As Christian trends go, you can’t get more trendy than saying you’re deconstructing your faith. But for me, it doesn’t sound right.
The concept of Deconstructing Your Faith continues to gain popularity in modern Christianity. It’s not just for the young. Many of us in middle age are embracing it after spending years in the church.
For those who don’t fully understand it, let me point to a good working definition. I found this in Relevant magazine, and it credits the three-step summary to Richard Rohr, the Christian leader they say popularized the term.
- Construction – building your belief system and worldview
- Deconstruction – challenging that worldview and subsequent beliefs
- Reconstruction – rebuilding a new, more holistic set of beliefs and worldview
If you subscribe to this model, it’s that middle step you must find to be the messiest.
Most of us, after all, “construct” our faith slowly over time. We build elements of it piece by piece as we learn new details about the character of God. Sometimes, it might take us 20, 30, even 40 years or more to reach a point where we might reasonably say the construction phase is largely over. At that point, we operate within the confines of the construction. Despite the famous verse, we do tend to rely on our understanding of God based on the construction of our faith that hopefully has been informed through a great deal of learning.
After deconstruction, we reconstruct. We rebuild an even better-informed faith based on what we like to think is an even better-informed notion of who God is and who God is not.
Usually, it seems to me people who have gone through the reconstruction phase come away with a more peace-loving, gentle God. That can be quite different from the angry, vengeful God some of us might have learned about when we were younger from people desperately seeking to control our every move.
But that deconstructing phase can be a big deal.
“Every other week, it seems, there is new buzz about the next prominent Christian influencer that is renouncing their faith and stepping into a new life,” the Relevant article states.
And as I read it, I hear a little voice in the back of my mind saying, “This is not an airport, and you don’t need to announce your departure.”
Deconstruction can often involve a lot of drama. The phase usually begins with some kind of emotional trauma. A life event catches you off guard. Suddenly you feel that maybe God doesn’t have a plan to prosper you after all.
Or a church leader — or church body — lets you down when you need them most.
Or, maybe you wake up one day and realize you need to rethink some things.
As a result, those in the Deconstructing Your Faith club start demolishing everything they thought they knew about the Almighty.
Yes, I make jokes. But I guess that’s because I look at the process a little differently.
My faith doesn’t seem to need deconstruction.
Maybe I’m lucky. Or maybe I’m somehow more wise than anyone would ever believe, including me.
Over the years, my personal experience prompted some deconstruction. But my faith still stands on a solid foundation. Maybe I constructed it pretty well from the beginning.
In my case, it was my view of church, not faith, that needed some renovation. Things I should have known or realized about church remained under the radar.
Church is a business. It operates like a business. Many Christians don’t wish to admit that. Most of us aren’t in a position to ever see the business side of things. But some of us wind up there. Somehow, while we may understand subconsciously that churches must operate in that manner, we don’t ever ponder that fact.
When we see it in the flesh, so to speak, that can change our view of what church is.
And the people in churches who’ve let me down did not do so because of my perception of God or my faith. They did so because of my perception of their role in church and the associated importance I felt that should carry.
When things went south, it wasn’t because I possessed an unreasonable faith.
As I rethink what I think church is, could be and even should be, my faith is perfectly intact.
Like I said, maybe I’m just lucky.