Caring for Your Faith

Kerry Connelly writes:

One of the things that’s most surprising about my seminary journey is the way my faith is being deconstructed. To be honest, sometimes it feels as if God is dying, and perhaps this is true. What I mean is this: old, tired ways of thinking about God, and even more important, the boundaries we as humans love to put around God, are crashing down around me. I am more and more convinced that the desire to be right is what’s killing us all, and most of all, it’s killing God. 

A dying God seems at first to be a disappointing God — a God who is unworthy of praise, of worship, of even pondering. Let’s just leave this faith thing behind, and get on with it. We’ve a life to live, after all, and faith doesn’t always make for an easy life. Faith calls us to something beyond ourselves, and this gets messy. 

A deconstructed faith, however, is a faith that has been deeply cared for. A faith ignored is not the same thing; a faith abandoned isn’t, either. But a deconstructed faith — now that’s a faith that’s been tenderly turned over in the palm of your hand. It’s been rubbed and polished to a shine. It’s been examined carefully for kinks and dents and broken pieces. A deconstructed faith is a faith deeply cared for. 

She goes on to say much more about the process of watching previous understandings of the Bible and of belief crumble under examination. What is exciting is that she recognizes that this is not a “loss of faith” but the death of things that need to die precisely as part of the process of caring for faith, pruning it so that it can blossom. And she recognizes that that is a longer-term process, that pruning looks like death to those who don’t know that they have to wait for spring to arrive. And so I highly recommend reading the entire post.

This is a topic that I have blogged about in the past on more than one occasion

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  • John Thomas

    I know that this is not an appropriate place to post this. But two debates happened recently which you might be interested in.
    First was a debate between Bart Ehrman and Mike Licona about historical reliability of the gospels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP7RrCfDkO4
    The other was the today’s debate in Unbelievable podcast between Richard Carrier and Christian apologist Jonathan McLatchie where Carrier defends his Earl Doherty hypothesis of celestial Jesus later historicized: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Mythicism-debate-Did-St.-Paul-believe-in-a-real-or-celestial-Jesus-Richard-Carrier-vs-Jonathan-McLatchie

  • Ivan T. Errible

    You’re oblivious to the fact that it was theologians, people who went to the school you now attend, who came up with the nonsense you’re trying to unlearn.
    And the next generation of people will have to unlearn your nonsense.
    And so it will go.
    Religion is such a pathetic waste of time.

    • jekylldoc

      It’s true that past interpretation often becomes dogma and stands in the way of future caring interpretation. The same thing happens in politics and literature. I think it’s only a waste of time to go through these cycles if you feel the interpretation must be absolute and immortal. What is more important, in my opinion, is that it be alive.

      • Ivan T. Errible

        No; I feel that any interpretation of what is un-real is like debating the color of vomit. Even if you all end up agreeing, it’s still vomit.
        And “future caring interpretation”? You mean you start with an ideological/social goal in mind and try to massage the text to help you herd your flock towards it? Then you and the Fundiegelicals are two sides of the same coin.

        • jekylldoc

          The whole idea that the text is determinative is one interpretation. “Un-real” is another. What is being interpreted is not merely a text, it is a whole tradition of engagement with the ultimate concern embodied in monotheistic, covenant-based religion. If that is an “ideological/social goal” well then, so be it.
          What you consider unreality is, to me, just an understanding of complex aspects of life which were interpreted as supernatural by the ancients. God is no more unreal than the square root of negative one is.

      • Ivan T. Errible

        Why bother with these texts at all?
        Why run twice as fast to get to the same place?

        • jekylldoc

          It isn’t easy to explain. There is a rich tradition to learn from – one can never get all of it, because there is too much. When a prophetic voice taps the ancient wisdom to critique modern society, as Walter Brueggemann did in opposing the pressure to extract more from today’s workers by invoking Sabbath and the Hebrew oppression by Pharaoh, it adds an extra dimension to the analysis. Instead of simply taking sides, one is making an argument about what organizing principles should guide us. Instead of expressing one person’s opinion, it invokes past struggles and the courage they required. When the African-American spirituals argued from the religion of the white man, it amounted to a moral stand, not just a complaint by the oppressed.

          • Ivan T. Errible

            In other words, it’s another source of emotional manipulation; you can’t think of a real reason, so you try this trick?
            Sad. And dishonest.

          • jekylldoc

            It’s only manipulation if you are doing something other than what you say you are doing. People’s emotions are where their ideals and their purposes and their choices reside. If you never appeal to anyone’s emotions, you are taking a highly artificial and ultimately dessicated approach to life.

            I’m not sure what you have in mind when you say that I “can’t think of a real reason”. What would a more real reason be like? This kind of prophetic rhetoric has always been a part of Judeo-Christian communal life. Sometimes with bad effects and sometimes with bad faith, but that is a matter to be aspirational about. The examples I gave you were neither.

  • ElsieAnne

    Welcome to my journey, and that of many others who hope for a faith based on truth rather than legends and scare tactics. We are having to rebuild our concepts of scripture, Christianity, and God. And it’s not a journey that will ever be completely finished. When we think we’ve got it all figured out, it’s because we’ve stopped thinking. But my deconstructed and reconstructed faith is much more meaningful to me than anything I’ve known in the past. Blessings to you on your journey.