the bible's role in the deconstruction of belief
"Written About Us" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
The bible's role in the deconstruction of my beliefs was critical. I had spent my time in churches that enforced the authority of the bible as the inspired word of God that could never be questioned at all.
Of all places, it happened when I was graduating from seminary. Here's a section from my new book, Questions Are The Answer: nakedpastor and the search for understanding
, describing that experience:
‚ÄùAfter I graduated (from Bible College), Lisa and I got married and moved to Boston where I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to study my Masters in Bible and Theology. I was fortunate to be mentored by some of the most influential biblical theologians. I studied more Greek, more Hebrew, Aramaic, and the texts of the New Testament. This seminary was on the cutting edge of conservative Christianity, but it was still very conservative.
Even though my world was very black and white, at the time it felt very ordered and beautiful. I was happy in it.
Then, just before my graduation, The Silence of Jesus, by James Breech. I don't know why I read it. Perhaps a friend showed it to me. Or maybe I saw it in the bookstore. I don't think it would have been required reading because it certainly wasn't from the seminary's theological perspective. Breech's argument is that there are essentially a few sayings of Jesus that could be relied upon as authentic. He proceeds to analyze these through a very convincing critical lens. As I was reading it, I could feel the foundations of my theological earth move.
Everything, my whole life, suddenly became very unstable and terrifying.
My parents were visiting from Toronto, and Lisa's parents and grandmother were visiting from Alabama.
We were all stuffed into our tiny one-bedroom apartment getting ready to go to my graduation ceremony. I was literally freaking out. Everything I ever believed was in crisis! IT was like I had a tidy sturdy stack of blocks and one of the bottom ones supporting the whole stack‚ the inspiration and infallibility of scripture‚ had been pulled out.
I could feel absolutely everything about my world getting ready to crumble into a confusing and complicated heap. Lisa literally grabbed me and shook me and told me to calm down and that I had to get it together because I was graduating in just one hour. Somehow it jolted me out of my panic and I calmed down enough to go through with the motions of my graduation.‚Äù
I would probably pinpoint this moment as the beginning of my deconstruction. So many years ago! It was like a destructive virus entered my theological system and slowly but surely compromised the integrity of my beliefs. It wasn't until decades later that¬†it came to full fruition.
How about you? Do you identify with this? What would you pinpoint as the beginning of your deconstruction?
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