A Slow Deconstruction

Posted: March 22, 2022

I'm in the midst of a slow deconstruction and I'm trying to work out how to potentially transition well in both mind and heart. The tricky thing about being an ordained minister is that you take vows. I've served in churches before where I've disagreed with some aspect of the church's beliefs or practices and have been able to do so without causing unnecessary conflict., but when you're ordained, you're not just anybody, because your vows commit you to a body -- in my case, a particular ordaining denominational body. My profession is tied to my faith in a way that makes changing theological convictions not something I can do lightly. I have to go about this with wisdom; family, work, church, community are all in the balance. Pretty much if my convictions change to the point where I'm acting against my conscience, I'm supposed to inform my ordaining body and there's a process to follow. I'm not there yet, but I can see it on the horizon, and I'm trying to guard my heart against any air of superiority or distancing from one particular branch of the church. I was convicted recently through reading a passage in scripture.

I have to say that holding fast to this commitment to reading scripture through the M'Cheyne Bible Reading plan (I first mentioned it in a post here) has unexpectedly shed some light on some of my inner wrestling. A few days ago I passed the passage of the golden calf at the base of the mountain (Ex 32). Moses was up on top of the mountain getting enlightened with the Law and God's good statues for living. But while he was up there growing in knowledge, the community he came from at the base of the mountain was losing their way. They, together with Aaron the priest, were engaging in idol making and idol worship, and the LORD was fuming. He proposed to Moses that he destroy everyone and start over with Moses, making a great nation through him instead.

At this point, the people had already complained, rebelled, and attempted mutiny several times. They have repeatedly disobeyed and went astray, stuck in their own way. And if I were convinced that a particular theological view was wrong, would I want to cut off ties and hope to start fresh? If they were stuck in their ways and would not change, would I want to distance myself from them? I wonder if Moses paused to consider God's offer or if his actual response was immediate; the text doesn't tell us, but I still wonder. Because when God offers something, it's not a "maybe-it-could-happen" offer; it's a solid offer! God would and could do it! At the end of the whole episode (and I know I'm not commenting on the slaughter in the middle where thousands die. I hope that doesn't happen and I don't need to make parallels in my own life!), Moses tells God, "If Israel won't be saved, then kill me!"

Right now I'm questioning if I would have that kind of response. I know that I am more inclined to say something like, "Oh I've been in those churches before. I've moved on to a better understanding of the issue." and in my heart I'd have distanced myself from a part of the church. But Moses doesn't. He definitely didn't participate in the sin, but he identifies with those who were in error anyway. He still loved the people even though they were clearly wrong. LORD, help me to love your church.