The 6 Pillars of Religious Deconstruction

The 6 Pillars of Religious Deconstruction August 27, 2019

When  it comes to Deconstructing our Christian Faith, there are 6 main pillars that hold everything up. Once these pillars begin to crumble, the entire structure starts to fall apart.

The first pillar of Christian Deconstrution is: The Bible. This is odd since one would assume that the foundation of the Christian faith would be “Christ“, but that’s not the case, unfortunately. For most Evangelical Christians, especially, the Bible is their authority, and they will gladly affirm this if you’re uncertain about it.

Because Christians tend to base their faith on the Bible, they also feel the need to overstate its importance, making it the linchpin for everything they hold dear. Therefore, once you start to doubt their claims that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, the rest of your faith is soon to crumble.

And it’s not very hard to prove that the Bible is indeed filled with errors, mistakes, contradictions between prophets, discrepancies over details, and even misquoted Bible verses. [Not to mention all the words intentionally left out of the text or mistranslated to oppress women and demonize homosexuality, or the handful of epistles in the New Testament that are most certainly forgeries or pseudapigripha, for example].

So, if your Pastor has ever told you that the Bible was 100 percent accurate about everything and if even one thing was proven false then the entire Bible would be worthless [and I have heard exactly that on numerous occasions from the pulpit], then it only takes one of those examples above to start pulling on the thread that eventually unravels your entire Christian faith. [Thanks, Pastor Bob].

The second pillar is: Eternal Torment [Hell]

Once you start to doubt the absolute accuracy of the Scriptures, it’s a short walk to questioning the validity of Eternal Torment in Hell for those who don’t pray the prayer and join the Christian club. For some, Hell is their first thread of doubt and once they realize that most of those verses in the New Testament that we were told are about Eternal Torment aren’t actually about where anyone goes when they die, the rest of their faith starts to buckle.

I know one person who started to examine the traditional doctrine of Eternal Suffering and totally left the faith after realizing:

*The Old Testament never mentions this doctrine at all

*The doctrine of Eternal Torment originated in the Intertestimental Period [between the OT and the coming of Jesus]

*The language often used by Jesus to talk about worms that do not die and fire that is not quenched are actually borrowed language from OT prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel who said exactly the same thing to those in Egypt, Syria, Edom and Jerusalem – but in every case those prophets were speaking about invading armies who would take them into captivity, not about where they go after they die

*The Pharisees embraced the doctrine of Eternal Torment after picking it up from pagan sources which gained influence in Rabbinical teaching after the OT was written

*Jesus would have never taken his views from the Pharisees, especially if their views weren’t supported by the OT prophets and originated from pagan sources

Sadly, my friend abandoned their entire faith – the Gospel, Jesus, the Resurrection, the Incarnation, etc. – based on this realization that Hell wasn’t what they were told it was.

I’m sure there are many others who are in the same boat.

The third pillar of Deconstruction is: Penal Substitutionary Atonement [or PSA]. This is a theory that is relatively new and was only arrived at after several centuries of Christian thought and debate on the topic. PSA would never have been formulated if not for those previous theories of Atonement which came before it, as each of those theories tended to develop after various theologians wrestled with the implications of the existing atonement theory of the day.

Simply put, the PSA theory says that God’s wrath was so great against mankind’s sinfulness that Jesus had to come and take a bullet for us – receiving the full fury of God’s burning wrath on the cross – so that now God can love us and forgive us.

In this view, Jesus mostly saves us from His Father, not from our sins or from hell. This also paints God as a monster who responds to his children with anger and fierce violence rather than with love and compassion.

Which brings me the fourth pillar: Suffering in the World.

Now, for many people, this is numero uno, the Big Enchilada. And rightly so. Even renowned theologian and apologist David Bentley Hart concedes that this question is the single most difficult question for a Christian to answer.

“If God is good,” we wonder, “why do children suffer and the innocent die?”

It’s not an easy one to answer, I’ll admit. Some recent theories have made giant strides towards reconciling a loving God with suffering and evil, as the one set forth by my friend’s Thomas Jay Oord and Mark Karris. Their theory is that God is love and that perfect love is not coercive or controlling. Therefore, they would argue, “God Can’t” intervene in the world, but does work behind the scenes to bring good out of suffering.

I would hasten to point out that most of the suffering in our world is man-made, and that we have the resources to solve problems like world hunger, war, famine, most diseases, etc., but we have not made those things our priority.

Maybe instead of asking why God allows these things to happen, we should ask ourselves why we allow suffering to continue?

Our fifth pillar is: The End Times Hype.

If you live long enough, like me, you’ll start to notice an embarrassing yet consistent string of failed prophecies concerning the return of Jesus and the End of the World. After awhile, it gets hard to believe that anyone really knows what the Bible says about this topic at all and you begin to lost faith in your leaders, Bible teachers and pastors who just keep making these predictions, or falling for them.

Soon, you just walk away and realize that it’s all about fear and control and selling you the latest book on End Times Prophecy which will soon end up in the bargain bin at your local Christian bookstore.

Our sixth and final pillar is: The Church.

This one is a little broad. I know people who read Frank Viola’s book “Pagan Christianity” a few years ago and ended up quitting their pastoral jobs and eventually left the faith altogether. Why? Because that book, and others like it,  showed them that Church-As-We-Know-It was inspired by Pagan worship practices and modeled after a system of hierarchy and control; and looks nothing at all like what Jesus and the early Christians actually practiced for the first 300 years.

For some, the Church pillar falls because they just get tired of being abused by those in authority over them, or called “Heretic” for asking too many questions, or labelled degenerates for being LGBTQ, or turned off because of the political entanglements they see in their fellow Christians.

Either way, once that pillar falls, it’s not very long before one of those other pillars also falls and what’s left isn’t much to hold on to.

As far as I can see, those are the main 6 pillars of Deconstruction that lead Christians to question their faith and walk away.

What was it that led you to start doubting your Christian faith? Was it one of these six pillars, or something else?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments below.

NOTE: I’ve launched a new project called “Square 1” that further develops these ideas and will hopefully provide tools and resources to help Christians who have Deconstructed their faith to find a way forward and eventually experience a Reconstruction of faith and healing.

If you want to receive more info about this, be sure to visit me at www.BK2SQ1.com

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

Keith’s newest book, “Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church As We Know It For Ekklesia As God Intended” released on June 9, 2019 on Amazon, and features a Foreword by author Richard Jacobson.
Keith’s Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

Can’t get enough? Get great bonus content: 
Patreon page.

 

"Keith - this phrase in your article stuck out to me: ..."the Holiness of God ..."

Why Do Christians Love Hell?
"While the original ideas of eternal conscious torment can be traced to pagan sources, this ..."

Why Do Christians Love Hell?
"There are different degrees of "sincerely prays for divine help". It took me 50 years ..."

Why Do Christians Love Hell?
"Easy: They already assume they have all the answers so they are NOT seeking truth ..."

Why Do Christians Love Hell?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Shawn Spjut

    My own deconstruction of ‘Christianity’ began with the pursuit of ‘Grace’. Which then led to “Love”, which in turn began to unravel everything I thought I knew about ‘God’. My current worldview I hold loosely, with the understanding that ‘faith’ and my
    personal fellowship with the Divine Presence’, is not a one-size-fits-all belief, but if fluid and changing. What I believed yesterday is not what I believe today, nor will it be what I believe tomorrow. And that’s alright.

  • Al Cruise

    I think it’s OK to say we just don’t know why certain things happen or why things are the way they are. Being able to ask, or be asked questions in clear and concise terms and then being unable to answer them in the same manner is something we have great difficulty accepting about our psyche . Religions have built empires simply by refusing to admit to this truth. However those of us who are able and have the unfettered option, walk the path of love as much as you can. Do not deconstruct beyond this. Those who are born into what seems like endless and unwarranted evil , will only have us.

  • Mike Dunster

    I largely agree with what you have written, but would probably add somewhere in there ‘The myth of friendship with God’ – that might not be the best way to put it, as it plays fast and loose with the term ‘myth’, but is essentially about expectations of what being a Christian will be like experientially – you get told that, when you pray the prayer, God/Jesus becomes your friend who will always be with you and never forsake you – that as you read your bible and pray (every day, of course) you will know God with you and see his power changing your life.

  • Curious: By which authority have you deduced these “6 and final” pillars of religious deconstruction? It’s rather bold to assume to know how many pillars hold up the faith of billions of Christians, isn’t it?

  • Aaron Herren

    It seems to me that you are one of the most confused and disappointed persons I have read lately and that you desire all others to imbibe your thinking. You must think your understanding is above all others and that your wisdom surpasses many great students and scholars now, and before you. I believe you will acknowledge Him again, who is Wisdom—sooner or later. I do not profess to have all wisdom but I know enough to not believe everything I read. Thanks for stimulating my thinking.

  • KontraDiction

    I agree, this is a big one. It’s quite a leap from “trying to fathom the intentions of the Creator of Everything” to “Jesus is my boyfriend.” Even if God is relational, as I’ve heard it put, I would never expect to hear him talking in my head or leaving signs everywhere just for me. It feels like the height of arrogance to claim you know what God wants, especially when it always lines up with your own socio-political views.

  • Herm

    Okay Danielle, please, be bold and tell us what pillars do, or haven’t held, up your faith. I am sincerely curious.

  • Good article Keith. For me, I think I have gone through all six pillars but they all happened after my wife and I left the organization. I grew up in the church and spent over fifty years in it. I had such a feeling of dissatisfaction and that something was not right for the last fifteen years yet I just could not put my finger on the problem. My wife and I went to several different churches thinking that was the problem, or the pastor was the problem only to find that same dissatisfied feeling. Once we decided that the church system was not what God intended we left the system and then started the deconstruction process you mentioned in your article. We have found such freedom and more open fellowship with others since doing so.
    Jim Gordon

  • Herm

    The first pillar, supporting my faith, was my trust in my familial community of birth. When I was a child I spoke as a child dependent upon the authority of adults for my survival. When I became an adult I began to speak as an adult accepting, out of love for my own, my responsibility for children dependent upon my authority for their survival.

    The sustaining pillar of faith, that led to relationship with and in the Spirit of God, was the obvious intervention throughout my life of forgiving support for my survival, as well as my being trained and led for another’s survival.

    Keith, all of the pillars that you have highlighted as necessary to deconstruct the carnal temple administrated by Man were built from a child’s undying faith in familial authority. The temple rebuilt in three days is built from eternal spirit and administrated by the Lamb. Until we turn away in hate from our temporal dependence upon carnal, to accept the eternal relationship offer in and of God (who is purely spirit [as is the image gifted Man’s recognition of and by God]), we remain dependent upon the lessons of evolving traditions learned from carnal family (blood, nation or church).

    All truth, in good (most constructive) spirit and carnal relationship, is summed up in everything do to all others, of Man and God alike, first as each of us would have all others do to us. That is the pillar that supports Jesus’ church, which is purely spirit. I know the Christ in me, and I in him, by his and my Spirit of truth, not by some carnal name for either of us that might be falsely idolized and worshipped on earth by daughters and sons both of temporal Man and eternal God.

    I fear my Father of God, who loves me as his child, no less than my parents of Man, who loved me as their child. We support each other by the eternal pillar of love, not by pillars of tradition, ritual, physical temples, “magically sacred” words, familial/tribal allegiance or trusting any other authoritative teachers (rabbis) touting truth than the one teacher of God available to all who are receptive to the Spirit of truth.

    There are no earthbound religious orders, built on pillars of formal doctrine/theology, that speak or administrate for any relationship with and in God. None of us required an intermediary authority to speak with our carnal parents. None of us, first in the image of God, then as a child of God born of the Spirit, require an intermediary to speak with and in all of God who are spirit.

  • Herm

    Aaron, the following was in reply to “John” who posted twice and removed each. I feel like this might help your pursuit of “all wisdom”. At minimum this seems apropos to what might be your seeming “most confused and disappointed” judgment of Keith’s article.

    we teach the process of learning

    Matthew 23:8-12 NIV
    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. [9] And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. [10] Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. [11] The greatest among you will be your servant. [12] For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    John 16:12-15 NIV
    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. [13] But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. [14] He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. [15] All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    When does the “we”, that you speak of, teach that there is only one Teacher for all disciples (students) of Christ in them and they in Jesus?

    John 14:19-20 NIV
    Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    Is Jesus the Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit (the Advocate of God’s, the Spirit of truth), all of God who are spirit, sufficient to teach and nurture all children of God, on earth and in heaven, free of all carnal structures administered by Man?

    John 8:31-32 NIV
    To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. [32] Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Is it possible, to sibling students of Jesus, that it is the Spirit of truth, living eternally with and in us today, that sets us free from the authority of any other church structure than Jesus’ (with all authority in heaven and on earth) church structure, which is spirit?

  • Herm

    John 14:15-20 NIV
    “If you love me, keep my commands. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    Believe it or not. I cannot convince your carnal logic of relationship with and in the Spirit of truth who you neither see nor know. I can only seem at the “height of arrogance” when I witness to you the truth as written in John 14:15-20.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    The forgotten pillar? Those who’s opinion of the Bible as a dependable document is gone. Keith, how can anyone trust any word in the Bible? The ONLY way we are aware of the Judeo-Christian God IS the Bible. And if that document is as riddled with deceptions, contradictions, fantasies – what possible reason would I have to believe in God at all?

    Paul (or whomever you attribute Romans to nowadays) speaks of knowing God’s existence by what we can SEE – but evolution seems to have become a more acceptable answer. So if what I can see and what I can read is not dependable to inform me about God, why even bother?

    Is it because you make a living writing about it? Or against it, in this case…

    Remove the Bible as a dependable document, and you have effectively removed God.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    But see, John did not write that… At least, according to J. D. G. Dunn… So there is no reason to believe that. I mean, if these are words a second century editor put in to Jesus’ mouth…
    And that is where Giles’ problem lies. If “much” is not to be believed, it destroys the veracity of the whole. That is an argument Giles seem to be afraid to admit. And it the “whole” is contaminated, toss it all out the door, dismantle Christianity and become an atheist. There will be no basis for even the concept to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” because that is a distinct Christian idea.

  • Herm

    Amazing, I must assume that you meant to write, “And if the “whole” is contaminated, toss it all out the door, dismantle Christianity and become an atheist”. Am I to consider your “whole” offering contaminated?

    You clearly do not see to know and accept the Spirit of truth with and in you forever. I do. It is not the author of the book of John that matters nor what is true and not within the offering, but what within that I can test to be true or not. Taken by what was known in the first century, and has been tested by me in the 20th and 21st century, I can honestly testify John 14:15-20 is true, free from contamination.

    You are free to live, for as long as you are allowed, trusting entirely that there is no more to know beyond the certain return of your carnal body’s to the elements from whence it came. Just the fact that you are proselytizing carnality on a spiritually oriented blog is indicative of your doubts, surely not your certainty that all there is to reason is the physical.

    As to your flawed premise, “There will be no basis for even the concept to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” because that is a distinct Christian idea“, perhaps you might review the following partial list of “Golden Rules” that pre and post date Christianity:

    https://probaway.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/how-many-golden-rules-are-there/

    Rudy, thank you for trying to save me from myself. Unfortunately, your effort is contaminated with an ignorance of the spirit you rail against. If so because you’ve read that Christianity has destroyed more of Man than atheism I can understand your misled concern. The facts are that civilized hoarding, beginning in the Fertile Crescent, has been far more responsible to the destruction of Man by Man, than any religion of Man. At the very same time capitalistic and communistic hoarding has been simultaneously responsible for over population of this earth, as versus the prior history of a historically balanced population of the species mankind regulated by tribal hunter/gathering.

    I don’t ask you to become in any way religious, including atheistic. For your own sake, I suggest you seek truth beyond the beliefs you suggest you’re comfortable with today. You don’t know what you don’t know. We each, born carnal of Man, know comparitively nothing of what the infinity of awareness has yet to offer our infant life form. God, of no beginning and no end, has yet to be aware of all there is to know. God is aware and influencing in the spirit which is within and surrounds us all. Mankind has been gifted an awareness of spiritual that no other species of animal on earth knows.

    I wish you well!

  • My journey was a slow process that was actually borne from my reading of my Bible outside of the influence of others. I was always noticing how some people got very different ideas from reading THEIR Bible than I did. Thus being aware of differences in interpretation, I was always open to hearing other viewpoints. My beliefs in inerrancy/ hell/ wrath of God, etc. then just started crumbling.

    However, because I knew Jesus personally (REALLY personally, not via any church structure or doctrinal ‘path’), my faith was never undermined. I truly want people to know him in the personal way that has no reliance on any of the pillars you have illustrated.

  • Debra Simpson

    The main one for me is the teachings on Hell.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    How do you know about that Spirit, Keith? I understand the hurts caused by man’s claim to “Fight for Christ.” I cancelled an educational opportunity in Belfast because of the bombings (granted, that was a while back…). My national history includes the horrors of the Inquisition.
    But that is because of man’s abusing their power, not because that book actually teaches such.

    There may be ways, older, newer to express that Golden RUle, Keith – but then again, how can you trust THOSE sources? And you are right: I do not know what I do not know. But at the same time, I DO know what I DO know (Beginning to sound like Rumsfeld now).

  • Netizen_James

    EVIDENCE. The key is EVIDENCE, and the utter paucity of any evidence which even suggests, more less demonstrates, that ‘souls’ exist at all. The key is recognizing that ‘evidence’ means hard, physical, repeatable, measurable evidence, not dreams, hallucinations, visions, revelations or feelings. And recognizing that the testimony of others is the worst sort of evidence, because our memories are malleable. Once you start questioning whether or not ‘souls’ (aka ‘ghosts’ or ‘spirits’) exist at all, then it’s an easy jump to questioning the existence of other ‘spiritual entities’ like angels, demons, or deities, and realizing that there’s not one whit of empirical evidence for any sort of non-corporeal-sapience. Recognizing that the Bible is a mere collection of human-written folktales, myths, legends and stories comes quickly after that.

  • Netizen_James

    >”treat others the way you want to be treated,” because that is a distinct Christian idea.<
    Not hardly – that the primary tenet of Bill&Tedism – Be excellent to each other. Nothing to do with Jesus or Christianity.

  • Servelan

    *Judeo-Christian concept of God

  • Servelan

    Belief isn’t binary, black and white, yes or now. There are a lot of gray areas, and this is no place to proselytise.

  • Lawton

    I think your analysis of deconstruction is accurate and insightful, though I have to say that nothing can excuse God for needless suffering, especially of children. Not all suffering comes from humans. Much suffering inheres within the very nature of reality: diseases such as rabies (still endemic in India, China, Africa, and other places) TB, malaria, cancer, and countless others; natural disasters; freak accidents. The list goes on. A god who can’t or won’t intervene, or worse, who actively built evil into the fabric of things, is either an impotent weakling or a criminal.

  • KingstonJack

    I say no to ‘If “much” is not to be believed, it destroys the veracity of the whole.’ This is a simplistic way of whitewashing the whole. Within the bible are truths, just as there are truths with the Quran or the Vedas. Equally, there are errors in the sciences. Just because an error/untruth is found does not cause the whole edifice to crumble.

    What does follow on from recognising the presence of contradictions, inaccuracies, biases, etc. within the text is the need to discern what is helpful and what is not. For example, the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23-24 is not helpful; “do unto others” is most definitely helpful.

  • Herm

    Servelan, no where in my above comment/reference can I see where I am proselytizing …

    “the action of attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.”

    … but I am open to your showing me where I have. I was under the impression that this was a blog of a reforming Christian minister. Where is the “place” to assist in transformation from carnal church administrated belief to direct relationship with and in the administration of the most capable God I can directly witness to the possibility of?

    There is a difference of believing what might be and knowing what is. As an adult of Man and a child of God, I know as best of any of mankind relationship shared with others of carnal Man contrasted with relationship with and in others of spirit “God”. Though I know of my relationship with both (no gray areas to that truth), I have maybe 10 years yet to more clearly understand relationship with my animal species with temporal Man, and maybe forever yet to more clearly understand relationship with and in eternal God (by any carnally name given by mankind).

    I’m sorry if you feel threatened by my witness to relationships I know in my own life. I have no reason, honestly, to convert you to become a living child of God. The only church I worship in is spirit, so I have no membership of human reasoning to invite you to that you might believe differently in what you now subscribe to.

    My hope for you is that in everything I am able to do for you, whom I can empathize with as a fellow human, as I would have you do for me. I wish you well!

  • Kirk T.

    Excellent points, Keith. As a currently serving United Methodist pastor trying to patiently lead a local church through massive paradigm shifts, I try to gently tackle your first five pillars at many different points in Bible studies, sermons, and in conversations with the faithful. As with any teaching that unsettles the accepted “That’s what I learned as a child”, these shifts are sometimes enlightening and sometimes resisted, usually based on the hunger for learning and spiritual curiosity folks have. Other folks in my setting just don’t have that level of hunger and curiosity, and as long as everyone can live somewhere on that continuum and allow for differences, I’m fine to keep teaching and preaching and serving.

    Your sixth point, however, resonates with me even more strongly than the others. I have heard multiple lectures and read a number of books about the end of Christendom as a cultural influencer, and for me, the sooner the better. I approach this point in teaching and preaching generally from a perspective of empire vs. kingdom including looking at colonialism and slavery, the separation of church & state or the lack thereof, racism and accomodationism and anti-racism, etc. Thanks for this post, and I’m looking forward to receiving and reading “Jesus Unveiled”.

  • Alan

    For me it was watching a church that I loved split in two because of the abuse and moral failings of the lead pastor. What amazed me is that people, all claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit, endorsed the most appalling behavior, even threatening those who called it out. And now I see it all over the place, people who claim to have the truth but look nothing like Jesus looked and indeed, actively oppose him. And the reason for this that I always hear is that Christians are human and we sin and so we can’t take immorality and draw any conclusions from it. But Christians themselves claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to have the power of God for living victorious lives. Where is this power? It’s almost like a multilevel-marketing plan or diet where when it fails you’re told you didn’t do it right, except that when almost everyone is failing you need to question the foundation. My only consolation is that it’s not the words of Jesus that are failing, it’s the words of his followers. I can only conclude that Christianity was never designed to look like what we have now.

  • Herm

    KEITH, please, either approve my “PENDING” reply to Rudy or tell me what’s wrong with it. As long as you honestly accept the responsibility for moderating truth according to Man’s relationship with God, please consider Matthew 7:12 tempered with relationship with and in the Spirit of truth.

    If this forum is meant to be your church’s pulpit, not a path led by God to becoming a child of God, then I have no business here.

    John 4:23-24 NIV
    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. [24] God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

  • Cornelius Greene

    As a person of color there was no way i was going to “take a knee” to a book that was used to justify keeping people who looked like me in slavery. The contradictions and the lack of proof sealed the deal for me.
    Great article very glad i found it.

  • rationalobservations?

    This is a great article for making more intelligent religionists recognise the fraud that is religion.
    One point of correction must be the writer’s reference to “the” bible (singular) when many who know the history of the many diverse and very different bibles (always plural – like gods and goddesses) leads back to the first prototype bibles written by men in the late 4th century that are different from each other and very different from bibles that have been written by anonymous authors since the oldest prototype bibles were written.

    The seventh “pillar” that crumbles is based upon the utter, total and complete absence of any kind of historical evidence of the existence of Jesus from within the first century.

  • John Purssey

    Keith wrote “6 main pillars”. That allows for other pillars.

  • John Purssey

    It’s dependable as a witness to varied and changing understandings of God within Jewish and Christian traditions.

  • John Purssey

    Maybe it’s helpful in reminding us that even saints, religious figures, and leaders do the wrong things from time to time, and we should beware of hagiographies of leaders.

  • KingstonJack

    ” it is the Spirit of truth, living eternally with and in us today, that sets us free from the authority of any other church structure than Jesus’ (with all authority in heaven and on earth) church structure, which is spirit?”

    I’ve heard this argument so many times over the years, but it always reduces to “No church hierarchy is going to tell me what to do”. I find there’s a remarkable arrogance that goes hand in glove with rejection of “worldly” structures.

  • Herm

    For whom does “church hierarchy” speak, for you, themselves, or another?

    If for another, what if the other was perfectly capable of speaking for themselves directly?

    Even the first four canonized Gospels do not agree in how to speak in witness to the Christ, the will of his heavenly Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit (though they agree that he appeared as like a dove).

    In a family of six children, from which I wish to know the will of their parents, do I seek the children to ask when the parents welcome my direct audience? Would not it be foolish of me to accept one, or all, of the differing childish perspectives offered over that of their parents’ directly? Would it be arrogant of me to reject the authority of the children in favor of the parents’ authority?

    If God truly exists to speak with me, as the Bible says they do, as are the “worldly” structures founded upon, would I not be foolish to accept the words of those many carnal structures over the words of spirit directly from God?

    John 14:15-21 NIV
    “If you love me, keep my commands. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. [21] Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    How about no carnal family (blood, church, race, or nation) is going to tell me what to do if I really want to learn from God directly?

    Luke 14:25-27 NIV
    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: [26] “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. [27] And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    I am not saved by the cross. I am saved to carry the cross for you and all of Man that just maybe you and they too will come to learn from God directly. If my arrogance offends you I am sorry that such might keep you from rejecting infantile advice in favor of they who know. You are loved!

    Is God less real to you than the “worldly” structures who claim they support God?

  • Sadly, my friend abandoned their entire faith – the Gospel, Jesus, the Resurrection, the Incarnation, etc. – based on this realization that Hell wasn’t what they were told it was.

    What else could they do?

    This post was an interesting read, but it’s like reading Karen Armstrong—she’s deconstructed Christianity so neatly that I can’t understand how or why anyone would be left as a Christian afterwards.

    Their theory is that God is love and that perfect love is not coercive or controlling. Therefore, they would argue, “God Can’t” intervene in the world, but does work behind the scenes to bring good out of suffering.

    I haven’t read the book, but I suspect that I’d find it wanting. What I’d need to see is what this greater good would be. To take just the latest natural disaster, hurricane Dorian, tell us the greater good that could come out of the destruction it caused in the Bahamas. If you say “I don’t know” or “that’s God’s job,” then you see the problem with this argument. If it’s not clear to us what one or more likely “here’s why the net from Dorian is a positive good,” then this argument fails and underscores the question, why remain a Christian?

  • KingstonJack

    So what you are really saying is that YOU have a direct line to God. Well done. Sorry, but I’ve heard that line so many times before and, strangely, all with competing arguments. You know the sort of thing: “God told me to (insert strange behaviour here).” “No, that’s wrong. God told me to (insert opposite behaviour here).” Just how many loonies in the last few thousand years have been “told by God” that the world was going to end on such-and-such a date? Was “the Spirit” telling them untruths?

    The chances that you are actually in direct communication with the Divine are infinitesimal. Unless, of course, you are the Messiah.

    In my limited experience, the discernment of “the will of God”/Truth is always a communal exercise. If God is relationship (cue theological discussion of the Trinity) and if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then we too are relational beings. And in the absence of a reliable telephone connection to the invisible one, that means living out our faith in relationship with others.

    PS Stop carrying a cross for me. I didn’t ask you to do it; I don’t need you to do it; and I find it offensive.

  • Herm

    why?

  • Eric Schramm

    Just one sentence: “What if I’m wrong?” I heard the inner voice say that and I realized I had been wondering that for years. So I decided to do an in-depth Bible study of LGBT and an hour later I decided I had been wrong for 15 years. I simply studied the Bible with an open mind and not letting what the church had said color my perceptions.

  • Ulf Turkewitsch

    The breaking down of faith in christians is, of course , the result of many years of humanism. Thinking that “man” can analyse God out of existence is a modern aberration of intelligence based analysis of the Bible that started after the enlightenment in Europe. Then moved to north America.
    In the end this attitude leads to nihilism. It destroys faith in many people who read this kind of analysis. The idea that we can judge God with our feeble minds is a temptation of the evil one, the father of lies, satan!

  • Timothy Weston

    This is how I went from Christian theist to atheist in a three–year time span. It took one more year before my body caught up.

  • PureGrace

    I’ve been at this deconstruction/reconstruction process for well over 20 years now. Mine began when I looked up to God and said, “I just want to know the truth, good or bad.” I left the organized church and began a marvelous, liberating, sometimes terrifying journey of revelation and renovation. I have to say that in the process, I never doubted who God is or His intent toward mankind. I recognized that it was we, His followers, that had messed it all up. I was out of the organized church for the last 20 years and recently returned for the sake of fellowship. Now that my major questions and conundrums have been resolved, I am at peace and no longer controlled or threatened by the 6 pillars. I trust the Holy Spirit to lead each one of us into truth.

  • Joshua Thomas

    My deconstruction started when I decided to allow myself to start asking the tough questions. Questions like do I really believe all of this and why. When I couldn’t adequately answer these questions, the doubts crept in. I started looking at the bible skeptically and then it just became very apparent that it was all bogus. Why would I believe in a god I’ve never seen, heard, felt? Of all the crazy stories in the bible, I’d never actually seen anything like them in my own life, so why was I convinced that the bible was true? I just had no good answers. The Suffering in the World pillar is probably the one that would never allow me to even remotely consider going back to Christian faith. The argument that God can’t intervene in the world is utter trash and serves as a strong reminder for me that he is a myth…and nothing more.

  • Joshua Thomas

    This “attitude” does not always lead to nihilism. I am an atheist but not a nihilist. Why? Because I choose not to be.

  • Timothy Weston

    The breaking down of faith takes many forms, most of which is inflicted by the regular church. The church has sold a deity that is all-powerful, yet never uses that power. That church tells its supplicants to believe in that deity without question, yet the deity never reveals itself except through middlemen and has a tendency to speak King James English. Take the term “church” and replace it with “synagogue”, “mosque”, or “temple”. Those same middlemen also have a moral code they expect their supplicants to observe yet find ways of evading it. Eventually, a supplicant realizes that their sacred text and deity (or deities) were written and made for a particular ethnic group for a certain period.

  • Nimblewill

    I have to push back a little. If it were not for the Bible I would probably still believe in Eternal Conscious Torment. If the Bible can’t be trusted then I’m not sure I can trust that God won’t burn us all in Hell.For instance, why would this statement matter: “The Old Testament never mentions this doctrine at all.”

    I’m with you on PSA.

    Jesus showed us a God who suffers along with us.

    Prophesy and end times, like anything else we get hold of has been used to make money. It has become a business.

    I guess we could argue that “church” has also become a business. In reality the Church is people, all types of people. Once we start to demonize any particular group we destroy the purpose of the Church. Yes even the ones you demonize here.

  • Nimblewill

    Without suffering there would absolutely be no reason to love. Forget your ideas about God. If you are not eliminating the suffering of others you are not loving. Compassion simply means to come to passion (suffering); to run to suffering.

  • So is that your idea of heaven? Lots of love, so therefore lots of suffering?

  • Nimblewill

    Good point. I’ll have to think on that. I don’t believe that heaven is a cloud and a Jew’s Harp. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Maybe love will look differently without suffering. What do you imagine a world without suffering to look like. It has certainly brought meaning to my life.

  • swbarnes2

    Ah, but the OP proposed that God can’t eliminate our suffering, so therefore you must conclude from that that God can’t love us.

    Or, you have to conclude that every bit of suffering that isn’t eliminated was and is an opportunity for God to love us that God refrained from acting on.

  • Margaret Chapman

    I believe that it was the doctrine of hell which really bothered me, as I had not even considered that it would be where I would have to go before I encountered Jesus for who He is. Once I started to attend a church it seemed that most people in the world would be going to a lost eternity, and that included many of my relatives. It was us and them and I thought that if it depended upon me and the church to bring them to Jesus for salvation, then there didn’t seem to be much hope for them. Thankfully, God is not a tyrant, and He loves and cares for all, especially those who are his, and it is not his will that any should perish, let alone go to a place of eternal torment.

  • Nimblewill

    I’m not sure whether or not you have children. I haven’t been able to eliminate there suffering but I love them. I guess I could have had I kept them in padded rooms for 30+ years but who would call that love?

    I should have used alleviating not eliminating. We should try to alleviate suffering.

  • David M

    This is how I look at the issue of suffering. When I face God, would I be prepared to say to Him, “You didn’t have the right to let me suffer the way I have done in my life”? And the answer to that is No, I wouldn’t be prepared to say that. If there is anyone in this world who would be prepared to say that, then that is between him or her and God. So the question of suffering is really one that each person must answer for himself.

    When the argument is posed, it is always in general terms. It is always about someone else’s suffering. You rarely if ever hear anyone say that his own suffering disproves the existence of God. But each person should concentrate on his own relationship with God. If you personally don’t think you have any right to challenge God, then you have the answer that you need.

  • Nimblewill

    Great thoughts. My answer of course would be that I can’t ask that question. I think I have had my share of suffering but it doesn’t compare to what others go through. I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

  • swbarnes2

    I am a human being with a limited scope of action. God is not.

    If I knew that my child would die because a tsunami was coming, I would at least warn her. You worship and love a God who won’t even do that.

  • Nimblewill

    It’s possible that you don’t understand death.Maybe death takes the suffering away once and for all.

    Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

    If we were vampires and death was a joke
    We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke
    And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
    I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand
    Maybe time running out is a gift
    I’ll work hard ’til the end of my shift
    And give you every second I can find
    And hope it isn’t me who’s left behind

  • Sure, I see value in suffering, too, but that’s what atheists (like me) say. Everything has a natural cause (since there’s no good reason to imagine supernatural causes), and sometimes we find silver linings in bad situations.

    I see zero evidence for heaven, but if it did exist, I would see it full of people like us, except with great wisdom. We’d have the free will to do bad things but the wisdom to realize that that would be stupid.

    But, of course, in that case, why wouldn’t God give us the great wisdom to begin with? Why hobble humans, especially when he’d know what a mess that would make?

  • Nimblewill

    You do realize that the people you say justified slavery (Jewish people who penned the bible) had themselves been enslaved for a much longer period of time.

  • Kevin Marek

    it’s really a shame how loosely the term ‘Christian’ is used today… and this article falls quite flat in application and consequence because of it. Reconstruction? try Reformation. Want Christ? How about basing it on the coherence of eye witness accounts. Rather than use obviously manipulative ‘pastors’ to legitimize your departure from hard truths, challenge them openly with scriptural rebuttal and thwart tyranny and deception. Progress means nothing if you fail to conserve what is good and true. Remember that no belief system should be judged by it’s failure-bound followers, but by the veracity and cohesiveness of its own text and teaching.

  • Kevin Marek

    will it be alright if that fluid stream leads to your demise? pain? isolation? not that it will, but the questions is whether or not you have a brake system on this fast moving car of yours with no road. My observation of your position is that you’re unable to be free in this ‘belief’ (it is a belief whether you call it a “loosely held worldview” or anything else) because you have no clue of where you’re going, where is safe and benificial for you, or how to course correct (much less a means of course correction) when you don’t see the peril ahead because you have no way of knowing that it IS peril ahead. You are certainly living in the freedom of choice and will, but with no boundaries, deep down, you are driving a racecar in a cliff-riddled desert with no brakes hoping it’s the right direction towards civilization. You don’t have to pursue grace; Grace is Jesus pursuit of you and every single one of us. Christianity is entirely about what another’s actions have done for you, and what the logical response to that effort should be. It is nothing about what you must do in order to gain something unattainable by any member of humanity. The Buddha understood this, and we can too;
    “Regardless of how many laws you have kept, or even if you pray 5 times a day, you cannot be free from your sin. Even though you burn yourself, even though I become a hermit, or am reborn another 10 times, I also shall not be saved.” (Manuscript, Praising Temple, Chiengmai Thailand).
    Buddha taught that he was not a “god”, but only a man, a truth seeker. But on his death bed Buddha taught that there would be a future Messiah, “Lord of Mercies”, who would be able to free men of their sins. Buddha said, “…He is the Lord of Mercies, His name shall be called the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He is all knowing, all wise. He knows all that is in the human heart. He is Lord of all the angels and of all humans. No one is greater than He.” (Sutrapridot 3:107).

  • Kevin Marek

    Are you a god that you can decide that? If you dismiss God, you dismiss His morality, so you will have to have established one on your own, built on nothing else, or at least not His, right? That’s a mighty high task for some simple man, who, per the scriptures has been made to bear the function of God in the world as steward and justifier, gifted with will as God has, yet descendant of man that nearly immediately decided that the world should be stewarded with no regard to God’s morality or design (do you think an all-powerful creator God cannot cure a malarial infection if one is in His presence?). Quite the conundrum sir. IF you’re on this website and at the level of a commentor, I’m assuming you have athirst for understanding. If that assumption is correct, I’d encourage you to challenge yourself with this short seminar session that I think addresses the problems you’ve pointed out.

  • Lawton

    The God of the Bible has the morality of a sadistic narcissist. As flawed as I am, my level of ethical understanding exceeds His. As for healing, that God, if He exists, ignores the anguished cries of the millions of suffering people every day. That’s all the truth I need about God’s “morality or design.” Thanks but no thanks.

  • Shawn Spjut

    Interesting the term ‘observation’. How can one observe someone’s ‘position’, when they’ve had neither the time nor the relationship to know with any depth the reality of that person’s spiritual journey? Rather presumptuous of you to make a judgement about my spiritual journey based upon a loosely worded response to an article I read. Rather than jump into my statement, why don’t you spend sometime asking yourself why it bothers you so much? Because the only people I know that get this riled up about ‘grace’, are those who really have no clue what’s it’s about in the first place.