Explorations in Theology

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A very smart post

From time to time I read a post that is equally smart as mine are… what an arrogant statement I hear you say, but read on… and I often read posts that are way smarter than mine. (From time to time probably means inside my little head.) Here is one that is way smarter than one I could write by Tim Suttle who pastors a church in Kansas, USA.

A couple of quotes in there, one from Stanley Hauerwas that was a bit of reminder to me:

Anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshipping an idol.

Then in the article itself he critiques the use of the word ‘deconstruction’, simply suggesting that

Deconstruction, in the popular sense of that word, should be a normal aspect of growth toward maturity. In a less insecure era we would just call it: discipleship.

10 thoughts on “A very smart post

  1. Hi Martin, I have much respect for Mr Hauerwas and I’m sure there is much context around his quote that we are not seeing here, but to expect a narrative that is >2,000 years old to go unattacked and unprotected is a bit of a pipe dream surely.

    I know I know the Holy Spirit will ultimately have his way regardless of the plans of men etc etc and God doesnt need my help, but surely everytime Jesus stood up and said “you have heard it said, but I tell you” or everytime Paul dictated a letter to a church group somewhere they were doing so as a corrective to what they saw as a distortion of the true narrative.

    Just because the Pope picked the wrong fight with Galileo over the flatness or otherwise of the earth, doesn’t mean that Godly men and women shouldn’t seek actively to bring a narrative back on track surely. It was such a spirit that gave us our creeds and it is such a spirit (I hope) that lies behind your excellent blog

    PS please don’t take these comments as a defence of Calvin. I have no dog in that fight

    blessings, Nigel

    1. Thanks Nigel… I have not read the quote in context from Mr. H, but presume it is not a simple ‘never defend faith in God’ kind of statement, but when we get defensive over our view of, or our (pet) beliefs in God. I think your phrase ‘distortion of the true narrative’ is a good guideline.

  2. I’m not sure what happens after deconstruction…most of my experience there led me to the wilderness…and If you deconstruct wilderness you just end up with “wilder”.

    “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.”

    No one told me the foreign land would be one I grew up in.

    Very smart article, thanks for sharing.

  3. Yes thanks Martin. Deconstruction is something I’ve been pondering recently – without knowing what it was called. I’ve been reading Brian Zahnd’s new book ‘When Everything’s on Fire’ subtitled Faith Forged From The Ashes. Chapter 2 is called Deconstructing Deconstruction. (Chapter 3 talks about Derrida and his work a bit).
    His point, and mine here, is that when deconstructing faith in fundamentalism, people often chuck out not only their Christian faith but also Jesus. Their belief system holds them so strongly, they often can’t see Jesus within it and so when discarding that system, people often discard Jesus too. This isn’t necessary.
    Zahnd uses this phrase which I find helpful: “A dark night of deconstruction CAN be followed by a new dawn of renewed faith.” Anyone who has passed through this fire knows this (and Brian Zahnd better than most). We realise – again to use his words – that “parts of our theological house may have to undergo some deconstruction as part of a massive remodel…but it can lead to a new beginning.”
    So deconstruction can lead directly to reconstruction and restoration on better and stronger foundations through the “beauty that saves the world” – Jesus.
    Thankful for people like Brian Zahnd and you who help us navigate the tempestuous waters we are currently sailing in.

  4. I have been reading and working through ‘Faith Shift’ by Kathy Escobar (per your recommendation Martin), and this article partners with my processing of my own current ‘deconstruction’ (or dark night of the soul) time.
    I have seen my experience of faith, theological beliefs and church community involvement change many times. I have changed. My age and circumstances have changed. My experiences have changed me, especially through illnesses in both physical and mental health. Jesus is still there with me even though at times I cannot ‘feel’ him and I am currently missing the felt presence of the Holy Spirit, yet still believe He/she is with me.
    I don’t have ability to understand all the theological discussions that are going on, (some are above my skill set and ‘pay grade’!) but feel in the company of those who are seeking for that ‘something more’ of God, which has drawn me many times into new revelations and sustained me in my life journey. And never been boring…!
    Thanks Martin and all commentators.

    1. Thanks Sharman… the beauty of it all is there is so much above our ‘pay grade’, and always someone smarter / can present material that we do not grasp. When a lot is stripped away the presence of the Holy Spirit remains so real, maybe becomes more real. Glad we are not graded on our understanding!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. Deconstruction,I’ve been doing it for years,piece by piece ,but more in the last two.I’m truly grateful for the other comments and those who consider it healthy.I picked up a podcast from Kathy Escobar,mentioned by Sharman.She shares on some very real issues that surround us as we deconstruct
    So I began( this is now me) by a lack of connection in meetings,conversations and I took bits from what I had understood,looked long and hard discarding those that were no longer helpful or meaningful.So it’s easy to panic a little or a lot listening to the whispers that you’re on your way to hell in a hand basket .Guilt.I try reconstructing,but the pieces don’t fit so easily and look out of place.Because I have been nudged,woken from complacency whatever mystery has caused this to happen.Uncomfortable as it has been at times.I could sit with regret or continue to move deconstructing on the way.but in the process more light shows through where I removed a brick or two.I think I can live with that.

  6. ‘Deconstruction’? Its a trend. Who knew? I feel like back to the future. Like I just stepped back over 20 years to architecture school when Derrida was the ‘in’ philosopher. I guess I was ahead of things.

    I do like the article’s list of why people are stepping away. I can certainly affirm a fair number of those influenced me, again 20 years ago. I could not bear going to church to hear Christians shout their love for their children and then do nothing about climate change. Baffled me, a childless single woman. How could they sit at the dinner table and look their children in the eyes. I could not figure it out. Since then so many more reasons have come forward. Which begs the question. . . why would anyone stay? If I am more moral than the church and the god they propagate then there is a huge problem. But that was why I left. Their god was immoral.

    I guess I deconstructed. Have I reconstructed? No. Still waffling round in that wilderness more or less. Depends on the day how at home I feel there. Maybe the wilderness is home now. Camping out is not a bad way to go really, kind of fun. Something new to discover all the time. I’m not bored for sure. And at least I am freed from the discomfort of sitting with people who claim to love and clearly do not. There is a lot of love out there to encounter and to give and that’s where I aim to be.

  7. Thanks to all those who read and commented. Stories that carry honesty and authenticity have become increasingly important for me. There are always some similarities and yet each one is unique. For a long time I have been convinced that diversity, mess and authenticity (not able to square all the corners) will be / is part of the future. Discovery of the elusive ‘truth’ might not be the starting point, but honest search for the mystery of the ‘TRUTH’ (Person) is the starting point. If Jesus had to become mature, become the Great Teacher through being the Great Learner, there probably just is a bunch of unlearning on the way for us?

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