Friday, January 13, 2012

A Catholic Response to "Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus" by Jefferson Bethke

Avideo has been making the rounds on Facebook recently in which Jefferson Bethke, a young man very talented with the spoken word, explains why he hates religion but loves Jesus. This theory that Jesus (and a relationship with Him) is somehow opposed to religion is all the rage nowadays, especially on college campuses, but does it really add up? I think there are several errors in Bethke's poetry that are worth addressing. Here's the video:



You can read the lyrics at rapgenius.com. I am very thankful for these lyrics because they save me from having to transcribe the video and they also give me the ability to represent him correctly and to address him thoroughly.

UPDATE (3/6/12): His interview on Nightline provides some context.

Thus, what follows is a line-by-line response to the video above. Bethke's words will be in bold.

"What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion"

This assertion, and really the whole video, depends on how one defines "religion". Surely everyone is going to have their own definition, and ample connotations as well. The glossary from the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion as:
"A set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion."
I think this is a definition most religious people would agree with. To put it another way, one could say that religion provides the form to our relationship with God. When I decide that I love Jesus Christ and I want to hand my life over to Him and live for Him, this must be expressed and lived out in certain ways in order for it to be genuine. I can't just believe any old thing about Jesus, behave however I want, and worship Him however I feel like. There is a right and a wrong way to believe, and act, and worship. Religion establishes the right ways of doing these things so that I can give God the belief, worship, and service He deserves and requires from us.

Once religion is understood in this way, Bethke's statements stand out in stark relief. To return to the statement at hand, in no way can it be said that Jesus came to abolish religion. He specifically said, "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Mt 5:17). The Law established the religion of the Jewish people, and Jesus came to fulfill it, to make it what it was meant to be, not to do away with it. These words of His are very peculiar for someone who supposedly came to abolish religion.


What if I told you voting republican really wasn't his mission
What if I told you republican doesn't automatically mean Christian


This statement is a red herring, and it reveals more about the author then it does about religion. You're a Democrat, we get it. Let's try to stay on topic.


And just because you call some people blind
Doesn't automatically give you vision


Agreed. Moving on now ...


I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars

First of all, this blanket statement assumes that all religions are the same: they all cause wars. While it is true that some religions have been responsible for wars, not all of them have. Has anyone been overthrown or put to the sword by the Amish recently? I didn't think so. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Secondly, this statement also assumes that all wars are bad. This isn't true either. Sometimes, if you believe in something with all your heart, you have to fight for it. This is a good thing, if it means the defense of your life and your rights. For example, I don't think too many people argue that it was wrong of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states from the 16th century, to go to war with the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto to preserve the very existence of Christianity in the Mediterranean. Catholicism, for it's part, has a very ancient Just War theory that establishes when going to war is a legitimate enterprise. Did Catholics always abide by that? Of course not. But that is not the fault of religion, it is the result of sin.

So, there are religions that are entirely pacifist (the Amish) and religions that teach it is permissible, even necessary, to go to war under certain conditions (Catholicism). There are also religions that are indeed war-mongering: Islam comes to mind. I can join Bethke in my aversion to that religion, but not to all religions as a general principle.


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

It doesn't. At least, Catholicism doesn't. We have managed to do both for several hundred years now. The Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world. I challenge anyone to find an organization that does more for the poor than the Church does.

Also, building huge churches isn't a bad thing. Huge congregations need huge churches. Furthermore, the breadth and height of the great Catholic cathedrals and basilicas are meant to reflect what we believe about the liturgies that take place within them. The Mass in particular is the meeting point between the faithful on earth and the saints in heaven. The Mass is, in fact, heaven on earth, and so our church buildings, which are fundamentally for the celebration of the Mass, should reflect the glory and splendor of the heavenly liturgy. They rise up into the heavens to meet the angels and saints in their perpetual worship of the Lamb.

So, yea, some of our churches are huge ... but some of them are not. Some of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the world are in fact little chapels tucked away in far-flung places, where communities give out of their poverty so that they can have a place of their own to worship and to pray. Religion isn't all about "building huge churches." It's about glorifying God however you are able.


"Tells single moms God doesn't love them if they've ever had a divorce
But in the old testament God actually calls religious people whores"


The teaching of the Church, and of Jesus for that matter, has never been that God does not love you if you get a divorce. God loves us no matter what we do. The teaching is that divorce is a sin:
Mt 19:3-8 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" 4 He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." 7 They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" 8 He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Paul was adamant on this point as well (cf. 1 Cor 6:16; 7:10-11, 39; Rom 7:2-3; Eph 5:31)


Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice
Tend to ridicule God's people, they did it to John The Baptist


I'm thinking more and more that when Bethke says "religion" he really means "the pharisees" or pharisaic people. The scribes and the pharisees ridiculed and punished many of God's holy prophets, and many irreligionists understand Jesus' many rebukes of the scribes and pharisees as a general rebuke of religion. But, the scribes and pharisees represent religion gone wrong, not authentic religion. They are the ones who "preach but do not practice" (Mt 23:3), who "bind heavy burdens" (vs. 4) and "do all their deeds to be seen by men" (vs. 5), who "shut the kingdom of heaven against men" (vs. 13), who are "blind fools" (vs. 17) who "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" (vs. 24). They are the "hypocrites" and "whitewashed tombs" (vs. 27), not religion itself. Religion -- or at least, the religion established by Christ -- is meant to preserve us from that! Jesus, by preaching against those things, was establishing the nature of true religion, which is what Christians strive to follow today.

At any rate, the scribes and pharisees did not ridicule John the Baptist. They asked him many questions, in order to determine who he was (cf. Jn 1:19-27), but I'm not sure this can be counted as ridicule.


They can't fix their problems, and so they just mask it
Not realizing religions like spraying perfume on a casket


This again calls to mind what Jesus said to the pharisees in Mt 23. Religion is not like spraying perfume on a casket, or like whitewashing a tomb. Hypocrisy is. Religion is believing, and worshiping, and serving God rightly. This entire poem is largely the tearing down of a straw man.


See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core
It's just behavior modification, like a long list of chores


I realize that, for some people, religion becomes just a going through the motions. Mass on Sunday, no meat on Friday, sit, stand, kneel, repeat. But is it not also true that religion is for others a rousing experience of the Holy Spirit, a transformation from within by the power of God's grace? Has Bethke never meant anyone who truly loved being Catholic (or loved being a member of any religion, for that matter)? Surely he has. Why then does religion penetrate some people to the core, but is for others only a surface experience?

This can be for many reasons. Sin certainly keeps a person from experiencing the movement of the Spirit through religion. It makes him rebel against the responsibilities of religion, and it darkens his mind to what is truly taking place in the practice of religion.

Often religion comes alive for a person once that person realizes why he is doing what he is doing: why he stands at the beginning of Mass, why he kneels during the Eucharistic prayer, why he goes to Mass on Sunday, why he gives up meat on Friday, why he receives ashes on his forehead, why we light four candles during Advent, etc. The answer to this question is vital to the experience of religion.

My overall point is this: religion is not without meaning or profound influence. It is up to us to open our hearts to the promptings of the Spirit and to discover for ourselves why we do what we do in the name of religion. When we do this, then religion becomes very much more than what Bethke is describing here.


Like lets dress up the outside make look nice and neat
But it's funny that's what they use to do to mummies while the corpse rots underneath


He acts like religion requires people to act fake and put on a show. But it doesn't. I don't know of any religion that does. If what you do in the practice of your religion is not a reflection of who you truly are as a person, then that's your fault. Don't blame your hypocrisy on my religion.


Now I ain't judgin, I'm just saying quit putting on a fake look
Cause there's a problem if people only know you're a Christian by your Facebook
I mean in every other aspect of life, you know that logic's unworthy
It's like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey
You see this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography
See on Sunday I'd go to church, but Saturday getting faded
Acting if I was simply created just to have sex and get wasted
See I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness


I agree with Bethke that Christians need to provide an authentic witness to their faith. Religion should indeed be more than just an act or a show. Bethke realized his hypocritical ways, but instead of living his religion more authentically, he simply dispensed with religion so that those pesky things that made him look bad would no longer be required of him.

Knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him is not antithetical to religion, as if once a person comes to Christ he must cast off the chains of his burdensome religion. Jesus established many of the very dictates of Christian religion:
  • repent (Mt 4:17)
  • follow the commandments (Mt 19:17)
  • be baptized (Jn 3:3-5)
  • receive the Eucharist (Jn 6:53)
  • obey Church authority (Mt 18:17)
  • serve the poor (Mt 5:42; 25:40)
  • fast (Mt 9:15; 6:16-18)
  • do not be angry with your brother (Mt 5:22)
  • do not look at a woman lustfully (Mt 5:28)
  • do not swear (Mt 5:34)
  • love your enemies and pray for your persecutors (Mt 5:44)
  • be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48)
"Knowing Jesus" means following these commands, which are at the very heart of the Christian religion and what it means to be "religious."


Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean It's not a museum for good people, it's a hospital for the broken

He's right: it should be ... and it is. This is how the Catholic Church understands herself. Nothing new here.


Which means I don't have to hide my failure, I don't have to hide my sin
Because it doesn't depend on me it depends on him
See because when I was God's enemy and certainly not a fan
He looked down and said I want, that, man


Amen. Well said. We "slaves to religion" certainly share with Bethke an experience of the love of Christ eradicating sin and shame.


Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools
Don't you see so much better than just following some rules


As I've been saying:

1. Jesus enacted many rules for us
2. Religion is more than following rules

When Bethke says such things, I am convinced he really has no idea what religion is.


Now 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


You know it! We let Him in every day the Mass is celebrated. He is in the members of the Body gathered together. He is in the person of the priest. He is in the Word proclaimed. He is, really and substantially, in the Eucharist we receive. Jesus Christ is very much at home in my religion!


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


First of all, getting rid of all religion because there are some bad religious men makes about as much sense as getting rid of the police force because there are some bad cops, or getting rid of the presidency because there have been some bad presidents. Like I said before, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Furthermore, there may be some religions that believe one can achieve righteousness solely through one's own effort, but the Christian religion has always been against that sort of thing. This is again more tearing down of a strawman.


Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums


Hopefully you're beginning to see by now how silly this statement is. Jesus Himself was a very religious person. He was circumcized. He was baptized. He celebrated the Passover and the other Jewish feast days. He worshipped in the synagogue. He followed the Ten Commandments. He prayed. He fasted. He went on pilgrimages. He is the fulfillment of the Jewish religion and the very creater of the Christian one. Yes, a religion -- not some warm and fuzzy "me and Jesus" experience, but a religion, a church, with bishops, priests, and deacons, and commands to follow, and things to do, and words to live by.

It only takes a cursory glance at the New Testament to realize this. Earlier Bethke said he loved the bible. I'm beginning to wonder how much of it he has actually read.


See one's the work of God, but one's a man made invention
See one is the cure, but the other's the infection
See because religion says do, Jesus says done
Religion says slave, Jesus says son
Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see
And that's why religion and Jesus are two different clans


I wonder what Bethke thinks of baptism. I'd imagine he considers it, like all the sacraments, to be just more trappings of man-made religion, more "do" and less "done." Well, the thing is, Jesus Himself instituted the sacrament of baptism (Mk 16:16; Jn 3:3-5), and gave the apostles, as His last will and testament to them, the command to go and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them (Mt 28:19). And guess what else? That's how I became God's son -- through baptism, through the function of my religion. Not a slave, a son, a free man, with eyes enlightened by the grace of God. Bethke's words here are borderline insulting to me. Who's really doing the "ridiculing" here?


Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God searching for man

Wait, now I'm confused. I thought Christianity was the problem. It is a religion after all. Bethke needs to supplement his video with a glossary of terms. That would aid tremendously the discussion that he has begun.


Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own
Not based on my merits but Jesus's obedience alone
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face
He took what we all deserved, I guess that's why you call it grace
And while being murdered he yelled, "Father forgive them they know not what they do."
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you
And he absorbed all of your sin, and buried it in the tomb
Which is why I'm kneeling at the cross, saying come on there's room


This part is really quite beautiful. It's a shame that his history with religion never gave him an experience of this. Perhaps he should give Catholicism a try ;)


So for religion, no I hate it, in fact I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it


Yes, He meant it, that much we can agree on.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

PS: Also see "In Defense of My Response to Jefferson Bethke: Part 1 and Part 2"

40 comments:

Birgit Jones said...

Beautifully done! Will be sharing!

Home School Mom: Denise said...

Thank you - I sent this to my daughter who will need to know more about how to address this now going viral video!...Appreciate you taking time to clarify.

Blessings,
Denise

Rob B said...

I had some trouble making it through this whole article, so my comments are limited to what I read.

So this is clearly a hot topic. I am personally more on the side of Jeff than you. This segment alone, "
'I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars'

First of all, this blanket statement assumes that all religions are the same: they all cause wars. While it is true that some religions have been responsible for wars, not all of them have. Has anyone been overthrown or put to the sword by the Amish recently? I didn't think so. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. "

was enough to convince me that the author of the article was both logically limited, and/or purposefully rhetorically manipulative, and severely biased. Anyone want to guess how small a % of all Christians the Amish make up? Who feels like defending the crusades as just? There are wonderful people who practice all religions.

That said, it's very important that religious organizations are criticized when criticism is warranted, and it is far too often. I believe Jeff's criticisms were intended to be directed at organized religion. It seems fairly clear from the context that this is the case. Yet your first point, and the one which frames the entire article, assumes he is using the Catholic church's definition: "A set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion."
What follows is a bit mindblowing to me, because Hinduism fits this definition. The definition also does not exclude people who may follow the same beliefs as most Catholics, but have determined different practices that they routinely engage in.
Would you have the audacity to argue that the Catholic church has not, many times throughout history, excommunicated people and not accepted potential converts merely because those people refuse to follow specific practices included in its dogma?

I would read the rest of this post, but I just don't see it as a productive use of my time.

Jason Ramage said...

This "Jesus vs religion" sentiment is nothing new. I remember hearing much of it over ten years ago when I was starting college. What he means by "religion" is "false religion." It doesn't help to muddy the waters by associating all religion with the bad apples. It's worth noting that God established the religion of the Pharisees. Good work on the response... we need to work up a rap and YouTube it to reach a wider audience :)

lilin said...

I like your article.And you can have a good see in true religion joey.

Anonymous said...

As a born-and-raised, tried-and-true Catholic, I can say that there are many, many sentiments Mr. Bethke shares in his video that I find myself in whole-hearted agreement with. As this is neither the time nor place to delve into each and every line of the poem (as PhatCatholic has done), I will address a few.
Firstly, let me present the thought that there is absolutely no reason to split hairs over "false religion". We, whether as indivduals in our daily lives or as the Catholic Church as whole all know someone (or numerous someones) whose only practice of religion manifests itself in the aforementioned form. No one is a fan of said "religion"...let's agree on that fact.
Now, to pinpoint a few notes from both the video and phatcatholic's response: Reliogions have started many wars. Period; done; over with. The Crusades are not something created out of a mad historians mind; they happened. I don't like it anymore than you do, but it happened. I absolutely agree that there are times when war is necessary, but's let's not mince words here. Mr. Bethke did not state that "religion has started all wars"; he said "[religion] has started so many wars".
Now, as Catholics, would we really let Jesus in to our church if he came? I mean really, really LET HIM IN. I love Catholicism, but I do not agree with everything that is taught. We "let Jesus into our Mass" in the Eucharist we receiv (as mentioned in phatcatholic's response to this question), but if Jesus were just someone in off the street, we would not allow that individual to receive Communion; correct? Heck, we don't even allow someone who has attended mass his/her entire life but then went to college and began participating in a Christian service (or simply missed a few weeks of Mass or Confession) to receive communion, so we dang sure wouldn't allow a "new person", whether we knew he was Jesus or not, to partake. Phatcatholic took the easy road out on this one and went with the de facto, "Oh yeah, we would let Jesus into our church. We already do; he's in the Body, Word, and Eucharist." This shows one of two avenues of thought to me: 1) phatcatholic has intentionally misinterpreted Bethke's question, or 2) he correctly interpreted it in his mind but then chose to skirt it on his blog.
Last, but not least, let me note this: There are many Catholic churches (and other churches, most assuredly) that are a "hospital for the broken", but...and let me be clear here...just because a hospital has a Waiting Room, that does not make it a "hospital". A church having pews and an altar does not make it a "church". It must be a place in which someone is paid attention to and helped. The broken know they are broken; that's why they're here...is the doctor in, or is he not?

Cay Gibson said...

Oh, but we do allow those "new persons" to attend and communion with us.

Over a year ago we began ahving a man visit our church. He wanders the streets outside and is often not dressed very well, unshaven and hair unkept.

He sits down then moves around, moving ever closer to the sanctuary.

At the sign of peace he moves around again shaking everyone's hand.

There were ripples of gossip (as people are prone to do) until we found out that the man has Huntington's Disease. Another parishioner (very devote and very active) in our parish has this same disabling disease. SHe is not at the stage that this man is at.

The ripples of gossip slowly subsided and he still wanders into our presence from time to time, reminding us that Christ lives among us.

It is not the Catholic church who does not allow these people to worship with them but, rather, the broken people within the church who judge without knowing.

I knwo we are the Church, but too many people judge the Church by the broken people within it.

We need to look towards Scripture, the teachings of the Apostles, and the writings of the Holy Father first and foremost because too many lay people get it wrong.

I think this is a wonderful rebuttal and I'm sharing it.

Anonymous said...

What this young man is saying comes from the message that Baptist pastors are preaching from the pulpit (at least in our neck of the woods). They teach that "Christianity is not a religion!" In order to come up with this, they have redefined the word "religion" to mean "Man's attempt to reach God." Christianity is, however, "God's attempt to reach man" - and therefore, not a "religion." This demonstrates a rather awkward ignorance of Scripture:
"But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."
1 Timothy 5:4
"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." James 1:27

This young man is just waxing poetic on something that has been taught to him from the pulpit of his Protestant church. This catchy sentiment, I'm afraid, will come back to bite them when more and more young people decide that "religion" equals "church," and they decide to enjoy their relationship with Jesus at home alone on Sunday mornings....

Dcn Dennis said...

Religion is man's recognition of the existence of God, and the worship of Him. When a person gives practical expression to this act of recognizing this dependence on a higher being, he practices religion. Mr. Jefferson Bethke is a confused individual and needs prayers. Dcn Dennis

Anonymous said...

Excellent, well thought out response. Hate is viral and this poem would never be tolerated if the hate was directed at gays, atheists, or any other group. But instead it is being spread as though it is truth or wisdom among Protestants.

Dismas said...

The only thing that could have made this post better is to have ended with this video clip from GloriaTV:

http://en.gloria.tv/?media=41724

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Rob B ... I responded to you here:
http://phatcatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-defense-of-my-response-to-jefferson.html

Anon ... I responded to you here:
http://phatcatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-defense-of-my-response-to-jefferson_14.html

Ann Johnstone said...

Having been involved in this debate recently, I appreciate the points raised by both Rob B and Anonymous. I have already said elsewhere that it is difficult to debate with anyone whose understanding of religion is based on one narrow definition (that contained in the RC Catechism). I find it interesting that those who disagree with Bethke's rap are almost entirely RCs. To me his words make clear what Christianity is all about, and what it is NOT. Here is a link that shows what religion has become, for many... http://www.factnet.org/cults/Toxic_Faith/Religious_Legalism.html

Christopher said...

Thank you very much for your post. I can only imagine the conversations that will ensue between me and some of my friends (me, a Catholic, and many of them, non-denominational Christians), and you have made a number of valid critiques that will help me to shed more light on this issue of Bethke's anti-religious views (which I see as a masked anti-Catholicism). Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with this garbage in the 70's. It is nothing new but it is an absolute lie. Jesus never preached hate and He is the judge of hypocrisy, not humans. My mother rejected her Baptist upbringing and detested the Catholic Church for the reasons this man gave. Ironically, when she rejected marriage for the same reasons and became a poor, single mother, guess who she turned to for help and received it? The Catholic Church paid bills, fed the family and provided healthcare. I converted to Catholicism as an adult after I learned the beauty and truth of this faith. Ignorance breeds hate.

Martina said...

His real objection has to do with both hypocrisy and sin...things that are the product of the fall. His anger and general ignorance of what religion is {ignorance as in he does not know or understand} is affirmed over and over. People who think they hate religion do not {and typically have no desire to} understand the distinction between the divine Church and the human church. How sad it must be to believe as he does because he is literally closing himself off to a relationship with Christ and dragging others along with him. Pray for his heart to be changed because much if what he says demonstrates how little he knows about God.

Goose said...

How shameless and jaded and broken we are all. I say all because I add myself to the bunch. Mr. Bethke has great intent, I don't care what Christian sect you choose to attach yourself to. I wonder if, perhaps, if the differentiation of words between what the video says and what @phatcatholic assumes or thinks it should say (i.e. "the pharisees" or pharisaic people), if the thoughts would be the same.
I am going to change the word "religion" for denomination, because, though most of us reading this already disagree with other world religions (hinduism, islam, buddism, etc.), it is the picking appart of the denominations that truly give "Christians" a bad name.
He has more valid and correct points than he has wrong, or skewed ones, can we agree? If not, not sure what video you are watching or what Bible you are reading.
Christ came to save the broken and to restore the brokenhearted. I was raised in the Catholic Church, and before answering God's call, my own dad was in the Catholic seminary. In many ways, I was raised by a priest. The traditions, rules and regulations of the Catholic Church is much of what I "heard" Bethke referring to; not directly, but because of my experience.
The Catholic Church is right on one stance... the same stance all Christ professing Churches... Christ came to save each of us. He was human, he learned how to walk, eat, change his clothes and LEARNED the old testament before He went out on his God ordained journey. He DID die for you AND me and probably (at least in theory if not in practice) was thinking OF you and me as He hung there, as his body expired and as He muttered "it is finished."
It saddens me that Jesus came to counsel and love on the lost and broken, and when He picked a fight (mostly) it was with "the religious people." Most translations state that, and they refer to those that POSE like most people POSE on Sundays in Churches across the world. I wear my best and I put on my happy face because I can't allow anyone to know I am hurting, unemployed, fighting with my kids, my spouse, etc. We choose not to be exposed and vulnerable so we can, as Christ did, step into each others lives to BE exampled of life, of Christ, of the TRUE Church.
Stop criticizing men of God that are trying to further HIS mission, HIS love, HIS desire for each of us. Start denouncing and announcing in your Churches the presence of Satan, the presence of EVIL, the truth that John 10:10 reveals to His Church, who conveniently has chosen to forget about its presence.
Love God, and love others... and let anyone that professes God, and has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, to take communion... it's not about being Catholic, or Lutheran, or "just Christian." It's about love, genuine, transparent, vulnerable love... Mother Theresa was your best example.

Fr. Matthew Hardesty said...

Nick, I haven't read your article yet but I'm looking forward to it. I would just say that I think his major logical flaw is confusing ESSENCE and EXCESS. He makes the excess of some religious people and indictment of the essence of religion. This is superficial, pop-theology on a field day. He needs to take an Intro to Christology class or an Intro to Christian Spirituality class or something.

Anonymous said...

i am a catholic, and i love my religion.

but i think that ure really missing the point of this video, he was clearly referring to false religion, ie the things hypocrites in the church tell us about Christianity.

It's a youth thing I guess, when no matter how much we put our love into our worship, the people of the church just cannot understand and will continue to demean and reject us. Always stuck in the old instead of the new. When he said Jesus came to abolish religion, perhaps he was referring to the countless times Jesus deliberately ignored the Jewish law in order to show love to others. (healing on the sabbaths, touching a coffin to raise a dead man...) Laws that were sent down by God himself apparently! God is not one-dimensional, its pretty hard to figure what he wants sometimes. But this dude is underlining this important factor, its way more important to LOVE.

He's just expressing his frustration because the church is so filled with hypocrites that chase everyone away! Always believing that their point of view regarding religion is the right one. Guess what... They don't have a right to say they understand God any more than we young people do.

Anonymous said...

I think u are all wrong as I believe that the catholics have lost the whole concept of Christianity... For example what Happened to the fact that chistians are meant to deliver those who are spiritually possessed... What happened to dancing for the lord like David..what happened to playing instruments skillfully... And did Jesus say that no one can speak to my father without going through Mary then Jesus then god or did he say no one can go through to my father without goinG through me (Jesus) .... Why do u say the hail mary when Jesus didn't ask u to do so... I have never heard of any of the prophets like John saying it's so why do u do so.... And how come catholics do not speak I tongues it's the holy language of god and that's the language we will all be speaakin in Heaven because that the heavenly language.. When the hloyspirit touched the disiples They spoke in tongues glorifying god.. And why do u not practice healing..prophesying...deliverance...those gifts are there for a reason and that's for them to be used...and sorry catholic churches are boring :(!!!!!! My god is not a boring god and a jelous god e wouldn't be happy seeing people worship Mary.

Anonymous said...

I think you are very blind, but I'm sure God appreciates your faith. If everyone were on the same page when it came to religion, wars wouldn't have been necessary. Many catholics are horrible. I went to a private catholic school my whole like, and the nuns played favorites with whoeve's parents brought more gifts to them. They are corrupt! and many "catholics" hide their corruption through religion. I know some people who aren't religious feel it in their heart to donate and help the poor, even without an affiliation. I can continue pointing more out, but I won't.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

To the Anon who posted on 4/18/2012 at 10:15 AM ... There's no point in complimenting me with one side of your mouth while you insult me with the other. If I'm blind, then I don't imagine God would appreciate my faith at all. Perhaps you can show me how it is that I am blind. I am certainly not blind to the sinful people that make up the Church. Last time I checked, every human being was a sinner. Catholics are certainly no different. I realize that as well as you do. But, I also refuse to paint all Catholics with a broad brush just because I've ran into some bad apples. There are saints in the Church too, you know. Don't let your bad experience as a youth blind you to that fact.

To the other Anons who have commented, I'll have to respond to you later.

Anonymous said...

Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. I personally believe that you don't need to go to church to be saved. Just have Jesus in your heart. Everyone knows the difference between good and bad right? Well do whatever it takes to resist the temptation. Do your best to stay away from sin. Whenever your in a dilemma, having some problems, or come into certain situations. Ask your self "What would Jesus do?" Have a relationship with God He knows if your heart is true and that alone will save you.

(Or of course I may be wrong and end up burning in hell)

I sure hope not though, Please pray for me and pray for everyone else who is in need of saving.. Thank you God bless.

Also I would really like for everyone who respects what Jesus did for us to watch this link. Just a deep heart touching song about what Jesus went through. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NTquMg-B3Tk

Can you comprehend how much he loves us? Don't take it for granted. He died for you, live for him and make him proud. JESUS LOVES YOU <3 AND I LOVE HIM

It doesn't hurt to go to church, worshipped him and show him appreciation.
Stop being so selfish think about others for a change.
Instead of asking what he could do for you, ask what can you do for him?

(p.rolando42@yahoo.com)

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTquMg-B3Tk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Anonymous said...

Since I read the Vatican Conspiracy, i am truly convinced that Catholics is one-dominating-fake-religion. Most of the bad people i know is a catholic, and the good ones are religously serving saints and popes, who are also a sinner. False faith? I remember a famous testimony of a girl who God let to see heaven and hell, and she saw a pope in hell. And seeing people from around the world gathered to celebrate a life of a "holy" pope, thats too much for a false prophet.

Anonymous said...

Seriously whats with the repeated prayers? Only knows it by mind but never meant it by heart.

Nicholas Hardesty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicholas Hardesty said...

You read one book and now you're convinced that Catholicism is a fake religion? Wow, your intellectual rigor is remarkable! (sarcasm) Do you think you're telling me something I don't know by pointing out the sinners in my Church? I'm well aware of them. I'm sure there are many sinners in your church too.

As for repeated prayers, you're simply showing your ignorance of Scripture. Jesus repeated the same prayer three times in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Mt 26:39, 42, 44). Ever read the Psalms? They are FILLED with repetitive prayer. Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “his steadfast love endures forever” 26 times! Worship in heaven is also repetitious: “day and night they never cease to sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev 4.8).

Finally, you said, "Only knows it by mind but never meant it by heart." What, you can read people's hearts now? I thought only God could do that. I agree that some pray from memory without really paying attention to the words or putting their heart into it. But, you can't make a sweeping generalization and say that ALL Catholics do that. We are called as Catholics to put our entire being into our prayer. We're trying the best way can, just like you are.

Ray said...

*Religious War Initiated* ^^

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dqnfz4y8uA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_tC4fv6FE

Mac said...

Hi guys and gals,

First of all, let me say that I really appreciate the Bethke video AND this response.
I don't know what to call myself because I became Protestant as a youth and have recently come to respect many aspects of the Catholic tradition as well.
What I want to say is that we should be very careful in grouping all Catholics or all Protestants into one group.
As a protestant, I had heard many comments about "Catholics" that I believed, until I actually came to know many WONDERFUL Catholics.
I know a sweet Catholic lady that also believed a lot of negative things about "Protestants" until she came to know me.
Usually the people that say "blanket" hateful things about each other are ones that are isolated in their own faith and like to take jabs at eachother in ignorance, but this is what I have found:
There are authentic, Bible-believing Christ-followers in BOTH camps. There are hypocritical fakers in BOTH camps.
Both camps are God's children if we have been changed by the cross of Christ and live for Him, and He doesn't like it when we fight amongst ourselves or try to elevate ourselves above our siblings (do you like it when your kids do that?).
Lastly, let me speak as a Protestant and tell you that when I saw the video, I never thought he was slandering Catholics, but rather slandering Protestant churches that shun newcomers if they smoke, or have a tattoo or don't know any of the hymns- and these kind of churches do exist, and they have forgotten their first Love.
Please, please remember that our protestant meaning of "religion" is different than yours;
it has come to mean "false religion," rather than the kind mentioned in the book of James that is true and pure, that cares for the suffering.
I have taken several trips to Latin America, and in the poorest areas (like in Boaco,Nicaragua for instance, with Sor Mercedes at La Casa Betania) and the Catholic Church is a beacon of light in the community, loving those that have been forgotten.
You have won my heart for the things you do- this is pure faultless religion! :-)
However, there are also those that use their religion like a mask, and it isn't real- it is fake, cold-hearted, and only used to convince themselves of how much better they are than everyone else.
I really appreciated the author of the video response who pointed out the fallacies, even if I believe that the heart of the video author was authentic.
He probably still does have a lot to learn, but that doesn't make his video worthless, and it doesn't mean he's going to hell because he happened to offend someone that was Catholic.
Please don't don't slander my people, and I promise you that I won't slander yours, nor will I allow my Protestant friends to slander Catholics in my presence. I would encourage you all to do the same. I will love you and respect you, as a sibling that has different views on some things than I do, but whom I deeply love because were are family...
... and I hope that someday you will rejoice with me when we see eachother in eternity.

Blessings on you, my Catholic brothers and sisters.
Sincerely,
Mac :-)

Anonymous said...

This man made religion is no better than any of the rest of them, they ALL have someone human being that sits in for God in the worst form of idolatry, sure there are many people in the religions that do good works, yet each filthy man made religion holds up good works as the path to salvation, and I don't care which cult it is, they all do this (some even while stating they hypocritically do not)...JESUS IS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY HIM. So to state it is indulgences (paying money for sins forgiven) or any other garbage human made doctrine, ONLY JESUS can forgive your sin and allow you into heaven...so you can see just how antiChrist all the worlds religions are. You can insult the young mans theology all you want (and you have obviously with your doubletongued diatribe) yet at least on the most important issue his words ring true, THAT IS IS JESUS ALONE THAT SAVES! The heirarchy of the RC church is one of the most pedophilic and greedy on the planet, and even just a simple glance at what they practice and preach can show you that. So you people who support this atrocity calling itself a religion are as guilty as they are.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Blah, blah, blah.

Come back when you're ready to talk in a calm and dignified manner.

Anonymous said...

If what He means by "religion" is the effort to pay and to merit what Jesus has accomplished at the cross then I believe that everything he said in the poem is correct. We all received justification by faith and so sanctificatin. We are all saved by grace through faith.

Now, if your faith means doing all those good things so you can get saved, then that's religion. doing all those good things is the FRUIT and not the ROOT of receiving God's grace by faith alone, which means plainly putting your trust and faith to Jesus and His finished work at the cross. You've got to believe right then you will live right. It's not the other way around where you live right first expecting that it will produce right living, no! Once we received Jesus, we received the power through the Holy Spirit that enables us to live a life of doing good deeds, but not to merit or to pay the GIFT that we received from God, but to show the glory of God to the people around us.

There is this what we call vertical and horizontal relationship. The vertical relationship (with God) of a Christian is already perfect. Now, we do good works for the sake of the people around us, (horizontal relationship) so that through us, they may see the light in this dark world. People may not read their bibles, but they do read ourlives. That's why religion is not man seeking approval from God. You don't do good things so that God will love you more and approve you more. By grace through faith you are already loved and approved.

So, I guess, it's just a confusion on what really religion means, and I propose today, religion is the act of men to merit what God has given freely, to pay what Jesus has already paid at the cross, and to finish, what He has already finished. That's why Jesus said, it is finished, it's completed! Whether you do good works or not, He will still love you. You will still be approved. But when you truly experienced the love and grace of God in your life, you can't help but be fruitful, and again, right living, obedience, good works, is now the fruit and not the root of our salvation. When you do good things or "religious" things to maintain your righteousness and salvation, or to make God love you more, then that's religion! - Remus Bacani, Manila, Philippines +639433465733

Diana Munyaradzi said...

i beg to differ here. i agree with Bethke. His intention was to show people that 'going to church' does not automatically make you Christian and dear Blogger your definition of religion does not mean everyone sees religion that way . i have a Catholic friend ans she views religion differently and so do many people. you went out of your way to find the bad in this poem instead of picking out the good that does stand out for most people. As you said his mistakes were poetic so instead of taking your time and going out of your way to highlight the bad you could've learnt 2 or 3 things and ignored whatever offended you.

Diana Munyaradzi said...

And by the way how are you sure this was aimed at Catholics?
Christianity is not a religion it is a way of life. Because a Christian is a Christ follower and Christ lived a life therefore you are living your life the way Christ lived it which makes it a way of life.

Kamakazi said...

I agree that he should not put all religion in one category, but I would also say he himself would admit not all people of any particular faith makes you bad.That being said I agree with him in many ways.I myself love Jesus, I was born catholic but do not consider myself catholic. We as followers of Jesus should be telling people to read the bible, and I dont think any specific "religion" stresses that enough. I learned more about God and Jesus from reading the bible for a couple days then I had for years of going to church. Most go church hear a little passage from the priest do a series of set prayers and that's it, never coming closer to Jesus, just doing planned rituals. As it says in the Bible NOT to do.Because it becomes a heartless routine.Read the Bible, pray from the heart, you will find Jesus.

Matthew said...

Great article. I watched the video when it came out with my school's Bible class and these were the exact thoughts running through my head.

Doug said...

Jesus taught Christianity not religion.

Christianity turned to into Religion when mankind took Christianity and stated adding rules and regulations. We see this happening in Jesus day with the Pharisees and it is still in with us in most of the major dominations in the United States.

With religion we pursue a relationship with God through works and trying to be “good people” to prove we are good enough. There is no way to know if we have been good enough to earn God’s favor. It is an imposable pursuit as we are all imperfect.

With Christianity God pursues a relationship with us through grace. All of our past, current and future sins are forgiven. This is the message of the gospel.

Jake goodale said...

The Catholic Church is a disgrace. They are responsible for the persecution, torture, and execution of women, intellectuals, and sexual minorities in the middle ages up until the end of the 1700s. The Church is responsible for the millions dead in Holy Wars. The Church is responsible for covering up the 10,000s if not 100,000s of sexually abused child. The Church is responsible for the spread of AIDs in Africa by discouraging condom use.

A list of the Church's atrocities could be put into a book thicker than a dictionary. Yes they have helped a lot of people but the millions if not billions of lives they have either ruined or ended easily cancels those good acts out.

Unfortunately that kind of corruption and evil was inevitable for an organization that was run by humans with a monopoly on power and morals.

Worship the Lord because he is our savoir. Pay no attention to the Church for they are men and are corrupt and full of sin.

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