Deconstructing Faith

Yesterday on Twitter, I noticed an author I read a lot of “liked” and commented on a tweet that said the following:

“I’m baffled by folks who claim that scripture is “clear”, “plain” or “black and white.” I mean – are we reading the same book? the Bible is a hot-complicated-gray-muddy-mess with one of the only clear things being the way God feels about His people – and really, that’s what gets me.”

There’s this trendy new thing in the cool kids’ circles of Christianity called ‘deconstructing.’ Like what restaurants do when they want to make your wedge salad look edgy, all the individual parts get deconstructed and placed on their own. A pile of bacon here, the lettuce over there, onions off to the side… you then get to re-construct it as you wish. I find it tedious and the opposite of edgy.

The folks who fashion themselves pretty smart and important have decided that it’s high time our faith gets a deconstruction of it’s own. Times are changing! Who are we to keep these archaic old systems in place? Like the childhood game of ‘telephone’, it’s been decided that the more you try and pass along God’s word, the more things get garbled and confused. Life is really hard, and if you aren’t questioning all the established systems, something is wrong with you. It’s the height of pride, they say to think we could or even should attempt to understand the Bible or take it at face value. Deconstruction offers a system in which we can pick and choose what we leave behind and what we take with us. Life is a journey y’all, and if you aren’t changing with the, you aren’t being true to yourself.

Back to this Twitter quote… the big thing she’s gleaned from the Bible is that God has some positive feeeeelings about His people. That’s it. If you’re convinced the God you serve loves you but is purposely muddying the waters, doesn’t that affect your heart just a little bit?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I think we can all agree that there are things we humans will never understand this side of heaven. I’d even say we aren’t meant to. Yes, God is big, we are small, and to say we have it all figured out is just as unhelpful as thinking we can’t know anything. There aren’t formulas to God, and life is certainly not black and white.

We are willfully turning our compass into a stumbling block.

On the surface, this kind of thinking leads to a helpless Christianity. We love Him, and believe He loves us, but what happens when we expect things to stay gray and muddy? They have a tendency to stay gray and muddy! But the entire trajectory of His word, from Old Testament to New, is the revelation of the truth to all people… not just scribes and scholars.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;  it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

When Moses handed down God’s commandments to Israel, they were expected to understand them and pass them down to their children. Jesus always affirmed scripture, conveying that the problem was a failure to believe it rather than an inability to understand it.

Do you see the importance of this? It’s because of our stubborn unbelief that things get cloudy. Here’s a classic example from Jen Hatmaker that I know will annoy some, I don’t mean to bead a dead horse, but I think is extremely important. And more like this is coming down the pipeline every day:

“I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices. For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice — sort of the white, male voice. I’m starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you’re either not welcome at all, or you’re welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life.”

“Wide and safe.” Jesus literally tells us that the path to the Kingdom is a narrow one and that the vast majority are going to choose the wider gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). This doesn’t mean Christianity is prejudiced, as she assumes. Can we underline and highlight this please? This is a false argument! I know it’s all the rage these days to talk about how awful we all are in this area, but this rhetoric is poison. Jesus told the people in the previous verses that everyone who asks receives, everyone who knocks will have the door opened to him. The narrow path is open to all who choose to come to Him, but not everyone will. The metaphor of the big wide open table is pulling at everyone’s heartstrings, but Jesus didn’t promote this. A seat at the table comes at a cost.

“Includes all our voices.” The problem with a lot of voices is, well, it’s a lot of voices. Nobody is trying to silence entire segments of the population, but Christians are to be deferring to the singular voice of God above all else and then going out to talk about it. I know that hurts people’s pride and the need to be heard or adored or popular… but God’s voice first. Not Jen Hatmaker or the well-meaning Bible study lady or the guy at Starbucks. This yearning she talks about to be included and heard would naturally shift to something infinitely better if she’d allow God to do the talking first. We want to go share the Good News, not our latest hot take on why that news is problematic.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Our Creator has never un-friended or un-welcomed us and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your experience and your life matter to Him. Yes, churches have been unwelcoming at times and that goes against God’s Word and character, but don’t confuse the issue and expect everyone to welcome your unrepentant sin to the party. Our SIN is not welcomed and never will be. It does not get a place at the table because it spoils the feast.

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17

Jesus says that we have to first want to do God’s will. He is absolutely capable of handling our questions, doubts and even our sin, but we have to take them to Him with the expectation that He has a solution. Do we really want to hear what He has to say? Or are we aiming for the approval of the masses? Doubt isn’t a sin, it’s not the same as unbelief, but given enough oxygen, it can become a monster. It leads us down weird paths and convinces us we need to ‘deconstruct’ something we may have never correctly understood in the first place.

Our journey isn’t ever static, we will go through change and doubt to be sure. God’s Word is stable and unchanging, but also very much alive and active through us. It may seem like a contradiction, but there is plenty of room on the narrow path for anyone who chooses to take it. Walking with Jesus on that path opens our eyes to greater truths than any human could ever conjure up.

And look at this ridiculous salad for heavens sakes… someone please put it back together.



13 thoughts on “Deconstructing Faith

  1. Brandon Adams says:

    Why does Christianity need to be simple?

    People aren’t. You spend a lifetime trying to figure out your friends and navigate around their peculiarities, but you still know enough to love them.

    Money isn’t. I don’t see anyone balking at the intricacies and temptations of that.

    Mechanical engineering isn’t. Yet society still relies on those who learn, and people spend five figures and years of their lives getting into the study without complaint.

    But somehow the Bible is supposed to exist on the level of a children’s coloring book, never challenging, never requiring growth?

  2. Julie (aka Cookie) says:

    it’s really not about deconstructing but more like complicating.
    I hate this trend in restaurants, take something good and try and get all artsy and trendy (this coming from an art teacher of all people)
    It’s that whole notion of if it ain’t broke, why fix it…deconstructed food is stupid.

    And then we think we can dumb down, deconstruct the Great I AM….paleeeeezzeee!

    Go chop that salad up my friend and keep God’s word HOLY!!!!

  3. Bruce says:

    Excellent post Shara! The reality of the Scriptures is that they are real every day living where real people can get waylaid and shift their allegiance from the true God to another, and of course, others don’t. When you read God’s Word, you have to be earnestly looking for Him, because it really is one on one, communing with one another. His revelation, His purpose, His love. When Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, that’s about as real as you can get, as is His resurrection. Rather than deconstructing, it is putting it all together so that the communion actually exists. Superficial looking, which is right up there with deconstructing, won’t provide that communion. I marvel at the “big pictures” that God gives us, especially over time, where His perspective gradually unfolds or becomes “visible” to our minds. I wasn’t aware of the “deconstruction” trend but it strikes me as kind of ironic that it is the exact opposite that binds us together. And the words of your article, articulate that reality, very well. Well done! Grace and blessings as always.

    • SharaC says:

      Thanks Bruce … you are so right, putting it all together and then seeing things more clearly over time is amazing. I think a lifetime of superficial leads to a lot of confusion and disillusionment. It’s a bunch of daily decisions to be obedient and faithful that add up to a fulfilling relationship. It is ironic that people think by taking things apart they could be make whole… have a great one!

  4. lynnabbott says:

    Thank you! I’m so saddened by the drift away from verse by verse teaching and Truth in favor of making Christianity somehow more “relatable.” Sigh. And Scripture is not “messy.” But the human race is fallen. Sigh. So good to tead your solid, Biblical post. Thank you again! ☺️💜

  5. Deb Palmer says:

    Loved this Shara! I like your explanation so much better than the quote: “…there are things we humans will never understand this side of heaven. I’d even say we aren’t meant to. Yes, God is big, we are small, and to say we have it all figured out is just as unhelpful as thinking we can’t know anything. There aren’t formulas to God, and life is certainly not black and white.
    When I don’t understand the word, I take comfort knowing He will reveal the meaning in His time.
    Thanks for a great post.

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