Challenge Response: Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

Posted: January 21, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in Choosing My Religion, Jesus Changes Everything, Weekly Challenge

Alright…finally…my response to the viral video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.”

  1. Elliot Neff says:

    Hmmm… I don’t know if I agree with everything you say. I certainly respect your input and the caution that you use going into the analysis of the video, but I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re being overly-cautious or overly-analytical. Are we reading into this too much?

    The first time I watched the video, it resonated with me. I felt like he had nailed it.

    At the beginning, you point out that the statement “What if I told you that Jesus came to abolish religion” should make us stop and think. And I agree. However, you seem to view this confusion about the usage of the term “religion” as a negative aspect about his poem. I, on the other hand, felt like that was the genius of it all.

    Most of the world would never stop and think that Christianity really is a “relationship” with God. So, when they hear statements like “Jesus came to abolish religion,” they should be confused at first. But we shouldn’t leave it there. We can then use that initial confusion as an opportunity to explain what Christianity truly is– a relationship.

    And I feel like Bethke even covers that (somewhat) in the video:

    “Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it He called them fools. Don’t you see it’s so much better than just following some RULES?”

    He even says, “Now let me CLARIFY: I believe in church, I believe in the Bible, and yes I believe in sin. But if Jesus came to your church, would they actually let Him in? See remember He was called a glutton and a drunkard by religious men. But the son of God never supports SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS– not now, not then.”

    “Religion says DO, Jesus says DONE. Religion says SLAVE, Jesus says SON.” (showing a relationship)

    I just am baffled that so many people are THIS confused over his usage of the term “religion”. He doesn’t mean the church, the bible, or other doctrines within the church. The confusion, I felt, was set to rest within the video itself.

    All great discoveries start with initial confusion. Why isn’t this making sense? What might this or that really mean?
    This video should be no different. He causes initial confusion by immediately proposing that religion and Jesus are not the same, but then he dedicates the rest of his video to explaining why.

    As for the stance on “Republican vs. Christian” statement, I can agree with you on that point. I think that Bethke should have said instead, “Just because you’re a republican doesn’t mean your automatically a Christian.” I think he was trying to communicate that your political beliefs don’t save you. All in all, I felt that your analysis of that particular statement was really good.

    For the claim that “religion has started so many wars”, I feel like I still understand where Bethke is coming from and I appreciate this statement in many ways. Yes– I agree that many wars were not started because of religion alone. But that does not allow anyone to conclude that therefore NO wars were religiously motivated/catalyzed simply because the wars that were mentioned in the video were not. I don’t think that’s what you were trying to say.
    But again, I just don’t know why people have to read into this so much. Isn’t it obvious enough that radical Islam starts wars because of its very nature as seen in the Koran? Isn’t it true that religion (again– not a relationship with Christ, but a system of rules) can become distorted easily and start events like the crusades? Or what about conflicts between Muslims and Hindus in India?
    I think that this statement simply clarifies all the more that he is NOT talking about a relationship with Christ, but rather a man-made system of rules that is notorious for generating unneccesary wars and conflicts.

    I just feel like this statement shouts the message, “Religion is not great, but Jesus is. My hope is in Him– not in these traditions and tedious rules. He is different from religion!”

    Overall, I feel like this video should cause confusion at first. That confusion, however, should cause people to think more deeply about the truth.
    They should think, “Hmmm… He is saying that religion is not the answer, but that Jesus is. They must be different therefore. But how?”

    And that question should drive them towards the truth.

    Still– thank you for your response Brett! I really do appreciate it. I don’t mean to be hard on your response just for the sake of being argumentative.

    • Brett Kunkle says:

      Elliot, thanks for the thoughtful reply. It’s Christians like you that I have NO worries such a video will confuse or obscure the truth. When I first met you in PA, I could tell you were sharp, intelligent, and a good thinker. So, you’re able to make the important distinctions and clarifications, and pull out the good from this video and thus, it resonated with you. Sadly, I think many Christians are not equipped to do so and my video was really directed more at that group. And I have no confidence their “initial confusion” will cause them to think more deeply about the truth.

  2. Matt says:

    Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I’m curious, where are we told that Jesus came to abolish religion? Where does it say he hated religion? Where did Jesus indicate we aren’t to follow rules? Aren’t we told to be slaves?
    Why do people always lump true religion into statements about religious wars? At best all you could argue is that FALSE RELIGION contributes to wars. Even the crusades are not an example of Christianity (TRUE RELIGION) starting wars. At best you have Christians defending innocents because of wars started by followers of a false religion. At worst you have people calling themselves Christians doing things that conflict with Christianity properly understood. Please show me an example of Christians following Christianity (true religion) “generating unnecessary wars and conflicts etc.”

    I fully agree with Brett’s statement, “I have no confidence their “initial confusion” will cause them to think more deeply about the truth.”

    I also wholeheartedly agree with Brett’s quote of Kevin deYoung, “Thanks for reminding us about Jesus, but try to be more careful when talking about religion,” he concluded. “After all, there is one religion whose aim is to worship, serve, know, proclaim, believe, obey and organize around this Jesus. And without all those verbs, there’s not much Jesus left.”

    To also quote deYoung, (I think) “the only problem was that Jesus did not hate religion. He was a Jew, went to services at the synagogue, observed Jewish holy days, did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them, founded the church, established church discipline, instituted a ritual meal, told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded, and insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him.”