Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

“he who rejects you rejects me”

January 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by b a

“He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” -Luke 10:16

By now everyone’s probably seen the nonsensical youtube video entitled, “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus.” The content of the video is even sillier than the title suggests. I’m not going to embed the video here or link to it. I’ll be honest – I haven’t even watched it, although I’ve read the poem line-by-line in some critiques. Quite honestly, I think this video provides a good teaching moment for Catholics and Protestants alike. It shows just how silly certain movements like the Emerging Church movement are. If you’re at least a partially educated Catholic, I think this video is almost harmless because the claims are so egregious and contrary to both reality and scripture. However, we should not presume that all DOR parishioners would have enough knowledge to realize just how harmful and dangerous such ideas are. If you’re going to discuss the issue, it should be done carefully. Certainly a good principle when discussing differing points of view is to emphasize what you agree upon. However, this should never be done without also clearly distinguishing major points of disagreement lest anyone make the mistake of thinking you agree on or concede certain points. One of the major shockers for me as a protestant convert to Catholicism has been the protestantization of the local Catholic Church. With that said, I offer for your reading pleasure 3 rebuttals of this video. You decide for yourselves which of these would challenge a non-Catholic to consider Catholicism (or a Catholic to stand even more firm in their faith).

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus — The Smackdown – Marc Barnes – Bad Catholic
Why I Hate People Hating on Religion – Jimmy Akin
Jesus and Religion – Rev. Peter Clifford – St. John of Rochester parish – Perinton, NY (included below)

Parents of teens and otherwise media aware folks may be familiar with a recent video on YouTube that has had nearly 14 million views in just over two weeks. Jefferson Bethke has grabbed the attention of many with his views on Jesus and His relationship to religion. In part the attraction of this piece is its attractive and professional appearance. More however is the theme of being drawn to Jesus and a relationship with Jesus while being turned off by religion and persons who make religious claims. Mr. Bethke has some good and cogent points which makes his piece even more alluring. He starts right off decrying the many wars that religion has sponsored past and present. He identifies the hypocrisy of religious institutions and religious people judging persons thought to be sinners while being sinners themselves. Jesus obviously made the same condemnation in His day. Mr. Bethke later in the piece confesses that he was similarly caught himself saying that going to church can be like putting on the jersey of your favorite sports team. You show your loyalty for the team but no way could you wear that jersey onto the field or court of play. It is all for show. He says of himself, he acted like a church kid on Sunday, while on Saturday he had been caught up in sin.

Somewhere along the way, he heard the Gospel. Mr. Bethke says midway through the video, that he has come to faith through the Grace of Jesus and found forgiveness for his sins. That conversion moment changed him, he seems to say. He says at that point that if anything, church should be a “hospital for the broken, not a museum for the good.”

Both here and at the start, I found myself in agreement with Mr. Bethke. The church, whether ours or other religious institutions presently and throughout history, have given plenty of ammunition to critics like him. The present abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church is only the most recent instance of our flawed and fallen humanity tarnishing, spoiling and threatening to destroy faith in Jesus. That is true and is all part of that hospital for the broken image that Mr. Bethke uses. If church is not such a place, then it is not what Jesus meant it to be. To the extent that we put people off or send them away empty handed and angry for our rejection, we have sinned yet again. However, today’s readings underscore Jesus’ intention to gather people around him. Again today, as last Sunday, the text recounts calling disciples. They will in turn call others and from such gathering, the church is founded. From such calls of Jesus for followers have come good, grace, and blessings beyond counting through history. The poor fed, naked clothed, homeless sheltered and more because folks like you and I heard a call and followed and still do today. Thank God for that, because believers are the ones who preach that Gospel of Grace that Mr. Bethke heard and by that was saved. True, we are broken. But together we are on a search for God and Jesus in our lives. As I said at the end of the homily two weeks ago, Jesus is at the same time on a search for us too. For many, the meeting place is church. That is the community of disciples we gather with in common faith and seek to live the Gospel with. For where two or three gather in My name, Jesus said, there I am in their midst.

Alright, I’ll go a little beyond allowing you to decide for yourselves and offer my opinion.  The above article from Fr. Clifford gives too many concessions to the dangerous video and falls short of offering a serious rebuttal.  I’ll give Fr. Clifford credit for tackling the subject and addressing the modern world, but I wish he were more put off by the video and offered some more substantive argumentation against it.  Yes, I understand it’s a bulletin with limited space, but that’s what footnotes are for.  With every passing year, it’s become more and more evident that there has been a serious lack of catechesis in the Catholic Church over the last few decades and is why so many Catholics fall prey to either Protestant denominations or the temptations of the secular world.  I’d suggest that priests try offering a little more meat.  Roll your sleeves up a little bit and don’t be afraid to go to battle for you faith.  People won’t be turned off – they will be drawn to the truth.  Afraid of being seen as negative?  Just look at how many people flocked to Bethke’s video which was basically a hate speech.  If you have friends or family that go to St. John of Rochester, you might wish to pass Jimmy Akin’s article along lest they be tempted to be think Catholics don’t have a better answer to Bethke’s attack.

(I’ve seen lots of links to video responses as well. I’m not as much into watching videos as I am into reading, but feel free to leave links to those videos or other critiques in the comments)


6 Responses to ““he who rejects you rejects me””

  1. Raymond F. Rice says:

    “Yes, I understand it’s a bulletin with limited space, but that’s what footnotes are for.”

    Bulletins are convenient and easy. How about SERMONS FROM THE PULPIT to cover these issues??

  2. RochChaCha says:

    I took the following from Wikipedia and part of the their summary on what is called ’emerging church’. It appears What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community. The emerging church favors the use of simple story and narrative. Sounds to me like this rapper is likely part of what is the emerging church. I am very disappointed,but not surprised by Fr. Peter’s response. Afterall, recall that Fr. Peter also described the outrage over President Obama’s involvement at Notre Dame’s a mere ‘dust up in South Bend.

  3. Raymond F. Rice says:

    “I am very disappointed,but not surprised by Fr. Peter’s response.

    So the only priest to have the”guts” to comment on this situation ends up being criticised?? At least we know who he is, Mr. or Mrs, or Miss or Reverend Roch cha cha!!

  4. Ben Anderson says:

    So the only priest to have the”guts” to comment on this situation ends up being criticised?

    that opens the question of whether any response is a good response.

    allow me to offer an imperfect analogy…

    You’re escorting your mother down the sidewalk of main street in a small town. Out of nowhere, some punk kid starts yelling lies about your mother for the whole town to hear. He calls her a dirty whore, a selfish and greedy snob, and on and on. You know these things to be lies. You also know that her reputation matters not only for her own pride, but because she runs the orphanage in town and those kids put so much trust and faith into her. They would be devastated if they were to believe such lies about her and might lose faith in their very existence. What would the proper response be:

    1) you respond, “you’re right, but I love her and she’s my mother.”
    2) you respond, “you’re a filthy liar and I’ll defend her against your lies and deception.”
    3) put your head down, keep walking, and pretend not to acknowledge

    As I said, it’s an imperfect analogy, but I think might offer some value.

  5. RochChaCha says:


    It does not take guts to speak up when you are basically just agreeing with the author of this rap video/poem. It takes guts to speak up to those filling the pews and telling them things that are uncomfortable to hear, to telling them the truth. Just because he has ‘guts’ to speak up does not mean that what he spoke was valid. Fr. Peter Clifford had a great opportunity to ground the faithful who attend St. Johns with the truth of what the Catholic faith teaches, yet only had the ‘guts’ to give some lukewarm response. Should they be hearing it from the pulpit? Certainly. Do they hear it from the pulpit at St John’s? Perhaps. I would challenge you to attend St John’s for a month or two and tell us what you believe they are hearing from the pulpit.

    “One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated” – St. Thomas More

  6. Nerina says:

    I think Fr. Clifford concedes too much to this earnest, though disingenuous, young man (and let me emphasize, young). I’m not saying that young people can’t have moments of great insight, and I certainly don’t constrain God in anyway for He will choose whichever messenger He wants, but this “critic” seems more impressed with himself and his “coolness” (look at me with a viral YouTube video!). As Jimmy Akin notes, the rap is annoying. I guess we should be impressed that he came up with so many rhymes. Marc Barnes asserts, correctly I think, that there are some really good production values in this video and that’s what makes it so alluring. It is all flash and very little substance. In the first 30 seconds this man can’t even keep his political views out of his rant calling out “Republicans” identifying as Christians (wow, did you know that Jesus wasn’t a Republican?). It is insulting to any serious-minded Christian with any sense of history.

    Having watched this video, again, it is full of easily refutable assertions and Fr. Clifford fell way short in his need to guide his flock, but at least he showed up in the field. Too many spiritual shepherds are simply asleep as their sheep escape the fold.

    Now, as for the central claim, “Jesus came to abolish religion” (sigh, how tired is this trope?), I’ll leave it to our inestimable Papa (Benedict, that is). In his book The Apostles, Pope Benedict addresses the common and recurring desire to separate Christ from His Church. He says:

    Thus the Twelve Apostles are the most evident sign of Jesus’ will regarding the existence and mission of His Church, the guarantee that between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: despite the sins of the people who make up the Church, they are inseparable. Therefore, a slogan that was popular some years back, “Jesus yes, Church no,” is totally inconceivable with the intention of Christ. This individualistically chosen Jesus in an imaginary Jesus.

    He goes on to add:

    We cannot have Jesus without the reality he created and in which he communicates himself. Between the Son of God-made flesh and his Church there is a profound, unbreakable and mysterious continuity by which Christ is present today in his people. He is always contemporary with us, he is always contemporary with the Church, built on the foundation of the Apostles and alive in the succession of the Apostles. And his very presence in the community, in which he himself is always with us is the reason for our joy. Yes, Christ is with us; the Kingdom of God is coming. (pp. 12-13)

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