This reflection marks the official launch of our 2022 “Doubt, Deconstruction & Redemption” Series. We have always sought to offer care, companionship, and resources to those wrestling with their faith. Now that “deconstruction” has become something of a cultural phenomenon in the American church, we felt led to enter this ongoing conversation by offering programs, conversations, and resources specially crafted to care for those on the deconstruction journey or those caring for someone on that journey. You can see some examples of those below. We hope you’ll join us along the way!
Friends, this week we take the first steps on this year’s journey of exploring “Doubt, Deconstruction & Redemption.” For the purposes of this piece, my simple take on deconstruction (applied specifically to the current Christian expression of it in America) is that it is the thoughtful, honest, and serious evaluation and questioning of one’s current beliefs in God, the Christian faith, and the Church. Or put another way, it’s taking the time and effort to ask and explore really good questions about really important things.
Throughout Coracle’s 10 years of ministry, we have seemed to draw Christians who are hungry for more of God, are very thoughtful about their faith, and ask a lot of challenging questions– precisely because they are hungry for God and very thoughtful. Through retreats, spiritual direction, the Fellows program, and now “Essential Christianity,” we frequently accompany people who are doubting aspects of their faith or even doubting God. We aren’t the only ministry in this space, but it is still a profound privilege to be given such trust.
Engaging what is now a cultural phenomenon called “deconstruction” is both natural and joyful for us. Helping someone hold on to God while they are seriously evaluating their faith and devotion, knowing God is holding onto them, feels sacred in a hushed, quiet sort of way. And we realize stepping into this conversation matters to accomplish our mission, “to inspire and enable people to be the presence of God in the brokenness of the world through Spiritual Formation for Kingdom Action.”
Deconstruction is a Spiritual Formation issue most simply because it’s hard to be formed into Christ, to be a “little Christ,” if a person no longer believes in Christ. Also, if we’re unable to find a way to explore our doubts about God with God, our doubts can keep us from God and God can begin to feel increasingly distant when he’s actually always present. I’m so glad God’s existence and loving presence doesn’t require my belief in it or experience of it to be real!
Deconstruction is a Kingdom Action issue because it’s the presence of the Holy Spirit in us that gives us God’s power to do God’s healing and redemptive work in the world, and God’s power is so much more effective than ours! Better things happen for others when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and faith is a prerequisite for that filling. Also, scrutinizing expressions of the Christian faith and tradition in order to free them from cultural (or any) baggage that obscures the Christian message is crucial for both Christian witness and evangelism, and sharing the gospel is definitely Kingdom Action.
We have several hopes for this yearlong series:
- Encouragement & Companionship: A lot of folks are asking deep questions about their Christian faith and tradition, and we believe this is a good thing but not without complexity, consequence, or danger. We want to be as helpful as we can to anyone asking big questions in this season. Further, such a journey can be a lonely one, and we’re happy to walk alongside as we’re able, or at least encourage you that you’re not alone. We’re just doing what we’ve always done, creating space for people to be honest about their doubts and finding God along the way.
- Resources: You might be walking alongside someone who might describe themselves as “deconstructing” or are doing that without using this term or may have never heard of it! We want to provide resources for you.
- Experiences of Beautiful Jesus: Deeply, we want to continue joyfully engaging and offering the beauty and truth that is Jesus and the glorious reality and invitation that is the Kingdom of God and point people to him and it! As I wrote here, it is a particularly frustrating loss when that which is most beautiful becomes most obscured. This is particularly true when we’re talking about something as beautiful as the Christian gospel and the Kingdom of God, and some One as beautiful as God and Jesus himself.
- Redemption: Lastly, the title for this theme this year is “Doubt, Deconstruction & Redemption.” Redemption is a much stronger word than reconstruction. Reconstruction implies something that has been taken apart and then built back to what it formerly was, or something that has been merely fixed after having been broken. Redemption implies something that is actually better for having gone through whatever destruction needed redeeming, something that is actually different. Reconstruction might be something we do, redemption is what God does. My own personal experience again and again over many years is that when I’ve taken the time to seriously question something about the Christian faith, my faith has come out much stronger on the other side. In fact, asking those questions led me to more of God. More on that on Friday and throughout the year!
We hope you’ll join us, and in the next several weeks there are several opportunities to do so…
I look forward to hosting a handful of these spaces for honest, informal, respectful conversation throughout the year. We have done these in the past, and it has been such a blessing to hear and learn from so many of you. I hope this will give you a chance to reflect on what the Lord has been doing these past few years, and to be encouraged by the stories of other fellow pilgrims on the Journey with God!
We are thrilled to be hosting what I believe will be a very helpful conversation to help all of us better understand the nuanced dynamics at play in the “deconstruction movement.” Our excellent panel consists of an experienced pastor and a distinguished academic, and I look forward to learning from their perspectives! I hope you’ll join us for “A Closer Look at Deconstruction.”
Finally, starting on March 24th we are thrilled to be offering another 9-week journey through the “Essential Christianity” Online Course! While this course really is for anyone, we found it was particularly helpful for those feeling weary and/or disillusioned in their faith. If you’re hungry for an inspiring reminder of the expansive beauty of the Christian story and life, I hope you’ll join us!