a deconstruction faith

sometime back i was helping a friend do some “remodeling” in this very cool, and very old house he and his wife just moved into. It was fun; we walked around the house with sledgehammers smashing holes in walls that he felt needed to come down. We both took turns pretending to be the Incredible Hulk and rip old wallboard off the frame. It was fun – kicking walls, ripping wallboard, pretending to be superhero’s ripping down walls to save people in distress, but the fun soon turned to hard work and frustration.

The “plan” (I use quotes because no plan ever goes right in a reconstruction) was to remove some walls and put an addition on the back end to extend the living space – it soon turned into “the best laid plans of mice and men.” The plans were all drawn up and ready to go – we know exactly what walls needed to come down and exactly what walls needed to stay up. My friend hired “experts” to help with the planning and the design of what he kept calling his “new home.” As we were doing all the work we kept saying it would have been easier to simply tear it down and start again. It was so true. When we finished all the redesigning and reconstruction we found the house looked exactly the same, it just had a bigger living room. Sure, there was a new room in the back, but the foundations did not "line-up" because the old foundation settled, and did not settle evenly. Concerning the outside look,nothing had really changed; in fact one of the guys next door commented that the house looked the same as it did before. The reconstruction just made one room bigger and cost a ton of cash. This got me to thinking of the difference between “reconstruction” modern approach to theology and “deconstruction” postmodern approach to theology. The differences between the two are vast and are centered on our cornerstone to the understanding of our relationship before God.

Surface or deep changes:
When I think of reconstruction (reforming, refinishing, restructuring, and all the other umpteen million “re” words you can think of), I think in terms of surface changes; nothing too deep and nothing too substantial. Like my friends house, while a few walls are missing, the basic structure has not changed. Here is how I see it working in the modern reconstruction world of theology – you “seek” God (even though God has never moved we still demand that God meet us where we want God to meet us), you accept God (usually in front of many people), you pray the magic prayer (the sinner’s prayer, even though you never confess your sins, you just tell God you’re a sinner) and then you go about your life pretty much the way you did before. The changes are all surface; you are “reconstructed” from who you were before, “renewed” before God.

Postmodern theology, I believe, calls us to a deeper understanding of that connection between self and God – we are called to a “deconstruction of self” and to stand before God as a blank slate ready to be molded by God into what God wants us to be, not "remolded" into something the church desires. A deconstruction theology says that what we have right now, who we are right now, is nothing before God and we need to let God do all the changing in our lives. Modern theology does not challenge us to “change” – just to reform, and that is not a depth change, but a surface change. As we started to look at building “new” walls (actually we just moved the walls) we even started to use some of the 2x4’s we took from the older walls. So, in reconstruction we can use some of the older material to help form some of the “newer” parts.

Who is the architect?
In a modern reconstruction theology, the individual is the ultimate designer of what will happen; or a collection of indiciduals (church leaders) are the ones who oversee the "changes." Just as my friend decided that he would be the one who determined how the house would look in the end, so it is with modern theology. We go before God and “tell” God to change us, and “tell” God how to change us and “tell” God what we want God the change us too – we are the one who “control” our “transformation” (reconstruction). We determine what walls will come down and what walls will stay up.

On the other hand, I see postmodern deconstruction theology as telling the architect to design the best building for the site, and trusting that it will be just that – the best. I believe trust is the center of this relationship – moderns trust themselves to control their destiny; they are the controls of their models. While I believe a postmodern deconstructionist person knows that they cannot determine their own look, and we willingly surrender our lives to a God we know and trust. Some differences between the two are:

Reconstruction says: I make deals with God for the best possible outcome. It is a band aide fixture to the required brokenness. This approach starts with the basic assumption that at our core, we are basically good people and we are only in need of surface changes. Basically, it’s a fancy new cost of paint for a fancy new look.

Deconstruction says: No deals, it’s just me and God, and God rules – standing before God totally broken. The starting assumption is that the foundation we call self is in need of dramatic change.

With a reconstruction faith (a modern evangelical faith), we have a faith that says – go to God, confess you’re a sinner, God will forgive you, but the basic look will still be the same. I have seen this more times then not. In a reconstruction modern faith we see the fallen lining the streets of the fundamental/conservative/liberal theology and mindset (reconstruction modern theology is not necessarily a “conservative” theology – it can also be, and often is, liberal). We need to keep in mind, what when we are wearing the armor of God the only part of our body that is exposed is our back. So, the only time we can fall is by “friendly fire” – people stabbing us in the back. Over the past few years I have seen people fall out of favor with the reconstruction moderns, only to be ridiculed and insulted for ever – even after seeking forgiveness and repenting.

Just a few are Bakker and Warnke. These men fell out of favor, and remain out of favor for most, if not all, evangelical reconstruction modern Christians – the question then becomes, “can a person truly receive forgiveness in modern reconstruction theology?” After all, with God it is forgiveness 100%, yet with moderns it is at best 60%. I have heard pastors teach, “God forgives, we remember.” What makes us better then God? If God forgives the heart of repentance, who are we to say otherwise? Who are we to say that forgiveness is or is not granted? Who are we to say that repentance on the part of one is right and on the part of another is wrong? A faith that deconstructs the person brings them bare before God and God does the work, and we must accept what God is doing in people. When we do this, we see our faults and our sins. When we do this we do so with honesty and with an open heart. Standing before God as a person seeking His grace, is far more valuable then standing before humanity seeking theirs.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

testing to see if this works