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Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

Updated: May 1

Dear Wonderful Person,

• If you’re spiritually wounded, this is for you.

• If you’re a spiritual seeker or skeptic who is turned off by religiosity, this is for you.

• If you’re disillusioned with yourself or humanity at large, this is for you.

• If you’re weary of trying, wondering, and worrying, this is for you.

Don’t throw the baby (Jesus) out with the bathwater.

As I’ve shared, I’ve had some spiritually shaking encounters with humanity, including my own beloved self in recent years, if not a lifetime. In this Dark Night, spiritual crisis, reconstruction, or whatever you call it, I’m discovering a few things about myself and the potential pitfalls of this process.

In my own intensely nerdy seeking, I’ve been alarmed to discover many Christians have bailed on Jesus altogether because they’ve been wounded by representatives in various settings, maybe even criminally injured. Likewise, there are spiritual seekers who reject Jesus for similar reasons.

“Deconstruction” is at an all-time high during a historical period when faith is a priceless asset. Jesus Himself predicted all this would happen (Matthew 24:10-14).

I’ve noticed common themes among those who are especially tortured or reject Jesus. Many are those of unnamed denominations with particularly legalistic teachings and the unavoidable hypocrisy this tends to produce. Other common catalysts are an unexpected tragedy or general weariness at the rampant injustice or suffering they witness in the world.

“Where’s God?” they lament.

Read a bit of the New Testament—or the Old, for that matter—and you’ll see the timeless accuracy of Christianity’s diagnosis of our condition and the eternal perspective that makes sense of it all. If we suspend a bit of our mortal hubris.

Despite the evidence, some high-profile deconstructors are themselves pastors. Sometimes, those folks are driven away by the various expressions of hypocrisy they witness in church. It’s not unusual for them to abandon faith because of the rejection they face when they themselves get caught up in sin—whether it be adultery, abuse of power, or financial shenanigans—the most common culprits.

Others become profoundly disillusioned with church power plays, elitism, extravagance, and fame-seeking so diametrically opposed to the church Jesus established. Again, tragedy can also contribute to derailment.

Some deconstructors not only bail on Jesus, but they also bail on God, becoming atheists or humanists. Not to be cynical, but I really don’t get putting our faith in any human as a viable alternative. Secular humanism and other godless ideologies don’t have a great track record either on any meaningful scale.

Our encounters with humanity inside and outside the church, including our own, can be the very thing that sends us into a spiritual tailspin. Understandably, what magnifies it to the point of spiritual fracture is the hypocrisy we experience, particularly in faith-based environments of any kind. Encountering unapologetic bad behavior hidden behind a façade of goodness salts the wound.

For whatever reason, we expect church folks to be better than the general population, even though Christianity is based on the premise that we’re all broken and need supernatural rescue. Of course, we can also be shattered by suddenly seeing our own brokenness with clarity and feeling bewildered, ashamed, and powerless to change.

It can be soul-crushing.

Some, including me, sought refuge in Twelve Step programs or alternatives to Jesus only to discover the same or other distortions. (I’ll say that Twelve Step programs do offer a simplified system for achieving and maintaining our integrity and humble standing with God and others…if we employ it!)

That’s because the problem isn’t religion or denominations, it’s humanity. We are so obviously and undeniably sinners…the very best of us…and any pretense of otherwise forces us to hide our messed-up feelings and behaviors. That, folks, is hypocrisy…and in its more glamorous and toxic form, narcissism, which I’m convinced is really the epidemic of our age that’s destroying us. Jesus predicted all that, too (2 Timothy 3:2).

The greater irony is that we often don’t see our own hypocrisy because we don’t see our own defects clearly until we’re called out or suffer intense consequences.

However understandable the catalysts for tossing the baby Jesus out with the bathwater, it’s tragic. Jesus’ teachings and His own journey model the key aspects of a dark night process, and our parallel experiences are predictable.

As controversial as this may seem to some, here’s what I want to say to people in spiritual crisis or the skeptical seeker who is looking for a life-preserver amid increasing internal or global turmoil. Either temporarily or permanently…

• By all means, throw out your denomination. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out, if need be, toxic churches or other associations that are injuring your faith. If they’re not drawing you closer to God, they may indeed have little to do with God. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out the need to understand what the Bible says. If The Book is indeed divinely inspired, it’s mostly way beyond our pay grade. Forty-five thousand well-meaning denominations disagree on all sorts of things. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out the things you’re not sure you believe. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out the self-righteous religious hypocrites who seek to shame you for your sin while overlooking their own. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out religious rituals that don’t draw you closer to God and ask Him what will.

• Throw out narcissist religious leaders who weaponize Scripture to manipulate you for selfish ends.

• Throw out an imposed understanding of scripture that doesn’t seem to resonate for you and read the Bible for yourself. Talk to God directly about your questions. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was torn so you could go to God directly yourself. You don’t need a pastor or priest. They're merely human. In fact, God says YOU are a priest.

• Throw out your bewildering disappointment with humans— yourself, others, Christians, or otherwise. Don’t throw out Jesus.

• Throw out your outrage, heartbreak, and disillusionment about injustice of all stripes. Or better, marshal your anger to pray and act for change. Don’t throw out Jesus.

You get the idea. Jesus lived through all of that. He gets it. He really does.

Put your simple, childlike faith in Jesus and then let Him reveal, explain, empower, change, comfort, convict, heal, and love in His way and time. In fact, here’s what Jesus said:

“For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, 'I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.'” Matthew 18:3-5 (MSG)

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Become the baby and let Jesus wash you clean.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1 (NIV)

I can almost hear some of you saying, so Isabella, wait a minute…if this is all true, why are you railing against sin/defects/failings so much these days?

Here are the cold, hard facts: The consequences of sin/defects/failings—yours and/or others’—can be the very thing that puts you on the trajectory of despair and deconstruction. Knowing that is vitally important because if we embrace the truth, it will ultimately lead us back to Jesus, not away. His loving desire for us is freedom, peace, and abundant life, along with a perfect, loving eternity with Him. In order to have that, we must be naked before Him. (We are anyway.)

Being childlike means knowing He’s God and we’re not. If you hang out with this idea of childhood trust, even envisioning the characteristics of real children, it’s powerfully illuminating. Father Knows Best. Because alignment with God through Christ really is the remedy to all that ails us, individually and collectively.

If you’re burnt out and burdened by the state of things or the state of you, consider Jesus’ invitation:

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)


God, sometimes what we face here on earth threatens to totally derail us, leaving us profoundly disillusioned at best. Please help us trust and rightly understand who You are, who we are, and your gracious provision in Christ. We are indeed powerless! Help us let You do all the heavy lifting because this is too heavy for us to understand, bear, or do ourselves. Thank You. I love You.💖

P.S. I did a video series on Darn Good Objections to Christianity which addresses some topics. You can find it at

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Dear Isabella!

What a wonderful post is this! And powerful! I'm glad you're again writing and showing us the way to a more intimate Jesus. I really love your posts. I pray to our Daddy God and to Jesus that the Spirit goes with you everyday. I know it's not easy, but with the power of Jesus on your side ... and ours, you and all that seek Him will be ok. That's His promise. Thanks God and thank you 🙏.

Big hug 🤗 from Madrid ♥️♥️

Replying to

Maru: So wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for taking the time to write and Amen, dear sister. Yes, it's been rough but God is working! I hope all's well with you. Big hugs and big love, Isabella <3 <3😍😍

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