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Deconstructing or Destroying?

I was recently listening to the Faith and Feminism podcast, Episode 177 about Deconstruction. The author and host Meghan Tschanz interviews Amanda Waldron, a faith deconstruction and reconstruction coach. In this episode, Meghan tells a bit of her story, which involves being rejected from her church community when she admitted she voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016. Her family and church friends believed that evangelical Christians should support Donald Trump. Feeling that her values differed from her community started her on the path to deconstructing her personal beliefs.

Exvangelical is a name for those who previously were evangelical Christians and now are not. My childhood was in the mainline protestant church, and later I attended evangelical groups and churches for various periods. Each has a community and style of worship that I appreciate. The church I currently attend is a mainline protestant congregation with an evangelical orientation. Much of what I write aligns with the exvangelical movement. The exvangelical movement was created in 2016 and allows people who were hurt by the Evangelical Church to find solidarity and comfort. Many are angry or sorrowful at beung hurt by the Christian church. Some speak out against the power and hierarchy of the evangelical church, casting light on sexism, racism, spiritual abuse, #patriarch #abuse #churchtoo #Authoritarianism #ChurchOrCult and the narrow definitions of Biblical Womanhood and biblical Manhood. Exvangelicals who have not become agnostics or atheists may be looking for faith groups that better suit them.

Deconstruction is related to the exvangelical movement. Those who leave the church (or feel unwelcome) often deconstruct their faith. Faith deconstruction is the process of questioning and taking apart an idea, practice, traditions, belief or system into smaller components, in order to examine its foundation, truthfulness, usefulness and impact. Deconstructing may involve expressing doubt in certain teachings and traditional biblical interpretations. Its looking back at existing beliefs and forward at new ones.

The established church criticizes deconstruction because those in this process may reject certain church policies, traditions, structures, or Bible interpretations. Church leaders may say the concerns of exvangelicals are not valid and therefore failed to address their concerns. There is a fear and risk that the deconstruction process may destroy your faith and reject Christianity or the Christian church. The church has largely avoided admitting errors or being accountable. Others think of deconstruction as a way to work out their personal beliefs in a way that feels authentic and true. Reconstruction is rebuilding your personal beliefs and usually, it involves the use of alternative traditions and biblical interpretations. I believe this is consistent with the biblical instruction to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). My writing encourages readers to examine tough topics and work out what they believe using a variety of biblical interpretations so that they can find healing and hope. Having a genuine, personal faith is responding to the call to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

I have put together a summary of some so.e church responses to the movement and reasons people leave the church as well as how those deconstructing have responded.

Evangelical Church:

Exvangelicals /Deconstruction:

Church hurt: this could be sexual harassment, sexual abuse, abuse of power, or exclusion from full participation in areas such as leadership

Church hurt: leaders who have caused hurt show no regret, have not changed policies that exclude and give less respect or freedom to certain groups

Poor teaching: leaving the church because of poor teachings regarding faith and science or inadequate response to the problems of evil and pain in the world

Poor teaching: abandoning the church because it continues to teach anti-LGBTQ, anti-women in leadership, Hell is eternal torment, nationalism, white supremacy

Desire to sin: those leaving the church are immoral and don't want to follow biblical teaching; they want to justify their sin (affair, sex before marriage, drug/alcohol addiction, porn, gay)

Desire to avoid sin: witnessing sexual abuse, racism in the church; church members bullying gays, those living common-law, those who are divorced, those who are addicted; disappointed with religious leaders having marital affairs while insulting others; lack of empathy and love

Street Credibility: it's popular to have doubts in a culture that is hostile to Christians; deconstructionists have lost their faith and been influenced by the world

Incredibility: doubts and questions replied with pat answers instead of authentic experiences; rejected and disrespected due to different biblical interpretations

Ignorant about what the Bible teaches

Knowledge about what the Bible teaches; can no longer believe the doctrines upheld by egoist greed-driven patriarchs

Never really were Christians; didn't know God.

Christians whose desire for a deeper, real relationship with God was not met by the church and our questions were not answered.

Straying from biblical message of salvation through grace and overemphasizing works; making progressive social causes more foundational than evangelism and spreading the good news

Holding to the biblical message of salvation through grace and being called to act justly: address LGBTQ suicide rates with love instead of shame and blame, address the high prison rate and murder rate of minorities instead of supporting racist systems, help refugees instead of keeping them out, address negative impact of colonization instead of doing charitable mission trips

Wandered off the path of the fruits of the spirit

Stayed on the path of the fruits of the spirit

Deconstructionists do not believe the Bible, its inerrancy and truth, or use it as a guide for living

Do believe the Bible and use it as a guide for living; believe discussion and non-traditional interpretations can help us understand God's true message

#amwriting #HistoricalFiction Forgotten Followers (From Broken to Bold Book 1) Mara is broken by abuse, Joanna by racism. Both become bold #2022release #empoweringwomen #inspirational #biblicalfiction It shows Jesus encouraging, educating, empowering, and equipping women as disciples, speakers and leaders. It embraces biblical themes of love, inclusion and acceptance. Jesus called women to be patrons, disciples, and apostles. Just as the women in my novel overcome brokenness and become bold, you can too. May my writing bring you peace, healing, and hope.

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