The Church in America, specifically in the South and more conservative theological houses of worship, wants to destroy minorities and diversity.
I was born into a Black Protestant Baptist background. I did a lot of plays in the church and have spoken numerous times at church events and different facilities around Oklahoma. I was a very religious person and my family commended me for my deep faith. When I spoke at church, people would often say that I spoke with authority.
During middle school and high school I often tried to speak about Jesus and the Gospel with friends and acquaintances. However, it never felt right. I never liked the idea of trying to drag people away from their belief system because mine was supposedly the true faith. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists all have their own beliefs system and their own connection to God so who am I to tell others how to think and what to believe?
I remember when I tried to talk to my friend about homosexuality and I could hear the pain in his voice upon trying to defend himself from my attempts at trying to convert him and change who he was. Later on, I recalled that experience. It was a terrible time for me and I am extremely regretful for that incident.
In 2008 the former president of United States Barack Obama was just beginning his race for his first term as president. That was the year that I started to get involved with the whole election process and started to research different issues.
I’ve always loved people and cherished peace and social justice for all people. This is one of the reasons that I’ve always had a conflict with my more conservative Baptist upbringing concerning women in ministry and LGBT people. I never liked causing people pain suffering I wanted people to be at peace and to love one another but that came in direct conflict with much of my upbringing and black politics.
This deconstruction began a few years back with the idea that the things rooted in love will produce good fruit and the things that are evil will produce bad fruit. It also began with the idea that if a theology does not produce life love or edification then it is a theology not worth having.
I started to long for the original authentic apostolic Christian faith from the first century. I definitely wanted to find out what the original faith of the apostles was like. The Christian faith was never supposed to be a new religion it was only supposed to be a revision of the Jewish faith. This is what I wanted to get back to and so I researched what the Jewish faith entails and what they believe. I also went and interviewed a rabbi at a local Oklahoma City Jewish synagogue.
I found that the Jewish people never believed in a place of eternal conscious torment, but that all people go to a place of the dead, wicked or not. The modern belief is that people go through what is compared to a washing machine of purification cleansing before entering the gates of heaven. This period of cleansing lasts 12 months or less and at the end those who are left are extinguished forever.
The Jewish people also do not believe in original sin, but that all people are born good, however, they are also pre-disposed to temptation. The Jewish faith never dehumanized it’s people and told them they were unworthy and worthless without God, but they said that they could achieve righteousness by themselves if they willed it.
While researching the beliefs of the Jewish people I also came across John Shelby Sponge and his book, ” Christianity Must Change or Die” which propelled me into my new awakening which I am so enormously grateful for. I started researching people who had rejected the concept of Hell and came upon Joshua Tongol from the Philippines as well as Bishop Carlton Pearson who led the famous Azusa conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has also been a profound teacher and inspiration in my journey of deconstruction. Other great authors are Benjamin L. Corey author of, “Undiluted”, Matthew Distefano author of, “From the Blood of Abel” as well as many more that I’ll link to later on.
All these authors have helped me tremendously in my deconstruction of my Baptist background. I am now more free and willing to be open about my acceptance of diverse opinions and diverse experiences in life as well as different theological view points because I now realize that we are all on a spiritual journey as well as a journey of discovery that no one can alter.
Everyone must be afforded the opportunity to walk their own path in their own life and live their own experiences without the interference of different people trying to dissuade them from their walk. God, the Divine, whoever you want to call Him/Her is always involved in the lives of others. Wherever people need to go in their lives God will lead them to places where they will grow and prosper. Our business, duty, and responsibility is to love God and love one another. This is the teaching of Jesus that love is the greatest commandment of all and sums up the law and the prophets. This is one of the reasons why I look at theology, the world, and interpret scripture through the lens of Jesus and love and not through anything else.
Another reason for my deconstruction is the large amounts of hypocrisy, judgment, condemnation, self-righteousness, and arrogance in the American church. Any salvaging of my past faith was lost with the election of Donald Trump by the 81% of evangelicals who voted for him. He was and still is misogynistic, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, etc. and the Republican conservative evangelical base still vote for him.
There were three other reasons this year that fully sealed the deal. One was the Southern Baptist convention’s mistreatment of Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics wing of the church, when he denounced and condemned Donald Trump and all that voted for him and supported him.
The next was the SBC’s rejection, hesitation, and chaos concerning the resolution condemning the Alt-right which has been a safe haven for White Supremacists.
The final one that sealed the deal for me was when Eugene Peterson came out in support of same-sex marriage and relationships and then the next day retracted that statement after the Christian company LifeWay threatened to take his books off the shelf. I don’t blame him for his fear, but I wish that he would’ve ignored their threats and continued to fight for those who are hurting in the LGBT community. The vitriol and unending criticism and harassment by Christians is disheartening, reckless, violent, and most assuredly, deadly.
I must leave this church for my own well-being. I must leave for my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being and find a new home.
I’m considering either the Orthodox or Episcopalian church. I must fight for justice for all people. I must allow people to be themselves in their authenticity and love them for who they are, but in this church I can’t do that. For that reason as well as the others mentioned above I must leave.
Tell me about your deconstruction process or if you know anyone who has ever had one. Remember this: Love and live well. Edify and give life. Hope and dream. Fight for justice and have peace.
Shalom and God bless.
Links and Sources:
Bishop Carlton Pearson
Bishop Shelby Sponge
All Souls Unitarian Tulsa, OK
Faith Built On Love (My Playlist):