On January 10, 2012, this video was posted by Jeff Bethke on YouTube. Within three days, it had received six million views (Wikipedia article).
That third day also brought a written critique from Evangelical pastor Kevin DeYoung: Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really. And the fourth day brought this reconciliation between DeYoung and Bethke: Following Up on the Jesus/Religion Video. In my view, DeYoung got Bethke to pull his punch, and thus what could have sparked a true revival for Jesus ended up just being promotional material for
yet another Christian book campaign (the link has since been taken down). Sad.
What I loved about the video, and what I think accounted for a great deal of the initial excitement and spontaneous sharing of it, was its clear, bold, and stark contrast between Jesus and the religious establishment. Thus when Bethke capitulated to DeYoung’s “But some of the religious establishment is good, and we’re the good part” it marked the blunting of the point of the video.
Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. He came to bring the kingdom of God to human hearts. He did not come to replace the Jewish religious power structure with a Gentile religious power structure. What would have been the point of that? Are Gentiles to be considered impervious to the corruption that had taken root in the hearts of the Pharisees and Sadducees?
Pre-DeYoung, Bethke was saying “Jesus > Religion.” Post DeYoung, Bethke was saying “Jesus ≥ Religion.” That sort of equivocation is not going to capture wavering human hearts in the age of corruption in which we find ourselves.
Many Christians cry out to God and wonder why He won’t send revival. Yet, when He lights a fire, we rush to quench it before it can spread. Sad.
Next time God starts a fire, let’s let it burn and spread.
P.S. Ever tried to start a fire by lighting a match to leaves which were too wet to burn? That’s where God seems to be with us right now. A similar dynamic can be seen in what happened with the “Jesus Manifesto.”