.- A new popular video of a poem from a Christian who says he âhates religionâ but loves Jesus is wrong about religionâs role in Christian life, says Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick.
Stefanick, who is the director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, responded in poetry in a Jan. 15 YouTube video.
âPharisaism is religion without relationship / Jesus isnât impressed by it / but hating religion because itâs twisted by some / is like hating diamonds because they might be zirconium,â Stefanick said in his reply, titled âWhy I Love Religion and Love Jesus.â
âReligion puts a name on the creed / Religion gives a voice to the soulâs deepest need / Religion keeps His people one / Religion paves a path to the Son.
âTrue religion, like incense, rises from hearts seeking God.â
Stefanick was responding to Jefferson Bethkeâs viral video âWhy I Hate Religion but Love Jesus,â which has received nearly 12.5 million views on YouTube since it was posted on Jan. 10.
Bethke, a Tacoma, Wash. resident, attends Mars Hill Church in Federal Way and works in bringing the Gospel to the inner city.
His video said that Jesus âcame to abolish religionâ and that Jesus and religion are âon opposite spectrums.â
âOneâs the work of God, but oneâs a man-made invention / See one is the cure, but the otherâs the infection.
âReligion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free / Religion makes you blind but Jesus makes you see.
âIf religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? / Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor?
âTell single moms God doesnât love them if theyâve ever had a divorce, / but in the Old Testament God calls religious people âwhores.ââ
But Stefanick underscored that Jesus came to start a religion.
âWhat if I told you the Catholic Church has done more to serve the needy / than any other group in history?
âOur cathedrals, priests and nuns / are serving in those slums. / Open your Eyes! / It helps you get things done / when youâre organized.â
Stefanick is also co-author of a 2008 book âDo I Have to Go? 101 Questions about the Mass.â
He explained in a Jan. 15 exchange with CNA that his book touches on the same questions. Jesus does not treat sacred rituals and sacraments as things that interfere with a genuine relationship with him, he noted.
âIf he thought such things would come between us and him then he clearly wouldnât have given them to us. He wouldnât have told his apostles to celebrate Mass (Luke 22:19) or to baptize every person on earth (Matthew 28:19).â
âAll Christian denominations at least agree on baptism, and no one can make a really good case that baptism isnât a religious ritual â¦ try as you will!â
Rituals help relationships, Stefanick added, and religion has rituals just like marriages do.
âPeople can fall into just going through the motions in marriage just as in faith. Would a marriage counselor propose that a couple whose relationship is on the rocks stop celebrating Valentineâs Day? No!â
Stefanick stressed in his video response that religion is a gift from God.
âThe heart of religion is relationship / Jesus didnât come to get rid of it. He gave us Baptism, Eucharist, Last Supper, apostolic structure.â
âHatred of religion is a modern man-made invention / Playing pure spirit is angelic pretension.â