I have a shed in my backyard. The shed is older than I am. I’m thirty-seven, so you can imagine the state of my shed. The walls are dry-rotted. The floor’s caving in. The door doesn’t shut. Every time I watch tv, that eye sore of a shed stares at me, and I stare back, and I tell it to enjoy its final days in my backyard and its smirks and says, “You don’t have the guts.”
I do have the guts, though. I plan on deconstructing that shed in the near future.
And I will enjoy every second of the dismantling process. I’m going to buy the largest sledgehammer Home Depot has to offer and puncture the hideous structure over and over until it falls to the earth. I might even recruit my two boys to take a couple of whacks. And when I load the final shard of wood onto my trailer and transport the remnants to the dump, I will look at the pad where my eye sore of a shed once stood and smile. Good riddance.
Unfortunately, the attitude I have about my shed is the same one many people have about their faith. Deconstruction, to many, is a detached, flippant, throw-a-grenade-in-the-thing-and-walk-away attitude towards faith. That’s why I don’t like the word. It’s void of feeling, of connection.
When you say it, deconstruction, you feel the void, don’t you? I do.
What’s happening to your relationship with God is more like a cocooning than a dismantling. More a changing of states than a pile of rubble. You aren’t losing your faith as much as you are re-membering it.
And, look, I get it. Deconstruction is hard. It’s disorienting. Embarrassing. You were so sure, so certain. About God. About Jesus. About church. You were ho-humming along, content and happy and zealous.
Then something happened. Another Christian wounded you. Someone you love breathed their last. You got cancer or a chronic illness. Life pulled the metaphorical rug from underneath your feet, leaving you on flat on your back, writhing in spiritual pain. And there’s hardly a more agonizing pain. Spiritual pain sees inflammation and broken bones as child’s play. Spiritual pain goes straight to your core and threatens to infect your soul. It’s not content with bones. It consumes your whole being.
The goal of deconstruction, though, isn’t to leave God behind. The goal isn’t to funeral your faith. The goal is to re-imagine it. God isn’t the one dying. Your faulty, unhealthy God-images are dying. Your attachments to certainty and rigidity.
When you deconstruct your faith, you’re not moving further away from God. Your drawing nearer to Him. And as you draw near to something who’s love is so immense, you have no choice but to change.
And as you change, something new begins to emerge. Your theology is no longer oppositional. It doesn’t derive its power from being against something. You also don’t need to be liked. You’re free. Free to follow where the Spirit leads.
After years of cocooning, of reshaping, reworking my ideas about God and Jesus and church, I’m beginning to settle on a new theology. I want to share that theology with you.
Here is a Reconstructionist’s Creed.
We believe that God is alive and active in our world.
We believe in a personal universe where the divine image shines through ALL things.
We believe no single person or group or religion has a stranglehold on God. God is Truth, and Truth exists outside the bounds of theology and doctrines.
We believe Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn of Creation, the Word that was with God in the beginning. Nothing in the Bible or outside of it contradicts the Son of God.
We believe the Son of God came to earth and died on a cross to expose our broken systems, to show us that non-violent resistance is the only answer to humanity’s problem of escalating violence. The cross is the salvation of the world. The death of Jesus released the stranglehold of sin by revealing its modus operandi: scapegoating. We change the world by changing ourselves.
We believe in Original Goodness. We’re created in the image of God. We aren’t inherently broken or sinful or separated from God. God’s face is turned towards us.
We believe God is generational. The decisions we make today impact the generations of tomorrow. We must steward our minds and hearts, our communities and creation. Our personal and communal growth is not for us alone, but also for our children and grandchildren.
We believe that heaven and hell are present realities, not future destinations. God gives us freedom, the power to choose, life or death, blessings or curses. Right now, in this very moment, we can experience True Life.
We believe that God is just and loves justice. God stands with the oppressed and against the oppressor, and as the hands and feet of God on earth, we will not rest until every oppressive and dehumanizing system has been dismantled.
We believe the church is the reflection of God on earth. The church exists, not as a collection of ideas or an institution or a compilation of brick and mortar, but as the living, breathing extension of the Divine. The church exists wherever love abounds and broken lives find healing and anxious hearts find peace. The church exists to reflect the image of God and for the redemption of humanity.
We believe God uses everything. Even our sin. Especially our sin. We don’t need to run from the darkness or wallow in shame. We remain in the presence of God and trust he will transform our transgressions.
We believe the Bible reveals the evolving narrative of God’s relentless pursuit of humanity. The Bible isn’t a roadmap to eternity. It is a collection of stories about how to be human.
We believe Love is the final and ultimate and definitive quality of God. All theology and doctrines must be filtered through love. Words that do not heal are not from God.
The beautiful thing about this creed is that it’s fluid. It’s evolving. On this side of reconstruction, the goal of walking with God isn’t certainty or certitude. It’s change. You have no choice but to change in the presence of the Divine. So, I will look at this creed in a year or so and some of these statements will feel outdated. I will add one or two here. Take away one there. And that’s okay.
I pray you find hope in this creed. More than that, though, I pray you find hope in the God to whom this creed describes.
Grace and peace, friends.