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(Review) Jesus Greater Than Religion by Jefferson Bethke

Publication Date: October 14, 2014.
Publisher: Nelson Books.
Genre: Christian life, apologetic.
Pages: 240.
Source: Copy purchased by my church.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.


This is the paperback full book version. It can get mixed up easily between the Bible study and the full book version. I know this because some of the members of our small group went to Lifeway Christian Bookstore in search of the Bible study. Once there they did not know the correct book to buy.

The full length book version from the Bible study that began from a poem Jefferson Bethke wrote and has on Youtube. My previous review has the Youtube of his poem.
Bethke touches on several different themes in Jesus > Religion. The main theme is loving Jesus and focusing our life and worship on Him, and that it is far "better" than worshiping ourselves or a religious dogma.
The word "better" is best defined as truth. Truth is in Jesus Christ and His Good News. Instead, mankind has made themselves the object of worship. Praise God for His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ!

My Thoughts:
I love this book for the following reasons:

  • The emphasis throughout the book is on Jesus period. 
  • Bethke does not swerve away from current culture's thoughts on what Christians should believe and be complacent over. I've heard some reviewers state he is a fundamentalist, Bethke just states what the Bible says and does not mix words. 
  • One of my favorite points in the book is in reference to reverse legalists. "They are better defined by what they are against than by what they are for. They are doing the exact same thing as what they are defining themselves against. They are elevating behavior, clothing, and other secondary issues as requirements to gain access into the kingdom. It's a sickness in all of us to put our righteousness in absolutely anything except Jesus, and if we think we aren't doing that, it usually means it's even worse." 
  • Bethke expounds on a problem people have had since the early church, adding rules and actions that are needed for salvation. It's Jesus + a rule. This is nonsense and heresy. Jesus is greater than religion. Jesus is greater than man. 
  • Early in the book Bethke talks about "silence," this is something many people are not comfortable with. "...silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are." I wanted him to elaborate more. Silence is something many people dislike. 
  • "Santa Claus" Christianity. Now that's a candid statement. I have a mental image of children sitting on Santa's lap and giving him their lengthy list of wants. As adults we too can rattle off a list of wants to God and believe that his favor will be in the form of material blessings. 
  • The book ends with an invitation: "Do You Know Jesus?" We need to see this more in books. 

One statement Bethke made I'm not quite in agreement with.
"...religious people see certain people as the enemies, when Jesus' followers see sin as the enemy."
Sin is the true enemy. But, if a person standing before me is holding a gun with the intention of harming me or my family, both the sin and the person is the enemy.
I understand the point he is making, but I had to be clear on what I believe.