Deconstructing Faith and A Disorienting Community

Scott Thomas Scrivner, George Fox University


Life does not go as planned. It can be both brighter and more tragic than expected, and probably even both, all at once. I have felt deeply the moments my expectations were not met in my life. My faith is one of those things greatly affected by such brokenness and beauty in life. After years in ministry and years practicing my faith, I have found that the church is too often not a space to work through the disorientation that comes when one’s understanding of life conflicts with one’s actual experience of life. Instead of making room for this kind of struggle to be worked out, the church often offers clichéd resolutions and the pressure to ignore the doubt, questions, and in-between-ness that come with such disorientation. A friend of mine recently posted the following to Facebook: When I started having my doubts and questions, I didn’t really have anywhere to go with them. I tried bringing things up with my coworkers and friends, but it didn’t seem like anyone cared – or had any idea what to do about it. So, I became very isolated in many ways. That transitioned into a long, dark period of depression, to the point of having suicidal thoughts. When I finally walked away, I had no idea what to do next . . .1 This is happening over and over again for so many people. So, I have set out to study ways to integrate deconstruction philosophies into the Christian faith in the context of the community life. I am asking, how can a community of faith make space for also losing a version of faith, space to go through disorientation, and not be threatened by doubts, questions, and struggles, but offer a way toward greater hope, an increased fidelity to Christ, and a deeper bond within community? I am finding in my own community experience that building in language and practices of deconstruction actually brings a renewed life to faith. In ritualizing the loss of faith, being present with others in their disorientation, and embracing mystery, a more fluid foundation emerges to reconstruct a more evolving faith. Deconstruction can become an integrated part of faith and community life in order to provide a space to process worldview shifts. Expanding the language of faith to include liminal space, or in-between-ness, allows for a more robust language, increased self-reflection, and a healthier lens for life. A disorienting community is one that walks with others with the presence and grace needed to face and function within a life that does not go as planned.