My Thoughts After Writing ‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus’

Posted by on Feb 12, 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing | 202 Comments

It has barely been a month since the release of my “Jesus>Religion” video, and man has it been one crazy, intense, overwhelming, and awesome month! Ever since the video came out it has been an absolute whirlwind, and never in a million years did I think I’d be jettisoned into this position so quickly! Because of the quickness of it all, it has been a very trying time for me and my walk with Jesus. I’ve had great days, but I’ve also had extremely depressing days. Some days I didn’t even know what to think. I do think though the dust has settled a little, and God has been working on my thoughts lately, and so I thought I’d share what’s been in my head since the day the video came out. I hope the post below encourages, clarifies, and edifies. My hope is for this post to bring light into my situation, and also bring unity to the body of Christ.

LESSON LEARNED – THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUTH AND PRECISION

When everything started getting crazy I had a great discussion with an adjunct professor of theology at Reformed Seminary. He mentioned that too many times today people don’t know how to decipher between truth and precision. We want everything to be precise, which is nearly impossible in today’s society of sound bites, tweets, Facebook statuses, etc. I also was discussing this with one of my mentors (who is brilliant theologically, and studied at Dallas Theological Seminary), and he said it so succinctly I thought I’d share it here:

Art forms by nature are “fuzzy” expressions as you indicate, and that makes us nervous. Most people are wired such that they need concreteness, neatness, and completeness – i.e. precision. But precision does not necessarily require comprehensiveness. I think it is possible to talk about segments of systematic theology or even individual truths without dealing with the whole body of God’s truth. What we are inclined to, however, when talking about subsets of truth is a complete discussion of all the levels and nuances related to that particular truth. In other words, we want to look at it from every angle, dissect it, touch it, smell it, taste it, dialogue about it, and come to an absolute understanding of it. But art does not do that – intentionally! And neither did Jesus. He often taught in parables, the spoken word art form of His day. And in the parables, Jesus does not offer a complete, detailed, dissertation of some truth, but a truth concept at a high level. They were intended to draw people in, to entice them to meditation, to bid them to dig deeper.

To be honest, before the poem came out, I never gave this topic much thought! We get upset (myself included) at something for it not being “precise” when the question we should be asking is, is it true? Rather than getting mad at someone for not talking about the whole pie, we should lift up one slice and ask if it holds true as a slice by itself? That is my prayer with my video. I didn’t include a robust stanza on my ecclesiology, I didn’t talk about sanctification much, I didn’t talk about my views of baptism and the spiritual gifts, because in the medium of poetry I only have a few minutes to work with and I was hoping to address the one topic I set out to (juxtaposing the real Jesus with hypocrisy, self righteousness, and man made religion). Furthermore, I learned pretty quickly that not many people understand what the role of art is in the Church today. Too often art is marginalized for not being “precise” as mentioned above. Sometimes though it is marginalized for not being true, which then is completely warranted. Where this gets tricky though is art is supposed to, by definition, have wiggle room for personal interpretation. This is a lot of the reason I didn’t define “religion” in my poem. I wanted to leave that up to the viewer, but at the same time I wanted to write in a way where my definition was blatant and obvious. So the tough role of art is to provide a piece that is open to interpretation but has enough truth and hints in it to point to where you had hoped. Again, my mentor stated it so eloquently:

As I continued to reflect on the precision/truth tension, it occurred to me that the reason art is so effective as an enticer is because we are in fact inclined toward precision with respect to truth. So the artist tosses out something fuzzy and incomplete, and it becomes a starting point, the head of the trail because we have this bent toward wanting to understand fully. And then I thought, “how amazing that our Lord would use the very way He wired us to draw us to fuller truth.” Or as Paul would say, “oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

This brings me to some other thoughts, which are, who was I writing to?

REALITY/COMPLICATIONS OF THE INTERNET

I of course never in a million years thought I’d get 18,000,000 views on any video I ever released! With that comes a lot of complications, misrepresentations and miscommunication, but through it all I have had to return to the question of whom did I write it for, and was it reaching them the way I had hoped? When I sat down to write the poem, my audience was very clear. I was writing the poem purely for the people who shudder when they hear the word “religion”. I wrote it for the people who hear the word “religion” and they think “hates gays”. I wrote it for the people who hear the word “religion” and think you have to vote for a Republican or else you can’t be a Christian. I wrote it for the people who feel too dirty, too unclean, too messed up for Jesus or “religion.” Did I write it for theologians? No, I didn’t. Have I grown and accepted a lot of their feedback? Totally! I have been beyond blessed by people like Tullian Tchvidjian, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Justin Holcomb, Justin Taylor, Kevin Deyoung and others who have graciously contacted me and poured into me, giving me both advice and awesome support. On top of that, it begs the question, who has authority over me? Scripturally speaking, bloggers and journalists don’t. Can I learn from their critique? You bet- but ultimately I don’t report to them. This is also something I hope people attempt to find out before writing critiques, slanderous articles, etc, and that is, is the person being written about submitting to some form of godly leadership and elders? That is the true question. This is a big issue, especially in the realm of art. Too many times artists play the “lone ranger” by submitting to no one except for themselves. I hope the people reading this and writing about me understand that with me this is not the case. I fully submit and am under the leadership of elders at my local church, who I have given full authority in my life to “pull the plug” on certain poems, lines, and actions. Furthermore I have made a commitment from here on out to submit my lyrics for future poems to my church elders. On top of that I also have older godly men and women outside of my local church who do the same thing but maybe come from a different theological stream. I have spent countless hours these last couple weeks meeting, praying, and gleaning from these leaders in my life. I’ve asked them questions such as “do you think I was wrong?” or “where can I grow?” So I hope whoever reads this understands and trusts the leaders God has put in my life to do their scriptural mandate of protecting and shepherding over my heart because they will give an account (Hebrews 13:17-18).

About the actual critique though, I’ll be honest, there were times after the poem came out that I just started to crumble. The pain of the critiques was too painful (which I talk about later). It was in those moments though I had to ask myself, was the poem doing what I intended it to do? What’s interesting is that many critiques said my video would be used by my generation as a license to hate the church (which I actually say I love in the video) but interestingly enough I only received about 2-5 emails from people who used it in this way. In those cases it gave me an opportunity to show them the beauty of the truth, and the magnificence of the Church. It reminded me of when Jesus preached in John 6 and fed 5,000 people. Some people took advantage of His miracle and only saw Him as a giver of their short-term needs. Did He withhold bread from them? No. Instead He clarified with them when they sought Him further. Later, He denied those seeking Him for short-term needs, saying that they only sought Him to get their “fill.” Some theologians/bloggers/writers condemned me for giving license to people to hate the church, yet with the response I have seen on the internet I have only found a few who actually taken it that way. What I continually had to turn back to was the question of, “was this poem doing what I felt God intended for it to do?” What humbled me, broke my heart, and brought me a deep sense of joy were emails that confirmed this. For example, one email read:

Hey Jefferson, I went back to church today :) It has been about 2yrs since I’ve walked through church doors. your poem; religion and the church…it opened my eyes. I didn’t go for so long because my trials left me with little-to-No faith and I felt ashamed for doubting God…but your poem helped me remember that the church is a place for the BROKEN!

Another email read:

I’ve been struggling so hard for years now with forgiving myself and accepting Jesus in my life. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t worthy of his love, that what I’d been through had tainted me. I’ve been beaten, raped, ridiculed, tried to kill myself over 10 times as a teen and been made to feel like I am absolutely nothing. My ex just got out of prison and while I was pregnant, he threatened to take my son by force. I’ve been barely hanging on trying to figure out how I’m going to make it from day to day with my son. I watched your video “why i hate religion, but love Jesus” and I cried my eyes out as I felt God’s hand on me that night. I’m giving myself to God and starting to finally realize that God can love me despite my past. I hope I haven’t wasted too much of your time, I just wanted to let you know your words helped make an impact on my life.

My question to Protestants, Catholics, and anyone who loves Jesus is – can we celebrate that? Can we celebrate God furthering His kingdom and His church? Can we celebrate the evidences of His grace, and Him pouring out His healing and redemption on lost and weary souls? It’s emails like the one above that continued to pour into my inbox by the hundreds, if not the thousands. Unbeknownst to me, God graciously used me in my weakness and my imperfection to reach and draw men and women to Himself. These emails are from the people whom I was writing to in the first place. My poem was for the people on the fringe. The people that no one else goes after. The people that Jesus invested in, and the ones whom the Pharisees grumbled about. My poem was for the thousands burned by the misuse of Jesus and the Bible. What has grieved me most of all about the whole ordeal is the amount of energy we spend on debating finer points of theology (and crucifying the ones who are attempting to feebly spread the message of Jesus) when people are entering hell by the thousands. Its like some are on the battlefield trying to rescue people from the enemy and there are others in the Pentagon debating whether or not the boots the soldiers are wearing are of optimal quality for fighting in the war. It’s trivial. People are dying, and we want to debate TULIP, eschatology, paedo-baptism, etc. It reminds me of a D.L. Moody quote where he said, “I like his way of doing evangelism better then your way of not doing it.” I mean sure maybe the people (and me) on the battlefield aren’t 100% correct, but people are being rescued by the hundreds from the domain of darkness, and we not only spend countless hours on blogs and articles debating how they are being rescued, but some of the debate is in such a mean-spirited and non-loving manner. Now, I understand critique has its place but we also have to ask certain questions before we throw out the “heretic” card so easily. Is the Cross being preached? Is Jesus being lifted high? Is grace being proclaimed? If the answer to these questions is yes, we need to tread softly. What ever happened to Christian unity, brotherhood, and graceful dialogue?

EXPERIENCE – THE TONGUE IS RESTLESS (JAMES 3), ESPECIALLY WHEN SPEAKING THROUGH A COMPUTER

I’m taking the risk of exposing myself here on the blogosphere and Internet, but I do want to also include that the last couple weeks have been some of the most difficult in my life. Have they been rewarding? Sure. Have they been exciting? Sure. Have I seen God pour out His grace? Definitely! But the tone, words, and down right vitriol from fellow brothers and sisters in the faith have crushed me. I’m a 22 year old dude who has only been out of college 6 months, and who has only been walking with Jesus for a few years. I am beyond thankful to the older godly men who chose to pick up the phone and find ways to contact me privately, before discussing me publicly. I personally had to stop reading and trying to follow the blogs because Jesus showed me pretty quickly it wasn’t healthy for my heart (whether praise or critique). The ones I did come across stung. Some hardly even dealt with my content, but wrote more about my character, my salvation (or lack thereof), my looks, my poetry, etc. Part of me was extremely hurt, while part of me started to really wonder how blog posts fit into the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:36. God will hold us accountable for what we speak, but we seem to forget that a lot of times when behind a computer screen in a room by ourselves. Part of me trembles when I think about the day I stand before the King of Kings and He asks me to give an account for every careless word I’ve ever spoke, facebooked, or tweeted.

WHERE IS MY IDENTITY?

All in all these past few weeks have been a quick lesson and reminder of where my identity is. Is my identity in my failures? Nope. Is it in my successes? Nope. Is it in how many views I get on YouTube? Definitely not. My identity is in the Cross of Jesus, and His resurrection. I’ve had to anchor myself in that truth every morning, because the voices of the world are incredibly powerful. Nothing can show me how unworthy I am more than the Cross of Christ already has, and nothing can show me how much I’m worth and treasured more than the Cross of Christ already has. His Cross is a double edged sword, and when anchored in it, it protects me from both the praise and critique of man in a dangerous enslaving way.

LESSON – LANGUAGE ISNT CLEAR CUT, AND COMMUNICATION IS MULTI-FACETED

A big issue too, that people raised, was with my definition and use of the word “religion.” To be honest I never thought in a million years that if controversy arose on the video, it’d be for that reason. Through this all I have realized that religion means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. To be honest I used the word without hesitation because in my Seattle context “religion” is synonymously with a man-made, legalistic system (exactly what I was rebelling against). When I realized not everyone used it in this manner I did some research and realized I’m not the first one to use “religion” in a bad light. People like Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll use religion synonymously with “moral effort attempting to appease God”, and people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer have used it negatively as well. Bonhoeffer, right before he died, hoped the future Germany would get to a place of “religionless” Christianity. On April 30, 1944 from a prison cell, Dietrich wrote:

We are moving towards a completely religionless time; people as they are now simply cannot be religious anymore. Even those who honestly describe themselves as ‘religious’ do not in the least act up to it, and so they presumably mean something quite different by ‘religious’. (Letters and Papers From Prison, pg 362).

Something I learned very quickly too is there is a vast difference between a street definition and a dictionary definition of a word. For example, the word “gay” in today’s society is going to mean something completely different than its actual dictionary definition. This is why, in scriptures, writings, and articles the author’s definition of “religion” has to be interpreted before understanding the whole piece. My prayer is that the ones who saw my video and were upset by my definition of the word “religion” could look past the semantics and to the heart of the message, and interpret the poem in light of the definition I have expounded on here.

Lastly, in regards to language used I also wanted to touch on my poem’s first line. I say, “What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?” Now, a lot of people fired back quoting Matthew 5:17, which I say amen to! In hindsight I do think that was a poor choice of words, and want to apologize to anyone who was confused by that one line. Even though I wasn’t talking about the law, I was talking about self-righteousness, I still think that line was more confusing than it was clear. The beauty and great weight of Jesus, is that He came to fulfill the Law not abolish it. To know all the shadows and pictures in the Old Testament were simply a picture of Him is astounding. He is the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament. That fact is actually what led early Romans to consider the first Christians as atheists, because their “religion” was so upside down to them. They’d ask, “where is your temple?” to which the Christians would reply they didn’t have a building, and Jesus was their temple. So then they’d ask, “well who is your priest?” To which they’d reply we don’t have a priest on earth, because Jesus is our ultimate priest in Heaven. Finally they’d ask, “well who is your sacrifice?” to which the early Christians would respond that they no longer give or do sacrifices because Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all (King’s Cross, Tim Keller, pg.48). That, is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:17, and that is a truth changes someone from dead, man-made religion, to a vibrant relationship with Jesus and His body.

CORE THOUGHT/BOTTOM LINE

Lastly, I am thankful for grace. I am thankful that the Cross of Jesus met me where I am. I’m thankful that I don’t have to perform for Him, but rather He has performed for me. That’s the grace that drew me in the first place, and its that grace I cling to daily. How could I not after all He has done for me? He is worthy of all my worship. He is worthy of all glory. I pray to God that through all of this I would grow and pursue Him more deeply, cherish Him more fervently, and love Him more fiercely. This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and my hope is to steward it well, remaining faithful, and pointing to Him!

 

 

 

202 Comments

  1. Ambra
    February 12, 2012

    God bless you! Be encouraged amid all the criticism. Remember, Jesus endured it too. So shall those who walk in the Way. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future. You have an awesome calling of God on your life to influence millions!

    Reply
    • Hope
      February 13, 2012

      You’re truly AMAZING and I hope you know that. You speak nothing but the truth and that’s why I absolutely LOVE you.

      Keep keeping it real.

      <3

      Reply
    • nancy
      February 13, 2012

      I never thought anything but humbled by your poem. It was on fire. May God bless you in all. thank-you

      Reply
    • Luknows
      February 13, 2012

      Amen!

      Reply
    • kay wheeler
      February 13, 2012

      Jeff, I commend your message. It was a long, low cry from the heavens to a generation on earth who has lost its way and rejected Jesus along with “religion”. You are absolutely right to break out the truth from the prison walls of hypocrisy, self indulgence, greed and pride, If none would speak for Him, even the stones would cry out. Don’t be backed away from your position; you must know who brought you to it in its clarity. The “religionists and theologians” will come crawling out of the woodwork to try to show you the way or educate you to their way of producing a society of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why do you think the millions reacted? They were dying of thirst for Truth and you gave it to them. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Stay in the Word and follow the calling God gave you and let no man despise your youth. The greedy gods and the wolves and the “spots in the feasts of charity” will descend; therefore, put on the whole armor of God and STAND. The pieces of the armor are found in the BIBLE; they are put on by obedience to the WORD EMPOWERED BY GRACE. IT IS A GIFT OF GOD.

      Reply
    • fred
      February 13, 2012

      You have a rare heart. God bless you. May His likeness be in you that Christ may ablaze his leadership and the church once again. You wear the face of all those who have burning hearts and that yearn to burn again.
      Fred.

      Reply
    • CALEB KEEFER
      February 13, 2012

      Just wanted to let you know that there were many who didn’t understand what you were talking about but also know that there was at least one person who watched your videos and totally got it and know in God’s eyes that’s enough

      Reply
    • Hubbel Rickel
      February 13, 2012

      You are a huge blessing and you don’t owe your critics anything. Our Lord and Savior knows what is in that heart of yours and thats all that matters. I read some of the crtitics’ blogs and they bothered me too. Keep fighting the good fight. If a Billion people viewed your video and it only brings one person to Christ, the constant critiquing and all the harsh words were worth it. God bless you! Keep up the awesome poetry!

      Reply
    • Anita Beck-Williams
      February 13, 2012

      Jesus said we are fishers of men and I take that to mean if we reel them in, God will clean them up. So keep reeling them in – you will be Blessed! You are a bright light in a generation, time, and world that needs to hear about Jesus, His Mercy, His Goodness, and His Grace! Keep spreading the Word – I will continue to lift you up in prayer.

      Reply
    • Nikki
      February 13, 2012

      Thank you so much for not giving up and falling into the grips of hate and fear. You stood up for what you believe and I see this as being more of a Christian and an example of Jesus more than anything else.

      Reply
    • Kelly Pittman
      February 13, 2012

      Hi Jeff. I just want to thank you for stepping out in faith to create this poem. Yesterday my husband and I took our family to church for the first time in about three years and we plan to continue to worship there. It’s time I got back to the heart of worship. I feel God working in my life and I can see Him working through you to touch so many souls out there. Thank you for your obedience to Him to spread the message of Love.

      Reply
    • Jenny
      February 15, 2012

      Hey Jeff I really admire you because I could tell your heart is on fire for our Lord Jesus. I have a question for you What church are you talking about? which one are you talking about that you have submited your self. Wich one is it? do you belive there is one church that our Lord Jesus started? one church that has the truth? as I read this that was my question I hope you could answer me back thank you so much.God is with you keep your head up I think your videos are great!!!

      Reply
    • Renee
      February 17, 2012

      I personally received every word from your lips as The Truth spoken from the inspiration of The Holy Spirit. You have been a most obedient willing vessel to be used by Jesus to reach many, many people. I felt the anointing the entire time I listened to your poem. The truth often comes with a price. In this case, the enemy attacked you through people in the Body of Christ in a way you did not expect. I have had these experiences myself numerous times through the past 20 years. Yes, it is very painful. I can completely empathize with you. Yet, after each incident, I grew stronger in faith and closer to Jesus. I pray to my Heavenly Father to heal you of all your wounds inflicted in the past month, pull out all of the darts the enemy has thrown into your heart and fill you with His Unconditional, Forgiving Love to all involved. In Jesus Mighty Name. Amen. Remember that flesh and blood are not your enemy. Keep your Ephesians 6 armor on daily and pray Psalm 91 over yourself, family, friends, house, car, work, etc. Pray it over everything every single day. This will help you a lot. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. And keep binding the enemies’ works, plans, schemes and strategies every day all day long as this is where the root of the attacks are coming from. Matthew 18:18. I am an older sister in Christ who loves you dearly for your love for Jesus and speaking The Truth that needed to be spoken for the world to hear 18,000,000 people so far. That is incredible God’s Kingdom work manifesting all over the world. Hallelujah!! Be Blessed and feel free to email me. I am an interecessor/prophet/teacher in His Service Always. My blog is above for you to visit any time. You will see I do not hesitate to talk about Jesus on it. I will never stop. It’s all for His Glory Always.
      The Lord has said this is the “Year of the Youth” – Let him use you mightily. Stand. And when all else fails Keep Standing.

      Reply
  2. Garth Otto
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Jeff et al,

    I saw your video and LOVED it. I’m a young gay man (and I hope you are down with my community – not as a group that needs to be fixed or anything, but just as another one of God’s children). I certainly don’t think (or ever have) that being gay is bad, immoral, etc.

    I have gone back and forth in my believe in God. At the end of the day, I guess I do believe in God (I can’t say that it’s 100% there, but the last thing I’d want is a dishonest relationship).

    In short, I think that what you have done is great and you should continue your path, but not in a Joel Osteen kinda way (yikes!). More as a voice for a generation – but most importantly, as a person who tells it like it is and remains humble.

    In closing, to me, God is love. And while none of us are perfect, the basic choices we make on a daily basis should be those which God would be proud of. I hope you keep doing what you are doing, keep a good level head, enjoy the ride/journey/experience, and continue to remain a cool guy who is (and this is one of my biggies) nonjudgmental.

    Okay, all for now…good night and God bless,
    Garth

    Reply
  3. Chuva
    February 13, 2012

    Keep on! Surely, God is guiding your path. You inspired me to remember that I am saved through God’s grace. You have been called to preach. My prayers are with you.

    Reply
  4. Ronnie Pollard
    February 13, 2012

    You are being used in an awesome way. Stay strong, keep your eyes on Him. Don’t look at the critics or even listen to what they say. God needs his people to stand up and make a difference. There is so much negativity in the media and world today. It is rare to get positive coverage relating to Jesus. I am proud to know you brother. I am excited to have you speak at our June or September event. Keep you focus clear, keep your focus on Him!!! I know you will, God bless you Brother!

    Reply
  5. shawn
    February 13, 2012

    Love your work & I’m excited to work together at APU on the 22nd. Thank you for your blog post.

    Reply
  6. brandy
    February 13, 2012

    do not be afraid for the Lord walks with you..with each message comes understanding and to some conviction..Truth is not meant to be hiden but exposed. a message is not to be a secret but told.. keep doin what you do and God Bless u

    Reply
  7. Patty
    February 13, 2012

    You are Daddy’s beloved with whom He is well pleased. That is your focus, on Hs love for you. Because He loves you, He will direct your path. I know b/c with His love, you love Him back and acknowledge Him in all you do. Look at the fruit of your life and service to the Kingdom. Give all the praise and the criticism to God and He will handle it all. This will keep you humble and protected. Don’t read the hate mail. It’s a distraction. Not everyone will see, but we pray that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened. I am blessed by your willingness to wlk on the water of His Word. You’re a preacher like me, fishing for souls just by a different method. Yes! His grace empowers you daily, focus on Jesus the author and finisher of your faith! The rest He will direct. Abundant Blessings!

    Pastor Patty!
    Grace Unlimited Min

    Reply
  8. fwong
    February 13, 2012

    Keep pursuing Him, keep seeking Him, and let Him use you for His Glory! Stay strong, God is for you Romans 8:31, Revelations 3:8. God bless your ministry!

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth Richard
    February 13, 2012

    As an artist, I found your initial work truthful and a powerful tool to reach the audience that you intended. I, too, have been misunderstood in my pursuits. Be encouraged as you tell His truth near and far. Thank you for this gracious follow up as well.

    Reply
  10. Josh cheatham
    February 13, 2012

    I would just like to say god bless you man!!! You are changing hundreds of thousands of people’s lives including mine!! I have had some stuff happening to me and my family that a church has caused! I would really like to share my story so if you are interested text me at 352-462-0229 thank you for everything and god bless

    Reply
  11. Barry O. House
    February 13, 2012

    Two thumbs up! I’ve posted the same thing on my facebook page a hundred times. Its what I do. Crazy as it is when someone other than me says it I get worried that folks won’t understand fully. Go figure. It isn’t a shot at the true church but those who’ve become stagnate and ineffective. Yes, some were offended but many got the wake-up call and responded. Good on you Jon. As for your clarification for those such as I whose skin may be a little too thin in the wrong ways, your response nails it. At 22 you are spirtually wise and humble beyond your years. It’ll be the key in continuing to be used by God in a most effective way moving forward. Be bless Jon. Be very blessed I pray.

    Reply
  12. Ian
    February 13, 2012

    I really appreciate this post. It shows a ton of humility on your part and I really admire that. I definitely like how you talk about our need to not jump to conclusions so quickly but instead celebrate that Jesus and the Gospel are being proclaimed and lifted high. With that said, do you think your version of Rob Bell’s Love Wins video goes against those very principles? Again, I’m not trying to hate, I’m simply trying to point out an inconsistency. I really do respect you and hope you continue doing what you’re doing and hope God continues to use you as he has been. Thanks for your time!

    Reply
  13. Ruth Hovsepian
    February 13, 2012

    God bless you Jeff. I was one of those who shared this on FB and I then saw the words of the critiques. They hurt me very much – judgmental words from those that did not stop to think what their words would look like. On that day I put you on my prayer list and have prayed for you daily and will continue to do. I pray that my son who is 18 will be bold as you in his faith.
    Your sister in Christ
    Ruth

    Reply
  14. Heather Houston
    February 13, 2012

    Jefferson, …this thought worries me. “Furthermore I have made a commitment from here on out to submit my lyrics for future poems to my church elders”. God didn’t call them, he called you. You are the vessel. Not all of Jesus’ teachings were believed or accepted as is. Yes, you shook up society. Good for you. Good for God. Don’t let anyone edit God’s words through you. A twist on a popular saying: those that understand don’t need an explanation, your enemies won’t believe you anyway. Satan will make you qualify your message until it is meaningless….trust his spirit, the spirit that lives and works in you. God bless <3

    Reply
    • Alina Navarro
      March 10, 2012

      Jeff, may the Light of Our God Always shine upon you Hun!!!
      Just like Heather Houston’s comment above, I too am worried about that statement.
      NO ONE should edit your words nor thoughts because YOU are God’s messenger! PLEASE Hun, reconsider that. You have touched Sooooo many people and brought them back into the fold, brought them back to Jesus’ love & God’s mercy. 18,000,000 views and growing should be proof enough, they are not all critiques, they are All mostly children of God Tired of what RELIGION has done to their lives. Or too scrared that any religion they choose will be judgemental of their lives. “Religion” and by that I believe you meant all meaning Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim etc… makes people crazy by exacting perfection, and we all know that humanity not being perfect, can indeed be most hurtful. BUT, You are leading people to Christ!!

      Stay strong & keep on letting God inspire Your words, No One else!!! No edits, No semantics, No censorship…Just be YOU in God and Jesus Christ.

      Please let me share how I found your video. I am a Social Media Manager and follow many people on my cell phone with Twitter. On Sunday February 5th at 10am @TonyRobbins Tweeted your video!!!
      Thank goodness he did, I loved it and Retweeted it myself.
      This is what he wrote: “A provocative short video that asks some profound questions regardless of your religious beliefs worth a look (and then yr video’s link) ……AWESOME!!

      Your video is so deep and profoundly heart stopping that my Christian Church (Life Church Miami) played your video before the service last Sunday March 3rd, to raging applause!!!
      I volunteer in the Media Ministry and immediately after the service I got questions about how to get your video. Luckily I had not deleted Tony Robbins tweet , so I just forwarded it to them.

      Please continue your ministry as the Authentic You. I know you will hear your church’s elders, that is wise, but “You” are Doing on A Grand Scale what they have not, only because God reached out to you for this mission. Stay strong in your poems & videos. Take the critisism as THE Opponent, yes Satan, doing his best to shake you to your core.
      Do Not let him win!
      You are ‘David’ for the little guys out there struggling to become closer to God. drop the critics (golliath) like a Hot Potato and don not be distracted.
      keep up the good fight & wear your armour
      See you on FB
      Ucan With Alina
      xo

      Reply
  15. mandy
    February 13, 2012

    I for one applaud you and I know God will continue to use you if you remain in Him and humble. You can tell you’re legit and honestly love God. When people bite and are harsh I always think of two things. Jesus letting us know we will be hated for following Him and the song the rings so true….its gonna be worth it, gonna be worth it all. Keep you’re head up and know you have a whole family of believers supporting you and praying for you.

    Reply
  16. Jessica
    February 13, 2012

    I agree 100% with Ambra- You couldnt have said it any better!!
    2Corinthians 12:1 I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s
    sake; for when I am weak then I am strong.-

    Reply
  17. Diane Curtis-Prior
    February 13, 2012

    I am a 68 year old British woman and I thought your poem was absolutely superb—and so did my husband and all my friends to whom I posted it. A real breath of fresh air. I am amazed and concerned at the revelation of the negative response you quote. I’ve personally seen none of that. But then human nature is apt to grumble and complain rather than to offer thanks—so I apologise for not having done so before. I’ve heard several others talk about it, and all of them with hearttfelt appreciation that someone is ‘doing his bit’ to put the hypocrisy of so much ‘religious talk’ right where it belongs. Just keep on doing what you’re doing and dig ever deeper into God and all He has for you. Next time may it be not just 18 million but 118 million!! Bless you Jeff. We’ll be ‘following’ you—-don’t give up—He didn’t.

    Reply
  18. Steve
    February 13, 2012

    I am now an OLD dude – a long time ago I was a young one — I had NO PROBLEM understanding the message of your poem as the Love of God expressed in a admirable way (in My opinion to God and also to myself) by a loving , wonderfully zealous young believer that wants to share the basic Love and Grace God wants ALL of us accept and with those whom you want so badly to communicate with because you understand what it takes to do so…. I pray you do NOT worry about what anyone else says but God Himself and those God has put in your life to help you accomplish what God Himself wishes for you to do…. worry not about those who for whatever reason want to dispute or tear down — run the race God has put before you and go for the Goal and Gold God has for you to attain. I pray you will always keep your LOVING desire to serve Him regardless of whomever says or does what!

    Reply
  19. The Step Out Project
    February 13, 2012

    I think that a lot of religious Christians read the wrong meaning to the message, the minute I saw the video, I knew exactly what you were saying because this is the truth of God’s word, it might be uncomfortable but when was God’s words ever comfortable? Keep the faith brother and always look to the cross, as Jesus said “”If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” -1 John 15:18

    Reply
  20. Kelly Stewart
    February 13, 2012

    Imagine seeing all the people in heaven who are there because of your obedience ! Love how you are humble and honest and God is annointing your work. As a mother of 3 I love how you are using your gifts to reach the hurting. Youth can have a strong impact on the Kingdom!

    Reply
  21. Chasity
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff, I loved this portion of your notes here “Nothing can show me how unworthy I am more than the Cross of Christ already has, and nothing can show me how much I’m worth and treasured more than the Cross of Christ already has.” Loved your Jesus > Religion poem as well as other poems/videos and encourage you to continue following our Lord in whatever manner He calls you.

    Reply
  22. Mark
    February 13, 2012

    You have shown wisdom well beyond your years. And it’s no wonder – since it is God speaking through you. Please keep up the fight. It’s been quite a privilege to hear you speak, follow your posts, and read your thoughts. God is using you to advance his kingdom…..I hope to be a positive influence for his kingdom as well one day.

    Reply
  23. Ann
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff…

    You were brave enough to bring a strong message that needed to be heard, even if it made some people uncomfortable. It was a timely message, very well delivered, and spot on. I pray that going forward you will continue to heed the voice of the Spirit to bring us every message He gives you to bring. Any time you ruffle feathers, you’re going to get complaints, but we need to be ruffled now and then. (Just ask any of those OT prophets!) Blessings upon you, young man.

    Reply
  24. Sarah
    February 13, 2012

    I cant even imagine how crazy this past month has been for you. Exciting and hurtful and everything in between. I know that I took your definition for religion the way you intended it, and although many theological men critiqued you, I do feel you were blatantly obvious in inexplicitly defining “religion” the way you, me, and so many others would define it. I think you have been humbled, and you are growing. But I think your video has likely reached many more people than all your critics posts combined. When non or weak believers see us tearing each other apart, it gives them more reasons to hate dictionary-defined religion. I had many conversations about this video and always shared with naysayers much of what you shared in this post. Keep doing what you’re doing brother! You’re an example to many, and a testimony of amazing grace.

    Reply
  25. Dela Coleman-Posey
    February 13, 2012

    Sometimes I think that people are intentionally obtuse, because the meaning of your poem came through crystal clear to me. Your opening line was perfect. As you say art does not have to be precise, though you were precise in your interpretation of the Pharacitical(sp) religiosity to which we as people can easily be drawn.

    Reply
  26. Diane Oliver
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for the video and the deep passion that you have for Jesus. I also made a difference in my life and my adult child was the one who shared it with me … then me to my dad, who is a minister. I believe God has used your poem in mighty was for His purpose. Keep up the walk =)

    Reply
  27. Luknows
    February 13, 2012

    Warrior for Christ,keep praying keep striving,that your changing lifes nd the devil is hating it praise god glory to god that u have 22 yr old with your type of wisdom Dnt b discouraged that ur seeds ur planting will reap great fruits in Jesus name.

    Reply
  28. Melissa
    February 13, 2012

    I absolutely loved that poem (and your other ones). It makes complete sense and some people just can’t handle the truth. People couldn’t handle Jesus’ word back then, so they ridiculed and crucified him. I didn’t got to church for 7 years, the loss of my Mima made me so bitter and angry… I started going back after Thanksgiving of ’11, so when I heard this poem, I was still reconnecting with faith. Your poem inspired me more to stick with my church which doesn’t hold highly on religion but focuses more on Jesus, God and the similar truths you spoke of. Thank you and please don’t be discouraged by the hypocrits.

    Reply
  29. Jen
    February 13, 2012

    I totally and completely agree with Ambra! Be encouraged, you hear from God & it shows! Keep keeping on and He will direct your paths. Thank you for sharing your heart & be vulnerable with the whole world. Jesus, is being Glorified and that is all that matters! Definitely looking forward to hearing more from you in the future. =)

    Reply
  30. Carmen .
    February 13, 2012

    I have been serving the Lord for over 27 yrs. for the last seven I have gone through much, I didn’t want to go to church, I felt lost. After reading your poem I cry like I haven’t done in years. I turn my heart to God. You have been instrumental in God’s plan. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Be Bless!!

    Reply
  31. Brandon
    February 13, 2012

    God bless you Jeff. Just remember to follow Jesus and not the crowds, because He will never lead you down the wrong path.

    Reply
  32. Miles Morrison
    February 13, 2012

    Hey man, I continue to be impressed by your heart and attitude. Praise God that he’s using your video in such amazing ways! Praying for you man!

    Reply
  33. Jacklynn Posada
    February 13, 2012

    This was absolutely Beautiful. Praise God for every written word that has been placed upon this. I was in tears through every line as they came alive into my heart.. God is using you as a vessel sns an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Truly the Holy Spirit dwells within you brother and I pray he continues to do His works within you. Amen to the prayers mentioned as I pray along with you and the rest of your viewers. Sharing this as well with others.

    Reply
  34. Paul
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff,

    I so appreciate your humility, brother! I see from your “Speaking” tab that you will be in Chicago on March 15th. I’m a junior high youth pastor at a church about an hour north of Chicago and would LOVE to speak with you about coming and sharing. I looked for an email to no avail. If interested, would you contact me?

    Paul

    Reply
  35. Brittany Wooldridge
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for humbling yourself. Your words have touched so many in a positive way, and though you may be overwhelmed you are letting Christ work through you. Matthew 5:14-16

    Reply
  36. Jireh
    February 13, 2012

    Just the beginning! Give all the glory back to God. And when you are weary, brokenhearted, and spiritually crushed, remember the Cross. Always remember the cross.

    Reply
  37. Tyler
    February 13, 2012

    All I can think to say is “Amen!” When I listen to your poems, or read other things I’ve seen you post (like this), I feel like I’m reading exactly what’s in my mind. Everything you’ve ever put in a poem is exactly what I’ve wanted to share with so many people, but never knew how to do it. I’ve shown your poems to many people so I thank you for that. Be reassured that people who critique you in a negative way are acting just like the “religious” people you “preach” against. God has opened your eyes to the truth and has given you a platform because He knows you’ll use it to honor Him! Keep it up! Or rather, allow God to keep using you the way He is. God Bless!

    Reply
  38. Melissa
    February 13, 2012

    Why I hate religion but love Jesus… no joke but this video became the cherry on top of my life! My background comes from extremist faith believers. Within the last 6-8 months of my life I began to question many of the things I thought I would fight for. Mind you I was even offered help to “reconcile” my faith and lifestyle. All the while I heard the video for the first time, something within it was too familiar. I had understood religion equalled legalism. Thank you for your video! If we are to mirror Christ, then we need to understand that Jesus interrupted false peace in the church circles of His time. This video did just that! Those who have opposed have a preconcieved ideology of Christianity and a lifestyle of peace. Yet God calls out the bold… those who for a second of eternity shatter the false peace.

    Continue the good work for God’s glory!

    Reply
  39. Stacey Jesuitas
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff, if you ask me whether Jesus was edified, glorified by the poem He gave you the heart and mind to write, I say yes, most definitely! You used what the Good Lord gave you to make people stop and think. Think about Our Creator! Think about where we are spiritually! Thank you for making me THINK again.

    Reply
  40. Dale Roberts
    February 13, 2012

    Thanks man, stayed up late and read this! I should be well asleep! Haha
    Love you response now the dust had settled, had some challenges in just this post too.
    I have just started my own blogging website, which I will be talking about your vid in the next few days. But I need to rememeber that “I will be judged for every idle word”.. Its so important in these days of social media, blogging and thrown away words.

    Your a top man, keep up to work bud.

    Dale (www.actavallis.com)

    Reply
  41. Tyler Pettis
    February 13, 2012

    Great Job Jeff! Praying that God continues to use you in mighty and powerful ways!

    Reply
  42. Will
    February 13, 2012

    Good word bro. Thanks for sharing your heart and journey with the world. On behalf of the “church” I am sorry for the personal criticism you received. Keep creating.

    Reply
  43. Amanda
    February 13, 2012

    Please continue to let God use you. Everyone is not gong to agree with everything we say as Christians but just like you said it’s for the edification of the church. I’m so touched that your poem inspired souls to return to Christ. Everything is in God’s hands and you are a tool he is using to bring others to Himself. Be blessed and continue working in the the Lord… you labor is not in vain. Thank You for letting the lord use you in such a mighty way!!

    Reply
  44. Tara
    February 13, 2012

    You are truly making a difference. I have come to realize the more my life becomes conformed to His, the more I receive what he received. It’s easy for us to forget that the world hated Him. I’m sure this is true for you as well. Be strong in the Lord! Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    Reply
  45. Marcus Pittman
    February 13, 2012

    “Art forms by nature are “fuzzy” expressions as you indicate, and that makes us nervous. Most people are wired such that they need concreteness, neatness, and completeness – i.e. precision. ”

    Romans 1 makes it clear that the creation of God, His divine artwork, is enough truth to send people to hell.

    For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    (Romans 1:20 ESV)

    Calling Artwork “Fuzzy” is calling Christ, the standard of truth and his General Revelation unclear. Art is so objective according to God, that he punishes people in the Bible for worshipping him in a wrong way. In other words, art can blaspheme God.

    You have made art to be something that is above rebuke. Because after all it’s all unclear.

    Jesus spoke in Parables not to “draw people in” but as a judgement. People didn’t understand because God did not reveal the truth to him.

    Finally,

    “My question to Protestants, Catholics, and anyone who loves Jesus is – can we celebrate that? Can we celebrate God furthering His kingdom and His church? Can we celebrate the evidences of His grace, and Him pouring out His healing and redemption on lost and weary souls?”

    No Way. If I said that in my reformed Church I would be placed under Church discipline. Catholics? Partake in the advancement of the Kingdom? You just spit on Martin Luther, Jon Calvin, Tyndale and other great reformers who died defending the protestant Gospel.

    I am genuinely saddened by this post.

    Reply
    • Maria
      February 13, 2012

      Dear Marcus

      I pray that you would know God’s grace aboundantly and his mercy and truth for you are so quick to point at finger at what God has done in someone else’s life and are quick to judge please remember God is good and full of Grace and Mercy and remove your own plank of your own eye before you decided to go and judge someone else. God is are ultimate Judge not Man.

      Reply
    • Kathy
      February 14, 2012

      The Creator of all will use ALL he created to His glory…all art forms, all people, all beliefs. Oh Marcus, to lash out at a baby Christian is like kicking a young puppy. God will continue to use Jeff and his “art” for His purposes, surely most unseen by we mere humans. I also believe God will use you for His purposes as well. I pray His peace on your heart that it may soften to all creation. Tolerance was a lesson well-taught by our Savior. He might rebuke, but He never withholds His love and forgiveness. It is for ALL! He is our Redeemer. Let us never forget, in all humility, that we are His redeemed!

      Reply
      • Marcus Pittman
        February 15, 2012

        If he’s a baby Christian he shouldn’t be in a public leadership position. He is taking on the role of Elder by traveling and preaching but over and over again making huge doctrinal mistakes. That’s not wisdom.

        Reply
    • Dave
      February 14, 2012

      Hi Marcus!

      Thank you for sharing your concerns. I am responding because part of your complaint is with something I wrote. Jeff has included a quote from some of our correspondence. In that discussion, I chose the word “fuzzy” as a label for what Jeff was describing about art and precision. Perhaps it was not the best word, but it seemed to reflect what was in my mind at the time. What I intended to convey was that in art forms that attempt to communicate something or elicit a response in the mind there is often a measure of uncertainty. The artist sometimes will be somewhat vague in order to encourage deeper thought. Frequently, they will not attempt to explore all the nuances of a topic to allow for fruitful discovery by the reader/listener. It doesn’t mean that what they do say isn’t true or clear, but that the boundaries are not well defined – “fuzzy” if you will.

      Upon reflection it seems that it may be more beneficial to think in terms of degrees of precision rather than precise verses imprecise. Someone may say, “Jesus died.” Now this statement is true and its meaning is clear, but I would not consider it to be highly precise. It has some measure of precision because it is true, but nothing is expressed about the boundary issues: “Where? When? How? Why? Was there a purpose? If he died that means he lived – what was his life like? What type of man was he?” etc. So, it is true, and clear, yet it is fuzzy around the edges.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly that the creation is a marvelous, spectacular, work of art. I also think that it is reasonable to consider that it has, in the sense that I describe above, “fuzzy” boundaries. Certainly, His eternal power is clearly and accurately displayed in the universe, but can we learn from creation alone about all the ways He uses His power? Can we ascertain any of the ways in which He restrains His power, or if He ever restrains it? And the things He has made truly declare that He is divine, but can we discern from creation all the nuances of His love? Can we detect all the details of grace and mercy from our observations? Can we glean a full understanding of His righteousness? Ah, I believe we need His word, His Son, and His Spirit to ever begin to fathom the depths. Indeed, even then, the image we behold on this side of glory will have some measure of fuzziness. Paul chose another word: “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12 ESV).

      I appreciate your zeal, Marcus. My prayer is that we both will continue to be zealous seekers of the Truth!

      Grace and Peace,
      Dave

      Reply
      • Marcus Pittman
        February 14, 2012

        Thank you for responding Dave.

        Your response still leaves me with great concern. You responded via what many would consider an artistic format, the method of writing, So let me ask you a question Dave. Was your response meant to be clear? Or was it meant to address with clarity a specific point?

        Art is a form of communication. Sure you can say “Jesus Died” was not specific in terms of detail. But is “Jesus Died” up for interpretation or are we to look to what the author intended by Jesus Died. Does the words “Jesus Died” mean he died spiritually or bodily? Does it matter?

        Of course it does. Words have meanings. Words are either clear or unclear whether they are intended to be clear or not.

        Scripture doesn’t allow us to be shady when it comes to speaking about the things of God. Were to let our Yes’s mean yes, and our No’s mean no.

        Christ is both Word and Truth. You can’t speak on things of God, be it in rhyme, book, song or painting without being clear. Else you are in danger of blaspheming God.

        If I make a spoken poem that is unclear about the trinity and leads people to a modalistic understanding of the triune God. Then are you at fault? Or is it covered under a “fuzzy” understanding of “It’s just art and up for interpretation”

        Now you point to all the things that Creation does not tell us. I agree. Creation does not tell us about the death of Christ.

        Why? Because that was not the Authors…intention.

        God planned to reveal details about Christ clearly though his special revelation revealed in the poems, parables, songs and narratives found in the word of God. Now I ask you is the art found in the word of God fuzzy or clear?

        Martin Luther said “Therefore come forward, you and all the Sophists together, and produce any one mystery which is still abstruse in the Scriptures. But, if many things still remain abstruse to many, this does not arise from obscurity in the Scriptures, but from their own blindness or want of understanding, who do not go the way to see the all-perfect clearness of the truth. ”

        So again, are we charged to be clear? Are we charged to be authoritative? I believe we are.

        But since were on the topic of Martin Luther, this seems to be a good time to not get side tracked and stick to the biggest concern. Dave, what are your thoughts on Bethke setting back hundreds of years of Church history by lumping Catholics and Protestants together?

        This seems to be the biggest concern. As it appears to me Jefferson Bethke doesn’t hold to a Gospel of Grace, doesn’t understand it enough to be in a position where he should point people to it, or doesn’t at all understand what the Catholics teach. Either way, this “Baby Christian” should not be in a leadership position until he is better educated in the things of God.

        He is greatly harming the Church of God.

        Reply
        • Dave
          February 15, 2012

          Hey Marcus!

          I am thankful for the opportunity to further explain my thoughts. What I was attempting to do was point out that there is a distinction between clarity and precision. You acknowledge that the Author of creation intentionally left out details about certain things from His artwork. You also believe, as Romans chapter one declares, that His handiwork is extremely clear in the message it does include. This is exactly my point!

          There is a difference between clarity and precision. Clarity has to do with the ease of understanding the message, and precision has to do with the level of detail within the words. And when I use the term “fuzzy” here, I am using it in reference to precision – not clarity. I think Paul would agree: “Now I know (clearly understand) in part (lacking some details); then I shall know fully …” (1 Cor. 13:12).

          So to your statements: “Are we charged to be clear? Are we charged to be authoritative?” I say amen and amen! We should strive in our communication to accurately present the truth in as clear a manner as possible with the level of precision that is sufficient for the intended purpose!

          You have asked for my thoughts on the “setting back hundreds of years of Church history.” I am convinced that Jeff is not “lumping together Protestants and Catholics.” His words do not require us to draw that conclusion. He is asking individuals from all church experiences whether or not we can celebrate. This does not imply that he is equating the doctrines of Protestants and Catholics.

          Personally, I am responding with a resounding “Yes!” I am celebrating what God is doing through Jeff as Jesus draws many individuals to Himself! Yet, I am saddened that you feel you can’t rejoice with us. Grace and peace to you, Marcus.

          Prayerfully,
          Dave

          Reply
          • Marcus Pittman
            February 15, 2012

            “We should strive in our communication to accurately present the truth in as clear a manner as possible with the level of precision that is sufficient for the intended purpose!”

            So assuming that Jefferson Bethke’s intended purpose is to speak on the things of God. When is it ever OK to not be precise when speaking about the King of Glory? Are you saying that there are times when it is OK to be vague when discussing doctrine? It seems to me like you are trying to make a non-existent semantic leap. It’s not helping your case.

            My question to Protestants, Catholics, and anyone who loves Jesus is – can we celebrate that?

            Jesus is the Gospel. The Book of Galatians makes it clear that those who deny justification by faith preach a different Gospel. Different Gospel. Different Jesus. So the answer is no. They worship a different Jesus. You cannot get around this. Jefferson lumped both Catholics and Protestants together as “anyone who loves Jesus”

            Catholics do not love my Jesus. They hate his Gospel. This statement alone would have me kicked out of my Church and under Church discipline.

            Can we celebrate God furthering His kingdom and His church?
            Whose Kingdom? Whose Church? Catholic or Protestant?

            Are you asking the Catholics to celebrate the growth of reformed doctrine and salvation? Seriously?

          • Marcus Pittman
            February 15, 2012

            On a personal note to Jefferson.

            Please listen to me. I am not being hard for the sake of being hard. I am genuinely concerned. I know it is easy to listen to the advice of mega church pastors, popular bloggers and other top tier Christian celebrities over people on twitter with > 2000 followers. But I ask you to seriously think of the consequences of your statements in accordance to God’s word.

            There are a lot of people out there, who don’t have a large platform, but are faithful ministers of the Word of God and devoted to His Gospel that are fearful for you. It’s like the scene from Honey I shrunk the Kids when they are trying to signal to the father that they are there but are being swept away by the massive broom.

            Were here Jefferson. We care for you too. Please listen. We mean you no harm. We only desire that you repent…which is what every Christian should desire.

            You have my e-mail. I left you my phone number. I would like to talk to you. Please contact me.

          • Alina Navarro
            March 10, 2012

            Amen Dave!!! You were very gracious to respond so many times to Marcus & then Betty picked up the bat.
            Very Sad that they do not see the Celebration, nor the fact that Jeff didn’t choose. God Chose him.
            Marcus & Betty ARE Religion.

            I of only know one Jesus.
            Anyone who loves & follows him is most certainly Celebrating Jeff’s calling to the work of God.
            Love , Peace & may the Light of God shine upon you & Jeff Always!!

        • Dave
          February 15, 2012

          Marcus,

          You are still confusing clarity with precision. You ask, “When is it ever OK to not be precise when speaking about the King of Glory?” As I noted earlier, it is probably better to talk about degrees of precision. So, one example where a person would be less precise than in a dissertation on the atonement would be when the goal is evangelism. According to Paul the only details an evangelist needs to use are “Jesus died for our sins” and “He was raised from the dead” ( 1 Cor. 15:3-4). Proclaim this clearly, and people can respond in faith.

          Again you inquire, “Are you saying that there are times when it is OK to be vague when discussing doctrine?” No, not vague, but I can easily think of situations where I wouldn’t talk about all the deeper details of some truth – milk before meat to use Paul’s analogy.

          Grace and Peace,
          Dave

          Reply
          • Betty
            February 16, 2012

            Dave said: “According to Paul the only details an evangelist needs to use are “Jesus died for our sins” and “He was raised from the dead” ( 1 Cor. 15:3-4). Proclaim this clearly, and people can respond in faith.”

            Who is Jesus? Whose sins? So what if He was raised from the dead? Bodily or spiritually? What difference does that make?

            1 Tim. 1: 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine. Gal. 1: 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

            Council of Trent: CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

            Which Jesus? Which accursed? Which anathema?

            Doctrine matters. Which doctrine shall you celebrate?

          • Dave
            February 16, 2012

            Hi Betty,

            I’m not here to debate doctrine. I do agree that doctrine is important, but I have been attempting merely to share some observations – just like: “Oh look, a wild rose!” or “Check out the majestic mountain!” or “Hey, notice that there are three aspects of communication in general!”

            One aspect has to do with whether statements are true or not – or if you permit, how true they are. I tend to think of this as “accuracy”, but you may be inclined to a different word. A second aspect has to do with how easily are the ideas understood. I use the word “clarity” for this, but you may prefer another term. A third aspect of communication has to do with the amount of detail that is included. I have adopted the word “precision” to refer to this, but you may want to apply a different one.

            So, if you want to choose different words, I would be happy to use them. I just think it is helpful to think of these things when we are involved in the communication process, whether as an author or as a hearer.

            Here is a non-theological example:

            My dog threw up.

            This seems to be easy to understand when using the normal definitions or connotations of the words – together with the common rules of interpretation. Now compare it with the following sentence:

            My dog, a Great Dane/Mastiff mix, threw up on our couch after eating some nasty pepperoni pizza that was lying in the alley behind our house, and when my wife sat in it, we at first laughed, but then we got in an argument over who was going to clean it up.

            Can both statements be true? Yes, and it seems to me they are both easily understood, but they differ greatly in detail.

            Make sense?

            I might add that for us as Christians, there is a fourth aspect … love.

            Grace and Peace,
            Dave

    • Tyler
      February 15, 2012

      What about when Paul says in the New Testament that “even if the gospel is preached in pretense, then the gospel is preached and I rejoice in that.” So actually yes we can rejoice whenever the gospel is preached, even when it’s a tv preacher who’s in it for the money or fame, or musician or whatever. So don’t judge to quickly if you aren’t aware of the Scripture about this topic.

      Reply
      • Al
        February 15, 2012

        Tyler,
        The fundamantal point that Paul was making there was that the truth must be preached, and not error. If the preacher was preaching the truth, but was doing it for prideful or selfish reasons, Paul didn’t care because the truth was still being preached. Of course we can still rejoice if the gospel is preached – so long as it’s the one true gospel that saves and not another Gospel. There’s a massive difference.

        Reply
  46. Jamie
    February 13, 2012

    To say you’ve opened my eyes is an understatement. Your video was the door that I so very much needed and I am so thankful that you posted it and have gone on to help us, those that are lost. I’ve been looking/searching for something and He has been here all the time. My life has changed so much in the last month I can’t thank you enough. I’ve never been to church on a regular basis, I could count he times on one hand. Had no idea that the way I thought was actually validated…. and you opened that door for me, you opened the door to Jesus for me and it’s amazing. I’m ending the book Death by Love and am absolutely blown aways by how much my own thinking throughout my life is what Driscoll writes. It is the first and most perfect book for me to read in regards to Jesus. I never knew. I never understood. I was never taught. But now, I am beyond grateful for what you have done and what Jesus has done for us all. Thank you so very much!!
    And please, don’t let the critics get to you! Your poem, the way you wrote it, the way you delivered it, is what changed my life. I read the above blog and wonder, “If he would’ve of wrote or delivered it differently, would it of opened that door for me, would I have a relationship with Jesus or would I still be lost?!”

    Reply
  47. Harun
    February 13, 2012

    It was a beautiful poem, I really enjoyed it here in Kenya. I think your right, the comments posted on the internet reveal the depravity of man and sadly the shallowness of Christians. I tend to think you wrote the poem for those people who made those comments. Sadly they missed the content because they were so concerned about the context. Now I am not a poet but I understand what you said or didn’t say. Don’t sweat over it, keep writing. God bless!

    Reply
  48. Ccee
    February 13, 2012

    He is the Word…be cautious how you use it…your still young, your still growing, those of us that understand and appreciate your work….we have been there. You have helped give a voice to those that didn’t know how to express themselves. Your expression has started a revival, what you believe you need to grow in and how you grow, that’s your business, don’t allow others to still your joy. When we are weak, He his strong!!!!
    May God cover you in His almighty grace and keep you safe with His almighty hand!!!

    Reply
  49. Kristi
    February 13, 2012

    I absolutely loved your video. Listen to your heart. You KNOW. I quit going to church because of “religion” and discovered that it’s all about spirituality, a deep relationship. God is using you in a huge way. Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t allow your mind to get too involved and trust your heart, you can’t go wrong. Blessings!

    Reply
  50. debi ford
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff-There will always be haters and people who will work to bring your spirit down, out of their own issues and need to have others be in the pit with them. People with a strong sense of who they are can question without hate or judgement, others can’t. Fear raises its ugly head when truth strikes a cord. Stay strong-evaluate what you say, but do not let these haters stop you from saying your truth and living your life. Your video touched millions in a good way-you have an enormous gift given to you. Enjoy it, use it, be clear in it!

    Reply
  51. Travis P
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff…
    After reading and rereading your thoughts above, it would be easy to write a long reply, but I want to keep this very simple:
    -Your video has touched a lot of lives in the right way.
    -It seems to be reaching the target audience.
    -The parodies and rebuttal videos are being made by those who are NOT your target audience.
    -Somehow I think you have spent more time reading posts by judgemental naysayers than those who have experienced growth by your words.
    -My Facebook alone has reposts of your video from people in their teens to people in their 80′s.
    -You have been given a great opportunity that few will ever receive, and many are jealous of — You are, where you are, for a reason!
    -Please continue your work based on your continued growth in spreading your relationship with God. Do not try to please everyone-that never works!
    -Some people just won’t get it. Even the Nightline segment just didn’t get it—they tongue in cheek made out that it was a bad thing you spent Sunday in Church–they just don’t get the part about relationship!
    -When you can’t figure it all out, Proverbs 3:5!
    Love you brother and God’s prosperous blessings upon your ministry!
    Travis

    Reply
  52. Sue O'Brien
    February 13, 2012

    Dear Jeff, There’s no message on earth more powerful than the message of “Good News” you shared in your video. How thankful I am that you have chosen to use your gifts to reach others with the truth of God’s grace and mercy and how Jesus transforms lives. Based on what I’ve seen and read, you have a sincere love of the Lord and you’re definitely fulfilling the “great commission” to go tell. In your comments following the release of the video, you showed sincere humility and humbleness; and demonstrated that you are receptive to input and are teachable. Your response above further re-enforces this observation. God is using you, He is growing you. My prayer is that you will continue to grow in the Lord and the love of His Word; and that you will continue to allow the Lord to use you to reach others. I’m thankful for the attention your video has drawn and pray it will continue. It’s amazing to think about the millions of people who have seen the video and have clearly heard the Gospel Message – many of them for the very first time! Your video has stimulated discussions and questions, from believers and unbelievers alike. It has struck a chord and God is using it to His good, just as He promises He will. Personally, I’m truly excited about the opportunities this has provided for me to share the Good News as well. I will continue to hold you in my prayers, and I’m fervently praying for eternal results! Continue trusting in Him. Blessings, Sue O’Brien

    Reply
  53. Rissy
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you Jefferson for being brave enough to post your initial poem and even braver to issue a response. For me personally, your poem really made me think about my position in regards to religion. I was raised in a very strict, legalistic religion that didn’t teach grace in a loving way. Rather they taught grace in a judgmental way. So when I grew up and saw God leading me away from that religion, I fell apart. I had been raised that if I wasn’t that religion God wouldn’t love me and I would be good for nothing. I became so depressed that I was suicidal at times. I started studying the Bible on my own and developing a relationship directly with Christ and it was amazing.

    Then I started going to churches that were not part of the same religion I grew up. I got frustrated when I found that some wouldn’t teach sin as sin. Some others cared more about how people dressed than if they were developing a realtionship with Christ. Then others just cared about the tithes they received. It got very confusing and frustrating.

    So I took almost a year off from going to church. I kept studying the Bible. Made sure I kept regular association with grounded Christians. And then I heard your poem. Then I heard your interviews and you said something about the beauty of all the denominations of Christianity. I never looked at it that way. I always looked at the many denominations as a bad thing. I prayed a lot on this and God showed me that I was being “religious” in judging all the denominations.

    So I am going back to church. God used my husband to identify which church we would be a part of. I thank you for your poem because I have learned to love the Church again and not just some of the people in it.

    Reply
  54. Ian
    February 13, 2012

    I just have to say thanks for sharing your faith with me. Your poems coincide with the way I see many church and “religion” issues. Your thoughts are simply the way I have been feeling since stepping into my relationship with God. I grew up knowing “religion” without ever being introduced to Jesus. Knowing one and not the other doesn’t work. Jesus proved that. Religion caused Jesus persecution. Jesus proved that religion is pointless without LOVE. God is LOVE. Your poems to me exposed that LOVE. Throughout your troubles never forget “No one will take away your joy.”-Jesus Christ

    Reply
  55. Charity
    February 13, 2012

    Dear Jeff,

    It breaks my heart to think you received such negative feedback on your video. Then, that verse comes to mind, about considering it pure joy when you are being persecuted. I know thats hard. It stinks that we live in such a fallen world, where ppl want to attack someone talking about Grace. Praying for you and hope you continue to do what God has called you to do. God bless you!
    Charity Berk

    Reply
  56. cathy
    February 13, 2012

    You have expressed yourself so well here…thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings since you first posted your poem. It would be so much better if all people would be as reflective as you have been, whether what they write or speak is received negatively or positively, because we need to realize that no matter how much we have learned, there is always even more to be learned. I especially appreciate your respect for the elders and leaders of your church, because I think that is something that many people have let go of. It can be a very humbling thing to do, and takes a great deal of spiritual maturity and trust, and a setting aside of pride. God Bless you! Please keep learning and sharing : )

    Reply
  57. Jenifer
    February 13, 2012

    I completely understood the video from the initial click of the play button! I realize like you say some of the wording may not have been the best in hind sight but more importantly your story (personally of you’ve exposed) and direction from God reached many people’s hearts and turned theirs eyes back on God! I feel for you being critiqued so grossly intense, I don’t know I could have sustained that! I pray that God covers you in your future endeavours and that he blesses those who speak out against you without even really listening to your message from Him, because those people are the ones who so desperately need to see him and refocus.

    Reply
  58. Fran
    February 13, 2012

    I’m so sorry you’ve been under attack by the finger-waggers and picker-aparters and legalists. I’m especially sorry you’ve agreed to let “elders screen” all your art in the future. With all gentleness, son…that’s not what artists do.
    They express. The interpreters can just go…deal with themselves.
    Art is personal to each person in their unique situation, and God is quite capable of helping them learn the language. Do not submit to the critics, nor even your so-called elders, for one moment(!), even if they use guilt and shame to bow you down. The Spirit is your true counsel. Follow that one in expression.

    Reply
    • T. Garnett
      February 13, 2012

      He is doing to correct thing. It’s called being in order— because he’s submitted under that leadership as a member.

      Reply
  59. Kaitlyn
    February 13, 2012

    Jefferson,
    I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what it would be like to be under such an intense amount of scrutiny and judgement. Wow. For that in and of itself, and for lack of a better term, I give you some major kudos!! It makes me sad and disappointed that because of people’s responses and critiques, it has become necessary to write a blog basically defending yourself and your intentions. It truly breaks my heart because everything you have done and said has been done in a relatable and humble manner that ultimately brings all the glory back to God and advances his Kingdom! In my opinion, nothing else matters. I have to thank you for taking the time out of your already extremely busy and exhausting schedule to write this blog in response to the attention—negative and positive—that your video has received. I must say, you explained yourself in such an eloquent and thorough manner, but yet remained very humble and kept the focus on God. I’m sure others would agree with me when I say that what makes you such a relatable, enjoyable, and amazing speaker is NOT a degree in theology and things of that sort, but the fact that you are a young man who has a passion and a love for Jesus, you speak it like it is and get people talking about the TRUTH (even if that truth may be controversial and stir some people up) and the fact that through it all, you are extremely humble and are constantly pointing people back to Jesus, giving Him all the glory, and reminding us all of God’s amazing love and grace! No matter what anyone says, God has blessed you with an awesome gift and I’m confident that the Lord is going to continue to bless your life for your obedience, your boldness, and the work you are doing for Him. If it counts for anything, every one of your videos have truly spoken to me and penetrated through to my heart. I met you at PLU’S For The King the other night and enjoyed being able to meet you and hear the message you gave. As I was briefly telling you, your Sexual Healing video that I saw sometime last year, spoke to my heart and gave me the courage and the confidence I needed to reevaluate the relationship I was in at the time and to confront the sexual immorality I had been struggling with from the time I was fourteen years old! Thank you for that, and for allowing God to speak through you and work in your life to ultimately point others to Him. While reading your blog post, one particular verse kept coming to mind: John 15:18-25. For all of the ministering that you have been and will continue doing for others, I want you to know that I am praying for YOU. I am praying that the Lord continue to use you for all the great plans He has for your life, that He keep your eyes, ears, mind, soul, and strength set on Him rather than on the negativity that Satan is going to try and distract you with so that the truth does not get out there. I pray that the Lord put a hedge of protection over you and your loved ones and that He constantly blanket you with the love, peace and comfort that can only come from Him. God bless you now and always!
    Kaitlyn S.

    Reply
  60. ida gutierrez-baker
    February 13, 2012

    Jefferson, Although, your poem did not need to be clarified for me, I respect your continued pursuit of spreading God’s truth and dispelling any controversy with regard to the difference between religion/religiousity and knowing Jesus personally and asking Him to be in charge solely of your life. Your video was an answer to prayer for me, as are so many of the other video/books you have recommended. Before your video, I felt as though, I was having a crisis of faith, although, I knew full well my commitment to God and my faith in Lord Jesus had not waivered, I was very disheartened by the hypocrisy of my brothers and sisters in Christ at church and in the world around me. I found that I myself, was dealing with being a hypocrite, not really accepting the full grace of Jesus and what He did on the cross for me. I was quickly adopting a legalistic viewpoint, by stuggling with my falleness and failing to see that my salvation was secure in Christ and not in anything I could or could not do. I now see it crystal clear that my salvation rests solely in Jesus’ loving willingness to die on the cross for my sins and that there is absolutely not one thing I can add to that. Through this epiphony, I am much more forgiving of those around me and have much more patience with the people that the Lord puts in my life, because I now realize just how patient He has been and continues to be with me. I now really am living in the truth of what Jesus did on that cross and the amazing Love He has for all of us, that He would make such a sacrifice for people who may never accept His gift and yet He took the cross anyway. God has continued to speak to me through His word and through other believers and the pastor of a new church my husband and I have been attending, has been preaching on Romans and Paul’s teaching about legalism and God’s grace being enough. I can now say, by God’s grace I have laid to rest my “religiousness” and am chasing after Jesus alone and continue to invite Him to change my heart and live for Him alone! My women’s bible study will begin reading Frances Chan’s book Crazy Love, at your suggestion! I will be praying for the Lord to continue His good work in you, Jefferson. I thank you for your courageous obedience in getting Jesus’ message out to not only unbelievers but believers who needed to again be humbled and reminded that Jesus is sufficient for us!! May the Lord richly bless you in your future ministry to share the Love of Christ!!

    Reply
  61. sarah
    February 13, 2012

    Loved your delivery of the poem, its so relevant. The wording definitely confused me and i wrote a blot trying to work through it. Keep it up, you’re reaching the masses!

    Reply
  62. Albertina
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for your spontaneous work!!
    Man of God, if God is with us what can come against us!

    Matthew 10:16 NIV84
    I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

    Galatians 2:20 NIV84
    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
    for me.

    Luke 12:11-12 NIV84

    “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

    Reply
  63. Mike
    February 13, 2012

    I have one resounding thought… Jesus spoke in parables to not just illustrate a heavenly truth, but to do so in a way that required the people to THINK about that truth, to pray about it, to seek fuller answers. In the same way, your video invited people who were confused, or even offended, to think about what you were actually saying. The fact that so many people (nearly 100% of those I know who watched it) resoundingly agreed with your statements says to me that your message was heard as you meant it to be. As for those who took offense with it, maybe they had a plank in their own eye that didn’t allow them to see the speck in yours. Regardless, the parallels you drew to the way Jesus shared truth, whether intentional or not on your part, speak to how in tune you are with His voice. Be not discouraged. The “religious” people in Jesus’ time thought His truths were so off base, they killed him because of it. And we all know His truth to be without fault. Continue to be a light unto the world, and His message He intends to share through you will always be received by those meant to receive it. Blessings, brother!

    Reply
  64. Greg
    February 13, 2012

    Don’t stop or slow down.

    Reply
  65. Jennifer
    February 13, 2012

    I have to say I could not help but nod my head with each word in the video. I have always said religion is what put Christ on the cross in the first place. He came to abolish the law by His fullfillment of it. And in turn that should of put an end to ‘religion’ and then should of brought about the relationship with Christ Himself, but people don’t like life without the do’s and don’ts that ‘religion’ holds. I applaud you for bringing about much needed converstation. For making legalistic folks squerm in their seats and start talking. The fact that many have been so harsh to judge you only points to their own insecurities in their own walk. Just remember, some people have a hard time dealing with wise words coming from one so young. Especially when they have spent countless years searching for truth and they have spent just as many years making it all so complicated. So, if the Lord is bringing you to these places of driving people to wake up to Him, then you can’t go wrong. He has given you a gift and the fact that you are using it to glorify Him is just what He want from all of us with what He gives. I pray you stay grounded and centered in Jesus and focused on the cross with all the accolades coming your way as well as when the wolves come calling. I wish you the best of luck and pray you keep putting His words on paper and sharing with the rest of us who can and do take it for what it is…a wake up call to seek Him and not the law, but what He puts as law in our own individual hearts.

    Reply
  66. Michelle Hughes
    February 13, 2012

    Bother Jeff,

    To God Be All The Glory, :)
    Your reply/continuation is most beautiful. I know God is looking down on you saying “Well done my faithful child”. I felt it in my heart that this was taking a huge impact on you and felt the need for you to find a quite place, so that you could just rest in him..I felt in my spirit that I needed to tell you, so I did on your FB one eve..lol..right after I watched your news interview. You have been in my prayers. I’m so happy and relieved that You quickly laid it down before Him. I could tell by your eyes that the condemnation of satan was weighing on you heavy & hard, but I boasted/cried in your weakness because I knew you would come back up renewed once you hit your knees, because as we know, “to who is set free, is free indeed and there is no condemnation in them”. Do not let this responsibility ever weigh you down, you are already equipped to receive this crown, all you gotta do is follow through and KNOW that He is gonna be right there beside you….a crown that I know you one day will be placing at His feet and in that I can’t wait to see! I tear up thinking about it, because You Jeff, are making Our Lord Jesus Christ sooo proud as well as us Christians. “Stay humble, stay encouraged, stay balanced and To God Be All The Glory In Jesus Christ Name, Amen.”

    ~Michelle Hughes

    KJV
    Matthew 11:30
    For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    KJV
    Luke 21:15
    For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

    KJV
    Matthew 10:19
    But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

    Reply
  67. James G
    February 13, 2012

    Very well said! I agree with you 100%. I’ve even shared my same thoughts with those sharing the links to those tearing you down. As I read through those recants, my heart cried… I felt like the message was for them but they did not receive it. Very similar to message written by Tim Keller in The Prodigal Son.

    I pray peace be with you!

    If you have time sometime, lets grab a cup of joe… I’d love to sit and chat with ya! By the way, it was great seeing ya at For the King last Friday night! You can find me on your friends list. If not, no hard feelings. God bless!

    Reply
  68. Mary Monroe
    February 13, 2012

    Enjoyed reading this loved your words God Bless!

    Reply
  69. John
    February 13, 2012

    Dude the ministry I’m in and a church I attend have both played this in service. Not starting anything, but your poem described the things God revealed to me about 2yrs ago. The people that hate this or slander it are the very ones who need to realize it. HA! You obeyed God! Sorry, that needs no approval. You trusted HIM and stepped out. Look at John the baptist, JESUS and Paul. God blessed you with a good supportive church. Keep listening to HIM.

    Reply
  70. jason
    February 13, 2012

    God will bless you and many through you, always keep Him first!

    Reply
  71. Lee Desmond
    February 13, 2012

    This is such an encouragement and grace-filled letter. Thank you for following through and having a humble heart toward the Lord, the Church and Truth.

    Reply
  72. Sharon
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for these words. You seem a humble follower of Jesus and I commend you for following the author and perfector of our faith. Just want to encourage you to keep doing what God wants you to do and keep on the track you are on. It’s wonderful and praise God you are reaching the people that need His healing touch! I’m a missionary and I can totally identify with you as you have put yourself “out there”. You will receive your reward in heaven for sure even as you have received the trials here on earth! Blessings.

    Reply
  73. Kathy
    February 13, 2012

    Your video has made so many people stop I their tracks and look at Jesus in a whole new light. Religion has gotten so far away from Jesus and his teachings that I see a whole generation of young people that have closed their hearts to God because of the sense of perfection and judgement they believe they would have to embrace. Too many “Christians” have been standing on pedestals pointing their fingers and someone needed to shake things up. Thank you for doing just that!

    Reply
  74. Victoria
    February 13, 2012

    Hi You are very inspiring and I loved your video!

    Reply
  75. Wendy Epps
    February 13, 2012

    I am a 58 year old grandmother in Texas, (a Christian for 34 years), and I so appreciate your courage, your humility and your love for truth. I have recommended your video to many, shared it on Facebook and watched it several times, and I want to encourage you to keep following the path you are on, because God has obviously laid it before you. Jesus did not come to give more comfort to those who were already comfortable in their religion, but to turn their religion upside down and inside out until they were able to see and embrace the truth of Who He is and why He came to offer us life through His death and resurrection. If everyone was in agreement with your words, wouldn’t that actually mean they were too palatable, and really made little difference to those you hoped to reach? I greatly admire the young man you are showing yourself to be and I pray that God will continue to inspire you to be a voice for Him in such a profound and creative way. Time is short…..

    Reply
  76. Dawie Badenhorst
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Jeff

    God is working through you to touch millions of people (including myself). Your words are humbling truth for many Christians and especially non- Christians, who after all are the VIP’s, as it is our calling to make disciples for Him.
    My prayers are with you
    Stand strong mate and persist with spreading God’s word (truth)!

    Reply
  77. M
    February 13, 2012

    I’ve been writing poetry for about 10 years now. But after coming to know Christ, and then becoming heavily influenced by Reformed theology, my subject matter has changed. Now, I struggle with the brevity of the medium–trying to make spiritual truths clear in an inherently unclear medium! So this post is crazily encouraging.

    And, I understood exactly what you meant by “religious” in your poem– works righteousness. Seeing some of the undue criticism/quarreling about semantics has been frustrating and baffling; I can only imagine how you feel.

    Been praying for your humility, bro.
    Blessings to you!

    Reply
  78. Stephanie Skinner
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff,
    I have wanted to write you for quite a while but I too was waiting for the dust to settle. I am the person you wrote the poem for ,along with countless others. I was raised as a child to believe in God. And that is pretty much it. There has always been a void in my life which has often felt like a long dark tunnel. I’ve been trying to find my way out for years. Hearing your poem was like you personally handing me a flashlight. I still have a long way to go to get out of this tunnel but at least I can see where I’m going.You will never truly comprehend how much you have touched peoples lives. I’ve never met you, I don’t know you, but Jeff, I love you. You have put me back into the arms of the Lord. I owe my soul to you my brother. Thank you.

    Reply
  79. Mike M.
    February 13, 2012

    Thanks Jeff for your honesty, but more importantly for your humility. You opened yourself up to give to others what you believe God is telling you.
    Your last line “I pray to God that through all of this I would grow and pursue Him more deeply, cherish Him more fervently, and love Him more fiercely” shows where you are going. If your aim in life is to love God and, as a consequence love others as he loved us, you can’t go wrong. Humility, perseverance will be within you. May you repeat one day as St. Paul said: “It is no longer I who live, but God who lives in me.”
    So fear not what the world says. A wise, holy person once reminded me that Jesus said “they hated me. They will hate you too.” So if hate doesn’t come our way, it means things aren’t going too well.
    Go ahead my friend. Continue to teach us. If it’s from God, it will enlighten and win over all darkness. Writing and speaking are great but what’s important is to LIVE!

    Living this with you….

    Reply
  80. Elaine Janzen
    February 13, 2012

    Jefferson!:)

    You are Gods Vessel, and I know HE is very well pleased, you are a young soul, with a wise heart! Seek the Elders, it is what I would do too :) be blessed and uplifted!

    I claim a Jesus Christ blood line of Protection over your life and
    Your families!:)

    Sunny Elaine from Vancouver, BC Canada!:)

    Your Talent is truly a Gift of god and from God and you are His chosen Vessel :)

    Reply
  81. carol
    February 13, 2012

    I’m writing from England & my 14 year old daughter introduced me to your video.Every word you spoke resonated in my heart.The reason so many millions of people have viewed your video is because you said exactly what so many of us feel.Your critics are exactly the people who have made so many of us turn away from organised religion.They are so busy dissecting every word they fail to hear the message.Your message speaks to our hearts & the holy spirit is with you.Please dont listen to the critics or your church elders (with the greatest respect).It is the holy spirit talking to you.listen only to him & you wont go wrong.Let the haters hate & know that you have the love & prayers of many millions more than the handful of self righteous critics!! Please please keep doing what you’re doing -we need you,the world needs you!!! God bless

    Reply
  82. caroline L
    February 13, 2012

    Your video and its massaged touched me and in turn I showed it to many others and their responses were overwhelming … even from those I didn’t expect to respond.

    I recently watched a number of the responses and they clearly misinterpreted the use of the word religion.

    I can only begin to imagine how overwhelming it has been for you. From the heart of a 30 something girl in England who was truly touched and moved by your video as it put her own feelings down so succinctly I thank you.

    At our service last night I shared a few smiles with fellow members who I had shared your video with as our visiting minister have elements of the same thing. Most poignant of all was “if Jesus came, would we let him in?”

    God Bless x

    Reply
  83. Geoff
    February 13, 2012

    I am thinking here about a square peg in a round hole ….. Christ came to set us free from bondage !! I left my faith predominanly because of being made to feel insignificant by my Christian brothers… Christ bought me back and gave me the belief that he didn’t want his msg complicated by politics, he wants us simply to become like him…. God bless you for stating the obvious and be who god made you….

    Reply
  84. Mike Meyer
    February 13, 2012

    I think God looks down from God’s heavens and sees you, Jefferson Bethke, as someone to accomplish a specific purpose and mission, and I bless God that you are doing what God lays in your heart.

    Reply
    • Mike Meyer
      February 13, 2012

      I just read this, and I thought of you, Jefferson, and what you wrote in this blog post: “Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him….He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me to strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me; still He knows what He is about.” (John Cardinal Newman)

      Reply
  85. Joseph C. Carbone III
    February 13, 2012

    While I love what he says, because he is essentially speaking against the hypocrisy that Jesus warned about, he should not be mistaken to be saying, ‘God does not love true religion, which is founded in love:’

    “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James: 26, 27).

    Now, without the Holy Spirit, this totality is impossible, and while submitting to the flesh, the ability is equally troubling for a believer; but, for a repentant person born of the Spirit, reflecting God’s goodness day today, this religion is beautiful to God.

    Thanks for the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

    Sincerely, Joseph C. Carbone III; 11 February 2012

    Reply
  86. Kaci Buchanan
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff,

    2 Timothy 4:10-16

    Reply
  87. Craig
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff , Keep on Keepin ON brother , to the people who question your Faith ? Don’t waste your time worrying about them but maybe pray for them . The only thing you have done is made people think , just because your let’s say outside the Box . It has people afraid , confused , If they would slow down just a little they would realize your making it real simple and to the point . Keep up the good WORK young man . Look forward to reading more of your poem’s and your thought’s about GOD and ” Religion ” . Have a great day .

    Reply
  88. Dan
    February 13, 2012

    Excellent post! As I read I couldn’t help but think about some lyrics from and old Ricky Nelson song, where he said, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself”. If Ricky had of been singing from a Christian prospective the words might have been better sang as “You can’t please everyone so you’ve need to please the Lord”

    Good messages that speak truth often bring criticism. But just because they do, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be spoken. The prophet Jeremiah, in the old testament spoke to a largely critical audience as did other prophets. But in the end the question wasn’t about them and their personal glory, but about walking in obedience.
    I was previously a member of a Religion that many people consider a cult. Ironically one of the early leaders of that Religion once preached on a wide scale the message “Religion is a snare and a racket”. The message was true, but unfortunately his group became a part of the very segment of Society that he was speaking about. Jesus didn’t come to establish a new religion, but to preach too and free people who were enslaved to it. (Gal. 5:1)

    Reply
  89. Bob Gonzales
    February 13, 2012

    Jefferson,

    I thank God for your love for Christ AND his church. I understood what you meant from the start (reading your preface to the poem helped as well as understanding the limitations of the medium of art) and wrote a blog article in your defense, “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus”: The Importance of Authorial Defense. So in one sense, I don’t think you need to qualify or apologize for anything. On the other hand, I’m deeply moved by your humility, teachable spirit, and desire to clarify whatever some may have misunderstood. That’s very winsome. May you continue to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and may he grant you increasing usefulness in his kingdom in the days ahead.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Bob Gonzales, Dean
    Reformed Baptist Seminary

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      April 24, 2012

      thanks so much bob! that means a lot coming from a dean of theology in reformed circles. thanks brother!

      Reply
  90. Esther Glick
    February 13, 2012

    a quote not origional w/me…’When a man gets shot, he must be doing something right.’ do i see the green-eyed monster in the critics? you bet i do!

    Reply
  91. Bob Gonzales
    February 13, 2012

    Sorry for the typo above. Subtitle of the article is “The Importance of Authorial Intent” not “Defense”

    Reply
  92. 19 Million Views Later: Thoughts on Christ, Celebrity, Controversy, and Controv – Justin Taylor
    February 13, 2012

    [...] Bethke has a long blog post reflecting on his viral video, that in one month took him from being almost completely unknown to [...]

    Reply
  93. Rick Costa
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Jeff. Brother I got what you were saying immediately. As Jesus said many times, “He that hath an ear let him hear” but sadly not everyone does that. All the “attack” you went through was just proof that you were right on point. The enemy didn’t like you messing with his system of keeping the Body of Christ asleep and lashed out at you for it. Praise God though to be counted worthy to suffer persecution for His name’s sake!
    For anyone to sit there and line by line take apart a “poem” shows that they don’t even know what a poem is! Oh well. Even though it was painful I know you grew through this experience and this only brings you even closer to the call God has on your life.
    Keep on keeping on bro. I love what you do. Never stop. Even if your brothers hate you just ask Joseph (Old Testament) if it’s worth staying the course to get to the palace. It is! Pain is temporary but He’s with us through it all. With Him we can make it!
    Love ya bro!
    Rick Costa

    Reply
  94. Jessica
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff
    I just hoped that you continued to do this. I think that are reaching the ones that have been trying to understand religion and Christ . So I hope you continued to share your poems and videos with us

    Reply
  95. Courtney
    February 13, 2012

    You can tell your a man of God and for anyone who couldn’t see that while watching your video, well I don’t understand them. Don’t let people get you down, the devil will use people to discourage you (just like Job’s best friends did). Your doing amazing work for Christ and you will be rewarded for it. Just stay true to yourself and don’t let people change who you are.

    Reply
  96. Brooke
    February 13, 2012

    You say that you received hundreds, if not thousands of responses like the ones highlighted in this article. If that is the case, you my friend have been/are a dynamic servant. Most of us are proud to have reached one, you have reached a multitude of people for God. People will always be critical, especially those threatened by others. Be steadfast and honored to know that God is using you to further his kingdom. I showed your video to my two teenage sons. They loved it and your young age only helped to “sell” this message to them. They have so many questions right now about faith AND religion…thank you for helping me to answer some of them. May God bless you and may you continue to find ways to spread the Word in a world that is so broken. Remember, He never promised it would be easy; the greatest accomplishments NEVER are!

    Reply
  97. Dean
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for sharing what the Lord is doing in your heart and mind. Beside the fact that I enjoy your videos, the main reason I decided to follow you was to see how you would respond to the onslaught of attention, both positive and negative. I pray for you to continue in grace and maturity, balancing the praise with the criticism. If Christ is truly your only identity, then you can handle both. I do hope that as you grow as an evangelist and artist, that you will not use “art” or “fuzziness” as an excuse to be less than precise. I have heard spoken word poems done very artistically and precisely at the same time, without sacrificing either. The thing is, you are extremely intelligent, and have a sound theological foundation and support system, so you have no excuse to be less that careful with your words. Now you are aware of your audience, and I can’t wait to see how you grow from those brothers who invested in you and even the criticisms. Stand firm and feel the magnitude of millions of people praying for you and your words to communicate The Word, to be used by the Spirit to the glory of the Father and the Son!
    Dean

    Reply
  98. liz
    February 13, 2012

    God will continue to strengthen you in your faith. Stand firm in your faith, Jesus was ridiculed but not defeated. Amen!

    Reply
  99. Flotsam and jetsam (2/13) | Everyday Theology
    February 13, 2012

    [...] My Thoughts after Writing ‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus’: All in all these past few weeks have been a quick lesson and reminder of where my identity is. Is my identity in my failures? Nope. Is it in my successes? Nope. Is it in how many views I get on YouTube? Definitely not. My identity is in the Cross of Jesus, and His resurrection. I’ve had to anchor myself in that truth every morning, because the voices of the world are incredibly powerful. [...]

    Reply
  100. Nicole from MA
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you so much for this post. I greatly appreciated your video since I think it brought up some valid points about the failure of the Church to be the Body of Christ. And I loved that it caught fire and ignited such a huge amount of dialogue and conversation. However, I appreciate this post even more. Your humility and love for Jesus is simply astonishing. You have brought such glory to our Savior by your gentle and humble response to those who have criticized you. Thank you for being faithful to the Gospel. Thank you for being such an example to our generation of what it means to honor the Lord in all things – both in the the good stuff and the hard stuff.

    Reply
  101. Phil
    February 13, 2012

    Don’t tell me you speak for God unless you’re fluent in poetry
    when priests and prophets flood dim lit bars
    with words so close to purpose
    that truth is better known by what has not been clearly said.

    Don’t pick apart perfection by prosaic misdirection
    when this beat is timed
    and every line is spoken to reflect Him
    in this world He formed from thought
    with verbs so tense they only tremble.

    Bring your answers closer
    to the questions ’til you hear them.

    Find the hearts that beat them into words;
    the tongues that tasted iron in every bite;
    the fingers clenched on vapor promises.

    We all listen for this man/God who wanders in our tears;
    this Artist merged in the paint; this composer in the notes;
    this poet-become-a-metaphor within the poem He spoke.

    So tell us of the mercy-God who pens us for His sonnet;
    who draws us, nails in hand; hammers in full swing,
    a death-grip on this life until the rooster crows again.

    I’ll hear Him at the mic tonight
    when hope too large for words invades the quiet;
    when light so bright it can’t be seen is spoken to this darkness

    I’ll listen for a moment—
    and write it down for worship.

    Reply
  102. John Aoki
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff, just wanted to let you know I showed your YouTube video at church as a part of my sermon, “The Great House of God.”. For a lot of people it was there first time seeing it. I used as an illustration of important “relationship” is to this post-modern generation. For many of the older saints, I tried to show them that this generation truly has a passion for God. Then I went on to preach about how important the church is… We ended with an altar full of people praying together as a church singing, “I need you to survive.”. Just wanted to let you know… John Aoki – Bellflower, CA

    Reply
  103. Carmen
    February 13, 2012

    This explains why I started praying for you as soon as I heard your poem. Thank you for you boldness and for expressing truth through your own creative style. It touched me and my teens and their friends.
    I just read this quote the other day: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” –Winston Churchill Stay centered, stay focused, stay bold, stay courageous in your faith. We know it’s all about Jesus and His love.

    Reply
  104. Matthew
    February 13, 2012

    I am encouraged by what you’ve written. You seem to be responding to both the positive and negative feedback in a way that is Biblically sound and wise.

    I have a friend, from work, who I’ve invited to church several times. She’s always declined, saying that the church would probably burn down if she walked through the doors. A few weeks ago she saw your video on my Facebook page and felt prompted to go to church. She happened to attend my church and sat a few rows in front of me. I greeted her and she shared with me how your video had moved her to come. This morning, she was so excited to talk to me about yesterday’s sermon. God is wooing her. I continue to pray that she will enter into a real relationship with Jesus Christ, but it is exciting to see how God is working in her life. God is using your video in a powerful way. Be encouraged. Grace and peace my brother.

    Reply
  105. Mary
    February 13, 2012

    Please you brother. Keep it up, stay strong and don’t slow down. Crazy Love by Francis Chan made me hungry for God like never before and your video reminded me of the work we are to do while we are hear in proclaiming the gospel. Be radical! It’s normal! I am also disappointed by “Brothers and Sisters in Christ” who missed the whole point. They got bogged down in the very thing you were warning about! It makes me think of the scripture,

    Luke 13:24-25
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from…”

    And it makes me wonder why Christians don’t just take the bible for what it says. Why must they think they are smarter to add or take away from HIS word?

    Keep it up! The enemy will throw arrows your way, but those of us who believe receive the truth that HE has sent through you.
    GOD BLESS YOU!

    Reply
  106. Andre
    February 13, 2012

    Your video was played in our church a few weeks ago. Most of the people applauded at the end. The church needs to be challenged in this way more often, or we will become complacent. We need to be aware that church is not for those who are good enough, but should be a place that allows broken people, by the power of the Spirit, to minister to other broken people. God bless you, my brother!

    Reply
  107. Nicole
    February 13, 2012

    “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26

    The position you have been called to will not be easy or comfortable. The responsibility is HUGE and, as you’ve already seen, the dangers are huge as well. As long as you keep the tender, humble heart you have right now and keep your eyes on Him, giving Him all the glory, I believe the Lord will continue to use you in a mighty way. It will be hard, but it’s supposed to be. It will also be fulfilling in the way only following God’s call on one’s life can be.

    As far as the message you were moved to send out, just remember this, “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11. God’s Word will always do what it was meant to do. You were casting the seeds, but the the Holy Spirit is the one who causes the growth. Be secure in the place God has called you for, don’t feel responsible for the parts you have no control over.

    Lastly, remember that the battle isn’t with bloggers, or critics or “religious” zealots. It’s with powers and principalities. That spirit will fight back. It’s a proof that battles are being won in heavenly places. Take comfort in that.

    Continue to stand strong in Jesus, never lose the child-like faith you have, and when the burden feels to heavy, remember that He already took your burden and gave you His, instead.

    God Bless.

    Nicole

    Reply
  108. Chris Bishop
    February 13, 2012

    I appreciate your transparency, and I support you in what you’re doing! In spite of all the negativity that you’ve been subjected to, rest in the fact that your Father has used you mightily, and I believe you have handled yourself with tremendous grace and humbleness throughout. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I anxiously await what is to come, brother!

    Reply
  109. Nancy Alba
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for describing your fears, your excitment and the power of the words that people spoke. I know that God has a plan for me and that is to speak out and share His word. It is exactly what you have experienced why I have been hesitant and why I have worked harder to solidify my identity and position with God before I head out with the wolves. But I want you to know that I appreciate your honesty and openness because it helps me to see someone who has embraced Gods path and is doing so effectively with the Holy Spirit within you. I will pray for you.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Nancy

    Reply
  110. Only GOD can Judge ME
    February 13, 2012

    I think you only said what thousands have been feeling for years but were scared to say. You became a voice for many… and that’s the only thing that should matter. There will always be critics … no matter what we do in life… you can’t let them consume you. No one is perfect. We answer to only one person our forgiving GOD.

    Reply
  111. Dan Williams
    February 13, 2012

    A friend told me that Jesus could not make everyone happy and neither would I. I appreciated the video and this post as well. I preach every week and do not have the time to be precise in every detail. Don’t let this stop you from creativity. God has used you even though some have misunderstood you. Welcome to ministry.

    Reply
  112. Kori
    February 13, 2012

    (Posted this message on your Facebook wall, but decided to post it here too, just in case)
    Hi Jeff!
    I just read your blog and I have to say that it absolutely broke my heart to read that the intentions of your video were basically overlooked and/or dismissed by so many. I’m totally aware that there will always be people who are ready to criticize you, judge you, put you down, etc, but it still bums me out me when it actually happens. I was saddened to read how depressed you’d been the last couple weeks, but as I continued reading, Matthew 5:11-12 kept coming to my mind. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    I truly believe that God put that Scripture in my mind because He wanted me to reach out an encourage you during this time that you’re feeling disheartened and beatened down. Yes, it DOES suck that so many people are misinterpreting the intentions and heart of your poem, but as you stated in your blog, they’re not the people you wrote it for. You wrote it for those who feel like it’s too late for them, those who feel that they don’t deserve God’s grace, those who believe that God could never love them, etc. I cried tears of joy when I read the e-mails from the people who came back to Christ after seeing your poem. Your poem is being used as a tool to bridge the gap between Jesus and those who have been left jaded, abused, hurt, etc. by the church. And the enemy doesn’t like it when you help bring the lost back to the Lord. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me that you’re under so much attack right now. It saddens me, yes, but again it doesn’t surprise me. Therefore, I pray for protection over you as you continue to be a vessel of God’s grace, mercy, and love to those who are so desperately needing it. I pray against the lies that may come in during the Spiritual battles, that God would speak truth over them, and that you’d genuinitely know that He sees your heart and good intentions. I pray for strength and perseverance, and that you’d be able to look past all the struggles and trust that God’s going to use them for His glory.

    “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18

    I know the chance of you actually reading this are minimal, but I still felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to reach out and encourage you. Just know that despite all the criticism you’re getting, there ARE in fact people who get what you’re doing, support it, and truly see the goodness of your heart. But more importantly, know that God does too =)

    Reply
  113. Michael Doran
    February 13, 2012

    Greetings Jeff,
    As a point of reference, I am easily old enough to be your dad (not meant to be a superiority comment by any means). When I watched your video I was taken back by your boldness, and admit that the first line caused my hairs to stand on end. However, I have felt for many years that religion impedes the gospel when displayed improperly (more often than not). So, I continued to watch with a less critcal bent, and came away impressed and positively provoked. My faith, my religion. my spiritual condition came under scrutiny by the Holy Spirit. This is a good thing. I also watched your next video and was again impressed with your ability to articulate complex messages so clearly and poetically.
    I have been most impressed by your response to all the hype, attention, critiquing, etc. that you have received since the first video went viral. Although I noticed a slight bit of immaturity and lack of wisdom in the way you expressed a few thoughts (or not so fully), in no way did you deserve the bashing you took. I am so glad that the majority of the comments were positive. Without meaning to, your verbal prose exposed the plight of our nation’s state of Christian understanding. What has happened to love and grace and tolerance-as defined by God, not today’s culture? Where is the kindness that our Savior displayed and the Apostles exhorted us to exemplify in our daily lives? You have hit a nerve that needed exposing. May we, as brothers and sisters in Christ allow His Spirit to reveal the extent of our ‘nerve damage’ and allow the Great Physiscian to bring about His healing.
    It is obvious to me that you have been given a wonderful gift, and that you have a platform from which to share that gift. You are wise to place yourself under the authority of godly mentors and leaders. Many men older than you have chosen not to do so when under fire. I commend your spirit of obedience to God’s word, your vulnerability, honesty and maturity among the cacaphony of voices yearning to be heard. You are welcome to break bread with me anytime you come to the Kansas City.

    Reply
  114. Samy
    February 13, 2012

    God Bless you. Stay strong in your faith and continue to let the Spirit lead you. You have been chosen for such a time as this. Your words and the way you express them are reaching hearts that many wouldn’t. I will pray that God continues to use you and bless you exponentially. Thank you for standing up and not being afraid to do what God has commissioned us to – save His people.

    Reply
  115. Pedro Rodriguez
    February 13, 2012

    I am grateful and thankful for your faith in Christ. I commend you in the LORD – You are are a young, humble christian man with a deep passion for Christ and truth; and I also commend you for your courage, conviction, faith and creativity expressed through the means of an imperfect poem (an oral commentary). May CHRIST remain your focus, your passion, and your affections in the midst of criticism. Listen and Learn from criticism; while remaining humble and passionate for the Supremacy of the Person and Work of Christ !!

    “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” – Patrick of Ireland (387 – 493)

    Reply
  116. Sandee Marvin
    February 13, 2012

    Thank you for the words below. I was often turned off by people in church because they were so judgemental and hypocritical in what they professed to be their faith and how they actually lived it. You have to get the people to actually want to hear what you have to say before you can ask them to believe.

    What has grieved me most of all about the whole ordeal is the amount of energy we spend on debating finer points of theology (and crucifying the ones who are attempting to feebly spread the message of Jesus) when people are entering hell by the thousands. Its like some are on the battlefield trying to rescue people from the enemy and there are others in the Pentagon debating whether or not the boots the soldiers are wearing are of optimal quality for fighting in the war. It’s trivial. People are dying, and we want to debate TULIP, eschatology, paedo-baptism, etc. It reminds me of a D.L. Moody quote where he said, “I like his way of doing evangelism better then your way of not doing it.” I mean sure maybe the people (and me) on the battlefield aren’t 100% correct, but people are being rescued by the hundreds from the domain of darkness, and we not only spend countless hours on blogs and articles debating how they are being rescued, but some of the debate is in such a mean-spirited and non-loving manner.

    Reply
  117. Cesar Flores
    February 13, 2012

    Awesome and I know many will be touched by God through the perfect gift that God has sent from above to you.

    Reply
  118. Adam
    February 13, 2012

    Firstly, I am amazed by the words you speak, not only because they are masterfully crafted and put together in a way that brings the truth out, but because the Word and the Master are glorified by them. What people need to understand is that Pharisees and Sadducees were the religion of Christ day, and in His own words “hypocrites”, “vipers”, and a “generation of snakes” (Matthew 23). What this poem is about is not hating the Church, which is the called out assembly of born again, baptized Christians, but the church that we have built up, the one full of double speaking hypocrites. The one that looks down on the less fortunate and caters to mans wallet. The church that is more worried about tradition than souls, more worried about what you wear on the outside than if Christ is on the inside, more worried if your clean shaven and can put on Jesus like He’s a coat when you want to impress people, instead of worrying whether our cities, counties, and country are pushing our Children, Youth, and Adults towards a false teaching that will ultimately lead to Hell.

    And don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t want anyone to be the “voice of my generation.” At least not a human, because humans are finite beings who will fail. It’s not whether they will mess up, but more like when and how severe will they mess up. I’d rather stand behind the Cross, push and pull and plea with everyone around to come to the Cross because there is always room there, and it is the only place where we can ind salvation. I pray for you Bro. Bethke because i believe you have achieved an outreach thats never been seen, you have harnessed the power of the technology we have been blessed with and you have used it the greatest way possible, to share the Word. It’s like what was said on Nightline, you have reached more people in a few months than Billy Graham could have met with in a few years when he was your age. I pray that God will build a hedge about you that Satan can not break through and that you will be used by Him to spread the Gospel to millions and millions more. Thank you for your commitment to walk with God as close as possible, and to cry out His name from the rooftops, never let the praise you recieve cause you to think you are anymore than a dirty, filthy, Hell deserving sinner saved by the Grace of an Almighty, all Powerful, Unconditionally Loving God! (That is not a statement directed towards you alone, because I am in the same boat,as is the whole world I know you understand that but some might take that as an attack on you) Keep serving God, and may He bless you!

    Reply
  119. Mike Gantt
    February 13, 2012

    Jeff, I loved how your video exalted Christ. I’ve been dismayed at all the criticism you’ve received for it. My dismay doesn’t have to do with the atheists and agnostics who have criticized you. My dismay doesn’t even come from the Catholics and other “high church” leaders – you could predict that such leaders would feel that they were being attacked when Jesus was distinguish from religion. No, what has really caused my dismay are all the spiritual leaders who profess to love and follow Jesus above all else. Their criticism of you has been the most unjustified. Anyone who loves Jesus would simply be thankful for your video, that so many people were viewing it, and then would move on. That people have taken up your time to instruct how you should not have been so disrespectful to religion – that has been the hardest to stomach. It’s been like listening to a bunch of Pharisees chastising a young John the Baptist for calling people a brood of vipers. “Nice evangelists don’t call people bad names,” I can just hear them say. I’m grateful John the Baptist ignored the chastisements of the elders.

    Jesus is Lord. You lifted Him up. And it blessed my heart deeply when you did. All the grief you’ve received for it is just proof of how close to home the Lord’s message hit. Don’t give in. Stick with your first love. He will never let you down.

    Reply
  120. Heather E. Carrillo
    February 13, 2012

    Hey Jeff,
    I was one of the disturbed when I saw the video. Not because it lacked precision. As a poet myself, I understand that. It was because I thought it left open too big of questions, and there were some statements that seemed anti-scripture. You picked the exact one “What if I told you…” It is really neat that you’ve taken the time to humbly assess your own work (I can hardly take criticism as it is! I can’t imagine what SO many people talking about it would do), and you’ve taken the time to interact with those who disagree with you.

    I think when other Christians “push back” against the work of Christian writers and artists and musicians, it is (in the main) done in love. I think poetry is open to critique. It’s a gift God has given you and your brothers and sisters (in ideal cases not thousands of people across the internet) should be helping you hone that gift and master it. So, I think it was within the jurisdiction of critique to talk about poetry. Of course, the content IS more important, and anyone who went on to your salvation (questioning whether you were saved?!) and looks is just outrageous! I never saw any of those blogs myself, but I’m just glad I’m not following them.

    I have to admit I have seen far more than 2-5 people claiming that they were affirmed in how much the church should be abolished after seeing your video. Obviously, as a member of Mars Hill, and someone with a lot of respect for your mentors this ISN’T what you intended, but from comments on other blog posts, there were a lot of people saying that. I have two siblings that have followed the “all religion is bad” route, have left the church, and are no longer walking with the Lord. So, I have to admit I was really personally sensitive to hearing this.

    Also, you do seem to once again, in this post contrast theology with works. These things can go hand in hand Jeff. The church I attend is full of people who LOVE theology. Almost down to the children we are big time readers and learners and we love debating those crazy terms and talking about real presence in the Lord’s Supper and TULIP and all of that. But we also are talking to our co-workers about how much we love the Lord. We are also sending layettes to unwed/poor mothers in our community. We are also looking for ways we can serve each other. I’m not necessarily bragging about my church (ok, so maybe I’m bragging a little, but I DO know that the Holy Spirit has created this love in us), but I’m encouraging you to be careful when you say things like: “People are dying, and we want to debate TULIP, eschatology, paedo-baptism, etc. It reminds me of a D.L. Moody quote where he said, “I like his way of doing evangelism better then your way of not doing it.” ” I know, the last thing you need is another person criticizing you, but I just need you to know that we crazy eggheads get judged as unloving a LOT. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      February 14, 2012

      Heather. I’m beyond thankful for your words. Spoken with a ton that I can truly hear them and let them soak in!! I appreciate your grace as well. As far as the last paragraph I just want to let you know I love theology just as much as the next guy :) in fact all my electronics I have named after theologians lol (my computer is Calvin, iPad is Augustine, etc) so I hope I wasn’t dividing a line between theology and love/compassion. But, we do have to also admit there are a ton of people who have fat heads and shrunken souls (Leonard Ravenhill quote) and have the facts but not the love of Jesus. You obviously humbly show both which is convicting to say the least! So thankful for you and your words. Blessings to u!

      Reply
      • Heather E. Carrillo
        February 16, 2012

        Ok, that is hilarious that your electronics are named after theologians. Mine are all named after authors and historians. I think you win. :-)
        Yes, there are people with fat heads and shrunken hearts and it merits them nothing and there are people with a lot of heart but don’t think and they are easily led (often poorly). I don’t think you are either one of those people. Just…balance is always key. I know, I have a hard time with that too.

        Reply
  121. larissa
    February 14, 2012

    Jeff, do no be discouraged…know you are blessed and that you are a blessing for the 18,000,000 that watched your video. I watched it several times…and I know our God knows you only speak the truth. God bless you brother, peace.

    Reply
  122. Kim
    February 14, 2012

    So thankful for what the Lord is doing in and through you! I hope your response to the video gets as much exposure as the video did. You (as all of us are) are an imperfect vessel filled with the perfect spirit of God. You are blessed that he will use you to accomplish his great and holy purposes. As a mother of young adults, I must say that I am so proud of you, young man! The Lord’s richest blessing upon you.

    Reply
  123. Morgan Sharp
    February 14, 2012

    Jeff, Keep up the boldness my brother. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, Timothy, Titus, Barnabas and many more before you, that have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, did condemn religion for what it really is, satan’s counterfeit for the the truth of a relationship with Christ.
    Just because people don’t understand what and how they have been deceived does not mean we need to submit to their offense. No apologies needed! Let them be challenged by the Holy Spirit. If your words are the seed to begin that germination of growth realize that we are just the planters in many cases and God, our heavenly Father is the harvester.
    Christian Way of Life ministries is in the process of making available, as a grace offering, study material that will further substantiate and put substance to the evil that religion is and will also help people have the relationship that our heavenly Father desires of each one of us.
    Keep bringing focus to how evil is perpetuated each time someone makes the claim to their religiousness. It is vitally important that this distinction be made as we continue to draw closer to the return of Christ. Our Father warns us of the deception that will increase as the time draws closer.
    When you are in the Midwest please let me know I would love to fellowship with you.
    You are a scalpel of the the great Surgeon. To remain usable by Him only requires two characteristics.
    1. Clean – by the sacrificial blood of Christ on the Cross and His victory over death and the filling of the Comforter that He sent for each of us believers, children of the living God.
    2. Sharp – by the spiritual knowing of God, our heavenly Father, creator of the universe and the rapport love that is the result of knowing. To love Him we must know Him. When we Love Him, through knowing Him, Jesus tells us we will then keep His commandments. He also teaches us that we will NOT keep His commandments without Him. In fact He makes it clear that we can do nothing without Him. Amen.

    God bless you by Brother.

    Reply
  124. Jeannie Davidson
    February 14, 2012

    Just want to encourage you. I am a 46 year old woman who has been in the church her whole life…..not exactly you target audience I’m guessing. I loved your poem/video and shared it. Not because I agreed 100% but because that doesn’t matter. I see a young man who loves the Lord and is using his talents to proclaim that to the world! Good for you! Lately I have seen a few young men come forward to do that and it encourages me to no end! I told my ladies Bible study about you and we prayed for you. Sounds like we need to continue. Glad you have people you’re accountable to….we ALL need that. I hope your fire is contagious! God Bless.

    Reply
  125. Lauren
    February 14, 2012

    Your video and this post is also amazing. My friend told me about your video, and it has touched me. People that have criticized you did not analyze all aspects of your content and I believe had to be closed minded about your message. I share your views on religion, and it is amazing to me that these thoughts are shared by you and others. I have struggled with religion for years. You have truly inspired me! I look forward to following your work!

    Reply
  126. Shannon
    February 14, 2012

    The Bible warns you will be persecuted by men for preaching Christ, so be encouraged that you are doing something right. You’re poem is obviously Holy Ghost written and your way of blatantly laying the truth out there is not only a reflection of the way Jesus purely lays out the truth, but it’s a method thats working to reach the newest generation. A young generation of revivalists are rising and ministries like yours are fanning the flame. Do not grow weary in well doing.

    Reply
  127. Alvena
    February 14, 2012

    Jeff,
    A dear friend of mine whom I call a part of my family shared your blog with me. You are doing very well Jeff. God has given you a gift for the gab. Use it. He does not want us to hide our gifts away. They are meant to be shared in order that more can be brought to Christ. To not be afraid to speak the truth and to admit to your wrong doing is pivotal to finding the freedom and focus to fix your eyes upon the one who matters most, Jesus. Do not be afraid of what people may think of you when you write because the Lord himself said the truth and it too was rejected and misunderstood. Those who are meant to hear will hear, those who are meant to read, will read. The Lord will draw to your words to those who need them. Even if only one person has found Christ because of your work through Him, is that not worth the background noises? Anyway. I’ve rambled on enough. Just wanted to make sure that you knew that speaking the truth and making mistakes is normal, that God can work through them, and that God will provide the listeners and readers. Do not limit the Lord your God for nothing is impossible for Him. He will be there to guide, uplift, and console you in all that you do. He loves you Jeff and loves to see you working with Him to reach his lost children. God’s blessing on you Jeff. May He grant you his continual favor and His peace.
    Your Sister in Christ,
    Alvena

    Reply
  128. Ailee Wilcott
    February 14, 2012

    I was very pleased with you video :). I understood exactly what you were talking about and the audience you wanted to reach. You have a wonderful gift from God, you are a very good speaker. You are reaching people in a whole new way. God Bless!

    Reply
  129. Worth a Look 2.14.12 – Trevin Wax
    February 14, 2012

    [...] Jeff Bethke: “My Thoughts After Writing ‘Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” My identity is in the Cross of Jesus, and His resurrection. I’ve had to anchor myself in that truth every morning, because the voices of the world are incredibly powerful. Nothing can show me how unworthy I am more than the Cross of Christ already has, and nothing can show me how much I’m worth and treasured more than the Cross of Christ already has. His Cross is a double edged sword, and when anchored in it, it protects me from both the praise and critique of man in a dangerous enslaving way. [...]

    Reply
  130. Joseph
    February 14, 2012

    Keep doing what you’re doing, you don’t have to explain yourself to people who criticize you with no kind of love in their hearts. Your poem was against the religiously dead, modern day Pharisees, so who else would get upset but them? Jesus offended them too and still does. Don’t hold back because of them, and don’t go forward because it does good, just follow Jesus. As long as you lift Him up and He is the focus, that’s all that matters. As long as you have people you are under to love you and help you and edify you, don’t worry about what anyone else is going to say. Just stay at His feet and stay covered by your leaders, God bless you.

    Reply
  131. Julie
    February 14, 2012

    Jeff, thank you for your poem, and thank you for your heart. I’m a 64 yr. old woman who got what you were saying. I love the church. We are, after all, Jesus’ bride, and He treasures us. But we need you and your gift of words to call us out when we may move from His finished work to our works as the basis for our acceptance, to offer hope to those so broken that they have lost hope for forgiveness and restoration, to challenge the church to offer that hope in His beautiful gospel. I hope that this foray into the court of public opinion won’t discourage you from using your gifts but that your increased circle of mentors will be used of God to make you even more useful.

    Reply
  132. Lee
    February 14, 2012

    Having grown up in a religious cult we can totaly identify with what you were saying. We love God but hate religion.

    Reply
  133. Susan
    February 14, 2012

    “What has grieved me most of all about the whole ordeal is the amount of energy we spend on debating finer points of theology (and crucifying the ones who are attempting to feebly spread the message of Jesus) when people are entering hell by the thousands.”
    AMEN! You have the right priorities. God bless you as you set an example for the theologically minded who perhaps are doing little to bring the gospel to the lost.

    Reply
  134. Matthias2099
    February 14, 2012

    I loved what you said up there about the nature of art means there has to be some interpretation and what your mentor said about how Jesus did the same thing with his parable stories. Part of it HAS to be interpreted, even though the artist has something already in mind.

    Your message came through loud and clear for me, and I even got the pleasure of changing a few minds who saw your video and got offended. In two instances, anger turned into a softened heart.

    The reason your video is so popular is because it is a message that so many have been dying to hear for so long, but nobody’s had the guts to say it, until now. God bless, buddy. Thanks for having the guts.

    Reply
  135. Haven Charlo
    February 14, 2012

    I am writing to encourage you in your walk. Your humility is an example to all. Thank you for your willingness to be exposed and your generosity for sharing the TRUTH as well as how your life is effected/affected.

    Reply
  136. Brian Seidel
    February 14, 2012

    Jeff,
    Thank you for your heart and your transparency with this post. I am a youth pastor and a blogger, and I saw and heard a small portion of the fire storm I am sure you have dealt with. I used your video as a part of our Sr. High winter camp a few weeks ago, and it was one of the most significant Spiritual retreats of my entire ministry. If you are curious you can read about it on my blog: http://wp.me/p1wwrA-55

    I love your perspective of focusing on your accountability to God and to the way He sees you, instead of the critiques or praises. That is a lesson I also have had to learn over and over again (and still learning). Keep serving God with all you have!

    Reply
  137. netta
    February 15, 2012

    There is no way that I can express how your poem moved me better then all those that have posted before me. All I can say is it touched me like only truth can, and it spread through my community like wildfire and open dialogue that would have not started otherwise. You are leading people to open their minds in return opening their hearts. I pray for your strength, and look forward to see what God has in store for you next.
    Netta

    Reply
  138. Linkathon 2/15, part 1 « BrianD blog
    February 15, 2012

    [...] Bethke – the ‘I hate religion but love Jesus’ guy whose video went viral – reflects on the video (HT to Justin [...]

    Reply
  139. Al
    February 15, 2012

    Jeff,

    I hope you take some of the points that Marcus has been raising seriously. The comment about Catholicism was a rookie error that unfortunately is extremely dangerous. Please investigate it further for your own edification.

    You responded well before to criticism from the guys over at the Gospel Coalition. Check back with them again and they’ll tell you exactly what Marcus is saying here.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      February 15, 2012

      thanks Al! think you missed my point though. If you re read the sentence I mentioned them I wasn’t stating anything, but rather was asking can they celebrate God’s grace. It had nothing to do with whether or not they are solid doctrinally, it was simply a plea asking if they can celebrate God’s grace. hope that clears things up al!

      Reply
      • Al
        February 15, 2012

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. (You can’t be doing much of anything else these days, huh?)
        There’s an old truism that I learnt a while back that will take wisdom to fully understand but my prayer is you will think through it’s ramifications carefully.

        The meaning of communication is the reaction it receives.

        It’s not always just about WHAT you say – it’s also about what people HEAR when you’re saying it. Before you post another poem, please take a look through fresh eyes. When you’re so close to a project, you can’t always see what the other interpretations of your words are going to be. Think about the filters of the people you’re communicating with, see through their lens, and your communication will become even more effective.

        To be most effective, fighting the fight has to be done in spirit and in truth. You already have gentleness and respect. It will delight the Lord to use you as a sword sharpened by the truth, not blunted by error.

        God bless,
        Al

        Reply
        • jeffbethke
          February 15, 2012

          thanks Al! Again I think i note that in my blog, that I certainly took that in to effect, and I was writing to a specific audience. With that being the case it seems to me the video did exactly what I had hoped and intended within the audience I was targeting. Thanks Al :) God is good

          Reply
  140. Ashley
    February 15, 2012

    Jeff,
    You have been given such great gift from God, and you have spread the word to many, many people and have lead them closer to God and helped them have a better walk with Jesus. It amazes me and makes me very happy to see God work through people to spread his message and truth. While doing what you have done and speaking out the way you have would give an amazing sense of accomplishment and pleasure knowing that God has chosen you to help and work through to spread the wold and help spiritually save millions of people, I can only imagine the sense of doubt you must go through not knowing if what you said was right or was truth. I want to tell you to never doubt yourself, your only human and we do make mistakes but God chose you for a reason, he chose to work through you for a reason. He has seen your accomplishments that you have made already and he has seen the accomplishments that you are yet to make. He does not expect you to be perfect, just to trust in him and trust that as long as you put it in his hands everything will work out just the way it is supposed to. THANK YOU FOR TOUCHING SO MANY LIVES, SPREADING FAITH, AND SPREADING THE KNOWLEDGE THAT NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR HAVE DONE IN THE PAST GOD STILL LOVES YOU MORE THAN ANYONE CAN COMPREHEND.

    Reply
  141. Lori
    February 16, 2012

    Thank you for your video. Thank you for using your art to promote Jesus and His finished work. I loved every second of it. I applaud your clarification, (though I personally didn’t need it.) But it shows your true character, which is humble and passionate. My husband, a pastor, showed your video to our entire church. We all said a hearty “amen” on several of your stances. I pray that you continue to be a strong voice of grace, Jesus, and the power over sin and the law to this generation.

    Reply
  142. Dino Zich
    February 16, 2012

    I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for beginners. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  143. Oscar
    February 16, 2012

    Brother, just wanted to let you know right away when I heard your poem, I knew you were not talking about the church. I understood exactly what you meant about man’s attempt to win God’s Grace by self righteousness and religiosity. Religion as I got from your poem is people going to church every Sunday, Wednesday, Friday but who are dead in spirit. I thank you for your stand and your jealously for Jesus.

    Reply
  144. liz cain
    February 16, 2012

    Hi Jeff,
    I’ve just discovered you and I am very glad to make your aquaintance!
    I am just starting to work with a Youth Group in my local church. Even though I am in my 50s I am young at heart and your message rings true.
    Thanks for manifesting Jesus’ message to your generation.
    Liz Cain
    Scotland

    Reply
  145. Jeri
    February 17, 2012

    Praise God for your boldness Jeff! It’s so amazing to see how you are being used by Him. Praying that you’ll keep your eyes on the Lord always and through the trials you will grow stronger and become more effective for the Kingdom.

    Reply
  146. Kim Murphy
    February 17, 2012

    Jeff,
    Stay the course. Keep your eyes on the goal! You are doing what many of us Christians who study God’s word intently for His glory know we should be doing and are not, SPEAKING IT! Thanks for your input; it is encouraging! May God continue to use you and raise up more like you for the sake of His gospel being heard by those who are longing to hear it! It is awesome you have put yourself in accountability to the elders of your church! Wow, where would the church be if we all did that, especially if the elders in our churches were so well versed!

    Reply
  147. Michael
    February 18, 2012

    Trying to find a way to word this correctly. I see your motives weren’t as bad as I had thought when I first saw the video, and I’m glad that you now sees the word “religion” is a multi-faceted word meaning many different things to many people. I haven’t re-viewed the video but I seem to remember you standing in front of what looked like a Catholic church and denouncing “religion.” It seemed pretty straightforward when I watched. I do understand that many people have had bad experiences with organized religion, after all any church is only made of human beings and all human beings are flawed. I remember what made me feel angry and hurt watching the original video was what seemed to be yet another pot shot at Catholicism. I know many people for many reasons choose a path other than “organized religion” but it seems when they do so many want to attack organized religion as if it does no good whatsoever. I am one of millions of people who owe their knowledge of Christ and his saving work, and an ever growing awareness of God in my life to organized religion. I am forever grateful to the Protestant church in which I came to know Christ and am forever thankful for Catholicism watering those seeds into an ever increasing faith that fills my life for being there to do the work of Christ and making Him a reality for me. Just because organized religion doesn’t work for some it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      February 18, 2012

      thanks Michael! I never once mentioned the Catholic Church in my video, so sorry you took it that way. I was speaking against hypocrisy in general. And also that wasn’t a church behind me it was Stadium High School in Tacoma.

      Reply
      • Michael
        February 18, 2012

        Thanks for the clarification.

        Reply
  148. Dave
    February 18, 2012

    Hi Jeff
    Just a few thoughts… I watched your video several weeks ago and wasn’t offended by it. I read a few critiques and thought some of them fair. Your mentor’s remarks on “precision” are valid. In fact, they reflect my opinion of your poem. I think I got the message but it required a sympathetic reading between the lines and one thing you seldom receive on the internet is a sympathetic reading between the lines. I think the impersonalness of the medium makes harsh criticism easier, so don’t take the criticism, or its tone, too seriously.

    That said, I would like to add my thoughts on art, precision, and truth. I do not think they are mutually incompatable nor do I think you need sacrifice one to achieve the other. An imprecise truth might be Aristotles observation, “All men, by nature, desire to know.” Truth and precision in art may be found in a wealth of poems, paintings, songs, etc. To strive for precision in your art is, in my opinion, desirable – if for no other reason than preventing the sort of misunderstanding you have recently experienced.

    Words are the medium with which God has created to communicate with humanity. As such, words have power. They are almost mystical. Just think, a simple sound, or a mark on a page, can communicate our hopes, our desires, our fears, our feelings, our inmost thoughts. They can evoke emotion, understanding, fear, hatred, or love. Words are terribly powerful.

    Words can also provoke. I suspect you intended your words to provoke a reaction. That reaction, in at least some cases, was a little more vehement than you expected. That’s OK. Some people overreact. You must expect that when you put provocative words out there in a medium such as the internet.

    But much of the reaction was over the imprecision of your words, particularly your use of the word “religion”. G. K. Chesterton, in “The Everlasting Man” in the chapter titled “God and Comparative Religion” writes that the only “religion” is Christianity, all others are superstition, myth, or philosophy. His argument is sound and his view is shared by many devout Christians. It’s worth a read if for no other reason than learning to use words precisely, provocativley, and artistically. Chesterton is one of my favorite authors and his skill with words is unmatched.

    But back to the word “religion” – it is a powerful word, almost certainly guaranteed to attract attention, and in the context in which you used it, to provoke a reaction. It is ambiguous, an attribute of which you took full advantage in the title of your poem. Unfortunately, you overlooked the need to clarify the ambiguity in the body of your poem. It took, as I said, a sympathetic reading between the lines to see your intent, and even then your message is unclear. You have been misunderstood, not because some people demand clarity, but because your message was not clear. Provocative words will provoke a response. They are powerful things, words. So to evoke the response you desire it is desirable that you use your words with the degree of precision necessary for your audience to understand your message.

    BTW. The technical production of your video was superlative. Great visuals and lighting. I am envious of your talent.

    God bless
    Dave

    Reply
  149. Jack
    February 18, 2012

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

    Reply
  150. Angel
    February 20, 2012

    I won’t say that I am sorry you have had to go through all that has obviouly gone on (though it sounds like much of it was ugly and hate full). It has after all taught you much and caused you to grow stronger in your commitment to the cross of Christ. I had a difficult upbringing in a home of violence and alcoholism. I would not want to live through it again, but God has used the pain of all that went on in my home to make me who I am, and for that I am so very grateful. Because I am musical, I could appreciate your message without having to agree theologically with every detail. I understand target audience, rhythmic and rhyming structure, etc. I have used your video in a recent sermon and it was a wonderful service. I pointed out the things that were not theologically sound while, hopefully, not diminishing the power of the lesson. Many people have been destroyed by False Religion (especially as it pertains to religious leaders….not much has changed since Jesus) and you did a beautiful job of describing False Religion, even including yourself in that group. It is a message we need (especially in the church). It was a powerful conclusion to a sermon series on the fruit of the Spirit. There are so many good things this video has accomplished. I think the best is that it has gotten people and especially young people taking about what an authentic relationship to Jesus Christ looks like. Be encouraged, God is not finished with you, or me or the church…..yet……Praise be to the Living God! You are an awesome young man and you have influenced my son whom God has called to youth ministry. Unfortunately, we will always hear the bad before the good….but authentic religion is one that controls it’s tongue (see James 1:26). Perhaps those who have been so vocal in their anger might consider this point.

    Reply
  151. Ken Miller
    February 21, 2012

    I’m sorry you had to take that much time to present your position. For me, it was unnecessary. It’s a great piece of art/theology/prophesy. Grace and peace to you.

    Reply
  152. Sally
    February 21, 2012

    That was a very gracious and loving ,mature reply….Itoo read a lot of awful comments about your video that frankly said a lot more about the people who criticized you than the video itself…I thank the Lord that you have had some excellent advice and help from older Godly men also…. I am a 59yr old and loved your video, and put it on my FB page and understood what you were saying about ‘Religion’
    The Lord bless you……..

    Reply
  153. Marti
    February 21, 2012

    Wow, it’s crazy to think that people had a problem with your poem. I’m sorry that you have had to struggle and I hate to hear you rethinking certain lines because to me it was beautiful. Our family has walked away from religion in the last couple of years, religion but not God, and my 16 year old daughter who is quite disenchanted with religion and a calm not animated child came excitedly down the stairs to tell me to watch the video she had shared on her “wall”. This put so many of her thoughts into beautiful words. Your beautiful words were refreshing and healing to her and to the rest of our family. Keep your eyes vertical towards your Father in heaven as you continue your journey and please don’t let religion or pressure from others edit your future poetry. Stay strong! We are finding in our journey that true freedom bothers those still in bondage, don’t let that shake you.

    Reply
  154. Mike
    February 21, 2012

    I couldn’t help but respond and I hope you have time to read and be encouraged by this. I write as one who comes from another generation, one that is sometimes afraid that our efforts to be relevant to our culture has caused us to go too far. When I first saw your video, I too wondered what was the real message and if this is going to be misunderstood or misapplied.
    Your thoughts in this article speak of a young man who has tremendous integrity and maturity. I suppose many spiritual leaders among us consider themselves too far along the growth process to feel the need to explain or clarify themselves. You have encouraged me and I just when I think the younger generation that I want to admire has gone off the deep end, I read your words and am reminded once again that Christ still lives, changes lives and uses those who yield themselves to Him. Thanks for having the guts to show us what that looks like in your life, twice!

    Reply
  155. Bob A
    February 21, 2012

    Good post. I really liked your video. At the time I watched it, I was reading “The Millennials” by Thom and Josh Rainer and getting ready to do a presentation on leading missionaries who are Millennials. I included your video in the section on Millennials and religion. The presentation was to a group of very conservative (some would say ‘fundamentalist’) missionary leaders, most of whom are 45-55 years old. They got your point very clearly — it touched them deeply. Thank you for the video; thank you for standing firm in Christ through both the praise and criticism; thank you for your humility and transparency. I hope I have a reason to say ‘Thank you’ again for future contributions to Christ-honouring art.

    Reply
  156. Zena
    February 22, 2012

    Jeff,
    Amen! What a blessing to read those emails! I can only imagine Satan is working overtime to discourage you – you are in my prayers dear brother in Christ and look forward to seeing how God continues to use you….Praise the Lord!

    Reply
  157. Richard G Evans
    February 25, 2012

    I sent you a short personal note too, but wanted to copy it here as well, because I too have been utterly mystified over the amount of controversy regarding your very well-done and relevant video.

    I was raised a Roman Catholic, then at age 15 made a firm commitment to Christ, which led me primarily into evangelical circles at that time. That was 1970 (I am 56 currently). I went to Bible College, was in ministry 12 years and married, but happen to be same-sex attracted and I let that struggle take me from both my marriage and ministry. This went on for many years. In 2005 I returned to the Catholic Church and it has been a journey towards healing for me. I have, by God’s grace, embraced a celibate lifestyle and my goal in life is to serve Him and others.

    I was already following you on YouTube when the recent viral video came out, and I was honestly shocked at the reaction of my fellow Catholics and others in liturgical types of churches. To me as well, I would not have guessed that the term “religion” as you used it would upset people as it did. I got what you meant right away, and frankly still do not know why they did not. I never bought into anti-Catholicism during the 35 years I was a Protestant, and am not about to buy into anti-Protestantism now!!!

    If my fellow Roman Catholics had simply listened to the whole video instead of reacting so strongly against the word “religion,” I think that they would have gotten the point you were making. For one thing you made it clear in the video itself. In any case this is one Catholic Christian who appreciates you and I wish you to know that. God bless you and your work. Peace be with you.

    Please, please pray for me and be assured of my prayers too. You have my support.

    Reply
  158. Revisiting Jefferson Bethke And Our Concept of “Religion” « catholicboyrichard
    February 25, 2012

    [...] My Thoughts After Writing “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”–Jefferson Bethke [...]

    Reply
  159. Christopher Lake
    February 25, 2012

    During my 38 years, I have been an agnostic, atheist, a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Catholic “again” ( I am a “returning Catholic,” after several years as a committed Protestant). There have been a few comments here (among the many, many comments which this post has generated) which have either implied, or said outright, that Catholicism is a false, non-Christian Gospel which puts the thoughts of man above Christ. I understand that view of Catholicism. I shared it for years. For those who still share it, please know that the Catholic Church teaches the same thing about our salvation which the Bible teaches.

    Our salvation, as Catholics, is by grace alone, and we trust in Christ alone. As for being “justified by faith alone,” the faith by which both Catholics and Protestants are justified is a *true, living* faith in Christ which *leads* one to works of love– love for God and for fellow man (and woman). Of course, many Protestants would not object to such a definition of “faith alone”– but a few Protestants here seem to think that Catholics are “trusting in their works” to get them to Heaven, rather than trusting in Christ.

    I am very familiar with this view of Catholics and Catholicism. Again, I once shared it. “Works-righteousness” is not what the Catholic Christian faith teaches, and it is not what Catholics who actually know their faith believe. Of course, there are Catholics who don’t know their faith well– just as there are Protestants who don’t know their own distinctive doctrines/teachings well– but Catholicism should be evaluated based on what it officially teaches, not on what ill-informed Catholics or Protestants *think* it teaches.

    For years, I believed that the Catholic Church does not teach the Gospel of the Bible– the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was wrong. My Protestant elders put me under discipline when I told them that I *had* been wrong about Catholicism. I was so wrong about it, in fact, that in repentance to God, I had to return to the Catholic Church– and so I did return, because I cared more about following Christ and obeying what He had showed me than I did about following the misconceptions of my elders about Catholicism. For that, all glory goes to God, and God alone!

    If anyone really wants to know what the Catholic Church truly teaches, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (in full– not in isolated, out-of-context quotes, as some choose to quote it) is available in libraries and bookstores. Serious, practicing Catholics *are* Christians. Those Protestants who deny it, I trust, are doing so out of a sincere concern for peoples’ souls– because that is where I was coming from, when I said that “Catholicism isn’t Christian.”

    However, sincerity that is based on misconception is still objectively wrong (i.e. mistaken). I hope and pray that those here who have slandered Catholics, and the Catholic Church, will actually take some serious time to read the Catechism of the Church at length. Such an undertaking might be intimidating in our “soundbite” age. However, slander against fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is a very serious matter. By the time that I returned to the Catholic Church, I had, unknowingly and unwittingly, at the time, engaged in *several years’ worth* of that sort of slander (against Catholics, when I was a Protestant). Think about it. Again, it’s a serious matter.

    Reply
  160. Craig Colburn
    February 29, 2012

    Hello Jeff,

    Please be strengthened and established my brother!

    Our Creator: Christ Jesus, is more well represented here in your poem and your attitude and Spirit than in most any other message I have heard other than the Holy Bible itself during the past 40 years of intensive recreational study on my part. Every point without exception has been identical to Truths that the Holy Spirit has taught in me with sincere/continued seeking of God. I must admit I am a little jealous that you communicated so much of Satan’s work “religion” in direct contrast to the “mechanics of grace” The Gospel with such elegance and “PRECISION” given the intended time and target. I feel the extreme popularity of the post shows inspiration seeing your content IS PURELY Biblical.
    “I come to bring a SWORD” says our King,
    You stand willing to face the fall-out of His lead! As He did, you have “drawn a line in the sand’ clearly! More evidence of your faithfulness to Christ’s will: The entire Satanic Empire is raging against the clarity that is set forth so simply in His Word and your speaking. All of Lucifer’s super-intelligent/super co-ordinated horde have made it their sole efforts to hide the simple and plain truths Christ reveals in your poem and His Holy Word using the guise of religion. I believe your poem IS the “precise” definition of “Religion”.
    On this note I take heart and mean to encourage you and the Holy Church to continue to take a stand! NOT lie down and celebrate what truth the beast power leaves behind as a consolation prize! But to SIEZE the whole gift of Truth and Life in Christ as He intends! Rejecting ALL compromise and CALLING-OUT “False Religion”. We must continue to seeking the lost and injured of the spiritual tribe of Israel. Only those who have “received” the Holy Spirit conviction evident in your speaking are capable (and CERTAINLY called to) of doing. More encouraging again: This “conviction” is infectious! =D
    Please pray for my sanctification brother, as I will continue to do for you: That He would fully establish us into His ministry as he preordained before the foundations of the Earth!

    Much Brotherly Love and gratitude to our Lord for you!
    Craig Colburn

    P.S. please reply to this post if you read it, even a simple “hi” would be warmly received.
    Would be please to host you and your company for some super-Good snowboarding in Kelowna & Revelstoke BC in my home or find affordable lodging.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      March 3, 2012

      hey Craig, appreciate the encouragement brother! That means a lot. I appreciate your words and articulation as well. You are completely right. It’s all about God’s redeeming and beautiful grace and we have nothing to offer except empty hands.

      ps id love to snowboard man!

      Reply
  161. Amy
    March 14, 2012

    Hi Jeff,

    I praise God for what he’s shown you. All of these things I’ve read and heard. It’s in my heart. I feel all this time that GOd’s been trying to bring it from my head to my heart. I felt that what you wrote really pierced my heart. God gave you the Words. I’ve always been hard on myself. I came from an abusive home and had to be perfect..grades, behavior and etc. and then one day I exploded and rebelled like crazy. I became a Christian 8 years ago and still struggled with a lot. God’s helped me overcome so much. However, whenever I am not perfect, I feel all anxious. But it’s awesome to know that I can struggle at the cross..not feel shame or condemn myself. I want this freedom to last and that I wouldn’t go back to my old ways..and I totally am letting God work in me about the identity issue. I just need to let go of a few idols of performance. I am really touched..thank you Jesus! May GOd pour Himself on you and use you…

    I hope I will really grasp and not need to perform. I am sick and tired of performing. I need to let go.

    You’re doing God’s will and that is great. Even if you get persecuted, rejoice! (Matthew 5:12) Great is your reward in heaven. You don’t have to feel like you need to apologize to the world that opposes Christ. They don’t have the spirit to receive the Words God’s given you. Christ was way offensive. God bless you!

    Best,

    Amy

    Reply
  162. Jacqueline Chastine
    June 11, 2012

    Wow! Thank you! I constantly wanted to write on my website something like that. Can I include a fragment of your post to my site?

    Reply
  163. Recipe for Banana Nut Muffins
    June 11, 2012

    Hello. remarkable job. I did not anticipate this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!

    Reply

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