Celebrate Reformation as an Ongoing Process
If you investigate what the word deconstructionism means, you may encounter a disconnected understanding, which seems to vary depending on the context. At a basic level, to deconstruct means looking at what is and asking, “Why?”
This question opens the door to dismantle status quo conventions and practices to explore the foundation beneath them. Then deconstruction rebuilds on that foundation from an informed perspective. The effort to deconstruct results in the opportunity to reconstruct.
Deconstructionism is something most Millennials embrace. Though I’m not a Millennial by birth, I do share much of their mindset and many of their ideals. To adapt the present-day lingo, I identify as Millennial.
Most of what I write about in my books and blog posts embrace this underlying theme of deconstruction from a Christian perspective. I look at what is and ask why?
It seems, I’m always wondering, “why?
I dismantle the status quo to its biblical foundation. From there I reconstruct faith practices using Scripture as the basis for truth. For example, at a basic level, I recently looked at the proper posture for prayer. On a more serious note, I also explored how to be saved.
In between these bookends, I’ve examined and attempted to reform a plethora of God-honoring spiritual practices and faith perspectives over the years.
I don’t do this because I’m questioning my faith. I do it to grow my faith and my relationship with Jesus.
If the idea to deconstruct concerns you, here’s another word: reform. To me, spiritual deconstruction and reformation are two words with the same lofty goal.
The Protestant Reformation happened five centuries ago, often pinned to the date Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door on October 31, 1517. But this work of Luther and other like-minded Christian inquisitors wasn’t a once-and-done initiative. Reformation is ongoing. And we may need it today more than any other time in the past 500 years.
Though Luther’s reform efforts eventually expanded to cover a wide plethora of unbiblical faith practices, it all started with indulgences. For many followers of Jesus, the word indulgence is an unknown idea and a confusing concept. In simple terms, an indulgence is a way to reduce the amount of punishment for sins by taking an action, such as saying a specific prayer (often a stipulated number of times), going to a certain place, or performing a specified good deed—as in doing penance.
These actions are all admirable, yet in Luther’s day the practice of indulgences expanded to an unbiblical, unhealthy, and selfish level. Indulgences, which, at the risk of oversimplification, allowed people to effectively buy their salvation without repenting or making any effort to follow Jesus. It was a church fundraising effort run amuck.
This practice of indulgences so concerned Luther that he wrote a treatise listing ninety-five concerns he had that related to the churches then practice of indulgences. We refer to this list as Luther’s ninety-five theses. His goal was to reform—that is, to deconstruct and then reconstruct—indulgences.
Though Luther sought a respectful discussion among church leaders about the overreach of indulgences, he lost control of the discussion when his well-meaning followers translated his concerns into German, printed the list, and shared them with the masses. This removed his hope for making an informed and intentional change within the Church.
Many other voices lent their concerns to the church’s practices of the day, with each one pointing toward the need for reform—to deconstruct and reconstruct. But it was Luther’s 95 theses that we often point to as the central impetus for the Protestant Reformation. The date pinned to this Reformation is the above-mentioned October 31, 1517, even though significant reform work by others preceded and followed that date.
The collective result of all this work to deconstruct and reconstruct was a new faith practice, eventually known as Protestantism. Note the root word protest, which is what the movement was: a protest against the Church. For its part, the Roman Catholic church later embarked on its own mini reformation, addressing many of Luther’s concerns.
Many who embrace the Protestant Reformation don’t view reform as a singular act. Instead, they see it as a principal that points to the need for ongoing reformation.
Whether we call this work deconstruct or reform, may we forever ask the imperative question of why? As we do so, let us better reform and inform our spiritual practices to grow our faith and walk closer with our Lord.
Toward that end, I pledge to continue to ask why and will share my conclusions here and in my books.
Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.