Earlier this year a young rapper by the name of Jefferson Bethke posted a YouTube video entitled Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus. It became an instant hit with the internet audience receiving a lot of attention and generating the usual rebuttal out of the institutional church. Apparently some of the powers that be persuaded Bethke that his effort to draw a distinction between religion and Jesus was a threat to church and therefore inappropriate. This led to Bethke's recantation of sorts. He seemed to acknowledge the logic that the church and Jesus are inseparable in the eyes of God. Is that really true? Has God purposely imposed a humanly managed institution like the church as His divine agent on earth? Does that make any sense? Is it working? Is the church transforming the world, leading it to adopt the principles of love, acceptance, and forgiveness taught by Jesus? If effectiveness and consistency with the message of Jesus are any measure of God's sanction, the church has a long way to go to prove their divine role in God's plan in Christ.
I like the way a friend of mine states it: I love Jesus but I am not too fond of His fan club. Whatever Bethke meant by religion had to include the church because in our culture religion is the business of the church; they are inseparable. It is not possible to relinquish religion and retain the church as God's earthly agency. The church's grasp of power and control over its membership and by extension society at large is the essence of so called Christianity. The church has long established itself as the intermediaries between God and men. Human beings claim a divine right to manage you and your relationship, first with God and then with your spouse. No power play in the history of man has been as significant and devastating as that perpetrated by the institutional church, mostly with the support of the secular government and a fearfully indoctrinated public.