Why does Jefferson Bethke Hate Religion, But Love Jesus?

This week has been a kind of a semi-forced week off from writing for me. Fatigue and other things taking priority over reading and writing. Such as devotional time, sleep, and the discovery of the My OldBoy emulator for my tablet, and rediscovering the Pokemon franchise. Sometime much easier to sit in darkness and play such a game than get up and read or write, especially from bed or sitting in bed with little one sleeping on lap. It doesn’t require much in the way of sustained focus either, which is a plus. If I could switch on and off ‘writing mode’ or read and write effectively while being constantly interrupted, I would write much more and finish many move books. Not that I’m not forcing myself to curtail that gaming somewhat…it’s a bit addictive.

On the subject of reading books, however, I’m apologising for any disappointed expectations in terms of regular book reviews, including my own hopes. I’m actually near or near-ish to the end of several books, so hopefully in the next month or so I’ll be writing about a few books 🙂 These include: Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence by Preston Sprinkle; A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars by Nicholas Rankin; The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne; Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett; and maybe a couple of others that I’ve not actually dipped into recently.


Adding to the list, and my intention is to make it near the top is Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough by Jefferson Bethke. This comes near the top because it was a gift from fellow blogger Skully Speaks (whom you should definitely check out), which I actually received in the mail Tuesday night, but haven’t gotten around to posting about until now. I’ve loved Bethke’s spoken word videos (see below), and was interested in his book, but unable to justify the expense (particularly given my pile of books waiting to be read that I semi-obviously have justified the expense for), and she offered to send me a copy. Big giant THANKYOU! 🙂

I would love to say that I’ll have this read in a week, or even two, but I can’t promise that at all. Same as I’ve currently got a bit of peace and quiet alone to write, but I don’t think I’m going to manage to write all of the half dozen posts I’ve got on the burner at the back of my mind. I am hoping to do one or two in addiction to this one, and rough out or note a few more, but we’ll see how I do. No links of the week this week either, for similar reasons to my recent lack of writing – I haven’t collated (m)any interesting links either, and I’m not sparing the time to find some just for the sake of making that post today.


This is the first of Bethke’s videos I remember seeing, and possibly part of the inspiration of his book:

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

Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales || Spoken Word ||  Jefferson Bethke

Counterfeit Gods || Spoken Word || Jefferson Bethke



  1. It is interesting how many people say they hate religion. I suppose they mean the heartless and thoughtless rituals and actions of some churches. I am sure people know that the Bible says (King James Version) in James 1:27 that “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.” So there is nothing wrong with religion itself (the word there refers to ceremonies as well) so basically we should serve others in this context with the discipline and consistency as we would with regular ceremonies. We are still commanded to meet together as well (Hebrews 11:25) in a congregational setting to learn. However, as Christians we should be careful in saying we hate religion because it can send a confusing message to the world.

    1. Firstly, I’ll assume you mean Hebrews 10:25? Let’s be authentic to the text by not reading “church service” into the text – it simply refers to meeting or gathering together, hanging out, and doesn’t refer to learning (by which I understand you to infer preaching or Bible study) but simply encouragment of one another.
      This is vitally important – none of those are bad things – but they are not being prescribed by the text in this case, and to go beyond the text like that is to risk not only going beyond what God said, but to be like the pharisees.

      Which brings me to the word religion. I dislike it. Modern connotations ascribe to it nuances of doing things “religiously” which sounds like the pointless repetition and rigid sticking to ceremony/ritual which are precisely the negative stereotypes I’d like my life to dispel. I believe a better word to translate thrĂ©sekeia in our context world be “worship.”
      Either way, James is more of a contrast than a complement in that TRUE religion/worship, RATHER than being found in ritual or ceremony, is in the nitty gritty of life, taking care of widows and orphans, living out His love out in the world, without being drawn down into sin by it.

      And I think thats the distinction Jefferson is drawing. Myself, I would not describe myself as religious – I don’t like the connotations of the word, and would desire to distance myself from many of the visible elements and portrayals of Medieval (which is where much of our stereotypes are rooted in) and modern American Christianity. I don’t attend Sunday service religiously, don’t read and pray the same time each day, I enjoy secular music and liquor. James is saying it is much more acceptable to live out the Word and to perfectly keep rituals and habits. I’d like to hope I’m raising my son to have the Word in his heart and on his mind, to be fellowshipping with other Christians, and to be talking, teaching, and learning about the scriptures because that’s on his mind and heart, whether or not he’s making it to a service regularly, that to be loving others, telling them about Jesus and mking disciples is far more important that the external trappings of what “religion” has come to mean in the culture I live in, and I’d argue what the word signifies in this day and age more generally.
      I think sticking by the word with its moden connotations and sterotypes IS a confusing message, unless we want to be portraying a pharasitic love of ritual/ceremony, rules and appearences more than we do a love of God, scripture and others.

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