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Deconstructing our faith 



Is deconstruction another word for back sliding? My faith has been strengthened by the questioning of the assumptions I grew up with, writes Michael Shaw - and I welcome the deconstruction process  



Deconstruction

 

Recently two prominent Christians have announced on social media that their faith is on the rocks, Joshua Harris who wrote the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye; prompting a response from Premier Christianity that linked mental health breakdown in pastors with deconstruction of theology. More recently Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson said that “No one talks about it” to a number of key theological problems, while announcing his struggle with faith.
 
Over the last few years a number of people, all in their late 20s and early 30s have approached me to open up about the fact that they think they are losing their faith. But often they are not losing the faith in Jesus and God, but in the limited ideas of God that they had been taught. Two of them said they were going through a process of deconstruction, and both were surprised by my positive reaction to that statement. Both expected, like some of their friends that I would panic, that they were backsliding.
 
I always struggled with the limited version of God I was taught be my fairly conservative charismatic home church. I remember as a student questioning my fellow CU members why we had to believe in a literal understanding of Genesis 1 and 2. I wrote my dissertation on the role the church has played in silencing the voices of women because I wondered why my church said that women could not preach or be elders.
 
After meeting with Steve Chalke many years ago, I read the book that he gave me The Lost Message of Jesus and began to ask questions as to the image of God we have created through our soteriology. I read Brian McLaren’s New Kind of Christian, and just found myself in the character of the doubting pastor's questions.
 
My faith has been strengthened by the questioning of the assumptions I grew up with, and rather than losing it, I have found my faith becoming deeper and richer. So I welcome this deconstruction process because I have seen how, in my experience, it has saved my faith. I am a better pastor and a better Christian because those assumptions have been challenged.
 
God is way bigger than our trite answers, he is way bigger than the box we try and force him into. So my job is to allow people to explore God, to ask big questions. In my experience, the result is not the end of faith but growth in faith.

 


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Michael Shaw is minister of Devonport Community Baptist Church in Plymouth



 



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Baptist Times, 19/08/2019
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