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To Deconstruct or Not

“Deconstruction” is one of the biggest buzzwords in Christendom right now, especially within my generation. The debate continues to swirl as some outside my generation argue that deconstruction leads you away from the faith. I aim to be careful with the topic and acknowledge that there are real concerns from those deconstructing and those that have seen others implode from deconstructing. Before continuing:

  • I acknowledge those that are deconstructing because they’ve left abusive, controlling environments and are trying to figure out what’s real.
  • I acknowledge those that have seen something “off” in their faith communities and search to identify what it is. You’ve seen those that proclaim Christian faith express it in a way that’s inconsistent.
  • I also acknowledge those that have a real concern for their loved ones walking away from their faith in unhealthy ways. You’re an onlooker not understanding why everyone seems to deconstruct.

If you identify in any of the above categories I ask you to bear with me as I share my personal experience. You may have already tensed up and if so, I hope you can release whatever you’re holding and step into this conversation openly. 

I’ve been through cycles of “deconstruction” and I’m currently in a cycle of deconstructing. Before I share my experience, I think it’s important to level-set with a definition of deconstruction. To me, deconstructing is breaking something apart to get to the fundamentals. It’s an investigation of the simplest parts of something to get rid of the harmful, unnecessary stuff. If you digest things visually like me, think of a giant intricate lego structure that sits a couple feet high but has some janky pieces at the bottom that need to be fixed or removed to make the foundation stronger. I think of the deconstructing process as getting back to the basics to shore up the foundation. After all, Jesus did say in Matthew 7:24 - 27:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

In essence, I’ve deconstructed to examine the things I’ve put into practice that weren’t Jesus’ sayings. They were someone else’s attempt to interpret Jesus’ sayings or my own trial and error of what I thought was Jesus’ sayings. I’ve deconstructed my beliefs on the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit. I’ve deconstructed the prosperity Gospel. And currently, I’m deconstructing the ways American culture has influenced my understanding of the Bible.

I don’t think deconstruction is something new. I think many believers before us have deconstructed their beliefs. I think Jews in exile during the silent period deconstructed their ideas of what it meant to be a chosen people and live in oppression while waiting for a new kingdom. I think Martin Luther deconstructed before he nailed the 95 theses to the church door. 

In my opinion, deconstruction should be a part of everyone’s faith. What I’ve learned in my deconstructing is the ‘why’ deconstructing can be helpful.    

1. I’ve learned the inexhaustibility of God. 

He’s unfathomable and there’s always more to learn. As I’ve searched the scriptures, searched my heart, and sought him, I realize how much I don’t know and how much more there is to know. As soon as I think I got a lock on something, I’m reminded I don’t. And isn’t that a good thing? Wouldn’t we be bored and disappointed with a God we could figure out? After reading how Daniel passed out from a revelation from God. I think, I don’t need to know it all. I couldn’t handle it all. The Bible is a treasure hunt and if we got it all upon one reading, I think we too might pass out from the revelation. 

2. I’ve learned the importance of community. 

Some of my deconstructing has come from seasons when I’ve changed communities or grown my community. In a new community, I learned there were others who believed differently than I did. And not only that, but they followed Christ and had proof for why they believed the way they did. It was a shocker in the early years of my faith to see other believers living their faith differently. I equated that with a weaker, more ignorant faith. Yikes! 

While there are tenets of what it means to be a Christ-follower and it’s important to agree on those, there are many more ‘I don’t knows’ and ‘work out your own salvations’. And I think that’s what it means to be part of a body. Each part as a different function, a different gift and perspective, will see things differently. I’ve found that listening and learning from others has deepened my faith. It’s allowed me to see things from a different perspective and or to continue digging to reach a new conclusion or sometimes the same conclusion with more depth. 

3. I’ve learned the importance of digging and verifying for myself.

When I began deconstructing it made me less naive. I stopped taking people’s word for things. There are many teachers, preachers, and pastors who are well-meaning and just made errors. We should expect this from humanity. There are also those that are intentionally deceitful for their own gain. We should also expect this from humanity. Digging and searching for myself has helped me to discern what’s what. The Bereans were praised for verifying what Paul and Silas preached about Jesus

4. I’ve learned my faith in Jesus is real.

I’ve learned that my faith is not some weak, fluffy stuff. My faith in Jesus can withstand the hammers, the drills, and the reconfigurations. Jesus can withstand the fire and so can we as his church. The church can’t be torn down. It can withstand the poking, the genuine questions, the demeaning insults, and the honest frustrations. And it’s because Jesus is with us. He is with us in the processing, in the digging. He is with us while we wonder and sometimes wander. He is there in the searching and promises to be found by us, and fill us up if we’re hungry.

Photo by Ravi Palwe on Unsplash


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