Welcome to Reconstruct, we are John Raines and Dan Koch, and we help deconstructing Christians begin reconstructing their faith.
More Christians than ever are growing suspicious of the faith with which they were brought up; they are deeply questioning everything they once held as true. Moreover, those who are more or less free from doubt nevertheless find themselves living in a world of ever-increasing theological complexity and obscurity. And with good reason, for on one side, countless churches and leaders have fallen into oblivion and left people destitute, and on the other side, secular thought and challenges have seemingly torn holes in the supposedly unified fabric of ordinary Christian faith. As a result, Christians have radically deconstructed their faith, wrestling with questions and convictions with fresh perspectives, but sometimes without a plan for putting the broken pieces back together.
We can relate. We have and are deconstructing our faith, we’ve had our foundations shaken to the core, we know that theology isn’t simple and that a faithful life isn’t easy. But God hasn’t abandoned us. We still seek to know him, and more, he still seeks to know us. We want to share our theological and philosophical perspectives to help others find clarity in the midst of complexity, to find unity in the midst of disagreement, to find an emerging edifice in the midst of rubble.
On the path to reconstructing our faith, we follow three guiding values. These are meaningful unity, which means embracing the whole family of God, critical charity, which means being both open and discerning about new ideas, and serious theology, which means diving into thoughtful intellectual engagement.
We want to help offer the Western Christian world something it desperately needs: meaningful unity. We’re reminded of this need about every time we get together, for since Dan leans Progressivist while John leans Reformed, it is an understatement to say we disagree about a great many things. But this doesn’t split us apart—not in the least. This is because we’re convinced that part of reconstructing our faith is rediscovering the unity that is inseparable from Christianity. For Christianity isn’t ultimately a philosophy, ideology, or way of life, but a family; and one through which our relationships with one another as adopted children are founded. So reconstructing our faith means doing it in community as part of a community, it means holding onto the value of loving others even when you disagree with them, of growing closer to others rather than further apart.
While reconstructing our faith, we’ll necessarily explore new ideas and perspectives, and we need to approach these in a charitable manner. We need to sincerely seek to understand a foreign outlook on its own terms—to comprehend someone else’s views before we judge them. But we must be at the same time both critical and charitable, both clear in our intellectual evaluation and open in our attitude to new ideas. On our path to reconstruction we should welcome dialogue and discourse, knowing that since all our beliefs have grown into the place at which they presently dwell, we should look forward to their future refinement. It should come as no surprise, then, that someone reconstructing to Calvinism could be encouraged by a progressivist’s perspective, or that someone reconstructing to Catholicism could be encouraged by a Baptist’s perspective. Anyone going through deconstruction and reconstruction realizes their particular faith tradition doesn’t have an exclusive claim to the truth, so there’s always something to learn from other members of the family. And yet we also want this to be a place where responsible convictions are carefully defended and lovingly heard, where perceived falsity is bravely challenged out of a sincere concern.
We take our discussions seriously, we want to give issues the treatment they deserve, and we want to provide well-researched, well-prepared explorations of our topics. God knows we don’t need anymore pat answers, anymore unconvincing responses that ignore the complexities of our issues and refrain from serious intellectual engagement. Reconstruction should be marked by thorough theological and philosophical reflections, by investigations that seek to gain and impart a comprehensive, detailed knowledge of issues, topics, problems, and realms. We should take joy in seriously researching, discussing, and ruminating upon where we’ve been and where we’re going. Essentially, serious theology is about loving God with all our mind.
The goal of these guiding values, and of reconstruction as a whole, is that one might learn to love God and others with a greater capacity and to a greater extent. Therefore, if one’s reconstruction includes separating from others, it’s not going to work. If it includes dismissing others out of hand and just working towards a confirmation bias, it’s not going to work. If it trades responsible thinking for sloppy theology, it’s not going to work.