Jesus vs. Religion

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What does is mean to be a Christian? There are a lot of different views about what it means to be a Christian. Most of the time it involves a set of beliefs and specific practices that people use to define Christianity. Jefferson Bethke, who gained internet fame with the video “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus,” wants to define Christianity in one way and one way alone. He defines Christianity by Jesus. It seems so simple, but many of us make Christianity way more difficult and, in Bethke’s terms, “religious.” We set up rules and regulations, determine beliefs that we have to be for or against, and create lists of people we like and people we don’t like. Often times, when we do that, we lose one important thing, Jesus. Bethke’s book Jesus > Religion (read Jesus is Greater than Religion), is an encouragement to get back to the teaching and actions of Jesus and to get away from the man made religion that has been built up around Him. Continue reading

Grace in our Debates

From "The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy .." (1883)
From “The art of boxing, swimming and gymnastics made easy ..” (1883)

I know I’m at least week late on this, but that’s alright. I don’t want to weigh on any of the debates. I want to talk about the debating. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way debating that has been going on in our nation and I want to comment on how debating happens, especially among fellow believers.

While reading What We Talk About When We Talk About God, I was struck by his chapter on the paradox of talking about God. The paradox of God is essentially the fact that we cannot fully know him or describe him and yet we must. It’s hard to live in this paradox. We want answers to our questions. Bell writes,  “Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt.” Many of us want to eliminate doubt. We want it all spelled out for us so that we know what is right and what is wrong. This desire for right and wrong plays greatly into debates that involve theology and morality and it’s this desire that I’ve been thinking about. Continue reading