According to one online source, "the four minute video had received 6 million views three days after its release on 10 January 2012, as well as 64,000 comments. By Saturday, 14 January 2012, the clip received 10.2 million views and over 100,000 comments. As of today, August 10, 2014, YouTube shows it has had 27,866,608 views.
A friend of mine decided to recommend it on their Facebook channel and I finally felt I needed to make a statement on it that is more an exhortation for those online who make clear, through their comments, that despite Bethke's apparent realization and subsequent statement that he wasn't making the video to condemn the Church, they apparently feel that way.
This is what I wrote:
This video has a lot of truth .. wrapped around one very serious assumption that is very WRONG ..
If religion = legalism, cultism and judgmentalism making Christian spirituality out to be a social club of rules, spiritual abuse and oppression, I can get where this kid comes from.
The problem is too many of you young in faith have never known what real Christian spirituality in a FELLOWSHIP based around glorifying Him and loving others in and OUT of it is really like.
You've been in a group of religious people who made a liveable faith out to be something it is NOT. You want to believe, but you don't want the bondage. I get that. I've been there. So understanding your turn off from "religion" is completely understandable.
But to despise the Christian church for the unreality, intolerance and abuse you suffered is a big, big BIG mistake.
Do you stop driving a car because you had a car accident?
Do you quit school and education because you didn't connect with people there or the teachers?
Do you stop going to doctors because you had a bad treatment with one?
The Bible teaches very plainly that you are just a member of a Body, the Church that Jesus has called out from the darkness of this world to live in heaven NOW. Jesus Christ died for the church. Jesus created the Church, Jesus passionately intercedes for the Church.
DO you hate what Jesus loved? Do you despise what He gave His life for? How deeply, authentically, honestly can the love of God dwell in you if you hate what He hung on the cross for, what His Blood was spilt for?
Think about it, my brothers .. my sisters .. those who my common faith in Christ with you makes us family.
This deeply concerns me when I see those of you who are my spiritual house hate something so precious out of misunderstanding you've been led into by those who were no doubt in horrible error. Hating religion is a passion I share .. but I know that to hate the Church is to hate what God loves. Please, please think about it.
I have been in the ministry since 1983. I came out of dead religion into new life in Jesus in 1980. I've been helping people ripped off by abusive religion for years and I completely get why people leave religion off their checklist they draw up when they escape it. I do. And I totally understand the total disillusionment with the hypocrisy and horrid example that has ripped you off in places called churches and fellowships where God was supposed to have been known. I know that.
But the Bible teaches that your spiritual destiny and potential can never healthily grow in isolation from the very thing you must turn to .. the community and support of the Body of Christ found only in the Church, the same one Christ died for ..
I hope you'll think about this. You may feel you don't need the Church, but the truth is you do .. more badly then you can possibly believe. It's not screwy religion and scam piety I urge you to seek .. but the very real places of the Spirit where the people of God, in humility and obedience, truly seek to focus their walk with God as well as their service, that they might encourage you as much as you might encourage them. They are there. They are real. Seek them, They are real.