No, I am not talking about the insurance company. I am talking about Christianity.
Over the last few years, I have been in a very
interesting state of faith. This state is called “deconstruction” and it is a
state when a believer begins to seriously take apart what they have always been
taught to believe. Not because they want to stop believing in God, but because,
at some point in everyone’s life, they need to stop being told what to believe
and develop what they do believe.
Now, I have watched numerous friends approach this state of faith and walk away from the faith entirely—and that is devastating for me. Because I know that they have walked away from the truth. But the fact is, I get it—at least partially. You see, when a believer approaches this state of faith and they are surrounded by a supportive group of believers who recognize the need for each person to work out their own salvation, it is easy to stick with the faith we know and love—while working out what we have always been taught and what we ultimately discover to be true. This was the case for me. I had a supportive husband, senior pastor, and group of friends with whom to process my thoughts. As I dug into the Word, and reexamined what I had always been taught, I learned that a lot of what I had been taught did not line up with scripture. And I had to re-learn a lot. But I had support.
My friends who walked away, however, were often met with a common issue: They were not surrounded by a supportive Christian environment. Instead, they were met with people who, although acting with the best of intentions, discouraged any and all questions in hopes of squashing the questions that made these people uncomfortable. They were told that questioning what they had been taught was wrong. That what they had been taught was the truth and that if they veered off of the truth that they had been taught, they were abandoning the faith entirely. But my friends realized in their period of deconstruction, that what they had been taught was not all true, but since they were in an environment that told them that it was all or nothing, they abandoned the faith entirely.
There has been a massive movement in the Church to squash the questions. I remember, as a younger teen, I asked a question about the Bible to my mom and it sent her into a rage. The way she reacted drove me to not trust her with my questions, but fortunately, I did not need to continue to bring my questions to her. My period of deconstruction started slowly, and the majority of it occurred after I was married. But, my husband saw a major shift in who I became in my faith. I went from a very fundamental, black and white, Christian to a Christian who studies the Bible and allows that to help me to understand how to treat people, view issues, and progress in my faith. I no longer believe stuff just because it is what I have always been taught, I wrestle with everything and allow God to work it out for me.
And I have become what some might call “progressive”—
Now, there are some aspects of the Progressive
Christianity belief structure that I do not agree with—but not many. I do still
believe in sin—and I do believe that there are a lot of accepted practices that
are sinful. I do still believe in Heaven and Hell. I do still believe in the
need to be a follower of Christ.
But I am progressive—
Why? Because I realize that my fundamentalist beliefs were not right. I realized that I did not know everything I needed to know about the Bible and that the Bible continues to cause me to progress in my faith.
Because I believe that questioning is okay. In fact, I believe it is necessary. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is not just a nice sentiment. The black and white structure of fundamentalist Christianity does not allow for working out our own salvation—if we do not believe exactly as the cookie cutter demands, we are not good Christians. That is not working out our salvation, that is being forced to live in a box and idolizing another’s theology.
Because I believe that the Church needs to improve at being the Church. The Church has failed in the mission to help the poor, speak up for the oppressed, and heal the sick. The Church is called to be the hands and feet of Christ, but it has closed itself off from the poor, oppressed, and sick. It had handed those responsibilities off to the Government and then speaks out against those who use the governments assistance. It has stopped touching lives with Christ’s hands, and it has stopped going into the world with Christ’s feet. It has become that kid on the sidelines of the world, judging everyone in the game but refusing to play.
Because I believe that Christianity is more than
where we go on a Sunday morning. Christianity requires that we live for God,
not only in our own lives by reading the Bible and going to church, but also in
the lives of others—but loving them right where they are and not expecting them
to “clean themselves up” before we decide they are worth our time. Jesus
defended the woman caught in adultery before she “went and sinned no more.” Who
are we to think that we should be different than him?
Because I believe that there is so much more to who God is than what we have been taught in Sunday School. He is not bound by time, space, race, gender, economics, or location. I believe that there is not a single place on this earth or time in history or future, that is beyond the power of God. I believe that God can work all things out for his good—according to his plans. I believe that God does not have to work within our box of what we want to believe.
Call me progressive, I don’t mind. My faith is progressing according to what Christ is showing me.