Reconstructing your faith

Deconstruction is a hot topic these days. So-called evangelicals are hotly against it, of course, because what people are deconstructing is the phony-baloney pop religion evangelicals pass off as genuine Christianity.

Deconstruction is the process of examining your faith critically to determine if it still makes sense to you, and if it doesn’t to wonder why, and to seek something better to replace it.

To those who have been attending churches where you are expected to check your brain at the door and blindly follow whatever the local cult leader tells you, this process almost inevitably leads to destruction. That’s why so many evangelical leaders are so solidly against it. They have nothing to gain by it, and a lot to lose.

So much for Anselm’s notion that Christianity is “faith seeking understanding.” To so many evangelicals, it’s more like “faith avoiding understanding.”

And, having been nourished so long on watery skim milk of evangelicalism rather than the nourishing solid food of the genuine gospel, many who follow the process of deconstruction end up in destruction.

That is, they renounce Christianity entirely, or they retire to a languid “spiritual but not religious” passivity.

However, true deconstruction should lead to reconstruction. It should lead to reformation.

It’s often been described as a three-step process: orientation, disorientation, reorientation. Other terms are sometimes used, but the process is the same.

Orientation is where you start. You know where you are. You know what you believe. Until one day, you realize that you don’t. You don’t recognize your faith anymore. You don’t recognize yourself anymore.

You are now officially in disorientation. It’s a tough place to be in, but it still holds promise. It’s time to start examining things. Time to see where you really stand. Time to discern what you really believe. Time to learn whom you really trust.

And if the one you trust is not Jesus, you may be stuck in disorientation more or less forever. If you discover that you really don’t trust wholly in Jesus, you may end up in destruction, or what 1 Timothy 1:19 describes as spiritual shipwreck.

But if you can discover that you really do trust wholly in Jesus, and not in some cobbled-together fundamentalist construct of him, then you are on the road to reorientation. You are on the Way to learning how to follow Jesus and live the exciting life he promises.

Some have described this as a “second naivete.” You trust in Jesus more than ever before, but now you have a firm foundation for your trust. You trust the person, not some doctrine. You have worked your way through all the complications of discerning the truth about God and life, and you have landed on the other shore with a simple but unshakable trust in God through Christ.

That’s what deconstruction should be all about. Evangelicals oppose it for the same reason that they oppose any form of doubt. Doubt properly pursued leads to understanding. Deconstruction properly pursued leads to understanding, to profound trust in God, to the eternal life that Jesus promised we could enjoy starting right now if only we trust in him.

Socrates said the unexamined life was not worth living. Jesus said the truth will set you free. You’ll find the truth in Jesus, but you may have to examine your life to find him.

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