Reform Your Faith, Don’t Deconstruct It

Reform Your Faith, Don’t Deconstruct It By ALAN SHLEMON for The Stream

I’ve had doubts about my faith. I’m guessing you’ve had them as well. No one is immune to wondering whether their convictions about Christianity are true. It’s a common human experience that is acknowledged in Scripture.

A Trendy New Approach to Doubting

Recently, however, there’s been a trendy new approach to doubting called “deconstruction.” It’s billed as an honest and intellectual exercise of asking questions about your faith and jettisoning some previously held beliefs. Many deconstruction advocates suggest that it’s simply about reforming your faith. They cite the Reformation’s cry of semper reformanda, which means “always reforming,” and claim their efforts are no different from what Martin Luther did during the Protestant Reformation or what Jesus did when he rebutted the unbiblical elements of the Pharisees’ faith.

There’s a fatal flaw with deconstruction, though. It should be disqualified from being a viable option for Christians because it’s missing an essential component: the standard of Scripture. Absent from the definition of deconstruction is the requirement to examine and adjust your faith according to a biblical standard. That’s why, despite some deconstructionists’ insistence, deconstructing your faith is not the same as reforming your faith.

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The Standard of Scripture

Deconstruction is the process of rethinking your faith without requiring Scripture as a standard. By contrast, reforming is the process of correcting mistaken aspects of your faith by aligning them with Scripture. Notice the key element that distinguishes between the two: the standard of Scripture. That’s because change, absent of a standard, is not reforming. There’s no direction. You’re not moving towards a particular destination. Your movement can be in any direction. It’s just change for the sake of change. That’s not reforming.

If you want to reform something, you move it towards a standard. If you’re reforming employee behavior, you’re changing it towards the company’s policy standards. If you’re reforming a society — like Martin Luther King, Jr. did — then you’re moving it towards the standard of equality set in the United States’ founding documents. If you’re reforming your morality, it’s towards a standard of perfect behavior.

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