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.