At the age of seven, I was a tiny Jesus Freak in a faith community where we were decidedly NOT Jesus Freaks. We didn't use words like "born again" or "saved" because we were Reformed Christians™. But I didn't know any better, so I was out and about evangelizing my playmates and orchestrating dance parties to gospel music.
At the age of fourteen, I was a self-proclaimed agnostic in a faith community that was comfortable condemning Baptists, Catholics, and Pentecostal Christians to an eternal conscious torment (aka: hell). We used words like "submission" and "righteous wrath" because we were Calvinists™. I didn't know any better, so I lived by the mantra: "If there is a God, he hates me."
At the age of twenty-two, I was searching for Jesus in a faith community where the answer to most of my questions was "pray about it." We used words like "lost" and "saved" but there was no word for anything in between those two things. I didn't know any better, so I stopped asking.
A few years ago, though, I began the process of "deconstructing" my faith. I learned that there are such things as spiritual abuse and religious trauma. Even more importantly, I began to find that there were different interpretations of Biblical texts, theologies and traditions that fell well within the domain of orthodoxy. That is, I learned that within the realm of Christianity, there was much more diversity of belief than I had ever dared to hope.
When people warned me that unravelling my beliefs might bring my whole faith structure down, I laughed. But they were right. For me, deconstruction started with trying to find out if God was good. That was my primary concern. But the process of asking questions and digging into my faith did eventually lead to questioning the value of the Bible, the divinity of Jesus, and even the existence of God.
While those questions can be incredibly scary - both for the person doing the asking and that person's loved ones - I truly believe that it is necessary for every Christian to wrestle with those questions at some point in their adult life. Which is what brings us here. Many Christians begin asking questions about God and quickly unravel everything they ever thought they knew. It's a terrifying moment of realization when you look around and don't know what you believe any more.
There are three options when you have that realization. First, you can return to the solid ground of your former beliefs and fake your way through it. Second, you can decide that faith is simply not for you and walk away. Or, finally, you can take a deep breath and dive into the hard work of figuring out what you do believe. Personally, I like to advocate the third option, though it is by far the most difficult. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
But where do I even begin to go with the questions I have? I'm so glad you asked! I am by no means an expert in the realm of faith, but I have asked a lot of questions in the last seven years. I have endeavored to gather in one place all of my favorite resources for the process of searching for a more meaningful faith. At the end of this post, you can follow the link to go there directly, or you can search my blog under the tags "deconstruction," "reconstruction," "resources," and "faith."
One quick warning before you continue, though: if you're in the process of de- or reconstructing your faith, the questions are going to be far more important than the answers. The purpose of asking questions about God is not to find neatly-packaged answers - at least, that shouldn't be the purpose. Instead, the purpose of asking questions about God should be to become more intimately acquainted with the vastness of the immense reality we call God. Maybe that sounds a little bit "out there," but I hope that as you're thinking and praying and searching, you'll think on that a bit.
If it were possible to find all of the answers to God in this lifetime, someone would have done so by now. The best thing about my time of searching for truth has been the opportunity to build a relationship with the Divine Sustainer of the Universe. The Bible, church, books and sermons and community have been excellent tools in the pursuit of the Almighty, but the tools have paled in comparison to coming into contact with the actual Presence of God.
Follow this link to my list of resources for de- and reconstruction. I keep the list as updated as possible.