Over the last 2 years or so, I’ve been trying to help people navigate the painful process of Deconstructing their Christian faith and find their way through the darkness towards a path that looks more like a Reconstruction of some sort that they can move forward with.
By spending countless hours listening to their stories and hearing how toxic theology has twisted their views of God, and of themselves, and even how it made them teach things to their own children that they now feel the need to apologize for and somehow make right, I’ve started to notice a few things that kinda disturb me.
One of the main things I’m starting to realize is just how much Evangelical Christianity looks, acts and smells like a cult. We have the authoritative theology that operates under an umbrella of fear, a community of faith that will disfellowship and marginalize you if you dare to question their doctrines, and we have a system of faith that uses guilt and shame to keep everyone in line.
What we also seem to have is a brand of religion that prevents human beings from developing their own natural abilities to discern wrong from right. Rather than teach people to think for themselves, people are told how – and what – to think. They are told not to trust themselves, or their own thoughts because “all of our thoughts are evil all the time” and not to follow their own heart because “the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things…who can know it?” and other quasi-scriptural logic twisting manipulations that ensure no one will dare listen to that little voice inside of them that says “this is wrong” or “that’s not right” or “that doctrine doesn’t make any sense.”
Without this mind-controlling feature of Evangelical Christianity, normal human beings would learn how to reason, and to recognize truth and how to trust in that God-given inner voice designed to keep us aligned with the God in whom we all live and move and have our being.
That’s kinda creepy, isn’t it?
Imagine children raised outside of Evangelical Christianity who know how to think for themselves, reason for themselves, and have a healthy ability to know Truth when they see and hear it.
For example, my friend Jim Palmer has helped me to understand three simple ways for people to know what is true:
If you think about it, this is how most of us already evaluate what is true outside of the religious lens on a regular basis. Someone comes up to us with a strange story or a co-worker starts to give us their reasons for dropping the ball, or any other random statements that may come our way as we go through our lives, and we almost instinctively apply those 3 principles above to quickly determine whether or not this story, or that excuse, or this statement is something we should believe.
Yet, when it comes to religious truth, or doctrinal statements, or Scriptural reasoning, many of us have been convinced – even conditioned over a long season – to turn off that part of our brain that evaluates what is true and what is false. We’re urged to “trust and obey” and to “take things on faith” and even told that “God’s ways are higher than ours” and “God moves in mysterious ways” whenever we raise an objection or voice a doubt.
I would like to add one more way that we can determine what is true – Trusted Community Feedback.
Here’s why I feel the need to add that fourth filter to our discernment process: because sometimes even when I apply those other 3 principles I can still have a bit of a blind spot. I think we all have a tendency to see what we want to see, or to NOT see something that we might not want to be true. In those cases, it’s very helpful to have a friend or two whom you know and trust to speak truth to you and to help you see something that you may have overlooked.
Either way, I’m beginning to see that my own upbringing within the Evangelical Christian community really did stunt my own ability to think and reason for myself. I’m seeing and hearing it from all of those people who are sharing their stories and experiences with me through the Square 1 course and community, too. So, I know I’m not the only one.
As you find yourself coming out from under that oppressive, controlling, fear-based, shame and guilt-driven theological religious system, I would encourage you to learn to develop your own inner ability to discern right from wrong, and truth from error.
You and I have the mind of Christ. We are filled with the Spirit of Christ who leads us into all truth.
And once you know the Truth, it will not tell you turn off your brain and sit quietly while your inner alarm bells go off. No. What the Truth will do is set you free from all of that, and so much more.
If you’d like to find a supportive online community of people who understand what you’ve been going through in your Deconstruction journey, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised and completely welcome in Square 1.
While we still have a handful of seats available, I’m offering the course at 75% off for a limited time.
I hope you’ll meet me at Square 1 on Monday, Nov. 8. I’d love to see you there.
Keith Giles is the author of the best-selling 7-part “Jesus Un” series of books. His latest [and final] book in that series “Jesus Unarmed: How The Prince Of Peace Disarms Our Violence” releases Nov. 9, 2021 and will be available on Kindle and in Print. He and his wife, Wendy, currently live in El Paso, TX.