Jesus > Religion?

Ok, if you care enough about my little blog to venture here, then you have most likely already watched the now viral “Jesus>Religion” video. If you are one of the 17 people left on facebook that haven’t watched it… well… here:

I have a lot to say about this video.  A lot.  I won’t say it all.  You don’t really want to read it, and I probably won’t have time to write it, and I’m definitely not going to write it all here and now.  So let me just get to my point.

The statement, and title, “Jesus > Religion” might be the most obvious thing written.  Ever.  Of course Jesus > Religion because Jesus > Everything.  Hello!  Son of God.  God incarnate.  God with us.  King of kings.  Alpha.  Omega.  So at least in that respect, the title and some of what is being said is right on target.

Also, this video, and it’s REALLY fast spread across the net, illuminates a glaring problem in Christianity today–people have no idea what the word religion actually means.  You probably don’t even agree with what you just read, you may think you know what religion means…and you might.  But today when people think of the word religion they are usually actually thinking of the meaning for the word dogma.

Religion is not an invention dreamed up by men, and actually, neither is dogma–but men have often misused both to ill-affect.  The word religion only appears in the KJV in the New Testament and under a variety of meanings, but you’ll see that the meanings for these words are actually really common themes throughout the Old Testament as well.

The Greek word for religion in Acts 25:6 and James 1:26-27 refers to ceremonial worship.  In Galatians 1:13-14 Paul was writing about the Jewish faith. 

Religion is not a set of rules.  Religion is not dogma.  Jesus came to seek and save what was lost (Luke 19:10).  What was lost?  Relationship with God was lost, but so was religion–along with a lot of other things.

Not all, but some of the Pharisees and Sadducees abused their positions.  The ones that did grossly warped their responsibilities and violated their trust.  That’s part of what Jesus came to save.  God became man to fix everything, even religion.  Jesus didn’t and doesn’t hate religion.  He came to fix religion.

I find it incredibly sad when I read/hear things like Jesus hates religion.  That’s like saying “Jesus hates people worshiping God.”  For my part, I love religion, though I’m not overly fond of dogma.  Jesus died so we could connect to God, so we could worship God, and so we could experience God.  That is religion.  If you call yourself a Christian then what do you think worship and following Him is?  It is religion.  You can’t follow Jesus without relationship, but you can’t have a relationship with Him without religion.

Please, stop confusing religion with dogma.  Please, stop confusing religion with legalism.  Please, stop confusing religion.


6 thoughts on “Jesus > Religion?

  1. You're right. The guy in the video more correctly should use the word "religiousity" instead of religion. He uses religion as a synonym for self-righteousness which is simply, not true. But…the point he is trying to make is still valid, even though his linguistics and terminology is off. He's basically doing Ghandi's argument of, "I like Christ, but Christians are so unlike the Christ." Plus, the fact that this video is so popular, shows a shortcoming of most people's "church experiences." They feel like they're getting religion, and not much relationship. That they're supposed to be well-manicured and well-respected, when they continue to live broken lives. This viral video tells a lot about the Church's shortcomings…What are we to do?

  2. Religiosity, is closer–but dogma is pretty much spot on (legalism would be really close too) for what he's talking about. I don't dislike the video. The guy is talented and has a lot of good things to say. And you are also spot-on, the popularity shows just how disconnected people really are.What are we to do? Well, actual sound fundamental teaching is a good place to start, but that's hard when we're dealing with a generation that by and large is more interested in sound bites and unproven or underdeveloped tripe than scholarly spirit-led pursuit of God.

  3. I don't think that the purpose of this video was really to dog "religion" as it was meant to be by Jesus, but rather what it has become. I think one of the reasons that people mistake religion for dogma is that the face of religion, if you will, has become deformed by dogmatic people claiming to be religious people. While I do TOTALLY agree with you, I think that we can also agree that the idea behind this is good. Maybe it could have been said a little more clearly like "I hate the dogma, worldly rituals, and false doctrine that is so prevalent in our religious practices today," but when the majority of people (Christian and Non-Christian alike) think of "religion" they see it in its corrupted, perverted, dogmatic, form. You talked about relationship and works in your blog here. THANK YOU! I absolutely love in James where it says "Faith without works is dead." We talk about relationship, but forget that what the world sees is as much our acts as anything else. In Colossians the Bible talks about gaining knowledge, wisdom, and understanding so that we may "live a life pleasing to God." That's our work. Sadly, what the world sees from our "Religion," is the junk that has come from so many years of corruption. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that this view of religion (in comparison to the religious people Jesus rebuked) is more what the video was talking about rather than the model of religion that Jesus taught.

  4. See, that's part of the problem though. This video is defining religion by the connotations many put it in; but the New Testament scriptures where it is actually (well it's Greek equivalent) means something entirely different. So my question is–as believers, do we define religion by cultural connotation or by Scripture?

  5. I read this blog entry which was linked by a friend on Facebook and you most certainly provoked a thoughtful response.I finally viewed the video that has been linked by so many of my friends on Facebook and my initial thought was wow! This guy says what I have been feeling and thinking for many years.I grew up as a pastor's son and transitioned to a Missionary Kid until I moved out on my own. I attended a liberal arts university and have attended many different churches over the years, so I guess I see myself as qualified to make the comments that I am going to make.I see your blog response to the Jesus>Religion video as the very root of the problem that the young man in the video was addressing! Rather than looking at the video as an opportunity to open a conversation with so many friends that you didn't even know were interested in Jesus, you chose to give a theological breakdown of a word study translating Greek and ancient terms. Get out of the ancient times and get into today. Look at the scary definitions of religion on urban dictionary ( So knowing how religion is defined by modern man, what is the responsibility of Christians in this day and age? I see our responsibility as living a life that reflects a gentle, loving and respectful life that is representative of the life Jesus lived as an example to us!We can sit in our ivory towers of study and lore, reading and translating the ancient text passed to us through our ancestors, and then try to communicate that wealth of knowledge to common people that do not understand or even care what that type of understanding means.The young man in the video scattered the seeds, some of which will fall on rocky ground or be eaten by the birds, but if we fail to cultivate the huge field he has planted, through loving and gentle guidance and conversation, the potential harvest will go to waste!!You can choose to stick to your knowledgeable viewpoint and make the young man's point for him, or you could show grace and potentially show some friends the way to Christ.Just my humble opinion.If you wish to correct me you can email me at

  6. Michael, thank you for that very well communicated response. I know you don't know me, nor I you, or at least I don't think we know each other–so let me just say right up front that I agree with basically everything you said in your comment. My wife and I are U.S. Missionaries who work with college students. Many of my readers (though not all) are people who venture here for insight like what I tried to provide above. I wish I had time for a more thourough response, but I'm at my nephew's birthday party so I'll try to wrap it up. I can promise you that we're not the kind of people who "sit in ivory towers" and look down on anyone. We have many connections with non-believers and cherish every opportunity to communicate the Gospel. If the blog made you think otherwise it is only because of my inadequacy as a writer. Thanks again for your comment! It is well received and I appreciate the heart with which I feel it was communicated.

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