ARTICLE: How to Deconstruct Your Faith Without Losing It

As I read this article I reflected on my own faith transition from my past rigid Christian beliefs to my presently reconstructing Progressive (but still Christian) faith.

“You go back to the first 1,300 years of Christianity, and faith is defined as a combination of knowing and not knowing. Of a willingness and readiness by the grace of God to live with a certain degree of unknowing or what the mystics call darkness. Now with that out of the picture, and people getting the impression that they have a right to perfect certitude and perfect clarity and perfect order every step of the way, you’ve basically—I’m gonna say it strongly—you’ve basically destroyed the biblical idea of faith to begin with.” – Richard Rohr

Almost half of ALL PEOPLE go through a faith transition in their lifetime. Those that are least likely to do so are ones whose faith is rooted in the fear of uncertainty. Neuroscience research that studies how the brain responds to different types of religious beliefs (How God Changes Your Brain, Andrew Newberg) demonstrates that fundamentalist beliefs (of all types, including fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, and even atheists) are also rooted in the more rigid, threat appraising, and harm avoiding parts of the brain. These parts of the brain also have a greater sense of certainty in these beliefs and corresponding judgments. You need to be certain when your survival is at stake.

However, it’s another part of the human mind that abstracts, that thinks critically, that interprets emotion and perception with nuance and purpose, that can adapt to changing circumstances, and that is empathetic to those that aren’t like us. It’s this more uniquely human part of our mind that is designed not for mere survival, but for our wellbeing.

2017 was a bad year to be a Christian in America if you weren’t an Evangelical Republican happily yoked to Ayn Rand worshipping capitalists, racist White nationalists, and religious hypocrites. Agreed?

So, to all my lifelong Christian friends and family who are troubled by this uneven yoke, would you thoughtfully and prayerfully consider deconstructing your culturally-bound and fear-based Christianity like I have? Then hopefully, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”…to live the life of goodness, and fullness (and freedom) that God meant for us to live.

God is big enough for our doubts and patient enough for our journey.

If you are worried about your place in eternity, then consider this as a starting point:

If salvation belongs to our God (Revelation 7:10)…

and God wants ALL PEOPLE to be saved (1Timothy 2:4)…

does God get what God wants (Matthew 6:10)?

And knowing that “everlasting life” is not a destination in eternity but the fullness of this life, don’t we want that too? There is no Hell to fear, only to try and love God and love people. Now doesn’t that sound more like good news?

God is not looking down on us from above, but rather is the spark that activated the Singularity at the beginning of time, and is the ubiquitous and everpresent Higgs field that makes all things matter, both literally and metaphorically. Oh, and how liberating it is to be spiritual and scientific at the same time.


Recommended readings:

Love Wins & What Is the Bible? by Rob Bell
Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue

Recommended listening:

The Liturgists Podcast
The PAAC Podcast

Written by Joseph Lee, M.D.

I'm a Psychiatrist in private practice in Redondo Beach, CA. I completed both medical school and residency training at UCLA. My practice is psychotherapy based with a health-oriented focus on personal growth and wellbeing. I also teach about mental healthiness and advocate for social emotional learning (SEL) in all contexts.

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