I have foundation issues. Not the kind ThirdLove or Spanx can help me with; I mean like actual cement foundation. Our house is built on permafrost. (Non-Alaskans: permafrost is where the ground is frozen year-round below the surface unless you build something on top of it, in which case it melts and gets unstable. This, as you might imagine, is suboptimal for structures.) Anyhow. Part of our house sits on bottle jacks which get adjusted every so often when a corner of the house sinks enough to notice, and the drywall cracks both from the sinking and the lifting back up. But the part over the garage is on a foundation which, if we ever sell this house, will need to be chipped out and replaced. (With what? I don’t know. Andrew does. We probably need to dig it out and put some insulation down below it so the house doesn’t melt the permafrost? Something.) In order for a bank to loan to a buyer, this will be required. Our neighbors did it several years ago and it was… loud. Looked laborious. I hope this is something we can hire out when the time comes because I sure don’t want to do it.
“Deconstruction” has been getting a lot of play in Christian circles for a while. In mine, it’s a scary thing: people who used to be believers question everything they believed in and now they believe in nothing. They’re no longer Christians, which doesn’t fit with the way I read the Bible. (“…no one can snatch them out of my hand” and all.) Or maybe they never were, or they’re no longer identifying as believers (don’t get this set started on the way people “identify”), or worse, they do identify as Christian, but they’re heretics. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Bound to lead true believers astray, except, again, what does that mean, precisely?
I am deconstructing. It’s not in the overt “I used to believe all of this, but it’s all garbage and I don’t anymore” kind, or even in the “I used to hold these particular outdated beliefs but now I believe something more enlightened and progressive” type. It’s gentler than that. I love my church. (Even when it makes me the kind of crazy that typically, inexplicably, gets described as excrement of small flying mammals.) I certainly love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have absolute trust in the goodness of God. I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
But human understanding of the Father, Son, Spirit, and Scripture? That gets some pretty serious side-eye.
I question things like power structures and politics. Remind me again how women are to use their gifts and how they aren’t and why? How does the Holy Spirit interact with people? Maybe more importantly, why are we so eager to make pronouncements about the ways He can’t? How are we at loving our neighbors? Great. What about the marginalized ones? The ones who scare us a bit? The Sinners? How about the poor, the widow, the orphan, the refugee? (Whoops! Sorry! Too far! Refugees are probably terrorists trying to steal jobs.) Tell me again why we have to be Republican if we want to love Jesus? Exactly what does a conservative leader have to do to overstep that support? Is there a point past which I can decide to vote for somebody else without being immediately suspected as a Jesus-hating Liberal with and Agenda? What is with the amorphous, capital-A Agenda, anyway?
How do we handle people with different theology? Why do we go all cancel-culture on people with theological differences—particularly the ones we label Heretics and Wolves? Why do we insist on inerrancy in people and freak the hell out when they get it wrong by our reckoning? There’s one Person who is without error, and to get mad when another human isn’t Him is kinda weird and idolatrous. Assuming that we are without error (and thus in a place to call it out in Them) is likewise putting ourselves in a place that rightly belongs solely to the Lord.
And while we’re talking idolatry, why do we treat sexual sin as a way bigger deal than idolatry when the two are next-door neighbors on the list of things that prevent the inheritance of the kingdom of God? Why did we believe for so long it was okay to own other people (we found scriptural justification!) or keep them out of “our” bathrooms or prevent multi-colored marriages? What are we doing to dismantle the systems that still give white people a giant head start at the expense of the rest? Why, when believers all have the same Spirit of God in them, do we wind up with such divergent theology on so many things? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
These sound sort of dangerous and deconstructionish, right?
Instead of taking things for granted, I’m taking them apart, looking at the pieces, holding them up to my Father, and asking Him how they’re supposed to fit.
So far, my theology remains largely the same, though my politics have changed a little (lot). Importantly, I come at all of it with a lot less self-assurance—again, only one Person is inerrant. I am not Him. But I do trust Him.
The house stands.
But I am realizing I built it on a lot of things other humans told me, interpreting the Word the way I was instructed. It’s not bad—these humans pointed me to God—but it’s not what I should have built a house on. So I live in the house while the foundation crumbles beneath it—not to destroy the house, but to improve it. It’s loud and unpleasant and a crap-ton of work I can’t hire out, but the house will be much stronger, safer, and better. And I’m not doing it by myself. I have a Guide and He actually knows what He’s doing (unlike me) and He’s given me a manual of sorts—it’s a little less step-by-step than the directions for assembling those particle-board cabinets and bookshelves I can buy for a few ten-dollar bills, but then life is more complex than those are—and His Spirit helps me figure out exactly how to read and apply it, and what to do when the instructions don’t address my specific scenario.