider each case separately. Here are some possibles I can think of.

    1. Wars that were supposedly religious in origin. We can easily shoot them down as not core to Christianity.

    2. Political conservatism. Again, not part of Christianity.

    3. Believing in God and sin and what Christ has done etc. Obviously that’s something that can’t be thrown out.

    3. The formalities of some Christian traditions. This is perhaps one picked up on by Christians in “non-traditional traditions”.

    4. Going to church at all. This is perhaps what the non-Christian objects to.

    5. Identification with a particular division of the Church – a denomination, or the first group of people to identify as Christians in one’s country (who may have been godless westerners or culturally clueless missionaries), Christian popular culture or some relatives of whom one is embarrassed.

    6. Legalism. This is addressed by the videos. Of course it is easy to preach grace but then stray into legalism while advocating obedience in a particular area of life.

    And there’s a lot more.

    We won’t always come to the same conclusions about what is core or about what is helpful. In these days of churchless Christians, Muslims who follow Jesus, etc. But it’s an important topic and one I’ve pondered at length, because if some have said no to Jesus thinking saying yes would mean something it doesn’t, we do well to correct that misunderstanding.

  10. Donalbain says:

    If Christianity isnt a religion, then why do priests and ministers get religious exemptions from certain laws? :)

    • Christianity certainly is a religion. One can do all of the Christian things that Christians do and be painfully lacking a relationship with Jesus. Religion is bad, and that can include Christianity. I like the statement “Religion is what we do, the Gospel is what God does for us.”

      • “Christianity certainly is a religion” + “Religion is bad” == Christianity is bad.

        My primary objection to the video is that Christians are only able to say “Religion is bad” when they use a special *religious* definition of the word religion. I laughed out loud in the second video when he flashed the dictionary definition of religion as I’ve resorted to that myself before. “Religion” as used by most, especially the non-religious, simply means a set of beliefs and practices. If you believe in Jesus and you take communion that’s a religion! And while I understand the definition Bethke may be working from (law, hypocrisy, etc) when Christians preach to the unconverted that “religion is bad” they are understood as badmouthing Christianity or sound like car salesman glibly redefining words in order to sound more attractive. Not a good idea either way…

        I won’t link to it and its definitely profane but I saw the Amazing Atheist’s response to the video. I’ve got atheist friends who link his stuff – anyways his take kind of funny and mostly consisted of “yes christianity is bad”, and “you’re an idiot if you think you are against religion”.

  11. Kelby Carlson says:

    Bad poetry, bad theology. That’s about all I have to say bout the video.

  12. …pretty much covers it for me, too.

    But then again, ten years ago my sons knew everything and had insights previously ignored by mankind. AND they were living with parents who were idiots, hypocrites, and out of touch with the world.

    Fast forward a decade…they are parents themselves and pushing thirty and they DON’T know everything anymore, and their father and I seem to have gained fifty IQ points.

    This is an adolescent rant, and totally UN~original, although I am sure this young man lacks the experience and knowledge to know how much of this “poem” is old, old news.

    He’ll learn.

  13. I find Nadia Bolz-Weber’s take on the issue interesting. She is an ELCA pastor in Denver

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2012/01/why-i-hate-religion-but-love-jesus-a-response/

    This being said, I have been way too influenced by Boenhoffer, Barth and Ellul not to be critical of “religion” (as opposed to “revelation”). It’s even easier to be when you live in western Europe, where Christendom is living a long and painful agony…

  14. The whole debate amuses me. Had this video been released in the late 80’s or early 90’s I suspect the reaction by iMonk readers and others would be vastly different than today. I don’t know if it is due to the recent maturity of Emerging/Emergent folks who have moved beyond the trite platitudes found in the video or if it is a more venial jealousy based on Evangelical hipster poseurs trying to put on the facade of cool without abandoning Evangelicalism totally. And no, that isn’t a dichotomy. I think there is a whole catalog of possible reasons for the reaction from post-evangelicals, and none of them mutually exclusive.

    In other words, I find the reaction to the video, particularly among those who used to say these very same things for the last 20 years, more interesting than the video itself. I would have been delightfully amused if he had strung together a bunch of quotes from McLaren, Tony Jones, Andrew Jones, Padgitt, Tickle, and others in a rap and see how that played.

    The second video represents Evangelical ignorance. A man writes a poem – A POEM, people – and the response is an analytical, theological(ish), argument. Really? Arguing with a poem? Sign him up for that critique of Impressionistic and Abstract art because it lacks attention to detail. Talk about an adventure in missing the point. Whatever happened to the idea that poetry (even bad poetry) is supposed to be evocative rather than denotative? We might as well argue against the historical inaccuracies in Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” or Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans.” It’s poetry. Get a grip.

    I’m glad Bethke responded to the critiques of the video as he did, however, I think some people need to learn to appreciate the genre of rap (characterized by outrageous, hyperbolic imagery, confrontational statements, and in-your-face attitude), its forms and conventions. I didn’t say they need to like it (I don’t, but that’s beside the point), but they need to understand what it is, where it comes from, what it represents, and how it represents ideas. At that point, go ahead and engage the discussion. But a blow-by-blow in-your-face argument? Where is the value in that?

    • Great point, Rick. Towards the end, I believe he spoke about what the church *should* be, which means he hasn’t given up on it. He’s reacting against hypocrisy as he sees it, mainly coming from, I think, suburban mega-churches. I thought it was a good video that made some points worth thinking about.

      • I think he would have been less controversial (and less attention-getting, i.e. viral) if he had rapped “Why I Hate Hypocrisy but Love Jesus.” Seems to be a no-brainer there, but for some reason that eludes and mystifies me, a lot of people who used to deal in ambiguity and catch-phrases are now calling for clarity and definition of terms. I guess the postmodern revolution hasn’t revolutionized us as much as it had hoped.

    • Rick, you are missing a big point here. For evangelicalism, art serves little or no purpose apart from making an argument. This video did not go viral because people thought it was great poetry or catchy rap, but because it makes an argument they respond to — if only on a surface level. Fisk responded in kind — with an argument framed in poetry/video/rap, and yet you call his “art” a “blow by blow in your face argument.” In this case art vs. art is identical to argument vs. argument.

      An example of responding with analysis is the deYoung article you praise!

      • And Rick, as for your point that many of us have changed since the 80s and 90s — I gotta give you that one. It’s why we are POST-evangelical. And one reason is that we have thought through some of these cliches and found them wanting.

      • Well, Mike, I would say for SOME parts of Evangelicalism, art is a sermon. Fortunately, I teach a class of College & Career agers, some of whom attend Columbus College of Art and Design, and others who lean strongly artistic/poetic. They give me great hope for the next gen evangelicals. Was Bethke sermonizing? Probably. Was the response critique justified in that case? I guess so, in a tit-for-tat sort of way. That being said, I much prefer the DeYoung level of interaction that goes all Matthew 18 on him. Seems more like a Jesus thing than a Religious thing that way. :-)

        Mike, you make me smile with the admission that post-Evangelicals have thought through the cliches and found them wanting. So what of us who had already done so back in the 90’s before it was cool? What of us who never left the comfort of religious traditions because we saw the vacuity of the alternative? It isn’t that our faith is unexamined, rather that we never saw the need to jump on the pomo/Emergent bandwagon. We liked waving from the street as it passed by and enjoyed the calliope’s tunes, but weren’t sold on the hype offered by a A New Kind of Christianity when the Old Kind seemed to be working just fine, especially when the Old Kind was where the New Kind seemed headed anyway. Just wondering?

    • I’m not sure how valid in this case the retort of ‘It’s poetry- you can’t argue with a poem’ is. I’m not hearing a lot of evocative metaphors or poetic conceits here. I find that most Christian rap songs are basically sermons that rhyme, and this seems no different. And a sermon can be argued with.

    • Evangelicals are too literal or maybe the internet has made us all even more argumentative that everything has to be analyzed and argued about. I’m tired of it, seems like you have to evaluate everything you say nowadays or else everyone will jump on you.

      • 12 million views. i think it’s something worth discussing. unless you’re suggesting we simply let everything go unchecked.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “A man writes a poem – A POEM, people – and the response is an analytical, theological(ish), argument. Really? Arguing with a poem?”

      I take it you are unfamiliar with the work of Alexander Pope, or of any number of other poets of the 17th century. Or any other century, come to think of it. To suggest that one can argue with a poem is to claim that poetry is by its nature insubstantial. This would come as a surprise to most poets and most poetry readers.

      • Richard, I am familiar with a wide range of English literature including Milton’s and translations of Dante. I do find it interesting that many of the metaphors have entered tacit theology without a strong biblical basis. At the same time, I try not to confuse the two – granting to poetry a bit more license than I grant to apologetics and essays. I imagine you do the same, even for Pope.

    • Excellent points, Rick. I am a songwriter myself and there are certain allowances and even deliberate points where I am vague in songwriting that I would never choose to be in conversation or if I were giving a lecture.

      His peom/rap could have been better, in my opinion, but he gave his definition of religion by the context of the rest of the poem/rap. In understanding any laguage it is always more important to consider how the context in which a word is used more than just the dictionary meaning of the word.

    • Actually, “Paul Revere’s Ride, ” as a work of classic poetry, IS subjected to much historical and factual analysis and scrutiny. It reveals the original context and intent of the author, which sheds so meaning on the meaning of the work. Since when is poetry an art about which we do not think? The same goes for impressionism: There is incredible detail and intentionality in that style, despite how hard it works to make it seem to the contrary. It is, after all, its own “school,” and as such must fall within SPECIFIC parameters. Poetry and painting, as arts, are forms of communication. The ideas are discussed, analysed, debated, and critiqued as part and parcel of the very nature of the medium. “Rap” is also a shallow excuse for self-contradictory thinking. No one is objecting to Bethke’s mannerism as being overly confrontational: His ideas are just presumptuous.

      That being said, calling the first vid “poetry” is incredibly generous. Calling the second video “evangelical” is also missing the point entirely. Not only does Fisk openly repudiate evangelicalism BY NAME, he does not remotely represent the evangelical perspective, but challenges it with something much deeper and older. “Blow by blow analysis” is precisely what is involved in thinking. Fisk gave one of Bethke, you gave one of them both, and I just gave one of you. There is nothing unkind about the open exchange of ideas, even if the explicitly disagree. In fact, you might argue that this is essential to the educational process. If two ideas aren’t given the freedom to attack each other, even with metaphorical violence, then how are we supposed to learn to think critically?

  15. I liked them both for their energy and passion. I think if Bethke had defined better what he is calling “religion” he may not have as much pushback.

    There is an Orthodox priest who posted on his blog about this at roadsfromemmaus.org He posted on 1-12-12 if you have to look for it once you get there.

  16. I’m not sure Jesus came to abolish “religion” as much as he came to abolish duality. As such, “hating religion” and “loving Jesus” would be inconsistent with Jesus’ message of unity and love. Religion is a human institution which reflects our humanness. By rejecting religion, we reject ourselves. And more than anything, it seems we are here to learn that not only are we loved without condition by God, we are the very nature of love itself in our Oneness with God. So the question is, can we learn to love our religious institution flawed and broken as they are as reflections of ourselves – flawed and broken. As we grow in our ability to remember the love that we are, our religious institutions will be healed as well and will more closely reflect compassion, love and mercy. And if all of this is too esoteric, maybe we can go back to Jesus’ example. He was born a Jew and he died a Jew. He did not reject or turn away from his religion, but merely sought to point out where it was inconsistent with God’s love. Perhaps we are called to do the same.

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

  17. While I do agree with the sentiment that God is after faith (so much so that He gives us faith as a gift), and that He is not after what ‘we do’ (our efforts to ascend to Him)…I wonder about other motives of those speaking “against religion”.

    Many look at traditional churces and equate that with ‘religion’.

    While there are many things we can criticize about traditionl worship, it has worked for 2,000 years and does not need to be dumped for ‘house church’ worship. Not that ‘house church’ worship is sub par, either. I’m not saying it is.

    The focus of the worship, where the onus falls, ought be the point (what ‘we do’ vs. ‘what God did, does, and is doing’ )

    Thanks.

  18. Why does Evangelicalism bring forth this stuff? The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t give this kind of critique the time of day. Any comments Devon or Martha of Ireland.

    • I think it is a bit of preaching to the choir. When I was a Baptist, if we had a dogma it was this: Jesus wants a relationship not a religion. I must have heard that a hundred times.

      Religion = empty formality, meaningless ritual, works-based righteousness.
      Relationship = spiritual devotion, love of Jesus, life in the Spirit.

      In James 1 (verses 25 or 27 or thereabouts) he describes hypocritical and false religion (which Bethke bashes) and true and pure religion that is undefiled before God. So just like with tradition: there’s man-made tradition and there’s divine tradition. One is dispensable and the other is part of the deposit of faith.

      Still, for some Catholics who are weaker in their faith or poorly catechized, his video could be convincing: “yeah why am I going to the Catholic Church with all its rituals? Why doesn’t the Pope sell the Sistine Chapel and give the money to the poor?” Etc.

      God bless,
      Devin

      • ..Exactly the question my peers were throwing around at Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt as teens in the 70’s!

        “We could feed the hungry and stop the war with love and all this money!!!”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Did this involve a Trinity of Marx, Lenin, and Castro?

          Or John Lennon’s “Imagine” as the Communion Hymn?

          (I’m from SoCal. I’ve seen weirder.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        When I was a Baptist, if we had a dogma it was this: Jesus wants a relationship not a religion. I must have heard that a hundred times.

        Religion = empty formality, meaningless ritual, works-based righteousness.
        Relationship = spiritual devotion, love of Jesus, life in the Spirit.

        These days, if I hear the smug “You Have a Religion, I Have a Relationship”, I’m going to REND.

  19. Matt Purdum says:

    Sorry. This is just pump-up-the-youth-group stuff. Jesus REALLY did come to abolish religion (among many other goals) as part of establishing the kingdom. When evangelicals say these things they’re simply expressing contempt for historical Christianity and for any kind of consistent theology. The claim here to be non-religious just doesn’t ring true.

  20. I guess my only problem with Bethke’s poem is that the only thing I can see that his brand of faith did for him was to set him free from porn…after complaining that “religion” is just behavior modification. The other video, while well-intended, was more than snarky.

    Didn’t care for either one that much.

  21. Tired of the first one, didn’t watch the second. This is int he same league as Driscoll’s sex stunts. Publicity. Religion vs. Jesus is a false (and tired) dichotomy. Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover. Sounds like religion to me. This is a line tread out, repeatedly, by people who want to claim (for whatever reason) that they are spiritual (whatever they mean by that) without doing anything of significance.

    I enjoy pondering God under a tree in the park on a sunny day as much as anyone, but I’m not stupid enough to think that is a sufficient (non)religious experience for me to truly be an apprentice of Jesus.

  22. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

    I was wondering when Bethke’s video was going to be discussed here :)

    When I first saw Bethke’s video last week, I had (and still have) all the objections raised by Fisk (and others), but refrained from saying anything. Figured I’d observe some of what happened as the video went viral. For the most part, I observed three typical responses among my FB friends:

    1) Evangelicals by-and-large loved it. This is because, like Bethke, they had re-defined the word “religion” in their minds and meant instead “legalism,” “hypocrisy,” “false religions,” or (in some cases) “high church/liturgical Christianity).

    2) High church Christians (typically H/C Anglicans, Catholics, or Orthodox) hated it. This seemed to be due to one or more of the following reasons: they defined religion more along how the dictionary does and realize that Christianity IS a religion, they saw Bethke as being anti-Church, they saw the subtle digs at their traditions, or they have a non-Protestant understanding of the interaction of faith and works.

    3) My non-Christian friends (i.e. the “spiritual but not religious” folk) also loved it. But that’s because they were also using the dictionary definition of religion and while they like Jesus, they’re anti-organized religion and really, doesn’t the journey matter more than the religion? I mean, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad… it’s all the same right?

    To me, the biggest irony of Bethke’s video is that he is re-defining the word religion in a way that is only used by… other religious folks (who, of course, would also not self-identify as religious).

    So, while I appreciate Bethke’s indictment of some of the more Pharisaical tendencies in Christianity, he mixes it with so much bad history, bad theology, and general shallow-attempts-at-being-deep that it makes me want to bust out the over-sized phylacteries and long robe tassels.

    As for Fisk’s response. Once he stopped rhyming, I really enjoyed it. There’s a part of me that really appreciates good snark.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I had mainly seen references to this video on atheist sites (I guess that would be a 4th category). They hated it, too. Because they use the dictionary definition of religion and honestly don’t see how worshiping Jesus avoids being religious, even if done in a house or park.

      • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

        Interesting. I hadn’t seen any atheist responses (mostly due to the circles I hang in, I guess). And y’know… they’re right in that assessment :)

    • I think the reason liturgical folks and atheists are critical of the argument is that they are using the term “religion” in the correct way. Only if you mean religion in a polemical sense (“institution,” “dry ritual,” “legalism,” etc)–that is, very narrowly–can you make the claim that you are ordering your life by a higher power and whole set of practices and moral rules, and yet somehow not be “religious.”

      Evangelicals are religious by any objective definition of the term.

      Another favorite of mine: “I believe the Bible and have no theology.”

  23. Bethke is our brother in Christ. If you think he got it wrong, the proper response is to come alongside with firm and loving instruction from a place of help. It’s not about pushback and argument. It is best approached as dialogue and learning.

    When I first saw his vid, I loved some of it and recognized that he missed the mark on other parts, but I always gave him the benefit of the doubt on motives. Unlike Fisk (who I also enjoyed) however, I did not read Bethke as boasting. I think that was ascribing motives without proper background. I read it more as a young man trying to express something very powerful and very difficult and lacking some of the tools to express the more subtle aspects. Hip Hop has never been known for subtlety.

    Why would you read his confession as boasting? He was ascribing his being freed from the power of pornography to the saving work of Jesus. Perhaps if you had never struggled with that yourself, you might miss the heart behind it. I never heard Bethke as boasting that he freed himself from pornography. He was confessing his weakness to highlight the strength of Jesus.

    Biggest error Bethke made was to not fully define (poetically) the meaning of his terminology. I think what he really meant was “I had attempts at self-made-salvation and Love Jesus!” But that isn’t good poetry. He would have done well to find better way to unpack that idea.

    I’m grateful for putting himself out there. If you have never preached or published, you may not realize what a vulnerable act that is. This is a great conversation.

  24. The video was …. okay, not great. His missed the point, badly, on religion.

    However, his response (and eventual conversation) with Kevin DeYoung was so encouraging, grace-filled, and humble that I’m very happy for the example this can set for those people burned by religion but still see Jesus as the author of Life.

  25. I identify with his sentiments about religion’s shortcomings, but I’ve always thought it was a co-out to assert that one is “spiritual” or “has Jesus” but rejects “religion.” This only works if you define religion in an odd (and essentially negative) way.

    This Lutheran gal pretty much summed up my reaction:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2012/01/why-i-hate-religion-but-love-jesus-a-response/

    She writes:

    “So…I believe in Religion AND Jesus. I believe in the Gospel. I believe in the transformative, knock you on your ass truth of what God has done in Christ. I believe that I can only know what this following Jesus thing is about when I learn it from people I would never choose out of a catalog when we all gather together as the broken and blessed Body of Christ around the Eucharistic meal. I believe that I am the problem at least as often as I am the solution. I believe in participating in sacred traditions that have a whole lot more integrity than anything I could come up with myself. I believe I need someone else to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to me because I cannot create that for myself. I believe that Jesus is truly present in the breaking of the bread and that where 2 or more are gathered he is there. That’s religion AND Jesus.”

  26. Bethke’s video = honest but misguided; met a lot of kids like him in my misbegotten years as a Bible college teacher

    Response = so smug and off-putting in the first 8 minutes that I almost didn’t stick with it (also, I didn’t care for the gratuitous “killin’ babies” swipe at 1:17, and there was something kind of specious about his response to the “war” point at 1:50)

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty sure I’d be more comfortable at Fisk’s church than Bethke’s. I’m just offering an immediate emotional response to the videos. To make it personal: I suspect that I make room in my head for the “Jesus vs. religion” dichotomy *not* because I have anything against religion, but rather because I sometimes wonder whether I am too much the other way– viz., more in love with Christianity (the beauty of ancient liturgy and classic church art, the intellectual pleasure to be found in parsing texts and drawing connections, the glorious mess that is church history) than with Christ.

    Has anybody mentioned Fritz Ridenour yet in this discussion? (There; I just did.)

  27. What makes the Bethke video so compelling to those for whom it is compelling is that it distinguishes Christ from organized Christianity.

    What makes the Bethke video so problematic to Fisk and and others is that it fails to support organized Christianity.

    This presents a dilemma for all those who love Christ but believe He is pursuing His mission through organized Christianity, for it leaves you with a divided heart. There are two masters and only one is worth following: Christ.

  28. While Benthke’s rap strikes me as fairly shallow and lacking in substance, I would add that I think that comparing and contrasting the person of Jesus (as presented in the gospels) with all the religious stuff His followers have constructed, enacted, and perpetuated in His name throughout church history is something all Christians (and even Christian institutions) should do with relative frequency.
    The fact that religions and institutions tend to drift away from the original designs and character of their founders over the course of time is just a reality of this fallen world. And because of that reality, Jesus (and Jesus alone) should be the standard and measure by which His church continually reforms itself and makes course corrections when things get off track. Otherwise, the church is in danger of becoming just a big compilation of Jesus-related paraphernalia with the person of Jesus being delegated to a mere historical figurehead providing assumed endorsement for whatever church leaders decide to do or create.
    As far as the relationship versus religion thing, that depends on whether or not a particular item of religion is serving to lead people toward a deeper relationship with Christ — or serving as something people turn to as a religious substitute for such a relationship.

  29. Hey I Monestarty… it’s been quite a week, and I’m getting back on my feet. My Dad had a medical emergency that looked quite bleak but things made an incredible turn around. I’m still thinking through and processing everything.

    Okay..getting to the issue at hand.

    I’ve seen this video being passed around on Facebook and I haven’t watched it until now. However, as I think back on it being passed around and those who distribute it the irony is just driipping. I mean…you go to a mega church which boasts of an attendance of 12,000 people and then you distribute a video saying that Jesus didn’t come to build the chruch? And this comes from the same line of thought that gave us the mega church? Am I the only one that finds that odd? I also find it interesting as to how the issue of grace arises. Some of these environments are quite legalistic and don’t preach or practice grace. So how can they know what grace is? Again…the certain sexual sins (pornograghy, sleeping around, etc..) always have to be addressed. Lets not talk about gluttony, greed, etc.. (which I didn’t see mentioned in the video…if I am wrong please correct me)

    The video is more for shock value. Kind of like all the other stuff in evangelicalism…whether it be Ed Young or Mark Driscoll.

    • I tend to just lump porn, sleeping around etc as you enumerated as just the Theology of the Pelvis.

    • Same reaction here,
      I saw the video shared by people involved in the church where I tend to squirm on my seat due to to the obligations put on the audience. Almost every sunday it’s about what we must do (pray, read the bible, evangelize). After reading the imonk piece on ‘Christless preaching’ I started paying attention and of four sermons, only one was about Jesus. And I felt very lucky hearing that one. Another teacher deconstructed Collossians 2 and 3 by first saying that it’s not about religion, but then going on that we should monitor the way we speak (‘so that other people see we are christians’), and that we should be involved in our churches (by attending meetings and taking up tasks). I wanted to shout: don’t you see that this is religion in itself? But it was heartily endorsed by the elders praying afterwards.
      And now the people in this church share this video – I think it’s ironic.

      Johan

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Again…the certain sexual sins (pornograghy, sleeping around, etc..) always have to be addressed. Lets not talk about gluttony, greed, etc.. (which I didn’t see mentioned in the video…if I am wrong please correct me)

      Like I said before, Christians are just as messed up (and obsessed) sexually as everyone else, just in a different direction. The Christianese Anti-Porn Activist who knows ALL the blow-by-blow details of all this porn is a running joke for a reason. It’s like Pathological Furry-Haters in Furry Fandom; they are just as obsessed with Furry as the furries they denounce, just flipped from Total Blind Adoration to Total Blind Hatred. And then there’s the JUICY factor to all the anti-porn, anti-sex activism.

  30. I know Fisk can come off as snarky and offensive to some, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m not easily offended, and I enjoy arguing anyways, at least, about theology. I like it when someone gives their perspectives without holding back the ace in their pocked: Here’s how I see it, plain and simple.

    The first video is the ethos of my last church (SBC). The second video, in a perfect world, would be the ethos of my new church (LCMS), but in all honesty, the first ethos is in the water. The atmosphere American evangelicals breathe is so saturated with the line of thinking in the first video that it has infected the LCMS as a denomination. I got 50 bucks that say people in my congregation are passing around that first video. What we all need is just some theological humility. Fisk may not demonstrate this perfectly through his demeanor, but the ideas themselves are humble: We need to stop praying, “I thank you Lord that I’m not like those religious hypocrites,” and start molding our religion more towards, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” That’s the ethos of confessional Lutheranism that Fisk is trying to communicate.

    I don’t think the response is harsh at all. Bethke demonstrates pure ideological arrogance, and Fisk calls him on it. Anyone annoyed by Fisk’s bluntness has to recognize that it pales in comparison to Bethke’s presumptuousness. Which line is our un-believing culture more sick of?

    • I agree. The first video has the ethos of so many churches I’ve been to that have left me cold, I knew right from the start this guy’s probably immature and just being quick to speak as a young believer. He’s been fed the dichotomy that evangelicalism dishes out constantly in order to vindicate itself from, say, liturgy…or old people. The LCMS church I grew up in was cold as ice and the people were apparently unmoved by the Gospel, but the “religion” that surrounded them was what drove home key theology and scripture for me at a young age. Incidentally, I didn’t hear the anti-religion rhetoric til I left that church. I’ve also been to few churches that are richer with at least the teaching of grace and truth that they had there.

  31. I agree somewhat with those who say Bethke’s spoken word video could have been phrased better but I don’t know why people are stating that he didn’t define what he meant by religion. Right underneath the YouTube video he writes:

    “A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it’s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!”

    In this description he clarifies that he’s speaking about self-justifying false religion ie. salvation by works. Maybe just using the word “religion” was not the best choice but he *did* define his meaning and it’s one that seems to be pretty well known by a lot of folks (at least in the circles I run in).

    As far as that Lutheran fellow Fiske’s response goes, the attitude in that video came across to me (as others have already pointed out) as really snarky. I don’t think that’s very helpful to the discussion. :(

    • He may have defined religion in a footnote as referring to Phariseeism, but the video points its finger at the church.

      • Hi Chaplain Mike,

        Unless we have a different definition of church (the people of God universal) I’d have to disagree with you on that. He pointed his finger at religion (self-righteous works-based religion) not at the church. Admittedly this kind of religion has infiltrated the church at times but he doesn’t say the church is the problem. He seems to me to be doing something like Paul did when Paul warned the Galatians about the Judaizers in their midst who sought to enslave them again to the law when they were already free.

        Like I said earlier, I don’t think he necessarily phrased it the best way but I think it is the hearer/reader’s responsibility to seek to understand his meaning before criticizing his message. He did provide an easy way to do that by posting an explanation/description right there on the video page. Arguing that he is criticizing Christianity the religion without taking his definition into account is a form of straw-man argument. (Aside from tone, that would be my main problem with the rebuttal video)

  32. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Baptism does not Save.
    Jesus said “if you love me keep my commandments” not religion. (Oh just stop, you’ve already said it)
    redefining words your own way does not make your point any differently than the other.
    “For he that is not against us is on our part”. – I seriously doubt either is the enemy of the gospel.
    I wonder if the gospel writers would have come out like this if they had the technology in the day?

    And after you have pontificated the popular the pundits “Then what?”
    But ya gotta admit, it’s great for the ratings…

  33. Randy Thompson says:

    Unless things have changed since I did an M.A. in Religious Studies at a West Coast university, there is no agreed upon definition of religion, which means much of the religion-relationship dichotomy is in the eyes of the beholder. Having said that. . .

    If you pray, meditate and worship, you’re engaging in religious practices.
    If you have a relationship with God without such “religious” disciplines, your relationship will end up short-lived.

    If for no other reason, I go to church once a week to make sure that my relationship with God isn’t merely a fictional relationship in my own imagination. Being with other people doing “religious” things keeps me honest.

    To borrow an image from an Eastern Orthodox writer, the relationship is the building and religion is the scaffolding used to build it.

    • cermak_rd says:

      But doesn’t the scaffolding get removed after the building is complete?

      • Randy Thompson says:

        The building is never completed this side of eternity, which is what the imagery of Revelation 21 teaches us. Only then will there be no Temple (and all that goes with it, cf. Revelation 21:22ff).

  34. Apologies
    * And after you have pontificated the popular *to the pundits “Then what?”
    Peace love and more Jesus to each of you

  35. I agree with what he says. It is a relationship and not religion

    • I largely agree. it was art or a poem (good or bad). An artist does not need to make every counter-point. He is to get his point across, I think he did.
      As for the “goofy Luthern guy”, I can only watch about a minute of his videos, someone linked him on this site b4, he reminds me of that annoying guy from that sad fundy show ‘wretched’. tired, sad, & about 5 years behind.

  36. Charles Joshua Lake says:

    I’ll just throw in a few points:
    – There is a bigger picture (whether intended or not, though not addressed in the video) about people and their tendencies over the course of history, and how much theistic involvement is PERCEIVED
    – Many of the points presented in the video are painfully tripe (although the concern is probably genuine) and are regurgitated in almost any anti-religion/atheist presentation, and as a couple of the been-there-done-that posters here have pointed out
    – Over a few thousands of comments all over cyberspace (youtube, individual blogs, fb), yet the mindset is already cast in iron, for or against; how much of it is flesh, how much spirit.
    – I’ve stopped going to church regularly for a few years now because I found my autistic roots and/or basically found most of Christians I met annoying, although I must be the most annoying Christian ever. By Christian, it mean it as a basic administrative fact. Explanation of my being a “confessionally” Christian is offline for brevity’s sake. I would rather be singing psalms in a cave with a couple of other fugitives running from Roman soldiers than going to the places people call church. However, I recognize the fact and process of the necessity of religion and its formation in society. My gang of fugitives in the cave will one day elect leaders, desire a proper place of worship, proclaim the Word and bring the news of salvation to more people to as to be proper agents in effecting that salvation by grace by faith and by the spirit, etc.
    – There are institutional power and control games, be it in politics or in religion (organized or not), or even in my cave. At least be candid about it.

  37. Many of our friends are not Christians, Jesus followers or whatever term you choose to use. However, we are surprised how many of them have looked into Christianity. To summarize what they have told us, what they found didn’t look much like the Jesus they find in the pages of the Bible. Most of them say what they found may look like “religion”, but not like Jesus. When I heard what the first fellow had to say, I imagined he was addressing my friends.

    The second young man may have valid points, but his approach is rather repelling. I did not watch his presentation and think “Now I want to check out his web site and hear more of what he has to say”. I think he needs to work on his delivery even more so than does the first young man.

    Theologically correct? Biblical? Are the definitions there? Are they correct? To me the larger question is “What is the first young man trying to say?” Is this merely his perspective, or is he representing the perspective of many people, especially those in his age group? Are we trying to hear what he has to say, or are we merely critiquing him?

    • Yes. Sam, your point about getting at what Bethke is “trying to say” is spot on. We ought to be engaging his intent before we critique his style. Else we risk slapping him down by telling him, “Stupid boy…stop loving Jesus so much.”

  38. didn’t Dietrich Bonhoeffer call for “religionless christianity” ???
    Lutherns need more Bonhoeffer!

    • Aidan Clevinger says:

      I don’t know much about Bonhoeffer, but as far as dogmatism is concerned I’d be inclined to say we need more Sasse:

      “The serious Roman Catholic, the serious Lutheran, the serious Calvinist, the serious Anglican, the serious Baptist – all stand nearer to the eternal truth than the one who hazards making no confession because he maintains that the truth is finally undiscernable. And because of this, they also stand closer to each other”.

      A large part of the “relationship, not a religion” paradigm is the belief that dogma is inherently bad and divisive. And while I certainly agree that it’s very easy to become Pharisaical, I think Sasse has a point here: a serious disagreement about Christian truth (like the one currently going on in this comment thread) can easily be the basis of a deeper, richer fellowship than a nebulous agreement to disagree. The very thing that the young men in the videos are doing, and what we’re doing in these comments, is what can unite the denominations even though they remain doctrinally divided.

      • religion or not, the relationship is the most important. Good “Christian Religion” may foster that, if it does, Great! But if it becomes a “grace-dispenser” or a transaction it is worth-less.

  39. this is the first time actually watching the video. I can appreciate it because, to Bethke, it’s all new. remember when this stuff was new?? i had an aha moment just like Bethke at some point. Sure it’s all nauseatingly old hat now. I’ve moved beyond that. I’ve excellet to a place of renewed appreciation for religion. But, Bethke is where he is, and I would say that’s OK.
    the second video made me laugh.

  40. Fisk’s response reminded me of the internet post that dissected, line by line, a previous poster’s points. It’s a technique that isn’t fair, nor is it clever. Fisk chose his own falsities…he dismissed that religion never causes wars and uses American wars as an example. He chose deliberately not to discuss the Crusades or the many other conflicts brought about by religious dogma. This is but one example of Fisk not treating Bethke’s comments fairly.

    For those that found Bethke’s theology “off”, how would Jesus have responded? I doubt he would have responded in such a snarky manner, but would have lovingly tried to correct him.

    Having never heard either of these two gentlemen before, it is disappointing that the correct theology is lost in vitriol.

  41. I perked up at Fisk’s video because I read Kevin DeYoung’s critique of the first video, and found it to be wanting. I particularly found the biggest problem with Bethke’s video was the absence of the Resurrection, not to mention any other parts of Jesus’ nature and ministry, or the historical context in which it sits. Yet DeYoung almost completely missed this (DID completely miss the Resurrection) and talked more about the need for sanctification and obedience than all that was glaringly missing from Bethke’s sketch of Jesus Christ (even though Bethke said at least as much about sanctification as anything else in the video)….and then I come here and find Fisk shouting out the Resurrection within the first minute of his video. Brilliant. Not to mention a much heavier/clearer emphasis on the sacraments and the principle behind Romans 6:4 than DeYoung’s.

    Bethke and DeYoung both need to go Lutheran, imho…

  42. I’m not sure I’m cool with Fisk’s answer regarding the poor always being with us. I was reminded again while watching the PBS mini-series on Martin Luther of his low view of peasants, that they were as much of a symbol of the devil as the Pope: “Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel … For baptism does not make men free in body and property.” And that’s exactly what the princes did. This defense of the aristocracy at the neglect and exploitation of the peasant and working classes continued into the twentieth century. Tillich wrote that his is one reason that European churches are now mostly empty, because the churches alienated the working classes and drove them to socialism and communism. I don’t doubt that the poor will always be with us. I do believe more and more of us will be counted among the poor if current economic trends continue. I believe it is fair criticism that religion has been on the wrong side regarding the poor more often than being on the side defending the poor, as Proverbs demands.

  43. i will admit that my hatred of the video isn’t toward Bethke but something completely different. as a youth pastor, i feel like parents and other youth workers pretty much canonized this video that it was impossible for me to express any sort of dissent. as some have noted, there wasn’t any room for conversation or discussion. it was basically, you either love this video or there is something wrong with you. you ‘re elitist, you’re too cool, you’re arrogant, etc.

    as someone noted early on in the comments, aside from production, it’s not that good. can we bet honest? it’s like Christian music. some of it sucks, but because CCM tells us it’s good we are sold. let’s be honest. the kid has some talent. he has passion that will serve the Lord well. praise God for Jeff Bethke! but let’s not be so quick to pass these types of videos around as if they’re a letter from the Lord himself.

  44. Most of the videos in opposition to bethke are from Catholics. It must be difficult for a Lutheran to oppose him because if Faith Alone is true, Bethke is just hatching the egg that Luther laid. Bethke’s low ecclesiology reflects that of Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll who also lives in the Seatac area. What one must ask is, without religion/a teaching Church, how does one differentiate the Jesus of Mormonism, Islam, Jehova’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentacostalism, etc. from the Jeus of Christianity?