Does Jesus Hate Our Religion?

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I encourage my students (past and present) to ask questions and seek the truth, and sometimes some will take up the challenge. Last week we saw the challenge of prior Myths to our belief in the historical Jesus Christ.  This week we have a Christian challenge to Christian religion. I would like to again tap into the collective genius that is American Catholic blogosphere to see what shakes out. I don’t think Christianity could have survived as a loose-knit band of solo believers/wanna-be disciples.  Surely the Bible would never have been standardized. I see Jesus as one who puts all religious persons on notice- to not be hypocritical or without compassion. But in my read He doesn’t throw out the baby of religion with the bathwater of failing pharisees.  I am pointing my students to this blog to consider your arguments and thoughts- so be polite and thoughtful regarding those who may be reading who are young questing souls- not sure of the spiritual landscape just yet.

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  1. Okay, I understand the desire to put out thought-provoking pieces that challenge our beliefs, but I made it through about 48 seconds of this video before clicking off. The very first sentence “What if I told you that Jesus came to abolish religions” is an out and out lie. If that were true, then Jesus would not have lived his life as an essentially Orthodox Jew. He would not have said that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The stuff about building Churches but not feeding the poor is clearly wrong, as Churches are at the forefront of charity. No one suggests (seriously) that God doesn’t “love” divorced people. Jesus himself – whom the narrator purports to love – explained the purpose of the Old Testament allowance for divorce (Read Matthew 19) before himself saying that it is forbidden.

  2. This dangerous video has gone viral. I look forward to more replies before sending out a message to my parish youth group.

  3. The heart’s in the right place, but it’s not well thought out. It’s a less mean-spirited version of Anne Rice’s Christ-without-Christianity stuff.

    I’m inclined to point out that it’s no coincidence this came from a 20-something 21st Century American. It’s incomprehensible outside of that localized worldview. It’s a product of pure individualism, and the idea that big churches = not feeding the poor merits the Billy Madison moderator response.

    Ultimately, the failure of the religionless Christianity is that it self-amputates the adherent from the Body of Christ, along with the hard-won wisdom of the past generations who passed the Faith on to us. That bad ol’ “religious” structure of Christianity serves a vital purpose–it reminds us that we and our experiences aren’t all there is.

    “To live entirely in the present, without any of the wisdom that a broad perspective on the past provides, is to live a life of idiocy, vapid distraction, and ingratitude.”

    –David Bentley Hart.

  4. Well, first off, like Paul, I frankly kind of found this hard to watch. Maybe this is a function of being in my mid thirties rather than my mid teens, but trying to parse through a bunch of statements that were at times vague or in sentence fragments and “respond” is kind of hard.

    Still, trying to hit the most basic elements:

    There’s a bit of a word game being played here. The makers distinguish “religion” from following Jesus the way they do basically as “them bad, we good”. Those guys fight war because of their beliefs? Oh, that’s religion. Those guys seem (to the speaker) to be building big churches while ignoring the poor? Oh, that’s religion. Those guys act like they’re all holy because the go to church on Sunday but the rest of the time they’re addicted to porn? Oh, that’s religion. Well, what is it that the makers are engaged in if it’s not religion? They’re “following Christ”? Well, go ask an atheist: that’s religion. Instead of talking about one thing as “religion” and the other as “Jesus” — not about not playing word games and admit that “following Jesus” is religion, but like anything else some people do it badly. Some people play basketball and it makes them team players. Some people play basketball and it makes them total jerks. We don’t need two words for basketball as a result, we need to tell people to be good players. Don’t tell people that Jesus came to get rid of religion, tell people that Jesus told people to start faking religion and start practicing it. After all, Jesus says in Matthew 23:3 that people should do as the Pharisees say, they just shouldn’t be hypocrites like the Pharisees were.

    The makers also have a radically individualist view of faith. The speaker claims that religion is man looking for God, but that Jesus is God looking for man. Do we really think that Jesus (who was God) was totally incompetent and didn’t know what he was doing, though? Jesus didn’t just give people some encouraging words and leave them where they were, he said, “Come follow me.” He built an organization while on earth, and his followers lived as an organization after died, rose again and ascended into heaven. If Jesus didn’t intend for there to be “organized religion”, he did a terrible job of explaining that to his followers, because they formed a “religion” in the sense of an organized community of believers right away. And Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church. Jesus comes to us through religion because we’re not meant to all be loners (or to use his phrase “lost sheep”), we’re together in this.

    Finally, the video several times tries to contrast the “rules” of religion with Jesus. But clearly, the makers of the video themselves think there are rules. If there were not rules (what we who are part of a religion call “morality”) then why the criticism of people who don’t feed the poor, who treat single mothers badly, who act of hypocrites, etc.? Moreover, Jesus himself didn’t say “it is finished” to the idea of rules. This is the guy who said (Matthew 5:48) “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect” and (John 8:11) “Go and sin no more.” Jesus was big time into rules. What he criticized the Pharisees for was making a big deal about rules that didn’t matter and ignoring the most important ones.

    Hope that helps!

  5. See, just because we’re called to be more than religious doesn’t mean that we’re not called to be religious. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The ritual and the rules are where we begin. They’re our soil. We don’t cease to need the soil even as we grow upward.

    No one wants to be religious. We all know intuitiviely that religion is limited. And anyway, religion isn’t as much fun as faith. Faith is self-confident; religion is fear and trembling. But Jesus calls us to both, the hard work and the joy.

    Jesus condemned the Pharisees. He also said that they were doing everything right. That’s the trick. We’re called to be worthless servants. The servant has to do his work every day, then recognize that the work isn’t enough. Being a worthless servant takes a lot of work. What must I do to attain salvation? It starts with obeying the commandments – that’s religion – then we’re supposed to build on it.

  6. God’s Only Begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection purchased for us the rewards of eternal life.

    He named Peter the rock on which to build His Church. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary and gave them insight. The Church is faithful, unbroken successor to the Apostles.

    Jesus prayed all the time and observed all the rituals. He came to fulfil the Commandments not to abolish them.

    Jesus is True God and True man. He is like us in all ways except sin. He does not sin. Hate is sin.

    Did Jesus hate those that tortured and crucified him? No, he did not.

    Seems the hit TV series, “The Big Bang Theory” is on air all the time. One re-run depicted a budding relationship/marriage which ended because one was “bundle” matter theory adherent and the other was “string” theory (whatever any of that means). The issue was over how the raise the children (heh): bundle or string. One said, “Let them decide.” The other said, “You can’t. They’re children.” That was the end of that. I thought it was profound for farce and likely why young people have little religious inclination.

    How does one receive Objective Trurth if it is not specifically safeguarded and passed on?

    Of course, yer video-boy-genius likely disbelieves there is such a thing as objective truth. Not to mention divine revelation (not the Book of) . . .

  7. The video is an insult. The young man, however sincere he thinks he is, is seriously misled. Conversion and repentance, righteousness and holiness come first, and nothing the young man pontificates on reflects that.

  8. Maybe there is some truth in what he’s saying that needs to be gleaned. Just as Bahurim cursed David and threw stones David’s men wanted to cut his head odd. David did not allow it and considered that he may have been sent of from the Lord.
    Christ’s seven woes in Matthew 23 against the Scribes and Pharisees I think summs up his problem with “religion.” But he does say in verse two and three of that chapter, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. ” So right before his indictment of them he says to listen to them.
    Sometimes the pedulum swings too far either way. And I think this is the case with this young man.

  9. Difficult to really glean what he means by religion. Seems he does not see following the “rules” or things such as structure as important as actually doing something. Understandable. But ignoring the “rules”, or tossing away the structure in favor of activity is much like trying to run a marathon without training for it, or playing an instrument without any instruction or learning the notes, etc. You may do ok for a mile or two, but then fatigue kicks in. Much like your physical conditioning, your spiritual life needs spiritual conditioning to make it over the long haul. Religion (rules, heirarchy, structure) provide this training and direction, like good coach or music instructor to correct your form when you are off a bit.

  10. What is really disconcerting about the video is the immense ignorance on display and the self-righteous vehemence with which it is preached. This so prevalent in our culture now and it is getting worse. This is the precursor of persecution. The ignorance displayed is almost impenetrable.

  11. “But if Jesus came to you church would they actually let him in?”

    For the Catholic Church it isn’t a matter of letting Jesus in, we bring Him in….and then eat Him.

  12. Tim,
    A few questions. How old are the students? Is this a college class? What is the purpose or theme of the class? How many students? What do you want your students to learn?

  13. We’re talking high schoolers and this isn’t part of the structured class- this was something a student emailed me to find out more about what the orthodox Catholic perspective might be- I want to give them more than just my own take and coax them out into some safe blogging zones where the Church is not going to be trashed and is given a sympathetic hearing by more or less faithful thinking Catholics who aren’t going to be talking way over their heads for the most part.

  14. Here is a Catholic priests rap response on you tube title Spoken Word made Flesh.

    It has some excellent talking points such as the 50 year spiritual dryness experienced by Mother Teresa. The line that stood out for me was- Jesus said, don’t be a Church hater, the weeds and the wheat, the get separated later.
    Also check out a blog on this video at Bad Catholic

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