Posted in coaching

deconstructing faith

Following Jesus has never been easy. I’m sure we all have some questions we’ll want to ask Jesus when we see him face-to-face!

For a growing number of young Christians, deconstruction has become vogue (mainly on social media). By “deconstruction” they basically mean: “the process of critically reexamining one’s beliefs to discover a more authentic faith.”

This process is nothing new. Scripture calls deconstruction “doubt.”

How does Jesus respond to doubters? Peter was repeatedly prone to doubt; but when he was literally sinking in doubt, Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him” (Matt 14:31). Then there’s doubting Thomas, of course. Did Jesus rebuke him? No, he asked Thomas to come close and touch him (John 20:24-29).

Look at the most common reasons people give for deconstructing their faith. What do you notice?

  • Experiencing personal trauma
  • Disappointment with church
  • Frustration with theological contradictions and trite answers
  • Annoyance with hypocrisy among Christians
  • Chastisement from asking questions and doubting
  • Church burnout (especially among pastors)

Some are having a crisis of faith. Some are hurt or disillusioned. Some are crying out for a safe place to wrestle and reflect. Some are simply drained.

How can we help? A good place to start is to buy them coffee and talk with them about their concept of faith.

For many Christians, “faith” is primarily a supra-rational feeling. Of course, emotions are valid cries of the soul; but when “faith” is driven by emotions, it is vulnerable to every change in circumstance. Living in a broken world requires a faith that is a “sure and steadfast anchor” for the soul (Heb 6:19-20).

For others, “faith” is primarily propositional statements. Of course, “sound doctrine” is essential (1 Tim 4:6; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10); but when “faith” is mere information, it is vulnerable to being all “head” and no heart. Living in a broken world requires a faith that transforms from the inside out.

I find it interesting that Jesus just says, “Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Seems so simple and yet so profound. Have faith in God himself. Jesus said that such faith is like building your house on the rock. When the rain falls and the floods come and the wind blows and beats on your house, it doesn’t fall “because it’s founded on the rock” (Matt 7:24:25). God-based faith is rock-solid because it’s centered on Christ, the rock of our salvation.

If you’re going to deconstruct your faith, “Start with the real historical earthly Jesus,” says NT Wright, “and your God will come running down the road to meet you, deeply attractive … deeply challenging in his transforming embrace.” Wright goes on to say, “My proposal is not that we understand what the word ‘god’ means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew, possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the Temple, and dying on a Roman cross—and that we somehow allow our meaning for the word ‘god’ to be recentered around that point.”

Always remember, Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2). He isn’t done building his church (Matt 16:18)!