Be like youth.
Build your house on the rock
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” – Matthew 7:24-27 (NASB)
Hmm. Opposing idea: I’ve built houses and one of the things we do is lay down sand. But it has to be on firm ground not where the sand will be washed away. So these opposing ideas can be reconciled.
English: House on Drina river by Rasevic on Wikimedia Commonshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:House_on_the_rock.jpg
A long path of deconstruction
I’ve been deconstructing Christianity since the 1960s and call it spiritual growth. If we allow that to happen, we grow and don’t lose faith. Young adults look at what the church and people have to say and ask if it’s truth or hypocrisy made up to support what people want to believe to control others.
My deconstruction began when I was a child in the Methodist Church (AME). I was baptized but soon had difficulties with some of church doctrine. We changed ministers every year. One would come in and preach hell fire and damnation, then the next would come in and preach love. It didn’t make sense.
Does it have to make sense? One idea can’t be in opposition to another or the entire structure falls. Jesus also said, “… Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25 (NASB). Jesus was responding to people who claimed he was using the power of Beelzebul, not God.
Opposing ideas don’t work. One has to go or they have to be reconciled. The primary idea is that God is love, so the idea of sending people to Hell is in opposition to the idea of love that is so great we can’t grasp a love that big.
Over decades I came to understand that Hell is a choice that people make, not God. They refuse God and living in the ways of love that God has shown us, and continue a life of isolation, hate, and hurting others which can continue forever. But God forgives no matter what we’ve done, if we only ask. And we have no idea of the depth of God’s love or his abilities to foster change in people.
Ending up in a void, in limbo
I’ve watched others deconstruct and they come up with unanswerable questions that are show stoppers for them. “How can God permit evil things and calamities and send people to Hell?” They end up in limbo, which is a place of no beliefs and are unable to reconstruct or believe anything. Cognitive dissonance won’t let them go forward. They must have answers. I understand.
For some they understand that they don’t require an answer to everything and can move ahead with doubt about some things (not knowing).
Many decades ago I stopped seeing faith in God as an intellectual exercise in which everything has to make sense at the beginning or you can’t have belief. Faith is trust in God. We prove faith in God’s ways by experiencing it. It’s experiential. The proof is in the pudding.
Philosophy creates unwinnable arguments
Philosophy, unlike science, doesn’t admit to exceptions. Rational arguments must be provable and permit no exceptions. But philosophy is an intellectual exercise not based in reality. You can believe we’re all in the Matrix and our world is completely unreal, and philosophy has little to counter that.
I loved Hume who told the story of one person who didn’t believe the world was real. Hume said something to the effect: let’s wait and see if you exit by the door or fly out the window.
We live in a world in which people use rational arguments to disprove Christianity. But Christians live by faith, which means not knowing in absolute terms. This is closer to the Postmodern philosophy of overlooking exceptions (not knowing). Faith knows by experience, not knowledge.
Re: Not knowing:
Is knowledge overrated, or vital to our future? – In Defence of Knowledge.
– The Other Journal: The Intersection of Theology and Culture.
Christianity isn’t absolute
Christianity has to admit to exceptions or it’s disproven. It is either rigidly absolute or it isn’t absolute at all. It can’t contain two opposing ideas without good reason to reconcile those ideas.
Christianity is a way of life that usually works. Some have said that if it’s untrue they still would have rather been a Christian (or even other religion based on love).
The poor durability of absolutes is why I don’t “define” things but “describe” them. Definitions are absolutes with borders and they rarely describe life in all of its complexity and endless differences. Absolutes just stop people from thinking and understanding.
In our quest for absolutes, we trade faith for knowledge that isn’t complete, and end spiritual growth. This is understandable in these times when faith is built on sand and the shifting storms of culture and conscience washes it away. People want something to hold onto, but the harder they hold on the more it slips away.
We can talk about the ancient Jewish ideas that God is all powerful and all knowing (Omnipotent, Omniscient) but these are philosophical ideas that fall during earnest debate. It leaves some in an endless quest to rationalize exceptions. Applying them as absolutes causes unbelief, not faith.
In a similar way, in Alan Watts book The Wisdom of Insecurity, he says that insecurity is the result of trying to be secure. Impermanence and insecurity are inescapable and inseparable from life.
The more we try to prove security, the more we disprove it.
Tips for deconstruction – take home points
Be like young people – build your spiritual foundation on a rock of truth:
- Spiritual growth is the gradual acceptance and practice of the way of love while weeding out what isn’t true or helpful. If someone is feeding you information to try to disprove God and Christianity, or declaring rigid absolutes that don’t work, they don’t have your best interests in mind and are simply trying to influence or even control you. Misery, power, and control love company. Take their thoughts with a grain of salt in your spiritual growth process.
- Start from the premise that God created nature and people to do what they do, not to control them or be constantly interfering like an overbearing mother. The idea of controlling people is antithetical to being free to choose how to live and love. Those opposing ideas don’t coexist.So if nature causes calamities or people do evil, it’s the nature of the world we live in. Stop blaming God. God helps us get through it and helps us to change the world so that it is a better place. It’s up to us to build earthquake and wind resistant buildings, get people out of mudslide and flood areas, get people vaccinated against disease, and get better opportunities – that’s love.
- God is love. All of the major religions have that as a core belief (“All” is a big word. there may be exceptions). Keep in mind that if we live in love it works most of the time. There are exceptions.
- If you think you might be making an error, then go with the side of love.
Spiritual Growth Series – Dorian Cole (Another spiritual growth series is coming on Patheos this year.)
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.