Every year at Thanksgiving we gather with a small group of college friends. As the years go by, our little group grows and changes with the addition of spouses, children, new friends and new topics of conversation. Each time we get together, I find yet another one of our group discussing their faith deconstruction journey.
We first met as part of an evangelical Christian fellowship. We led Bible studies together and attended retreats together. We served each other as accountability partners and the larger fellowship as worship team members. Ten years on, while most of us would acknowledge Jesus as part of our lives, the label “Christian”
has become somewhat distasteful.
The path to deconstruction has many on-ramps. For some, it’s a pastor who exalts him or herself above criticism, pushing aside any idea of servanthood. Maybe it’s a marriage that didn’t go the way we all planned, or a toxic theology that demeans our gender or race. Each year over turkey and a box of wine I hear how my friends, my dear Christian friends, are disgusted with the church. The questioning has edged into more fundamental issues of God’s presence, love, and relevance to our lives. Anger, cynicism, disillusionment are the fruit on display beside the mashed potatoes and cranberry chutney.
Based on these yearly conversations, I can understand the pastor I heard recently railing against the evils of the progressive church, and I quote:
“They’re always questioning, they have given up on Jesus and you should have nothing to do with them. Close your ears to their ‘Greek roots’ and ‘putting the Bible into context.' It’s just a demonic theology stealing sheep from the flock of the saved.”
He does have a point. With deconstruction as a destination, the road does in fact diverge from the narrow way of Christ. However, it doesn't have to be that way. When deconstruction leads to reconstruction- a rebuilding of faith free from the religious baggage we’ve packed- we enter into the authentic cycle of death and resurrection at the center of Christ’s example.
Death and resurrection has become a model for my life. In every element of life: my attitude, my work, my friendships, my communication, my politics, I want my posture to be that of the condemned, with an executioner's axe overhead. All of me must be available for death if I want to be imbued with resurrection power.
What am I talking about?:
I used to have very clear view about what the Bible said about homosexuality. That black and white has become gray.
I used to believe that God had a single best path for me that I had to discern. I’ve turned from that mindset.
I used to understand God’s word as an instruction manual, I’ve died to that.
I used to think I could ensure my children lived within the boundaries I created.
I used to think intelligence made me more special.
I used to carry guilt about how and when I share my faith.
I used to think I could never dance as part of worship.
I used to be ok with impulsively eating when I feel frustrated.
Every day, I’m learning what it means to be me. Following Jesus has led me to tear down many temples I've built but it has also pushed me to rebuild. I’ve seen so much good come from allowing God to first tear down what we construct and then rebuild us stone by stone. Languishing in the rubble of deconstruction eats away at our faith and joy, but moving from the cross to the empty tomb, allowing reconstruction to follow deconstruction looks like the fullness of life to me.