Watt shows Chapel how to build on deconstruction

Josh Watt defines deconstructionism during his Chapel talk Monday.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

Josh Watt’s Chapel talk Monday can be broken down to this: Deconstruction can be constructive or destructive, depending on who’s doing the deconstructing.

And that’s where our free will comes in: We can listen to God … or Satan. The choice is ours.

The pastor of Redemption North Mountain in Phoenix, speaking to Chapel for the first time, defined deconstructionism as “the taking apart of an idea, practice, tradition, belief or system into smaller components in order to examine their foundation, truthfulness, usefulness and impact.”

He started to experience it during his time at Grand Canyon University, before he graduated in 2005.

“This was the first space,” he said, “where my faith started to be challenged, where people pressed on me, where people gave me stuff that didn’t fit with how I thought about life and the world and God and Jesus.”  

Watt hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. He pledged his life to God at age 18, at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes baseball camp.

Watt’s first goal at GCU was baseball success, but he had only one at-bat – a groundball to second base.

“Not what you want to do as a baseball stud,” he said.

He also had hoped that his GCU experience would lead him to a wife and a degree he could use for the rest of his life. He was 0 for 2 there – no sign of a wife (that came a year later), and a math degree that’s now a big zero because he teaches the Bible instead.

Watt's time as a GCU student didn't turn out the way he expected, but it did deconstruct his "faith box."

But it did deconstruct what he calls his “faith box” as he was confronted with ideas and concepts.

“I started to hear stuff that did not fit in my box,” he told the GCU Arena crowd of 6,000, the largest he has ever addressed. “More and more, I was given books that made no sense to me with what I knew about Christianity and following Jesus, as little as it was.”

Watt showed the GCU Arena audience examples of deconstruction in architecture – oddly shaped buildings and homes that don’t fit with our traditional ideas of what those structures should look like.

He warned the assembled students that they, too, will be faced with deconstruction, either now or in the future. Rather than debate whether it’s a healthy exercise, Watt wanted them to understand it better.

In his experiences, he said, he has seen deconstruction become a label, a badge of honor or, worse, an open wound:

“You’re trying to make sense of Jesus, faith, life in a world that is full of pain and hurt and stuff that doesn’t mesh with the fact that there’s a loving God behind all of this. …

“Let’s not talk right or wrong, good/bad. It’s inevitable. It’s unavoidable. It’s a part of life. You’re all going to leave here, GCU, one day with a different faith than when you started. I don’t mean that in a bad way – that’s just how life works. You’re going to be different. You’re going to be more mature, more wise. I mean, that’s why none of you are going back to your old high schools to get wisdom from those kids.”

Be wary of the questions Satan asks, Watt said.

But Watt did have some wisdom about the Bible’s two models for deconstruction. The first is what happens when Satan gets involved, as he did with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Life is all about questions, Watt emphasized. Questions have their place. They can be very useful. But Satan “wants us to land on questions and on questions alone. … He wants a faith that is standing on questions. That’s it.”

Or, as one of Watt’s mentors put it, “Satan is not creative, but he is effective.”

The alternative is listening to Jesus and not questioning how He feels about you. He taught it this way in Matthew 5:21-22:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who insults a brother or sister is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Watt pointed out that Jesus has answers to your questions.

In other words, Watt noted, Jesus is saying, “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”

Watt added, “He is creating space. And that’s what college is. It’s your first extended amount of space where you’re the one in charge to kind of dictate what happens in that space. … Satan wants you standing on questions. Jesus just sort of gently creates space for you to ask questions that truly matter.”

That space should contain the Gospel (i.e., truth), safety (a safe place to get answers) and time to think it through.

“I think about my GCU days,” Watt said, “and I think about, ‘Would I go back and do anything different?’ Well, yeah, I would have been way better at baseball. But as far as deconstruction, the books that I was reading, the people I was letting influence me that were sort of provocative and not fitting with my faith, would I go back and squash all that and say no to big questions and out-of-the-box thinking for me?”

The answer is no. But Watt also wishes he had spent more time getting to know Jesus during those years rather than just live his faith through others. He didn’t pick up a Bible and read it thoroughly until after he graduated, and Psalm 16:11 turned into his greatest deconstruction moment:

Caden Tonkinson of the Worship team performs before Watt's talk.

You make known to me the path of life;
    You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

“It was like my mind exploded in a Barnes & Noble in Fort Worth, Texas,” Watt said. “I had never thought of God being joyful or happy or like the guy I want to be around.”

He urged his listeners to get to know Jesus in the same way, through the Bible.

“He wants to lead you closer and closer and closer to Him,” he said.

No question about it.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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Here's a slideshow of Monday's Chapel.

To hear the music of the Worship team and Josh Watt’s talk in its entirety, click here.

Next Monday’s speaker: Brian Kruckenberg, New City Church

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Bible Verse

Jesus continued His message, saying, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/