Tribal Instincts and the Construction of Faith

Is deconstructing one’s faith a “movement” as it is referred to in many circles of Christianity today or is it a lifestyle that we have no choice but to embrace if we are to follow the teachings of the Christ? At the heart of any belief system there is (or should be) a desire for truth.

“The small truth has words that are clear; the great truth has great silence.” -Rabindranath Tagore

Many of our tribes within Christianity have taken small truths and, as I have said before, made assumptions about the larger Mystery while teaching those assumptions as the great truth. Even more disturbing is the fact that each tribe has assumptions so integrated within the faith that to question or dig deeper to discern mistranslations and origins is tantamount to heresy and “falling away” from the Church. But which church? The Coptic Christians? The Episcopals? The Evangelicals? The Mystics? The Trappist monks? The Anglicans?

The list of tribes that have very fundamental differences on the hot topics of the day as well as the topics that were always debated from the beginnings of Christianity is an exhaustive one. But if we allow our pursuit of truth to be squelched by our tribe’s belief systems, we have indeed given up on our honest pursuit of the Creator.

Regardless if it stems from institutional manipulation, ignorance, or a desire to avoid turmoil and a ruffling of the feathers within our community, ignoring the recent discoveries of ancient cultures and turning a blind eye to the many mistranslations and outside influence in the sacred scriptures results in us failing to seek the Creator with all of our mind, body, and spirit. But we are called to seek. And where there are questions, conflicts, or uncertainties we cannot in due conscious neglect our responsibility to either let go of bad teachings and misunderstandings nor embrace truths we wish went another way. That is the only path to the deepening of our faith. Otherwise, we unwittingly base our expression of our belief on fallacies which affect how we interact with creation, God, and humanity in general.

Unfortunately, many that wish to discover what is truth and what is assumption within Christianity’s teachings experience a fear of exclusion from a well-meaning tribe bent on upholding doctrinal mandates and moral purity for fear of not pleasing their Creator. If you are one that believes, as I do, that the Spirit of God does indeed guide, there is no fear of disappointing your Creator, only hesitance about disrupting your safe place and the fear of turmoil within your community that truly being humble to Mystery may cause.

One of the primary fallacies believed about those within Christianity that are “deconstructing” their faith is that it is a desire to make their religion more palatable and less challenging for those outside their system. It is based on an assumption that addressing the topics that have always been in question is an attempt to rewrite scripture in their image–picking and choosing the pieces they agree with. In its truest form it is a return to pursuing truth wherever that leads and whatever it means letting go of. No ulterior motive except truth.

We can never live with a renewed mind if we continue to base the details of our faith on what was passed down to us or on our English translations of an ever-corrected group of scriptures. You don’t need to look far to see in the footnotes of translations of the Bible there are addendums, passage corrections, and notes about later-added stories. Those small details, though seemingly benign, divide communities and divide the church. Hell, evolution, the rapture, environmental concerns, immigration, original sin, sexuality, capital punishment, grace, patriarchal elitism, origins of the satan, hierarchy within church institutions, the trinitarian concepts of God, prophecy, the earth revolving around the sun, slavery, prosperity gospels, holiness, the end times…the list goes on. These are the things that divide and have divided christian communities, and the interpretations of those “benign” details have taken their toll. If our faith in God and Christ’s role is built on any of these concepts – which many of the most knowledgable scholars within Christianity differ on – then our faith is not in God, it is in a movement and it is in a comradery of likeminded souls that have ceased seeking for fear of discovering uncomfortable truths.

Truly seeking God will take us places that may disrupt the flow of our tribe, but if our goal is relationship with the Creator and an understanding of the sacredness of scripture and humanity’s role in the world, then we must be willing to take the journey.

We are not falling away nor making the Gospel more palatable. We are growing in faith. If I were to make it palatable I would throw it out altogether and just party. Which you can do if you are so inclined. But we, if you consider yourself a follower of The Way, are called to a deeper existence. Deconstruction of our faith at some point requires construction of our faith and I don’t want to build with the “small truth.” I want the bigger truth–one that is stronger and can withstand the uncertainties. That bigger truth holds mysteries that will never be able to be clearly articulated.

We must be willing to not look “bold” to the church if that means pursuing God with everything we have.

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