The New York Times Bestseller, Jesus>Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough, is written by Jefferson Bethke. The book has reached huge success but has also drawn in a lot of criticism.
The premise of the book relates to a four-minute video that went viral in 2012, entitled, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The video is a poem spoken by Bethke about what he finds to be the contradictions between religion as an institution and the actual words and actions of Christ. The video has over 26 million views, drawing in both congratulations and criticisms. For a man in his early 20s, this attention was quite an accomplishment and ultimately led to the book, Jesus>Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough.
Because the book derives from this four minute video, it expands upon all of the subjects from the video in a more in-depth approach. The video offers up some profound statements that leave the viewer really thinking about what was said, while the book offers further explanation of what was meant, as well as personal examples regarding Bethke’s own life experiences.
In the beginning of the video, Bethke states, “I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?”
Critics have attacked Bethke’s because they feel his words are an attack on the church and an excuse for those who are not involved in a church community. However, others have congratulated Bethke in pointing out that there are some things to think about when it comes to the true meaning of being a Christian, pointing out that it’s more than simply attending church services.
Bethke was asked about the intention of his words in the video by Scott Baker for GBTV. The article stated, “He went to church most of his life, but it wasn’t until college that ‘Jesus transformed his life, or changed his life, in a real way.’ Which really is one of the points made in this video — you can mask yourself as a Christian on the outside by going to church on Sundays, but that doesn’t hold a lot of water if your heart isn’t in it.”
Another statement Bethke makes in the video is, “See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core. It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores.” Bethke elaborates in his book by writing about how sometimes people can get caught up in the guidelines set by religion as an institution rather than truly embracing the spirit of being a Christian.
The video touches on this by divulging Bethke’s own experiences. Bethke notes, “See, this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me. Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography. See on Sunday, I’d go to church, but Saturday getting faded. Acting if I was simply created to just have sex and get wasted. See I spent my whole life building this façade of neatness but now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness.”
The book goes further into how his own personal experiences and weaknesses helped bring Bethke to Jesus. Although he was seemingly living a pious life, he was in actuality going down a path of destructive behavior. The book helps to reach out to others who may also be putting on that false face within their church community and yet not really feeling close to God.
The cover of the book is a still shot of the actual video that started it all and is great for those looking for further explanation of what the short four-minute video spoke of. Readers will be privy to the motives behind the video that started it all, as well as a more in-depth explanation of his statements and personal story.
Click here to watch the video for yourself.