Sometimes people we like move on from a shared mutual interest, like a TV series or craft beer. Maybe we feel a broken connection for a moment, and then we move on. Sometimes our friends announce out of nowhere that they’re getting divorced. Maybe we don’t understand their reasons and mourn the end of something seemingly beautiful, and then we move on.
Sometimes we open up Instagram and see that another popular pastor “Kissed Christianity Goodbye.” Depending on our opinion of them, or the current state of our faith, our reaction might be harder to shake off. Even though we’ve never met the person. Faith is precious, serious. Why would he do that? Could someone we know do the same? What if, just maybe, he’s right?
Pastor Joshua Porter didn’t just come close to turning his back on the hope found in Christ, but on life itself. In Death to Deconstruction he holds back nothing as he recounts how he went from punk rock to the pulpit to the point of total despair. It’s quite a journey. Yet he spends most of the book helping us understand why people lose their will to believe and addressing those issues head on. His tone is sometimes tough, sometimes humorous, and always honest.
“Are we basing our spiritual journey on the accumulated wisdom of centuries worth of thinkers … or are we throwing out a two-thousand-year-old movement on the gripes of a few twenty-somethings who are mad at their parents?” Ouch. Porter states that in the Information Age we think acquiring information should be easy and that having it gives us a sense of control, which is what we really want. Double ouch. However, “Reading the Bible is complicated, and it freaks people the heck out.”
Doesn’t matter who you are, reading this book will make you uncomfortable. It will probably offend you too. Because life is messy, faith is uncomfortable. The gospel is offensive.
Writing the book seems to have to have stirred similar feelings in Porter, yet he writes from a place of conviction. Nothing he says would fit under an inspirational Instagram photo tagged #LivingMyBestLife, and he takes readers to some truly ugly places. But it’s all carefully designed to open a conversation with anyone who is struggling.
Not everyone will agree with his answers. His takes on free will, creation, and politics (not to mention his being a vegan!) are sure to raise objections. Some of his illustrations arguably go too far and will keep you up at night. But anyone drowning in an overwhelming flood of despair can critique the life preserver’s quality later. These are things theologians have debated for hundreds of years and will continue to debate until the Lord’s return. This book isn’t for them.
The subtitle is Reclaiming Faithfulness as an Act of Rebellion, and it’s for those who want—need—to fight against the riptide of faithlessness. Because for them the alternative is too dark to comprehend. (Kregel)