The Christian bloggers haven’t been this worked up since Rob Bell’s Love Wins.
The critiques have been pouring in on the very popular video “Why I hate religion but love Jesus” (you can watch it below).
Mega-blogger Justin Taylor tweeted this good perspective:
- in 6 days 12 million people have watched @JeffuhsonBethke’s “Why I hate religion” video.
- In 10 months 650,000 watched the Love Wins trailer.
Several differences in the two firestorms:
- Love Wins was an internal fight among Christians.
- Why I Hate Religion has reached viral status among the broader world.
- Love Wins was justifiably critiqued. It’s pretty much heresy.
- The Why I hate religion but love Jesus video is not flawless in its wording but it’s a great attempt at evangelism
Tullian Tchividjian responds to the critics with, I think, a very helpful correction that’s well worth the read.
I’ve found that in college ministry our main battle is definitely what Tullian writes: that the gospel is “going to have to be distinguished from religion because “religion” is what most people outside the church think Christianity is all about—rules and . . . cleaning yourself up and politics . . . and self-salvation”
Cru’s “Changing Evangelism” research project found an interesting pattern among most non-Christians:
“They are convinced they’ve already heard.
Regardless of how we adapt our evangelistic approaches, it is significant to know that our audience thinks they’ve already heard the message of Jesus (even if, in fact, they haven’t).
We found that 31 of 34 unbelievers we interviewed felt that they’d already heard the message of Jesus . . .
When in fact, most needed someone to correct misconceptions they had about God.
Many New Believers expressed having had misconceptions and a lack of understanding about what it meant to be a Christian. In fact, though many New Believers grew up around Christianity, they would say that they’d never really heard a clear presentation of the gospel before college.”
I have found that when you talk to most college students about Jesus they will immediately think you are talking about religion and they will dismiss you out of hand (and won’t hear anything you’re saying). On our campus, one of our chief goals in evangelism is to contrast religion with the gospel (a la Tim Keller: “there are three ways to approach God: Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel; which makes me think – what does Keller think about all this fuss?? and how come people are lining up to criticize this video when no one has taken on Keller for his use of “religion” as the word to represent a moralistic approach to God).
I think the “Why I hate religion” video, while not perfect, definitely creates tension to where a person might for the first time think:
“Maybe I don’t really understand Christianity and the gospel.”
And that’s a great place to start.
To be fair, I have tremendous respect for guys like Kevin Deyoung and others who have criticized the video. And Kevin, et al, have some valid (though I’d say relatively minor) quibbles.
And you should definitely read Kevin Deyoung’s post where Jeff Bethke, the creator of the “I hate religion” video writes to Kevin to thank him (with incredible humility) for his loving critique:
“If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly. . . thankful for your words and more importantly thankful for your tone and fatherly like grace on me as my elder”
But one commenter on Tullian’s post says it well:
“This young man should have received a pat on the back, instead he got thrown under the bus by a lot of people who should have known better. Props to him for boldly speaking about Christ in a public medium. Not to mention taking all of the criticism in a humble, teachable way.”
As the saying goes: No one has ever built a monument to a critic.
Or to paraphrase another of my favorite sayings: I like the way Jeff is sharing the gospel better than the way they’re not (not saying they don’t share their faith. There just seems to be far more concern for semantics than passion for the lost).
He made a very well produced video that obviously connected with a lot of people (presumably a lot of whom were non-Christians) and created tension on a critical issue, hopefully awakening many to the fact that they really do not understand the amazing news of the gospel.
What are your thoughts?
How do you get through to students/others who hear “religion” when you say “Jesus”?