Sunday, January 15, 2012
Open Letter to Jeffy-Jeff Bethke
Jefferson Bethke created a nicely executed video on YouTube about how Religion is a man-made perversion which will enslave you, but Jesus will set you free. The video is appropriately titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus."
I have a question for Mr. Bethke.
In your video you say something along the lines that you respect religion, and you believe in the Bible, but that none of this can match the awesomeness of Jesus. Fair enough. But I have a question for you.
My question is this: Are you a Christian?
You see, as I understand it, a Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Christ. The only place we have any information about the first century Palestinian known as Yeshua of Nazareth and his teachings is in the Synoptic gospels of the New Testament. These ancient writings are the only place people can learn about the person named Jesus, what he might have believed, and what he purportedly taught.
These texts are what contain the knowledge, information, and stories about the man millions of Christians worship. Do you not consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ and aspire to live up to the teachings he set forth?
If so, I think you have a problem.
The religions which spring up from these ancient texts, now canonized, do so out of an attempt to understand the nuances of these deemed sacred scriptures. As someone who has studied the Christian Bible and early Christianity for over three decades now, I think I can firmly surmise the reason for the variance of Christian belief and practice. Many times the scriptural passages are vague, incoherent, esoteric, or just plain confusing. This is why many Christian denominations have varying views on what constitutes a Christian and what rights and rituals better define their faith. There are literally thousands of interpretations to be had, however, nobody (and I repeat... nobody) has the faintest clue as to what the real rhyme or reason behind them might even possibly be.
If you believe you know, if you are *certain your Christianity is the right form and all the other varieties of the faith are heretical, dare I say mistaken, then you have a different problem then I am thinking of.
So are you a person who follows Jesus on the basis that the only means to discover him and what it is he preached is through holy scripture? Because if not... well... I think you might be practicing something other than organized religion... you'd be practicing your own made up religion.
You may say you hate religion but love Jesus, yet that's analogous to saying you hate fruit but love apples.
I am tempted to ask you one final question, but the rhetorical nature of it is not so flattering, so I'll leave it at this.
I find you to be a very talented young man--but please, keep studying, keep thinking, and don't become so entrenched in your faith that you forget to ask questions. In other words, don't take your faith for granted.
Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity, yes even the icky religious side of it, are all interwoven inseparable elements of the same whole. It's just how it is. It's how it has always been. And it's how it will always be. The sooner you realize this, the sooner I feel you will come to realize the bigger picture.
The Advocatus Atheist