I usually have a reasonable idea of what I’m about to write when I start a blog – but today, I don’t have any anecdotes or well-formed thoughts, just the seed of a thought that’s been sitting with me for a number of months. So here goes.
I, like many of you, have over the past 15 years or so, been on a journey of ‘deconstruction’ (which, sidenote, is a word I’m so ready to be done with…perhaps we could give it a new name, something German sounding like ‘schnarffleffen’) – a process where I have never once questioned Jesus or God, but have unpacked the version of Jesus or God that was presented to me in my formative years.
Over this time, I have pendulumed between more liberal and orthodox views, and in recent years, I feel like I’ve reconstructed my faith in a lot of ways, and have come to a quite settled theological worldview. It is from this place that I am observing a wing of, what I can only call, ex-Christian spirituality. It’s a whole bevy of people that have come up through evangelicalism and have found that reality and their experiences don’t line up with the party line that they were taught. And as a result of this, they have adopted a spirituality that includes aspects of many religions, as well as still thinking Jesus is great.
I actually think I have a fairly open view of God in a lot of ways, in fact some would call me a downright liberal. Do I think that God is found in much more than the four walls of the church and between the two covers of the bible? Absolutely. Do I think that people encounter Jesus all the time but don’t know that it’s him? Yes. Would I be surprised to discover people from other religions and faiths having a relationship with Christ in way that they would describe differently to ‘Christianity’? Not at all. Am I okay with people referring to God as ‘her’? Sure.
But I think the whole ‘all spirituality is good spirituality’ thing sits a little uncomfortably with me for a number of reasons. Firstly, it all just seems so untethered. There’s no anchor. To me, Jesus is always the anchor – he’s the reference point, the bottom line, the litmus test. Does this mean that the teachings of Buddha or Confucius don’t hold some truth? Absolutely not. But everything gets run through the filter of Jesus.
Another thing that I find uncomfortable is the very important distinction between ‘God lives in me’ and ‘I am part-God’; a subtle but very important difference. In ex-Christian spirituality, I have observed a thought that essentially says, ‘I am Divine’. A lot of this is probably a knee-jerk reaction to the teachings of the church that have wrongly hammered into us that we’re all ground-dwelling worms that feed on the excrement of pond-scum. I guess the way that I think of it, is that I am not essentially ‘good’, but I am irrevocably loved and valued. I was created with love, care and intention, but I am also, let’s face it, almost incurably selfish. A lot of the ‘good’ things I do are at heart a mixture of wanting to follow the example of Jesus, and because I have learned that doing good things pays really good dividends…in friendships, reciprocity and good feelings. I am deeply loved and held, and I am also not Jesus.
My heart isn’t to throw anyone under the bus; I recognise that the undertaking of a deconstruction journey often results from the wounds inflicted by our church experiences and is deeply intertwined with our views of self. I also believe that such a journey is a necessary one. I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that I believe it is possible to deconstruct (schnarffleffen) our faith, while still remaining tethered to Jesus, and fully reliant on the pure goodness that only comes from him.
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts and experiences on this one!!
Love Deb x