Deconstruction –it is a word that has become common in our vocabulary of late. I am sure you have heard the multitude of conversations going on over socials and in person about faith deconstruction. There are many who are dismantling their faith systems and sorting through all the various parts in order to discern between Christian truth and Christian culture — what is worth keeping and what is not. You may even find yourself in a season of faith renovation.
This is an important stage in our faith journey, although not everyone will need to go through this often-painful process. As I have gone through my own form of deconstruction and watched others do the same, it has become clear that there is much which needs to go. The rigid set of beliefs that have defined our specific brand of faith are not the secure foundation we once thought, but more like a house of cards just waiting for a slight breeze to send it toppling. The legalism, judgementalism, patriarchal systems, and poor Scriptural interpretations all need to be tossed out. As we do so, we also need to guard against tossing out the proverbial baby with them. I would never presume to tell anyone how to go about this process of deconstruction, but I also don’t want us to forget all that is good and worthy of holding onto.
To hear Scripture read, to have a gifted teacher or preacher explain the stories of our faith, to have memorized Bible verses as a child —these are all gifts that continue to shape our lives. To know the ancient stories and how they still speak, to have God’s words embedded in our hearts is to carry treasure within our bodies. They are available to us when we need encouragement, direction, and a reminder that we belong to a long line of ordinary people who fail and are still pursued and loved by God.
To hear blessings pronounced over us like these words from Numbers,
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”[i]
is to be endowed with a grace that cannot be measured. We need to hear those blessings spoken over us again and again, because we find it difficult to believe that God’s face shines on us, that we have His attention and attunement. We need others to speak true words over us and it is often those who sit in the pews alongside us or those who teach from the pulpit who do this. While we know there are some pastors who have used their platform to harm and control, there are still many who continue to offer spiritual nourishment for their people.
There is much to be grateful for if you, like me, have grown up in a church that taught us that we could come to God on our own — we can converse with the Creator of the Universe at each and every moment. To be taught that we have an accessible God is a gift not to be taken lightly nor tossed away.
How often have you talked through your problems with God, as you bring your “beefs” to Him and cry out for help? Who hasn’t petitioned Him to come to the aid of one whom we love? Even when we find ourselves angry and disappointed with God, we know we can still free to approach and lay it all out before Him. This teaching that God is not distant nor disinterested becomes an anchor when the storms of life rage. We may doubt that God hears, or scream at the sky in anger, but the persistent belief that our prayers are not wasted is a profound gift.
Deconstruction is not a bad word as some would have us believe. I think through this process we can find the goodness amidst the ruins. It is against the darkness of some of the abuses of power and warped theology that these threads of light and life become more visible and glorious. There is much work to be done personally and in our faith communities while at the same time there remains beauty, truth, and goodness.
What can you name from your faith tradition that still speaks of the beauty of Jesus’ way in the world?
[i] Numbers 6:24-26