Pastoring Evolving Faiths: Faith Deconstruction and Reconstruction in a Post-Evangelical Church

Title

Pastoring Evolving Faiths: Faith Deconstruction and Reconstruction in a Post-Evangelical Church

Description

Faith deconstruction and reconstruction have become a religious cultural phenomenon in 21st century America. It is an experience lamented by conservative evangelical and fundamentalist leaders as a step toward apostasy. But deconstruction is also a vital practice of those seeking to retain an authentic spirituality while challenging the authoritative and often regressive doctrines and practices of their traditional church. The
goal of faith reconstruction is a revitalized, more compassionate, progressive, and inclusive belief system; one that rejects ancient perspectives of an angry God and embraces a perspective of a more loving and gracious God.

The act of ministry at the heart of this doctoral thesis project was implementing the “Evolving Faiths Discussion Group” in an inter-denominational church in Norman, Oklahoma. The goal was to provide a “safe space” where Christians from fundamentalist and evangelical backgrounds could openly discuss their questions and doubts about the
faith they inherited, and explore more palatable alternative theologies. The intent was to provide a regular place and time, resources, and fellow deconstructors to explore those concerns. The desired outcome was that the participants would continue faith exploration as a life-long journey, become comfortable with questions as normative of spiritual health, and experience an enhanced connection with God and the world (3Cs).

The project engaged in action research, and employed adapted elements from heuristic phenomenology and ethnography. The thesis examines a recent social history of the “Fall of American evangelicalism,” and the “Rise of the Spiritual But Not Religious.” It constructs a biblical defense of deconstruction, describes the implementation of the Discussion Group, presents an analysis of five core evangelical themes as they affected
the participants with a composite summary of the group experience as a whole, and concludes with some pastoral reflections.

Creator

Schmidt, Stephen

Date

2023

Rights

Copyright, Stephen Schmidt

Format

PDF

Type

Project Thesis
Date Added
November 14, 2023
Collection
VTS Doctoral Theses
Citation
Schmidt, Stephen , “Pastoring Evolving Faiths: Faith Deconstruction and Reconstruction in a Post-Evangelical Church,” Bishop Payne Library at Virginia Theological Seminary, accessed April 14, 2024, https://vtsbpl.omeka.net/items/show/521.