By: Tania Harris
In the church of late, deconstruction seems to be the latest trend. Young people in particular, are asking questions about issues like the Bible’s reliability, belief in Heaven and hell, violence in the Old Testament and Christian teachings on sexuality.
Some of them are losing their faith as a result.
How do we respond to this? Here are some things to remember if you or someone you know is going through a process of deconstruction:
First of all, it’s helpful to consider why this is happening. Think about the big picture. The deconstruction trend of our times is partly a product of life in the modern West. Here, our education system teaches students to think critically, ask questions and not to blindly accept ideas at face value.
In an earlier era, people accepted faith without question. You were literally “born into” a religion and went to church as a matter of course. Understandably, newer generations haven’t viewed this as authentic, preferring instead to seek their own faith journeys. Perhaps they’ve understood more clearly that faith cannot be inherited and requires an individual response before God. Viewed this way, deconstruction is a positive step forward away from hypocrisy and towards truth.
Second, in the journey of faith, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. God is neither afraid of or surprised by our questions. All throughout history, people have debated issues like the ones we see today. We lose when we shut the conversation down. As Jesus said, the Spirit is here to lead us into truth (John 16:13), and ultimately truth sets us free (John 8:32). We should never be afraid to pursue it.
Third, we need to learn from other traditions in a spirit of humility. I was raised in a conservative Protestant church, and later began meeting people from other traditions. This exposed me to teachings beyond my circle and into the traditions of other Protestant denominations as well as the Catholic and Orthodox Church. There I discovered new angles that I had not seen before. It didn’t mean I always agreed with them, but now I had a far broader perspective which enabled me to approach the issues with grace, understanding and humility. I realised that I’m not the first person to ask these questions and I won’t be the last. Sometimes my position has changed; sometimes it has stayed the same.
When we look beyond our traditions, we learn that Christianity is a very broad stream. All throughout history, Christians have debated the hot topics. Whether it’s the nature of baptisms, the sacraments, gender issues, creation, the nature of the bible or the role of the church, there’s very few topics that are “new”. History also teaches us that we can get it wrong – we have before and will again. We learn to stay with the fundamentals and show grace with the secondary issues.
Finally our pursuit of truth needs to start and end with Jesus. Jesus is the complete and full image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) and the exact likeness of his being (Heb. 1:3). His teaching and actions form the core of the Christian faith. In him we find the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). From Jesus, we learn that the basics are consistent and rather simple. Love God and love others (Matt. 22:37-40). Seek God’s kingdom of love, joy and peace above all else (Matt. 6:33). When our starting point is Jesus, we will never lose the foundation of our faith, on whom every issue rests. In him, there is truth, freedom and clarity. My prayer is that in the midst of questions and doubts, we’ll always have the courage to seek God with an open heart, starting with God’s perfect revelation in Jesus.
Article supplied with thanks to God Conversations.
About the Author: Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker, author and the founder of God Conversations.