“Deconstruction,” according to Brian Zahnd, refers to “a crisis of Christian faith that leads to either a reevaluation of Christianity or sometimes a total abandonment of Christianity. Carry Nieuwhof says that “deconstruction can be a complete demolition of Christian belief, a critical re-appraisal of one’s faith tradition, or an honest acknowledgement of doubt and questions.”
Taken together, both explanations suggest that “deconstruction” is not an intrinsically bad word. There’s nothing wrong with—and perhaps, something very right with—re-evaluating the beliefs you grew up with, or honestly acknowledging your doubt and raising hard questions about your faith. Unless my parents and pastors and denomination are inspired by God, they’ve gotten some things wrong. And I’m on a quest to figure out what those things are. In many ways, my entire Christian journey have been one of deconstruction.
This is why I’m so excited about the upcoming Exiles in Babylon 2024 conference, where we’ll be spending an entire three hour session on the topic of Deconstruction, Reconstruction, and the Gospel. People deconstruct in many different directions and for many different reasons. We also reconstruct our faith (or sometimes don’t) for various reasons as well. One thing the church needs to do a better job of is—listen to the actual perspectives of people who have deconstructed, rather than assuming we know why they are deconstructing.
And this is what we’re going to do at Exiles24. We’re going to listen to and learn from four different stories related to Deconstruction.
We’ll hear from Joshua Harris, who spent half his life as a prominent Christian writer, pastor, and leader with a massive platform and incredible influence. A few years back, he deconstructed and left Christianity entirely –after apologizing for and renouncing the books that made him a household name in evangelical circles. Many of us who grew up following Josh will have thoughts and opinions about why he deconstructed – but his story is so unique that that I want to go direct to the source himself.
We’ll also hear from Ameen Hudson, co-host of the popular Southside Rabbi podcast, who didn’t deconstruct from Christianity or the gospel—quite the opposite. Rather, Ameen is one of many black Christians who deconstructed from a white dominate brand of Evangelical Christianity.
And then there’s Abigail Favale, whose journey is hard to make up. She deconstructed from evangelical Christianity to postmodern secular feminism and then back to Christianity via the Catholic church. Why is it that many evangelicals are turning to more liturgical and historic expressions of Christianity? Abigail will help us understand why.
Finally, we’ll hear from pastor, song writer, worship leader, and church planter Evan Wickham. In his own words, “I should have deconstructed from evangelical Christianity, but I didn’t. I’m more passionate about Orthodoxy than ever before!” I imagine that Evan will resonate with many of the concerns raised from the other speakers. So why did he not deconstruct in the same way that they did? What kinds of experiential and intellectual overlap do they all share, and where do they differ?
After these four talks, we’ll of course do the fun, raw, exile sort of thing and plop all of these beautiful people on the couch together and put them in conversation with each other! And if you attend the Exiles24, you’ll be able to ask them questions.
It’s going to be raw, folks. It’s going to be real. And this is only one of four topics that we’re going to tackle. We’re also going to discuss: Gospel-centered ways of including LGBTQ people into the Church; women, power, and abuse in the church; and 3 Christian views of politics and the gospel. I’ll explain more about those other topics in future posts.
If you’re interested in attending Exiles24, register HERE. Space is limited and seats are filling up quickly, so register soon if you want to attend.