Jesus and Religion

If you have a facebook account you may have read about or seen the video "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus."  This video really captures the spirit of a great deal of American evangelicalism, at least among youth and young adults, and is very similar to what we find in the writings of popular authors like Donald Miller.
Some pastors in my own Church take up this theme at times as well, which seems odd for people who have chosen to be Methodist clergy since we are more overtly "religious" (rites, altars, bishops, layer upon layer of organization, etc.) than other church options that are out there (like the one this poet attends, I bet).
The poet begins with "What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion..."

There are now numerous spoofs, analyses, and rebutals of this video.  I saw one from a crude but pretty funny atheist (who says he hates Jesus and religion) analyzing the video and saying basically, "From where I'm sitting it looks like what you have in Loving Jesus is precisely a religion.  It's all popular to hate religion - even the people at my family's church who show up each week to worship Jesus hate religion - but this video looks more like slick marketing than anything of substance to me."  Though this atheist mocks and rejects our faith in harsh and profanity-laced terms (which is why his video isn't linked here), at least in this respect I think the atheist is correct. 

There is no such thing as "Jesus without religion."  Not according to the Bible, anyways, since in the Bible "religion" is nothing other than "doing the Word of God" (putting it into practice) in James 1:21-27.  The word 'religion' is also used to describe what the Christians are believing and doing in 1 Tim. 3:16 and 5:4.  In continuing to pit Jesus against "religion" the case can be made that young evangelicals are actually being a bit unbiblical (which is ironic since an evangelical by definition strives to be a "Bible Christian").

Thus, this response from a (presumably Roman Catholic, but potentially Anglo-Catholic) pastor who says, "Why I love Religion, and Love Jesus too" (indeed, his video begins with the graphic that Jesus "hearts"/loves religion):

Now I think there is some truth in the middle ground between these two videos (I am, after all, a Methodist).  It is quite true that the folks Jesus sparred with the most were what we would call "religious" and Jesus strongly condemns them for missing the Spirit of the Law in favor of the minutia of the Law (with the weak, helpless, and broken usually suffering the consequences).  Mark 7 (which I am preaching on tomorrow!) is just one of many examples.  This is the very real distortion that our young evangelical poet is reacting against under the heading of "religion."

 But even in his clashes with the Pharisees Jesus is not so much being "non-religious" as really just re-appropriating what the Biblical prophets had already said, and what the Pharisees somehow ignored.  It isn't simply because the Pharisees are religious that Jesus has harsh words for them, but because they so widely miss the mark of the very faith tradition and the Scriptures that they claim to uphold.  Jesus is infuriated by callous religious hypocrisy; but as the Gospels make clear, Jesus is himself deeply religious: after all he prays, fasts, and reads the Scripture; he dedicates himself to fulfilling the will of God; he worships in the Temple, preaches in the synagogue, and celebrates the passover with his followers.  In the common language of our culture, and in the English translations of Scripture, what Jesus is doing called 'being religious,' in the best and truest sense; and in founding a Church with apostolic leaders, New Covenant sacraments of baptism and communion, and so on, it seems Jesus intended that his followers should be so as well. 

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