Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Deconstructionist's Ethic

I am having a conversation right now about some fundamental changes occurring in fundamentalism. I am not ready to go public with the story because I believe it to be at a very sensitive time and many that I talk to don’t even understand the question. There are times when, in order for fundamentals to remain, the structure that houses them must change. However, deconstructing the box that holds our valuables is often seen as an attack on the value itself. Here is an example…

Let’s say that you have your photos in one of those nice albums with the stick paper and plastic coverings. One day, you arrive to see your friend tearing the plastic covering from the book and taking the pictures out. “What are you doing!” you exclaim. To which he replies, “I am saving your valuable pictures.” He then takes them to the computer and scans them to digital format.

In reality, he was destroying the container that once preserved the valuable for a time, but that would not survive indefinitely. The struggle is to know when the right time for deconstruction arrives. When is it no longer appropriate to carry our valuable gospel in a box that is no longer practical to the point that it erodes the valuable that it once held?

I spoke to one pastor recently who asked “why do you need to tear one system down to build another up?” This was a very valid observation and I quickly agreed with him. However, on second thought, a new system can not be fully installed without first removing, or abandoning the old. Here is where the rub is and the sparks fly and names are called. Attacking the old system for its present shortcomings are never the end, but a necessary part of building the new. And perhaps, there will be some who will successfully defend the system and go down with the ship.

If this will be the case, when do we abandon ship, and who if anyone do we try to rescue. Promoting our answer to those on the ship would no doubt be labeled as mutiny, and yet to leave a brother onboard while we truly see the water rising is no good either.

So I ponder. I sit at the keyboard and write to think. I rehearse again what I believe to be the deconstructionist’s ethic and how if at all something needs to change in fundamentalism so that the fundamentals will survive to the next generation. As a young fundamentalist I am pulled from the right to “not remove the old landmarks”, and from the left to adjust to globalization and the way things are. I know deep down that hard decisions will have to be made. So today I ponder the deconstructionist’s ethic.


Barbara Shellhamer said...

Are you calling the form of worship the box that must be destroyed? It is gonna happen with or without our help. As long as the fundamental Gospel does not change will work. Time, balance and keeping the main thing the main thing will survive. It is just like back 100 years ago, worship was differant even from what we were raised with...and 100 years from now, without the rapture, worship will be very differant again, as long as the gospel is preached all the "manmade" styles will not matter much. God looks at the heart. I think as a fundamentalist we will change some of our dear old phrases that we use and change some of the music...But our message can not change.Change takes time and balance. Rome wasn't built in a day nor was it destroyed in a day. Blend the old way with the new way and keep the gospel number one in all.

Joel Johns said...

No Barb, I am not referring to music, or worship, but to some of the ways in which we try to practice some of the inner workings of church. As far as worship goes, I am with you.

Ros Horton said...

This is very thought provoking and you've approached it with insight and sensitivity. While I know you had a particular situation in mind while penning it, the underlying truth applies to many things.