Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I Hate Religion Video

Why I Hate Religion Video Raises Question If 'Religion' Is Opposed to 'Gospel'

Sun, Jan. 15, 2012 Posted: 10:42 AM EDT

A lot of attention has been paid to Jefferson Bethke’s video "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus". Jefferson is a great, humble, teachable brother who loves the gospel. But the response to his video has been varied. Many love it. Others hate it. And still others have raised a caution flag – uncomfortable with the way “religion” is often contrasted with the gospel.
Wary of the trend amongst younger evangelicals to justify their jettisoning of the institutional church and theological traditions and the importance of obeying God in favor of a vague, individualistic, a-theological, a-historical, version of modern licentious spirituality by saying “All of that other stuff is religion…and Jesus hates religion,” is a point of contention for those who questioned the fruitfulness of Jefferson’s video. If that’s what people think when they hear the word “religion,” then I understand the concern. I too am concerned by the individualistic, church despising, “moralistic therapeutic deism” that seems so palatable and popular amongst some younger evangelicals today.

But, this does raise some important questions. For example, in the Bible, is the word “religion” ever opposed to the gospel? Or, is the main idea of “religion” opposed to the main idea of the gospel? What about what people hear when they hear the word “religion”? Do they hear the word and understand something different than what the Bible says about the gospel? Good questions. Obviously words have their meaning in context and thankfully Jefferson provided context for his use of the word “religion” in the video by writing on his website:

[This is] 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.

Regardless of what you think about the video, Jefferson’s definition of “religion” above and Tim Keller’s definition of “religion” below does highlight a crucial distinction between “religion” and the gospel (a distinction that, ironically, even those who raised concerns about the video agree with).

Justifying the contrast between religion and the gospel, Tim Keller has pointed out that the Greek word for “religion” used in James 1 is used negatively in Colossians 2:18 where it describes false asceticism, fleshly works-righteousness, and also in Acts 26:5 where Paul speaks of his pre-Christian life in strict “religion.” It is also used negatively in the Apocrypha to describe idol worship in Wis 14:18 and 27. So, according to Keller, the word certainly has enough negative connotations to use as a fair title for the category of works-righteousness. In the Old Testament the prophets are devastating in their criticism of empty ritual and religious observances designed to bribe and appease God rather then serving, trusting, and loving him. The word “religion” isn’t used for this approach, but it’s a good way to describe what the prophets are condemning.

Keller goes on to tease out this distinction with this helpful comparison list:

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure.
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”-simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life-family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

So let’s not lose sight of the fact that, as defined by these two brothers, there is an antithetical relationship between religion (the burden of achieving rescue and right standing with God) and the gospel (the blessing of receiving rescue and a right standing with God in Christ alone).

One final thought: as I mentioned above, for a thousand different reasons people hear different things and draw different conclusions when they hear the same words (Cornelius Van Til). So, let’s not forget as missionaries that if the gospel is ever going to reach people in our day it’s going to have to be distinguished from religion (as described above) because “religion” is what most people outside the church think Christianity is all about-rules and standards and behavior and cleaning yourself up and politics and social causes and ascetic appeasement and self-salvation and climbing the “ladder”, and a whole host of other things that Jefferson rightly points out.

Soli Deo Gloria!

by Tullian Tchividjian


Copyright © All rights reserved.

I recently posted this video on The Princess Warrior Ministries Facebook page. The other day I saw a negative reaction to the video in another area of the internet so I decided to do a little research and came across this article. I thought it very informative as to the thoughts behind the creation of the video. I think this article gives a great explanation, but I would like to give you my thoughts as well on the word, "Religion".

In James 1:27, the Bible gives us a definition of "religion" -- "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." In this verse, religion seems to be a positive thing, showing a compassionate attitude of the heart. BUT, in it's context, it is conveying the fact that we can be doing right things for all the wrong reasons. When a person has a true relationship with Jesus Christ we have God's Holy Spirit residing within us and because of this only do we have the desire to help those in need and to keep ourselves separate from the things of the world. However, there are those who "do good" to try to earn access to God and/or to elevate themselves above others. The motive behind the act is not to glorify God in doing His will and coming to Him, His way -- it is to make our own way and that, my friend, leaves the heart unchanged.

The verse (26) preceding the definition of religion states, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." Matthew Henry's commentary says, "When men (or women) take more pains to seem religious than really to be so, it is a sign their religion is in vain. The not bridling the tongue, readiness to speak of the faults of others, or to lessen their wisdom and piety, are signs of a vain religion. The man who has a slandering tongue, cannot have a truly humble, gracious heart. False religious may be known by their impurity and uncharitableness. True religion teaches us to do every thing as in the presence of God. An unspotted life must go with unfeigned love and charity. Our true religion is equal to the measure in which these things have place in our hearts and conduct. And let us remember, that nothing avails in Christ Jesus, but faith that worketh by love, purifies the heart, subdues carnal lusts, and obeys God's commands."

Religion is an attitude and intent of the heart and is driven by either faith in God or faith in "self". In Jesus Christ, our religion is pure and motivated by our love and devotion to Him. When self gets involved it is motivated by our need to be in control and make our own way to God instead of the way He has pointed us to...through His Son, and His Son only. God is not the author of confusion. There are not many ways, there is One way, and Jesus tells us that HE is the way, the truth, and the life, and NO ONE comes to the Father, but through Him (John 14:6) No amount of "good deeds" will ever bring us to God. It doesn't matter if we feed a thousand widows or give clothing to ten thousand orphans...there is still only One way.

If you've never realized that before today, then now is a good time to make it right. Every person on their own journey comes to the crossroad of life. There is One way, leading to glorious life eternal and another, leading to destruction and eternal separation from God. To go down the road of life eternal a few things must happen -- we must realize and comprehend that WE have sinned against a holy and righteous God. "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) And God says, "There is none righteous, no, NOT ONE." (Romans 3:10) We have broken His laws and He is the Righteous Judge, who being a good judge, must bring us to justice. God said, "For the wages of sin IS DEATH!" (Romans 6:23a) God means spiritual death (an eternity in hell, away from His presence...forever). BUT, because of His great love for us, He offered up His own Son in our place. Jesus Christ, the perfect, spotless Lamb of God was slaughtered and paid the sin debt for the whole world -- for all sins: past, present, and future.

In the second part of Romans 6:23, it says, "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God has given us the most precious gift we could ever receive. It is a free pardon through the sacrifice of His only Son, BUT this gift (pardon) MUST be accepted and you must place your trust in Jesus and what He did to acquit you of your sins. So, when we accept God's Pardon we receive eternal life and will have a home with Him forever.

Our belief leads us to repentance (turning from the things of the world to God), and confession (laying our sins out before God and asking Him for His forgiveness). So, now our changed heart causes us to do good works, not to earn our way to God and not to make ourselves look righteous, but because the Holy Spirit of God now resides in us, imparting to us the love and compassion of the Savior.

But, we can bypass this road and choose the other by opting to "not believe" or we can try to make our own way to God. This road, however, does not end well. God is not there. This road ends in our destruction, torment, and separation from Him forever and ever. It will end in a place where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It will end in a place called hell.

My friend, it is VERY important, that we examine ourselves. Do we belong to God? Are we on the right road? Are there signs in our lives that we have accepted His Pardon? I pray so!


For His Glory,

The Princess Warrior

Visit me on Facebook @

Copyright Information 
Copyright © 2009 The Princess Warrior Ministries. All articles are copyrighted on the date they are posted, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in exact form including copyright and web address. Other uses require written permission. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are taken from the King James Bible.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a comment. I would really love to hear from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...