Every day, it seems, there is a news article on faith deconstruction, focusing on individuals who have renounced or abandoned their Christian faith.
Perhaps you, or someone you know, are going through a deep season of doubt and introspection about faith.
I’ve had periods of doubting faith, wondering not only what I believed but why I believed it. Yet, my confidence grew stronger when I learned to embrace these seasons. I didn’t know it, but I was in the process of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about Faith Deconstruction.
1. No Universal Definition for Faith Deconstruction.
There is no universally accepted definition for faith deconstruction.
In recent years, faith deconstruction has become synonymous with a critical rejection of everything connected to a once-held faith.
Because of this association, many churches are reluctant to use the term.
But the actual practice of questioning one’s faith predates the deconstructing faith era by several millennia.
Moreover, the Bible repeatedly documents this deconstruction and reconstruction process through the stories of men and women of faith.
A significant portion of the Book of Psalms begins with the writers questioning their faith before finally acknowledging their renewed trust in God’s goodness.
2. Faith Deconstruction: A Working Definition.
A working definition is needed before we can discuss the issue. So how do we define Faith Deconstruction?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines deconstruction as breaking something down into separate parts to understand its meaning, especially when it is different from how it was previously understood.
I would define Faith Deconstruction as breaking down what one believes in light of what one experiences.
Often there is a tension that is inherent in faith.
For most people, the catalyst for examining faith is often a crisis. For example, something terrible happens, and we question why God allowed it. Or we have applied what we believe to be biblical truth without experiencing what we think it has promised.
3. Faith deconstruction: A Response To Church Hypocrisy.
Faith deconstruction is frequently a reaction to a church culture that does not reflect its teaching values.
Pastors are to be servants to God’s people, not wolves who use their position of power to fleece the sheep.
A church should be known for its unconditional love, not political views or public opposition to those who disagree with their faith.
The world is watching to see if our actions match our stated beliefs. So can you blame them for being skeptical?
4. Faith Deconstruction: Doubt is a part of a faith journey.
Faith Deconstruction recognizes the importance of dealing with doubt.
Doubt is normal. Everyone experiences seasons of doubt.
According to BARNA, questioning what you believe about religion or God is commonplace for most American adults who self-identify as Christian (or have in the past) (65%). Just over one-quarter (26%) say they still experience spiritual doubt, while four in 10 (40%) say they have experienced it in the past but have worked through it, and only about one-third (35%) claim to have never experienced it at all.
Doubt is a part of faith. Faith involves trust, not the certainty of an outcome.
God is not surprised by our doubt. The Psalms often begin with questioning their faith and usually resolve by affirming God’s goodness.
A god who is too small to handle your honest and most profound questions is no god.
An unexamined faith is often worthless and easily discarded when tested.
5. Faith Deconstruction Examines the Basis of One’s Beliefs.
Without a firm foundation, no building will remain standing. So, what is the foundation of our faith? Blind faith, tradition, cultural-based, intellectual, emotional, relational, or personal choice?
Our only secure foundation is the person, words, and life of Jesus.
6. A church can help or hinder those doubting their faith.
How we respond when people question their faith can be a source of help, comfort, or hindrance.
How we respond to people’s doubts also reveals something about our faith. Are we unwilling to ask honest questions about our faith?
Faith Reconstruction is the process of building or rebuilding an individual’s faith that has been damaged or destroyed.
7. Faith Deconstruction can lead to a stronger faith.
Don’t be discouraged if you are experiencing doubt.
Barna notes, “Spiritual doubt can be a powerful and formative experience, strengthening and bolstering faith. For more than half of those who have wrestled with doubt (53%), the time spent asking honest questions about what they believe about their religion or God made their faith stronger. For another three in 10 (28%), it had no effect at all. About one in 8 (12%) lost their faith entirely; a small minority (7%) say they held on to a weakened version of their faith.”
Not everyone who has deconstructed their faith leaves Christianity. Instead, some individuals examine their faith, confront their doubts, and, in the process, rebuild their trust in God on a firmer foundation.
If you want more on this topic, check out the Reconstructing Faith at Lifeway Research article.
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