Deconstruction Resources that Helped Me

While my own experiences ultimately led me out of Evangelicalism, I was recently asked if there were resources I could share as well. If you're new here and interested in Evangelical deconstruction, I encourage you to read about my journey. Otherwise, the rest of these are in the order in which I encountered them and how they affected me.

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur

Randall Arthur probably did more for my faith than anyone else on this list. I don't think this book is all that appropriate for twelve-year-olds but that's when I read it[1]. It was gifted among several books sent to my family while we were missionaries.

The book follows a pastor who has the perfect faith, family, and life until his daughter runs away and dies. He goes on an international hunt for a granddaughter that was hidden from him. I won't say this is a deconstruction book, per se, but it does contain a message about the perils of Christian legalism. I've never read anything else by this author but based on his other titles on Amazon I probably should.

How it affected me: Even though I did some regrettable things for years after reading this book I think it planted the seeds and caused me to really think about the fundamentalist viewpoints I was exposed to at a young age. When I got older and started encountering people outside the bubble of my church, it was the lessons I learned from reading this that allowed me to open my mind enough to see other viewpoints.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

This book opened my eyes to the historical Jesus. I've long believed that the works found in the Bible have to be viewed individually within the context of when they were written and what the authors were trying to say.[2]

Dr. Aslan provides a wonderfully researched view of first-century Palestine and the context that shapes the Gospel writings. He states that he's not interested in turning people from their faith but to help them understand the motivations and lives of the people who founded it.

I believe that American Christianity wouldn't be in so much trouble if the Church[3] embraced its own history and taught it transparently. A good starting point would be the historical record around Jesus.

Chrissy Stroop

Chrissy is a former evangelical who also holds a degree in religion and writes prolifically about her experiences growing up in Indiana and navigating the world today as a transwoman. I'm not sure if she coined the term "Exvangelical" but she certainly was one of the early people using and popularizing it. I first encountered Chrissy on Twitter (rest in peace) which eventually led me to other people in the wider community. While I've never interacted with her other than a few tweet replies, I credit her with introducing me to others who felt as I did, and eventually left the church.

Chrissy has several publications. She and Lauren O'Neal published an anthology, Empty the Pews which contains stories of people who left as I did. She has an older blog Not Your Mission Field which I've referenced before and a newsletter called The Bugbear Dispatch.

Go Home Bible, You're Drunk by Tori Williams Douglass and Justin Gentry (podcast)

Not a podcast suitable for children. Tori and Justin talk about current events in Evangelicalism as well as stories from the Bible that are really messed up when viewed from the outside. They're quite irreverent and very funny at times.

An argument I've often heard from my friends and family is that "God is still God". The idea is that even if Christians behave badly, that's not God's fault and I should follow Him regardless of what other people do. I've long felt that isn't right and Tori and Justin make some good arguments for why the theology itself is rotten.

Justin, in particular, seems a lot like me. Brought up in church, was immersed in it, and wanted to believe it so much that he became a pastor. (Clearly, I didn't go that far.) But in the end, the theology he'd always known and studied didn't jive with the reality of the world around him.

Other stuff

Several honorable mentions that I've read or seen in the time since I made the break.

All the White Friends I Couldn't Keep by Andre Henry - A Black man's experiences with White Evangelicalism and its inherent racism.

American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom by Andrew L. Seidel - A look at Evangelical political power around the Supreme Court. This one is a tough read.

Useful Charts (YouTube Channel) by Matt Baker, et al. - The link goes to their playlist on Religious Studies. Dr. Baker holds a Ph.D. in Religion and has very approachable videos mostly on Christianity and Judaism with a few others as well.

Religion for Breakfast (YouTube Channel) by Andrew M. Henry - Similar to Dr. Baker above, Dr. Henry publishes a wide variety of videos on various religious topics, mostly related to Christianity. Henry goes a little into deeper and weirder territory!

  1. The link is to the 2003 reprint but it's the same book as far as I can tell. I have the 1991 print still on my shelf at home.
  2. In other words, the book of Genesis has a different context than the Gospels which have a different context than Paul's letters, etc.
  3. Collectively

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Jamie Larson