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Deconstruction Part 1

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I’ve been finding out a lot about “deconstruction”. Under Social Media’s newish discovery algorithm, if you show interest in something, similar stuff will be keep on being shown to you. So, once I showed interest in deconstruction, I entered a world of exevangelicals, even #exvangelical. These are generally people who are questioning the American-style conservative evangelical Christianity that they grew up in. And online they are doing it with all the well-honed skills, fervour, and energy of their evangelical past.

Deconstruction leads in two directions – abandonment of faith, or at least faith in God, and alternatively, abandonment of church, or at least the style of church they grew up in, but clinging and deepening attachment to the God revealed in Jesus.

This is an excellent example of the former:

The above person is anonymous on that platform and currently seeks to continue that, so I choose to honour that in this context even though I know who she is because her writing, and so forth, about her journey out of her toxic conservative evangelical past and her helping others also on that journey, is very well known in a different context.

In this post, I want to primarily affirm the issues that those who are deconstructing are highlighting. Just, in praying Morning Prayer this morning, there were problematic and conflicting texts in the Canticle (from Exodus); on Instagram last night, I saw an evangelist cheered by a crowd as he used a story of an artist purchasing a disheveled painting as an allegory of Jesus buying us – buying us from whom?

As I got into this, I wondered (online) if “deconstruction” was more a term amongst evangelicals – or was it a common term/understanding amongst Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Episcopalians. One response was that Catholics simply use the term “lapsed”. Another was from an Orthodox person who wrote a blog post in response to my questioning, and castigated me for not defining what “deconstruction” meant when I asked the question – so, no, in Orthodoxy, “deconstruction” does not seem to be a common term, at least not in the way being used in this post.

I would be further interested in helpful critiques of James Fowler’s Stages of Faith – when I brought deconstruction up online and connected it with Fowler’s stages, there was a stream of people who were surprised I still referenced Fowler’s stages. I will possibly oversimplify when I describe his Stage 3 as believing what the highest authority presents (I believe this because the Pope says so, or because the Bible says so, because my pastor says so, because my dad says so,…) Stage 4, then, would be sorting through this given backpack of beliefs, keeping what I find a reality in my life, discarding what I don’t, and adding new things that weren’t in the backpack previously that I find a reality in my life now. But this stage still holds that what I believe is THE truth – and what is a reality in my life should be a reality in yours. Stage 5 is the realisation that different expressions are equally valid. Between each stage there is often a crisis. It seems to me that those who are deconstructing are finding their Stage 3 (or Stage 4) is shattering.

I intend to continue this thread in a future blog post. For now I will highlight (as the video above already does) that the critiquing of Christianity actually uses the person and teaching of Jesus as a ruler against which those who claim to follow Jesus fall short. As well as implicitly affirming Jesus, there is also the affirmation that there is truth – something that goes back into the Judeo-Christian heritage. I also note, at this stage, that the concept of God presented is generally of “A being” (one that we could add to other things increasing the number of things by 1) rather than “Being”. In all this, I’m already pointing that classic orthodox/catholic traditions have grappled with these issues, and that deconstruction can be followed by reconstruction. But, in the meantime, my primary focus of this particular post is to highlight that Christianity has significant issues in the areas of doctrine, discipline, and ethics. And challenging these issues, both from within and without, is justified. And necessary.

Deconstruction Part 2 is here.

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2 thoughts on “Deconstruction Part 1”

  1. Good morning. I must admit, I’d not heard the term ‘deconstruction’ until I saw it on your post today. My own ‘take’ is that all of us, if we’re truly honest, go through a life long process of appraising and reconsidering aspects of our faith, atiitudes, and questions as to how its ‘nuts and bolts’ hold together – and it is one aspect of how we grow as Christians and as people. Questioning and facing honest doubts are the essential tools for growing in faith, and accepting that we never will know all the answers. I’ve been reflecting on the SSM business a lot recently, and concluded that respect for human feelings is more important – for me – than complying with very academic rules and dogmas (But then I’m a layman, not a vicar, and don’t have the pastoral issues to face.) The con/evan mindset seems afraid to question or rethink; everything is set in concrete, and the version coming from America is particularly unreal – Bethel Church have come up with a real corker just recently that defies logic, belief or medical likelihood for example. I’ve actually found more help, deepening my faith in God’s sovereign creation through listening to Brian Cox than some US evans…… indeed, Brian seems far closer to the truth. So I’m probably somewhere around stage 5, and still working on it. I’ll be interested to see what other responses and thoughts you get. God bless

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