'Jesus > Religion' Video Author Learns a Lesson

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Young Christian Jefferson Bethke has become an Internet sensation after his "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus" video gained more than 12 million hits on YouTube in a matter of days.

But his popularity, and his opinion on Christianity, has not come without debate.

In the video, Bethke recites his poem on what he calls "the difference between Jesus and false religion."

He recently received some constructive criticism from Michigan Pastor Kevin DeYoung, who commended the 20-something recent graduate for his "passionate faith" and "hatred for anything phony or self-righteous."

Still, DeYoung warned Bethke to "be more careful when talking about religion" and not overstate God's grace and forgiveness.

"Religion is all law and no gospel. If that's religion, then Jesus is certainly against it. But that's not what religion is," DeYoung wrote in a blog titled "Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really."

"We love the Jesus that hates religion. The only problem is, He didn't," DeYoung continued. "Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them."

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The lengthy post goes on to analyze Bethke's poem verse by verse. Despite some disagreements, DeYoung stresses that he's not downing the video and admires the effort.

"Who knows, maybe Jefferson Bethke will read this blog. If you do, brother, I want you to know I love what you love in this poem," the pastor concluded.

Bethke did read DeYoung's comments -- and was thankful for the critique.

"I just wanted to say I really appreciate your article man," Bethke wrote in an email that DeYoung later shared on his blog. "It hit me hard. I'll even be honest and say I agree 100 percent."

"If I redid the video tomorrow, I'd keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly," he added.

"Humbled. Blessed. Thankful for painful growth," Bethke ended.

Since then, the two have talked and emailed more. DeYoung said he feels he's gained a friend in the process.

--Published Jan. 19, 2012

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