Thursday, January 26, 2012

Does Jesus "hate" religion?

Anyone still following this blog?

It's been a long time since I've posted here, not because I've given up on this important topic, but because I'm investigating some more significant ways to convey this vital message. Nothing is in place yet, but this recent video has prompted me to jump in here for a moment.

In the past month a new video has gone viral (largely because of social media) highlighting the irreligious message of Jesus. Close to 17 million people have viewed it so far, and the response has been mixed. The popularity of "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" indicates this idea resonates with a large number of people who are increasingly frustrated with organized religion. I have also read many critiques of the video, especially by Christians who either don't see religion as being a problem, or by those who see the message as too harsh.

A few observations. First, the word "religion" often boils down to semantics. There are many views of what it means, and not everyone sees it as negative. Certainly, there are aspects of religion throughout history that have been very positive despite its abuses and excesses. And, as a product of culture, religion is a natural human response which provides meaning and comfort for many. Consequently, anytime we present Jesus bringing the end to religion, we are forced to define our terms and express the radical nature of Jesus' message.

Second, the word "hate" is strong language. While I fully believe that Jesus inaugurated a new approach to relating to God and life apart from and beyond religion, I see no value in condemning those who are living within the parameters of religion. Jesus certainly saw the end of it and attacked those who used it to oppress others, but we can also see where he met people within it as a starting point in their spiritual journey.

Third, my biggest disappointment with the video is that it doesn't fully deliver on presenting the good news of Jesus, but simply regurgitates a simplistic gospel that is focused on individualistic spirituality far removed from the broader Kingdom vision that Jesus was presenting. In other words, we are left with religion deconstructed, but without offering the complete alternative.

If you haven't seen the video, watch it for yourself. And, please provide your feedback.

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jesus as disequilibrium

From Shapevine by Alan Hirsch:

"Jesus is always very difficult to deal with, and religious-minded people really do struggle with his form of ‘religion.’ Actually what Jesus taught cannot properly be called religion at all, in fact Ellul rightly calls it ‘anti-religion’ precisely because it undoes all religion. It effectively dissoves any need for a complex mediating institution with all its priestly/churchly paraphrenalia, and opens up the God-relation to all who will repond direclty to its call. That’s why the religious folk hated him. He de-legitimizes everything they stand for (priesthood and institution) and opens it up to the people. they must take him out.

"Here’s what I think: Christianity minus Jesus equalls religion. And this happens in more churches than we are given to believe. We marginalise Jesus all the time and in so many subtle ways. And we do this because dealing directly with Jesus (or God for that matter) is always a disturbing thing to a sin-wracked people who would prefer a stable, more controllable, religion. Like all living systems, churches seek equilibrium. We want to settle down. We want to bolt down the Revelation and make God understandable, accesable, and therefore more controllable–a ‘God-on-tap.’ Sociologists call this ‘the routinization of charisma’ (google that!) and it is written through the structures of all religions including our own.

"But Jesus disturbs our equilbrium. He won’t be controlled. He won’t be handled only by priests and professional religionists. He won’t be domesticated. He is Lord! Yes, Jesus is our disequalibrium. And the way back to an authentic Christianity is simply to put Jesus back into the equation. Christianity plus Jesus equals World Transformation."

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pope acknowledges misuse of religion

I'm developing a new, expanded website and blog for Jesus and the End of Religion, but in the meantime will occasionally find time for a few new posts:

This week Pope Benedict XVI has been on a goodwill tour through the Middle East, trying to build bridges with Muslims. His trip has generated some controversy, especially in light of some past statements he made.

Interestingly, in Amman Jordan, the Pope said:

"Some assert that religion is necessarily a cause of division in our world and so they argue that the lesser attention given to religion in the public sphere the better."

"Certainly, the contradiction of tensions and divisions between the followers of different religious traditions, sadly, cannot be denied.

"However, is it not also the case that often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times even violence in society?"

These statements are certainly no new revelation. But, coming from the leader of the the most venerable religious institution on earth they are significant.

What would have been more profound, however, is a confession over how Christianity has moved away from the radical message of Jesus and repentance leading to the dissolution of the Christian religion. That would really get the attention of those the Pope is trying to reach.

(Source: BBC)

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Jesus and the End of Religion

It has occurred to me that (consistent with my lack of regular blogging here) I failed to post my review of Bruxy Cavey's book Jesus and the End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus that was published over one year ago.

While this is a relatively new book, it is really an expanded edition of the self-published version that Cavey previously released. Evangelical Christian publisher NavPress asked Cavey (Pastor of The Meeting House in Toronto) to build on his original writing to produce a more comprehensive treatment of the subject. At this time, it is the most significant book on the topic and one that is definitely worth reading.

In this book, Cavey works to demonstrate that Jesus' ministry was centered on a subversive spirituality intended to end our dependence on religion. Probably his most important contribution to this discussion is in his emphasis that this is not a novel idea superimposed onto Scripture by some radical theologians, but is inherent in the New Testament itself.

Cavey covers a complete gamut of topics related to this central theme. At times the discussion drags, especially in places where he expanded the original edition. It's almost as if the publisher wanted him to meet a certain manuscript size. While this newer version provides a fuller discussion of the issues involved, it lacks some of the lucidity and simplicity that were evident in the self-published book. The first edition (although hard to find) then may be a better introduction for those outside of Christianity, whereas this newest version may be more helpful for those currently within the church desiring to grapple with foundational assumptions and beliefs.

As I already stated, Cavey's book is worth reading. Frustrated, religious Christians may especially find this book a breath of fresh air that will enable them to see their faith from a new perspective. Even those outside the church will be impressed that this discussion is even taking place within Christian circles.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Is Jesus owned by Christianity?

An interesting article by Tim Timmons on TheOoze challenges the myth that "Jesus is owned by Christianity". Worth reading.


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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Post-election reflections

This week's U.S. elections marked the culmination of an exhausting time of political focus and polarization. Obviously, Americans are desiring change. Status quo is not an option in a time of turmoil, but there have been two major political visions for how things could be different.

Much has been said and written elsewhere about the role of religion within U.S. politics. The Christian right, in particular, has tried hard to influence the political process; but the religious left has had its own political agenda. The close relationship between religion and politics has left many people frustrated and disillusioned. Christians are divided over the election results, with the religious right severely disappointed that their agenda was largely rejected and is slipping in the country's psyche. People outside the church welcome this rejection, and if anything, wish for Christians to return to their private corner and stay out of the public conversation.

This is not really a post about the relationship between religion and politics. And, I do not believe that faith is merely privatistic - the faith of citizens does and should impact their involvement with society. But, I believe this is a time for people who call themselves Christian to seriously reflect on what it means to impact the world.

This is a time to be reminded that Jesus did not promote a political agenda, nor did he teach that we are to be seeking after power as means to better the world. Likewise, Jesus did not promote a religious agenda. Religion has misconstrued the radical message of Jesus, and the world has looked at the church with disdain. We must dismantle these power yearnings and restore spiritually-powerful living and communities that truly transform people through loving relationships.

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Friday, July 18, 2008


"it seems to be a general law of social/historical development that institutions tend to distort and destroy the central function that brought them into existence".

- Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 201

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