By Tom Holmes
Kevin DeYoung's response to "Why I Hate Religion"
We love the Jesus that hates religion.
The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion.
These claims say very little because they try to say too much. Have there been religious wars in the last two thousand years? Yes. Have there also been wars over money, land, ego, women, slavery, democracy, freedom, communism, fascism, Nazism, terrorism and just about everything else you can imagine? Yes.
More to the point, Christians need to stop perpetuating the myth that we’ve basically been huge failures in the world. That may win us an audience with non-Christians, but it’s not true. We are sinners like everyone else, so our record is mixed. We’ve been stupid and selfish over the years. But we’ve also been the salt of the earth. The evangelical awakening in England in the eighteenth century is widely credited for preventing the sort of bloodbath that swept over France in the “enlightened” French Revolution. Christians (and conservatives in general) give more to charitable causes than their secular counterparts. Christians run countless shelters, pregnancy centers, rescue missions, and food pantries. Christians operate orphanages, staff clinics, dig wells, raise crops, teach children, and fight AIDS around the globe. While we can always do more and may be blind to the needs around us at times, there is no group of people on the planet that do more for the poor than Christians.
I don’t think what Bethke is doing is wrong. I just wish he wouldn’t try to claim the moral high ground.
We need to realize that there are plenty of people in many of our churches who seem to have it all together but don’t. They are kidding themselves and we should not encourage such self-deception.
Bethke speaks the truth in this section. The differences between slavery and sonship, bondage and freedom, blindness and sight are all biblical themes.
I think the line about “religion says do, Jesus says done” can be misleading. Too many people hear that as “relationship not rules” when we’ve already seen that Jesus wants us to do everything he has commanded (Matt. 28:20). But if “do” means “do this to earn my favor” then the contrast is very appropriate.
Well, there you are. If you want to read Kevin DeYoung’s whole response to Bethke’s rant, google his name and Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really.