Keeping their eyes on Christ

One unfortunate thing that I can’t help but to notice in my own personal experience is that often when talking to christians who believe in YEC , or even if they are doubting it , and begin to understand the Bible with more of a accommodationist view is that they seem to go through a fairly long period of taking their eyes off Christ. While I know that deconstruction and
reconstruction can be very rough , and it consumes a lot of time have anyone found good ways to help keep the process focused on Christ and not just a year or two of time
Consumed solely by this process of better understanding the Bible.

While I believe that the majority of people benefits from this what are some of the ways , or books focused on remaining in Christ during reconstruction, that you may have came across. Especially since during this time many seem to feel isolated from their congregations and those weaker in the faith seemingly walks away for a time snd some never return.

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For me the main thing I tell them is almost the same thing I still unbelievers who get baptized into Christ and added to the body is that they need to reflect on how every story in the Bible points towards Christ. Which is something Tim Mackie and Jon Collins says a lot and their recent podcast episode was on this as well. I also encourage them to remain in fellowship that there is no such thing as the perfect congregation. All congregations fall short. I also stress to them that just because someone misses how to correctly interpret the genre of point of places like genesis , Jonah or misunderstands doctrinal subject studies like on hell that it does not mean they don’t understand the majority of the Bible or that they don’t bear those truths in their lives. I warn them of favoritism on it or be divisive because of it.

If it becomes the only subject they want to talk about and they bring it up often at the assemblings then it will cause problems. That there is a big difference between what I have always heard called “ being right versus being righteous “. When they do this they begin to become isolated even while in service snd they tend to have no fellowship outside of service and ofer time they drift away and become someone similar to what paul said. “ always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth” .

It’s part of the reason why me and other disciples in our local congregations meet up several times a month. We create a wide range of events for those of us who are close friends and those of us who are not. Such as in a few weeks from now me snd several others who like horror are going to the theaters to watch Halloween. Sometime before then many of us, older and younger are going to pick up two dozen biscuits from Chick-fil-A to get biscuits ( though sense I don’t eat them I am bringing a few of my own fried green tomato biscuits) and we are going to park where they have some old train that was restored where some guy is giving a talk about trains. I’m not really that interested but once a month we try to let a random disciple pick out a local event or thing they are interested in and many of us just show up to fellowship. But it’s neat. I’ve been to some places I never would have went and ended up enjoying it. This older lady once took us to hobby lobby when they were having this show on artists who created plate designs.

So I always encourage those going through deconstruction to remain very active in their church and if their church does not do these things to just set it up. It’s easy to simply put up a sign up sheet and have the evangelist mention before the service that on blah blah we are going to this or that event. Often because many work in regular places like restaurants or malls where a schedule is only a week out the plans are quick. Like on Sunday they may say Tuesday evening we are going here because the person picking it just happens to be off that day.

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Great question. “Relevant” Magazine has the following article, based on interviewing “Science Mike” McHargue and Sarah Bessey.

How to Deconstruct Your Faith Without Losing It - RELEVANT (relevantmagazine.com)

Some themes: It’s excessive demand on certainty that make us lose our faith. Also, this from Mike McHargue:

“After you’ve been really certain that God is real, and you lose that, it’s kind of hard to be full of yourself and your ideas again,” he explains. “It becomes impossible to have your ideas about God become an idol. The biggest thing I got from being a fundamentalist evangelical and then a fundamentalist atheist, was I was fundamentally wrong about how the world works twice. I’m determined to not make that mistake again.”

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Hey friend!

Thanks for sharing that article. It was interesting and I would agree with the idea that the stricter one’s belief system is before the shift, the stronger or more drastic the shift will be when it happens. I think the article could be encouraging to those who are deconstructing and reconstructing.

Thanks again!
-Joshua W.

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Another relevant blog to the subject. Also, read the next blog entry after it to expand on the thoughts. Basically, the author while encouraging deconstruction, warns against making those voices the only ones you listen to, but keep reading and listening to strong unapologetic Christian voices as well.

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Thank you!

Read both blog entries. More helpful stuff, and I definitely agree that there needs to be a healthy dose of doubt and questioning. Fear of these can exacerbate the issue, but simply throwing oneself all in could be incredibly unhelpful as well.

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Yeah… it’s unfortunately easy to do. It’s especially easy when someone has been taught that the entire foundation of Christianity rests on the world being young. If that’s the case, then even something as otherwise foundational as “keeping your eyes on Christ” can be called into question, because don’t I have to “throw out the entire Bible” if “the foundation” (Genesis 1 literalism) is wrong? It can be like having to find faith all over again. Not that YECism leads to that extreme of a crisis for everyone, but it can.

But still, even if someone is questioning absolutely everything, I would still give them similar advice as you do – to keep focused on Christ and not letting peripheral concerns have too big a stage, and to remember why you love Jesus in the first place.

I seem to be making a habit of recommending books I haven’t read yet, but I’ve heard good things about a book called “After Doubt” by A.J. Swoboda, who is a pastor who’s counseled a lot of people going through deconstruction. He was on an episode of The Holy Post podcast and I appreciated what he had to say.

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Thanks for sharing this! Added it to my shopping list on Amazon! :slight_smile:

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If my reconstruction in Christ is a book away… it ain’t. Later.

Well for many who are knew in Christ , or who have grown up in heavy fundamentalism and have not really been able to educate themselves on science when they begin to learn and come across these things they begin to struggle a lot. As they get more and more stressed they often seem to get depressed and may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. Many things can help with this and many experts wrote books about specific things that can help.

Such as the happiness lab by Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos. I’ve recommended it to many and many have had good results listening to it.

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I think we’ve seen counterexamples here that may negate that.

I resemble that. It’s probably a hoped for goal. I think of the illustration by Luther of a drunk falling off a horse–he thinks he knows the problem after he falls off one side, only to overcorrect and do it the wrong way the other.

However, having had a house of cards deconstructed sometimes does help us focus on the bigger picture–not straining a gnat out, but swallowing a camel. Alas, I do retain a tendency to black and whitism. Thanks.

I resonate with the title, but deconstruction is unsparing. All that is left is desire. And I’m lucky. Most don’t have that. And it’s not their fault and not the fault of deconstruction. It’s extremely easy to deconstruct Jesus to the legend and His followers, acting in deluded or even calculated goodwill, none of the apologetics as in all others work. He remains the most persuasive argument for God in Himself. But the trouble is deconstruction works on everything else, it’s a two pronged assault. It reveals the utter and absolute rational sufficiency of nature. This is because Christianity is corrupted by the OT, even in its inception, even in Jesus, even if He is God incarnate. My 52 year journey of faith began with Jesus’ prophecies, James Michener’s The Source, and a descent in to fundamentalism. All of that house built on sand was washed away by three years ago. All that was left was the Pericope Adulterae as the sublime proof of divine awareness in an Israelite carpenter… Then that went of course.

I’m left with trying to find Christ still in the pitch dark, where I’m chained up and deaf. He can only come and find me by my imagining Him and my interacting coherently with that failing imagination.

Perhaps I need a crucifix, or a little icon of Christ Pantocrator on my desk, round my neck. Making Him work is very hard work. I envy you all, your ease with Him.

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Thank you for your honesty.

Mark 9:24 “Lord…help my unbelief.”

Matthew 25:37-40 37"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘LORD, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

This passage reminds me that it’s not the name of faith, but the acting of what is right, that matters to God.

If I did not believe that God would cheer honest inquiry on–even to the point of becoming an atheist to follow the evidence–I would consider God unjust, and find it impossible to teach Him as an example to my children.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a missionary doctor, to serve suffering people as my dad found so fulfilling. When I finally applied to the agency I grew up in, I was dismayed to find that their statement of faith clarified many of my deconstructing doubts–such as belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, especially in relationship to Numbers 31 and the slaughtering of all but virgin teens, who were then forcibly married; and the possibility that those who had never heard would be eventually saved.

When I wrote my concerns down, i was (understandably) rejected. The staff, some of whom were friends from my childhood, were very kind, and affirmed our family -like relationship, despite our disagreements. What was interesting was that at least one of my own family members admitted that they felt the same way as I.

It has been difficult, but I am glad I did not fudge my beliefs. I am more real as a result.

I agree with your complete honesty. I believe that God will reward it. Thanks.

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[my own emphasis added to the quote above]

Amen to that. And actually - that emphasized bit provokes some further thoughts for me that came from having recently read the Catholic theologian Hans Balthasar’s “Love Alone Is Credible”.

He puts forward that Love is the motivation and primary legitimator (my own word there) for everything else. I.e. Love itself is not in need of “reasons” … or to the extent that it is, it has not yet risen into the fullness of what Divine Love is. Perhaps initially, my human self may “love” somebody because of what they can do for me. But if so, that is transactional and not really love. True love exists without need of reasons - and (even more revealingly of the Divine signature) often in spite of them. It is the absolute ground and the motivation for everything else. That is - we do things because of Love, rather than loving because of things. Though in our weak human selves - we may certainly indulge in such lesser (other-motivated) loves as pale, and still-developing reflections of the real Divine Love. God will help us to grow from where we’re at. Our faulty lesser loves can only aspire within us toward fuller flower by being “dirty mirror” reflections of the real thing. Even our sinful selves can sense enough of that Divine spark of the real thing that we have a notion of what our own lesser loves should be - and indeed contain a spark of, even if still sullied, frail, or mostly still selfish.

Sorry - Laura - all that wasn’t to pick on or disagree with an innocent phrase that I doubt you meant to pack that much into. And indeed I fully agree with what you expressed. I just wanted to use your words as a springboard for that recent reading that spoke to me.

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No problem, and I agree with you, especially on the way love can be “transactional.” I have noticed ways in my life where, even though I’m outwardly quite opposed to the idea of the “prosperity gospel,” I have still believed and acted in ways that presumed some degree of expectation for something in exchange for my good behavior.

It is strange how, even in denominations and groups that champion a “personal relationship with God,” we also, at the same time, act like it’s something that needs scientific and rational proof behind it. And of course, without the the evidence and rationality, some would call “irrational,” but I appreciate that Pete Enns has used the term “transrational” to describe it. It’s not at war with rationality, but transcends it.

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Yes, very much so. This may not be where I am remembering it from, but there is a mirth transcending rationality that Jesus would love such as we:

There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.
 
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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I suggest a. Bible reading plan that you can follow, may I say religiously. Other books and theologians seem to focus too often on elevating each other, their opinions, books, and degrees, pastors included. The bible is about Jesus from front to back. I prefer red letter bibles. Read at the same time each day and start with a realistic amount that you can study carefully, as with lectio divina, which means basically to read a section, then meditate on that, and what stands out for you, don’t set big goals that make you rush without absorbing God’s Word. Hope that helps.

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Sure. Even when you are reading theology books the focus is on the Bible. It’s not not just their own random thoughts but lots of time spent on investigating it and studying it.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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