Of Deconstruction, Reconstruction, and Living in the Tension

It was September 2019 when I hit a wall in my faith journey and started questioning my theological foundations. Because of the nature of my work at OMF Literature, I was exposed to the whole spectrum of Biblical Christianity. As I took a step back, I saw how what I knew back then—my entire theological foundation—was as a fence blocking off other theological systems and acting with condescension as if it is above and beyond all systems. (War flashback: I can still hear these words ringing in my head, “we have the right theology. We don’t have the ‘closest’ doctrine to the truth. We have the exact doctrine that is the truth.” The words were so firmly spoken by those who have not even taken a peak on the other side of the fence, much less exposed themselves to the vast outside.)

What do I really know? What do I really believe in? If I am to be one hundred percent confident that I am in the truth, my theological foundations must stand scrutiny—even by my own doubts. René Descartes calls it the Cartesian Doubt. I call it my bloody, messy, grueling journey of theological deconstruction. I had to be cautious though, for I understood that the moment I take down the fence I once called home, I still had to navigate the outside like an alien in a foreign world.

I stripped my beliefs down to its very core. I took an inventory of the concepts that I stood on. Eventually, with all my cards laid down in front of me, I had to evaluate: which of all these must be placed at the cornerstone of the foundation for without it, all else fails? I was then left with and was confronted by the Gospel. If I had to go through the mess of deconstructing my theological home in the hopes of rebuilding on a more solid ground, then I realized that there was no more stable and stronger foundation than the fundamental truths of the Gospel—who God is, who I am in light of who He is, who Christ is, and what should be my response in light of who Christ is.

I was convinced: the Gospel was the stone upon which I had to start my reconstruction. All the other concepts in my inventory I scrutinized using the lens of gospel truths. Some, though I have held them for close to two decades, I had to painfully let go and unlearn. Others, I was more confident of because of a surer foundation. As I was all the more exposed to the theological spectrum, I was armed with the Gospel to use as filter for every other concepts. Obviously, this was not an easy process for me, but was even more painful as this meant that I had to leave the community I knew and seek a new community I can call home. (The details are such a mess so I will just leave it at that.)

As much as I do not like theological labels, I now have my inclinations on Reformed Theology. Do I have a good grasp of all of its concepts? Absolutely not. I still struggle with a lot of its doctrines, but I welcome the struggle. In this reconstruction, I have accepted that there will be tensions between biblical truths and my limited understanding and personal biases. I may find myself at times, both heart and mind, fighting and resisting some concepts, but I know that my resistance will need to inevitably bow down when put up against God’s sovereignty.

I am still unlearning and relearning. The deconstruction and reconstruction is still ongoing. I am living in that tension, but I do not walk alone. I have seen how God’s grace holds, sustains, and keeps me as he planted me into a community that believes the Gospel and fights for it. I find myself in a community that also struggles with the sting of sin and depravity, but has determined that our only hope and refuge is the grace and glory at the cross of Christ. This journey will still have a lot of chapters to be added to it in the future, but for now, I am putting a premium on these three things through which I find my security: Christ, the Gospel, and Community.

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