An Honest Response: “I love Jesus but hate Religion”

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“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians”

“I’m a Christ-follower, but I oppose organized religion.”

“I’m spiritual. I think Jesus was a great teacher, but the church needs to change.”

There are almost endless variants of this core message.. “I like Jesus. I hate Religion.”

The problem is that people who make this statement don’t really believe either point. It’s a logical slight of hand, but one in which the illusionists only fool themselves.

Let me explain.

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“I love Jesus”….

Slight of hand #1: You switched “Jesuses” on us. 

To say that you love Jesus means that you have to understand who Jesus actually claimed to be, His teachings, and His stated purpose.

Jesus claimed to be God. Not a teacher, not a prophet, not a good moral example. GOD. The actual creator of the universe.  You can’t run around claiming to be God and then just be seen as a “good teacher” or “moral example”.  If Jesus isn’t who He said He was, He was at best a charlatan, and at worst a psychopath.

Jesus also made incredibly unique truth claims which were patently offensive (and blasphemous) in the first century, and remain patently offensive (and “intolerant”) in today’s post-modern culture.  Jesus said that He was God incarnate, the very creator of the universe entering into creation for a single purpose: To provide the exclusive way by which men could escape the just punishment for their sin and receive eternal life. The flip side of this truth claim is that anyone who did not believe this would be condemned.

One God. One name, alone, by which man may be saved.

Those are the truth claims of Jesus. To say that you love, respect, or follow Jesus while denying his claims of both deity and exclusivity is to love, respect, or follow a different Jesus. In short, “coexist Jesus” doesn’t exist. He’s a creation of your imagination.

You’ve swapped out the real Jesus with one of your own making. THAT is the Jesus you like.

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“I’m Spiritual”, “I hate religion” 

Slight of hand #2: You swapped religions on us.

The problem is that this generic “spiritualism” is a subjective, personalized experience.  Jesus didn’t come for that reason, He didn’t minister that way, and He didn’t establish His work on earth in this manner.

Jesus spoke, performed miracles, and made his truth claims publicly and objectively. He established the meeting together of His followers for teaching, edification, and public proclamation.  To meet together publicly and jointly confess our faith in a publicly, objectively crucified savior guards against creating and worshipping our “own personal Jesus.”

By holding to the objective, public statements of Jesus’ earthly ministry, by publicly receiving the objective elements of the Lord’s Supper, and by publicly and objectively being washed in baptism, we ultimately worship the historic, public, objective Jesus rather than a private, subjective “Jesus” of our own creation.

What this leads to, without fail, is not only replacing the real Jesus with one  of your own creation, but replacing the public, objective gospel of Jesus ministry with your own, alternative gospel.

Let’s work through that.

So, you dig Jesus. You think he had some great messages about loving the underdog, the poor, the disenfranchised. You think he was a great moral teacher. But the whole “God” thing? The whole “only way” thing? Not so much.  So what are you left with? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So you replace Jesus stated purpose of coming to save people who do not, who cannot, love their neighbor as themselves with the very thing He said is impossible. Huh?

In closing, here’s the rub. Jesus taught and the church confesses that we have ALL failed and fallen short of this call to Love God with all our hearts and Love our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, we believe and confess that it is only by grace through faith in Christ that we are forgiven.  That’s the christian faith. That’s the christian “church”, that’s our “religion”.

This “spiritualism”? Your “own path”? You’ve simply replaced the religion of Jesus with one of your own making.  And it ends up where ALL non-Christian religions end up; A religion of works and law rather than Jesus religion, a religion of grace.

So to be blunt, to be offensive, to be “intolerant”.. You either love the biblical Jesus and his biblical religion, or you love the  Jesus and religion you’ve replaced them with. To balk at either Jesus or His religion is to engage in a slight of hand. The problem here is that you aren’t fooling anyone but yourself.

Marc

While I can only touch on this important topic in the short-form media of a blog, here are two of the most viewed videos of the “Love Jesus, Hate Religion” argument and an absolutely fantastic response.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0p6lVdtGKI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbsadOQK_6A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YXINEYdnkY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI15405WcLk

6 thoughts on “An Honest Response: “I love Jesus but hate Religion””

  1. Someone who would argue this point would probably point out the logical fallacy that dominates the Christian religion. It’s any one of the variations of “Jesus said it in the Bible, and since the Bible is true, what Jesus said was true and he must have said it.”

    This may shock you, but many people, educated people who have made a life out of studying history and ancient documents, do not believe Jesus made any claims to divinity at all. Christians are determined that Jesus was a historical character. And he most likely was. But even in the case of historical characters like Julius Caesar, Boudicca, Cleopatra, Plato, and others, not everything that was written about them was true.

    However, I am not the one to be arguing this point. I do not follow the “I love Jesus, but I dislike Christianity” worldview. I have found, in my experience, that Christianity is one of the most depraved moral codes in existence. I have found that the Christians that follow Biblical commands the most closely are the ones that other Christians prefer to brush under the rug. So why should I love a man who encourages and commands slavery, genocide, kidnap and rape, family abandonment and murder?

    1. Tim: Someone who would argue this point would probably point out the logical fallacy that dominates the Christian religion. It’s any one of the variations of “Jesus said it in the Bible, and since the Bible is true, what Jesus said was true and he must have said it.”

      M5S: You’ve done a great job of setting up the strawman, but I don’t believe i’ve said anything of the sort. In fact, I believe the polar opposite, that Jesus is who he said He was and therefore his exclusive truth claims as recorded in scripture are true.

      Tim: This may shock you, but many people, educated people who have made a life out of studying history and ancient documents, do not believe Jesus made any claims to divinity at all. Christians are determined that Jesus was a historical character. And he most likely was. But even in the case of historical characters like Julius Caesar, Boudicca, Cleopatra, Plato, and others, not everything that was written about them was true.

      M5S: Why would this shock me? I’m well versed in textual criticism. To claim that Jesus didn’t make claims of divinity shows a fundamental ignorance (or willful mishandling) of the recorded text. We can take this apart one at a time if you like, but Christ’s claims of divinity (explicitly) and his allowing those around him to make the claims (implicitly, for example ο κυριοσ μου και ο λογοσ μου) would be unthinkable in any other context.

      No, not everything written about those historical figures is true. However, what we have in scripture is absolutely unparalleled in both volume and consistency within ancient documents. (This isn’t even debatable, it’s factual and conceded by even those within the textual-critical field who deny the authority of the biblical text).

      My question to you would be, by what standard would you view ANY ancient historical claim to be true? Whatever that standard is, consistently, must be applied to the historical validity of any of these claims, would it not?

      Tim: However, I am not the one to be arguing this point. I do not follow the “I love Jesus, but I dislike Christianity” worldview. I have found, in my experience, that Christianity is one of the most depraved moral codes in existence.

      M5S: And that is found, Tim, in your experience or in an objective view of the material? Please defend your assertion here so I can react to something more substantive than your experience.

      Tim: I have found that the Christians that follow Biblical commands the most closely are the ones that other Christians prefer to brush under the rug.

      M5S: Who are these people, and which biblical commands specifically are you referring to? I’ve seen this argument, so for the sake of argument I’ll reach (and retract if I’m incorrect) that you’re speaking of those who, in error, believer that we are to follow the ceremonial and civil aspects of OT law?

      Tim: So why should I love a man who encourages and commands slavery, genocide, kidnap and rape, family abandonment and murder?

      M5S: Framed that way, I don’t believe that you should.

      Marc

  2. M5S: You’ve done a great job of setting up the strawman, but I don’t believe i’ve said anything of the sort. In fact, I believe the polar opposite, that Jesus is who he said He was and therefore his exclusive truth claims as recorded in scripture are true.

    Tim: I don’t believe there’s any strawman here. You believe Jesus’ claims to divinity are true. These claims are found in the Bible. You believe they are true, because the Bible itself claims to be inerrant. Therefore, the only proof of Jesus’ divinity are found in the Bible’s infallibility, and the only proof of the Bible’s infallibility is the Bible’s own claims.

    M5S: Why would this shock me? I’m well versed in textual criticism. To claim that Jesus didn’t make claims of divinity shows a fundamental ignorance (or willful mishandling) of the recorded text. We can take this apart one at a time if you like, but Christ’s claims of divinity (explicitly) and his allowing those around him to make the claims (implicitly, for example ο κυριοσ μου και ο λογοσ μου) would be unthinkable in any other context.

    No, not everything written about those historical figures is true. However, what we have in scripture is absolutely unparalleled in both volume and consistency within ancient documents. (This isn’t even debatable, it’s factual and conceded by even those within the textual-critical field who deny the authority of the biblical text).

    My question to you would be, by what standard would you view ANY ancient historical claim to be true? Whatever that standard is, consistently, must be applied to the historical validity of any of these claims, would it not?

    Tim: As am I, only we have different approaches. You look at the text and say “This is true, how can I prove it?” Other scholars, who follow the standard rules of academia, say “This is the material, what conclusions do they point to?” Is it any wonder that Christian scholars and secular scholars have come to such vastly different conclusions?

    Your assertation that scripture is unparallelled in both volume and consistency is an incorrect statement. Every time you quote a text from the Bible, it is a translation of a translation of one of 8,000 separate texts from the third and fourth centuries, no two of which are exactly alike.

    How do I view any historical claim to be true? Comparison to contemporary sources and archaeological evidence, both of which refute the Bible’s historical claims throughout history time and time and time again.

    M5S: And that is found, Tim, in your experience or in an objective view of the material? Please defend your assertion here so I can react to something more substantive than your experience.

    Tim: The words of the Lord, directly related to Moses.

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    I don’t think I need to explain further except to point out the difference between your moral code and mine. Yours forces you to justify owning another human being, including children, and beating them to death without consequence.

    M5S: Who are these people, and which biblical commands specifically are you referring to? I’ve seen this argument, so for the sake of argument I’ll reach (and retract if I’m incorrect) that you’re speaking of those who, in error, believer that we are to follow the ceremonial and civil aspects of OT law?

    Tim: I was thinking of a lot of different examples, but I believe the history of the Christian church’s relationship with the LGBT community over the past few decades (advocating throwing them in concentration camps, helping fund legislation that calls for their deaths, picketing AIDS funerals, beating them, torturing them, killing them) is one of the most vivid and relevant.

    M5S: Framed that way, I don’t believe that you should.

    Tim: Is Jesus not truly God? Did he not, as God, command the total annihilation of the Canaanite people, down to the last child? Did he not give the Hebrews express instructions on how best to own foreigners? Did he not, through his judges, command the Benjaminites to kidnap young virgins from the fields and ‘make them their wives?’ Did he not command Peter and Andrew to abandon their families?
    Again, the difference between you and me, your moral code and mine. I don’t believe that you will deny that Jesus has commanded rape and murder, slavery and genocide. But you have to justify it. I do not.

    1. Hey Tim:

      If you don’t mind me asking, what is your moral code exactly? Also, what is your objective foundation for it? Thanks!

      1. It would be hard for me to say in some contrite way what my moral code is. Pithy statements like the Golden Rule don’t really do much for me. I’d like to think that the world, and myself, is a little more complex than that.

        It might be easier to explain where it’s based on, however. My moral code doesn’t have one source, but several. The first source is the demands of living in an advanced society. I strive to obey laws, not out of fear of punishment, but because there are certain requirements of living with a group of people and sharing the same resources. The second source is natural human empathy. I know that Christians claim that humankind is depraved and without goodness. They point at the evil done by individuals, ignoring the good done by a hundredfold others, most of them non-Christians. Yes, human empathy, compassion, kindness and generosity are part of who I am. I don’t feel the need to strive to find out where they come, and then claim to have found it and tell everyone else that they’re going to roast alive because they haven’t. It’s enough for me that they’re present. The third source is selfishness. Which, contrary to popular opinion, is not a sin. One has to think about self in order to survive in this world, and even more to thrive. In my selfishness, I want people to treat me with kindness and compassion. But logically there is no reason people will do so to me without reciprocation or motivation. So I show kindness, because I believe it will be returned. Some call it karma, I prefer to think of it as human nature.

        Does my moral code have the cosmic sense, grandeur, and absoluteness of yours? No. In some senses it’s more absolute (i.e. mine says its wrong to kill babies in any circumstances while yours does not). In other senses it’s less. But if you’re trying to convince me that there’s nothing between me and raping and killing because my moral code doesn’t have Jesus standing over me with a sword, you’ll have to try harder than that.

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