By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - With so many atheists coming out of the closet, it’s not difficult to imagine a video decrying religion racking up millions of hits on YouTube.
But a video along those lines has been viewed 15 million times and liked more than a quarter-million times since it was posted on January 10, featuring an enthusiastic young Christian from Washington state.
“What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?” 22-year-old Jefferson Bethke says in the video, reciting a spoken word poem he wrote. “What if I told you getting you to vote Republican really wasn’t his mission?”
“I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?” he says later. “Why does it build huge churches but fail to feed the poor?”
Bethke's video is emerging as a symbol for many young evangelical Christians who are calling themselves “followers of Jesus” rather than overtly identifying with institutional Christianity. Many of the country's fastest-growing churches are nondenominational.
“Religion is man-centered,” Bethke writes in a post accompanying his YouTube video. “Jesus is God-centered.”
In the video, Bethke talks about what he calls his own spiritual rebirth, saying he went from being a self-righteous religious person to an admittedly deeply broken believer.
The video has provoked an avalanche of response, including other YouTube videos, like "Why I hate religion but love Jesus, Muslim Version" and "Why I Dislike Your Poem, But Love God," which includes these lines:
I see where you’re coming from but there’s insanity in your vision
You overlook the fact that Christianity is religion
You’re like the van who claims to hate diets
Or astrophysicists who reject laws of science.
That response video has itself been viewed 390,000 times. Not bad.
Many religious bloggers echoed that video’s criticism on Bethke, alleging he’s trumpeting tenets of Christianity while purporting to blast organized religion. Critics called Bethke’s take on religion overly simplistic and dangerous.
“Anyone who does just a little digging on Bethke's YouTube channel or on Google will quickly learn that this young poet is a conservative Christian and member of the Mars Hill Church led by controversial pastor Mark Driscoll,” writes Patheos blogger Brian Kirk, a Missouri-based pastor. “All this seems to me an odd résumé for one who lambastes organized religion.”
Yet Kirk marvels at the national conversation that Bethke has provoked around deep questions:
Certainly one can agree or disagree with Bethke's take on religion but it's difficult not to admire the way he has stirred up those of us who may have been slumbering comfortably in our own faith without really thinking about why we do what we do. Some times the best way to wake up a sleeping giant is to poke it with a stick and Bethke has done just that.
I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior. But I don't for one second think that the Bible I read in an American church is a perfect representation of God's will. Any person who reads into the history of Christianity will find that there were many competing schools of thought when the religion was founded, and there are nuances of meaning within the text that were lost in translation. As a result, you get people who automatically assume that evolution conflicts with the Book of Genesis when in actuality, Genesis was written allegorically.
Prayer changes things
Prayer illuminates the Word of God
Prayer illuminates the Holy Bible
Prayer changes things
give me one scientifically proven instance where prayer specifically did anything.
@Hooligan...give me one scientifically proven instance where chocolate tasted good. Your demand for proof that prayer has value in a limited form (i.e. "scientifically proven") establishes that you have no idea of what prayer is our why we pray. Your demand is a faithless trap because, no matter what a believer says, you will instantly chalk it up to coincidence–without any scientific thought.
Thanks for letting us know that you know absolutely zippo about either science or statistics. There are plenty of studies out there showing that prayer has zero, nada, none statistical significance from a supernatural standpoint. But keep up with the ostrich pose if it makes you feel good.
And it would be fairly easy to design an experiment to determine the subjective preference of humans for chocolates.
Hellbent...my point, apparently missed by you, is that, because you will ALWAYS chalk up answered prayer to coincidence, there is no reason to evaluate it from a scientific point. For what it is, we could produce millions of people who would argue that they prayed for X and got X or something even better when the odds were against such an outcome. But again, you will ALWAYS chalk it up to coincidence, won't you.
To what do you chalk up fulfilled wishes upon stars?... successful crossed fingers for good luck?
Belief in a higher power is Good.
Religion is man's corruption of that belief in a higher power.
That guy is cute!
I don't care what you liberal elitist or libertarian pot smokers say. You have no, nor will you ever have, say in our CHRISTIAN NATION anymore. Get over it. We may not be able to force you to accept CHRIST as your moral compass, but we can at least censor your mode of communication online. Rick Perry was a casualty of you. Your reign is, praise HIM, coming to an end.
I'm moving to Canada. To hell with you Christians.
America4Americans – "...we can at least censor your mode of communication online."
How will you do that?
You can ban free speech on your private, Christian circle-jerk sites all you want. You cannot ban it everywhere.
p.s. Rick Perry is a casualty of his own deluded nincompoopism.
hahaha i needed a good laugh before work.
No you can't. That is your problem...having temper tantrums because you cannot stop anyone who disagrees with your religious views from expessing their alternative views.
That's the way to do it, America – hit people over the head with your bible. That will win a lot of people over. I'm sure that's exactly what Jesus would want you to do. Spew anger and hatred....Or instead maybe he preached that the greatest commands were to love God and love people. And that they would know we were his followers by the way we love one another.
In almost 2000 years finally someone says something that makes sense!
I swear sometimes the things some "Christians" say makes me want to stab myself in the eye.
Here's a clue on REAL christians. Jesus taught us to be tolerant "Judge not lest ye be judged" "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Seriously, even the most infantile of Christians know those verses and yet I see alot of "Christians" judging here. Jesus did NOT want religious people to follow him, he wanted spiritual people. People who were not wrapped up in ceremonies and rituals. People who didnt care about what you looked like or talked like or came from. Thats a real Christian. Real Christians dont have to sit on a soap box preaching about the fires of hell, because they try to live their lives in the grace of God, and hopefully show the peace and joy that can bring to others. Christianity isnt about banging someone's face into the bible until they concede. And doing that not only brings dishonor to you, but smears the image of all Christians in the world.
As for this video, I get where this guy is coming from. A lot of times churches will turn you away because of how you look, or because of your past. Sometimes you feel like you have to put on this mask and hide who you are in order to fit in with the people of your faith that should accept you no matter what. And that really is what's wrong with having a "religion". I have faith, I have spirituality. I'm not going to hide who I am, or what I believe in. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I love him whole heartedly. I am not ashamed. And even if I am ridiculed I will continue to believe. Because of my faith, I will also love others, whether they are believers or not. I will show compassion and tolerance to all others. Thats the mark of a true Christian. Hopefully that means something to you believers out there, and hopefully all the non-believers can show me the same compassion and tolerance I've shown them.
Shanna is another atheists re-writing history.
Judging Is Believing.
Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:57)
What is right?
The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8).
"For the wicked [man without God] boasts of his heart's desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts." Psalm 10:3-4 (i.e. no God-shaped void)
False Christians (and non-believers) often tell us it is not right to judge. Some fools hypocritically condemn us for judging (Luke 6:37), and they all hypocritically judge that we judge. When we identify preachers as false teachers leading both themselves and those who follow them to hell, when we declare others as on their way to hell, and especially when we warn them they are lost, we often hear these words (or the equivalent), "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1). Yet, these words are exactly why we judge.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Jesus also said,
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. (Luke 6:37a-b)
We take these words very seriously. They literally scare us. In fact, we are terrified of them (Psalm 119:120; Isaiah 66:2). We do not want to be judged by OUR "measure" as Christ warns in Matthew 7:1-2, because we know we fall short (Romans 3:23); and our measure is guaranteed to be faulty (Psalm 16:2).
More hatred and intolerance from the queen of hypocrisy and arrogance.
@Shanna, it's too bad that more of your fellow believers haven't picked up on the whole greatest commandment thing – something that certainly transcends religion.
Well, getting off religion is the first step. Acknowledging that there is almost certainly NOT a lone, supreme god is the real step that leads to rational living, though. Jesus had some good lessons and taught some good points, virtually none of which are followed by so-called Christians today. But I don't believe he was god, because I think all gods are imaginary.
Human beings have literally created thousands of gods. Christians reject all of them, having never even heard of the vast majority of them. Yet they delude themselves into thinking that the one god they were indoctrinated as children to believe in simply MUST be the one REAL god. So without doing any research (most of them are woefully ignorant of their own religion's history), without even a scrap of empirical evidence, and with near-overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Christians insist that their beliefs (and ONLY their beliefs, mind you) are "true." The delusion is honestly fascinating, and if it didn't have such profound, and often negative, real-world impact, it would be amusing.
Great post, Shanna
I think I may have to post this in sections because as one long post they arent showing up, so sorry, bear with me please.
Dear Heaven Sent,
Judging is not believing, in fact if you were truly believing wouldn't you do everything it takes not to cast judgements on others?
And I find it incredible that from a post, where I openly confess that I believe in Jesus Christ, that you would turn around and then call me an athiest trying to re-write history. How exactly did you come to that conclusion? Most athiests (and I do know a few) would rather cut off their right hand than pretend to be a bible-reading Jesus-loving Christian. Secondly its kind of hard to re-write the history of the bible. The bible is one of the most well known books in the world, has been translated into more languages than any other book, and has been studied extensively. I doubt one post on cnn.com is going to change anything, much less the history of a book as important as the bible.
And what you did in your post is something that I've seen many other Christians do, you take a little piece of the scripture here, and a little bit there and you sew them together so that the word of God supports what YOU want it to say. And you cant do that. Mostly because as a Christian I own not one, but three different types of bibles, its not like I cant look up what those scriptures say and read the context in which is set, but also because that isnt the way that God meant his word to be used.
2 Peter 3:15-16 "Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."
You are distorting the word of God to fit what you want, not what God wants.
Luke 12:57 – You got the first part right but it goes on to talk about reconciling with your adversary. About making amends for things that you know you've done wrong, to not make your adversary take you all the way to a judge, because if you do you will go to jail until every penny is paid.
Psalm 19:8 – I can't actually fault this scripture, it talks about the precepts of the Lord being right, but it also says that they give joy to the heart, that they are a light and bring peace. Hatred and intolerance bring none of those things, so I doubt they are part of the Lord's precepts.
Psalm 10: 3-4 – This talks about the wicked men, how they dont have God in their hearts or in their minds, which is a fine piece of scripture but it can hardly be used for either myself or the maker of the video since we both seem to advocate a deep and personal relationship with the Lord rather than letting a group of "religious" people ruin it for you. So since I have God in my heart every morning that I wake up and every night that I go to sleep I will just skip over this one.
Both the Luke and Matthew scripture says about the same thing about not judging or condeming because if we do we will be judged by God. And since God thinks lust is adultery and hatred is murder, His standards are A LOT harsher than ours. And I try not judge, but I'm human, I'm faulty, maybe I came across as judging these people that say their christians but say horrible things. And if so I'm sorry. In my mind I was just trying to remind my fellow believers of some of the basic principles of our faith. And hopefully show others that the long-standing belief that every christian is a crazy bible thumper is false (I dont think your input helped on that one though Heaven Sent, sorry.)
If you are new here, you might not be aware that HeavenSent is nearly certifiably insane. Keep that in mind if you respond to her.
Also, you might want to keep it in mind as to what happens when one loses his/her grip on reality.
POWERFUL Message i so agree! & thank god for Grace & im glad he meant it!
Where will this bring us if we follow this crap?
This guy's misled and ignorant to the scriptures.
You wouldn't hate religion if you know that the Bible approves of one.
It teaches religion, one that is pure –
"James 1:27: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
I think what most people in our times don't know is that there's someone out there, in our times that preaches Faith, Religion, etc truthfully and based on the Bible.
He's tackled the same subject – http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/the-vitality-of-religion-to-salvation/
Wow, did you miss the point! Whoosh! Right over your head!
The verse you quote fully supports what he's saying in the video.
Christians are just like the Taliban, i think. really where is the difference
I hope youre joking. Chicken wings are different than breadsticks
But they'll both give you diarrhea when they're past their time.
Jesus tell's us , " I give you a new commandment, to love each other as i have loved you. So you must love one another'.
How much did Jesus say to charge to heal the sick?
How much did Jesus say to charge to teach a man to fish?
How much did Jesus say to charge to feed the masses?
Jesus = Love
Satan = Hate
Read hitler's book? No thanks, i left Columbine years ago, and besides, i have struggles of Mein own.....
And also for the next YouTube presentation:
Only for the "newbies":
JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")
Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.
Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.
Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.
Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!
So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?
Reality is more than a bit touched leading all his fellow atheists to the eternal flames with his hatred of Jesus' truth. He won't be satisfied until chaos rules supreme.
The best response to reality is to hit report abuse every time its repeat bull sh it appears
It's true that scholars say M,M,L, and J wrote their gospels 'from the kerygma', or after salvation. The story is that they believed Jesus COULD do all the things they claimed he could do, so they went ahead and added them to their gospels. But today's scholars have a hard time considering the 'times' of Jesus and his immediate followers and their disciples. They didn't consider the gospels to be 'made up' tales; since Jesus COULD have done all that they claimed, they didn't see claiming those things as tales or lies. Luke and Paul are another story. I personally have no use for Paul – as far as I'm concerned, he single-handedly created organized religion and thereby ruined Christianity. Fundamentalist Christians and Catholic Christians are so wrapped up in rules and regulations that they can't see the simple truth of Christianity. There is only one truth – and it is 'Love one another as I have loved you.' And it doesn't matter whether you're Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist or Taoist or Atheist. The one truth is 'Love one another as I have loved you.' Will that get you into Heaven or Paradise or whatever? Who knows? I don't. But it certainly WILL make your life on earth worth living.
John 13: 34-35, 'Love one another as I have loved you.' is a single attestation appearing no where else in the gospels or related scriptures and therefore is inauthentic. e.g. See http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=363_Jesus_Supper_Discourse (leave out the hypen in t-itle if you want to access the reference.
See also Professor Gerd Ludemann's conclusions in his book Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 534-535.
And this final note from the latter reference, p. 416:
"Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "
1 John 3:23-24 "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. "
1 John 4:7-12 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. "
Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Just other instances where it tells you to love others, it may not be said in the same way, but the message to love one another, even those who do us wrong, is definately said multiple times in many ways throughout the bible, this is just a few.
Worship God not religion, sadly most will never get that.
What part of worshipping any god isn't religious? Claiming otherwise is just silly.
HITLER WAS A CHRISTIAN is so uptight i bet he's cutting washers w/his anal sphincter....
Get educated. Read Mein Kampf
Ghandi said , "I like your Christ , but i don't like your Christians".
B4bigbang said , "I like your Mouse , but i don't like your Mouseketeers".
Floyd, read the Bible, and you'll know that Ghandi will be in summer school for 1,000 years. Enjoy your studies with Ghandi as your desk mate.
All of the atheists will be judged when Jesus returns. I will be in Heaven dancing on streets of gold. Where will YOU be? I'll give you a hint. It won't be where I will be. To be honest, I'm glad because atheists don't deserve happiness.
Very Christian (and arrogant) of you. I'm sure your tyrant, narcissistic, sadistic god would be very proud.
It's people like you that divide this world apart and cause it hatred. Remember what Gandhi said: "I like your Christ, but you Christians are so unlike your Christ." I advise you to think about that.
I'm already happy. Are you?
Oh no, I won't be dancing on streets of gold when I die! Guess I will be burning in hell, which I am super worried about. You make it past the 6th grade?
I've got a real john in my house too, and it's just as full of crap.
A deity that must resort to extortion to get its message across is neither omnipotent or worthy of praise or adoration.
You will have to answer for your own actions.
I'm not all that fond of dancing... especially as a circus monkey for a giant, tryannical organ grinder in the sky. Enjoy your dance, Foooo. (You actually love that "thing" you have created?) One can tell so much about a person by the behavior that he assigns to his god.
Whatever, john. There isn't an ounce of proof to substantiate your delusion, but I guess it makes you happy to be a malicious, miserable jackas.s who hates people who don't think exactly the same way you do. Thank you for showing us what "real" christians are all about.
Telling an atheist that to his face will get you dancing in your streets of gold pretty quick amigo.
Sounds like your the one full of hate.
Exactly. Because atheists will persecute and kill Christians for their religious beliefs. It's been that way for 2,000 years.
"Because atheists will persecute and kill Christians for their religious beliefs. It's been that way for 2,000 years."
Yup, because christians never kill heretics. It's never ever happened.
For someone who seems to truly delight in the possible torture of others, you sure have quite the persecution complex.
The real john
And Christians have never persecuted and killed people, including other Christians, for their religious beliefs? Better read some Church history there, bub!
The communist regimes that labeled themselves atheist were actually against organized religion. They were against it because it held rival power over citizens, not because they hated God. They young guy in the video seems to largely agree with them.
What a hateful thing to say...remember hate=satan, isn't that right satan?
We atheists secretly hope jesus does return and takes all of his followers with him so we can get this planet back in shape. The truth is, you don't have to wait for him to return, why don't you just go meet him now. I'm sure he's going to be really excited to see such a devoted follower.
Uh oh.. Looks like someone hughjacked my name.. I mustve said something right! Ha ha, signed.. "the real john"
John, you've spammed this blog several times with comments about atheists burning forever and whatnot. You have shown nothing but malice toward people who don't think the same thing you do. I see no reason to sugar-coat what I think about you.
There is not a single shred of evidence to indicate that what you believe is true. Here's the cold truth. You are not special. When you die, you will be dead, just like everything that ever lived. If you were a decent human being, you would be more concerned about how you live this life than the treasures you wish for after you die.
By the way, its hilarious to come back, see this guy hijack my name, egg his "own kind" on, i know its the athiest guy i argued with three pages back.. And other athiests are arguing with an athiest teasing them to think hes a crazy christian.. Tis is perhaps the funniest thing ive seen in years.. Off ha ha.. You all got ripped off, fighting with yourselves.. Ha ha!
Tallu.ive been out running errands for four hours. I havent been on this blog since 7 pm. You have been arguing with an athiest troll. Sorry you wasted your time .. It was the guy i argued with like three pages back when i was at work. Hey, hes one of yours.. Dont blame me..
Oh Yeah – is that you, Babba Ram Das?
No, its me, the real john, and im hijacking everyone now to try it out.. Wheres oh yea?
Hey, whats going on here. The real john is hijacking us.. Hey man, dont blame us, we didnt do anything wrong here
Oh i see now.. This hijacking thing is easy. And we can argue with each other all night, and its really the same guy..
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and so-rcerers and se-xually im-moral and mu-rderers and i-dolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:14-15; also Revelation 21:8)
To "The real John":
It is amazing how arrogant "Soi disant" Christians like "Heaven Sent" and yourself can be when you feel you aren't getting what you feel is sufficient respect for your religion- Christianity has a violent, psychotic, and generally arrogant past which keeps coming back into the present. I am not religious, nor do I care what religion anyone is, as long as they do not force others to obey their rules,or physically harm others.
People watch jersey shore, Kim kardashian, Paris Hilton, nyan cat, annoying orange. It's safe to know most people are stupid.
this guy just wants people to go to his church, so he can win in the profits and donations, hes a mix of time tebow and drake, tells people what they want to hear so he can get his profit
Actually, he was promoting his own pagan-based religion there towards the end, but hey ... HITLER ALSO BREATHED AIR, damn evil air breather!
CHRISTIANITY IS A PAGAN-BASED RELIGION, GENIUS.
In other news idiots leaving religion in droves to join the Atheists ranks. Sorry guys it's your turn to take em for the next thousand years =(
Hitler was not a christian. Where do you guys get this stuff from? Theres so much ignorance out there, and people have problems with religion? People cant even handle normal information.. Ha ha
Hitler was raised a catholic. Despite his usage of christian imagery ("Got Mit Uns" - "God With Us" on the SS belt buckles for example) he was probably more a pagan at the end. The German citizens who gave him power, however, were overwhelmingly catholic and lutheran. Without their support, Hitler would have been just another evil lunatic with a bad mustache.
What does Hitler and atheists have in common? Believing their own lying egos.
What kind of ego does it take to claim to 'know' that God actually exists and what he thinks?
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.