Over the last nearly two years I have monitored the process of Deconstruction of our Christian worldview. Many define the term “deconstruction” in a favorable light, often in order to suit their underlying objectives. Those in the pro-deconstruction camp would say that they have finally broken away from false traditional Christian dogma and are on an exciting journey, looking at Christ and God from a fresh and honest perspective. What is interesting about that viewpoint to me is twofold.
First, I rarely see the word “reconstruction” as these proponents write endlessly about “deconstruction”. Secondly, I invariably see deconstructionists and their followers ending up in the same place, summarized in my “Conclusion” below.
Deconstruction, a Working Definition
Webster simplifies the definition of the broad term “deconstruction” as: “the analytic examination of something (such as a theory), often in order to reveal its inadequacy”. A Biblical Christian website I trust refines, yet maintains Webster’s explanation by stating, “’Deconstruction’ is the heading most recently applied to the process of questioning, doubting, and ultimately rejecting aspects of Christian faith.”
My experience with the term confirms both references above. Deconstruction always seems to result in some aspect of the “inadequacy” and consequent “rejecting” of some or multiple components of Christian systematic theology.
The Path to Deconstruction – 3 Steps
There are many nuances to the methods employed but essentially the three steps below represent the majority of those who have chosen this path. The blog site Medium has provided very fertile ground for both the documentation of this trend, as well as a profitable platform for those writers who help as guides in the process. As many have observed and commented, there are ironically more articles published by anti-Christian writers under the tag “Christianity” than those who write from a Christian, much less Biblical Christian perspective. Add to that tags such as “Spirituality” and “Religion” among others, and the imbalance becomes overwhelming.
Step One – rejection of the Christian Church
Often the first step in deconstruction is to reject the church as an institution for strengthening one’s worldview. This renunciation happens when individuals believe they are no longer welcome in the fellowship because of an opinion they hold or a behavior they believe the church opposes. It can start with something as subtle as a church member not being welcoming, the music not being their preference, the pastor saying something they disagree with, pressure to conform to traditional values or morality, lack of sufficient interest in social concerns, etc. The list of reasons why people begin to reject the church are endless and the impact of this trend is obvious in our declining attendance today.
As we have become more isolated and tribal with strong unwavering opinions on social matters in particular, the church has become an example of antiquated beliefs that do not translate in today’s climate. Many churches have tried to mitigate this trend by becoming more entertainment than enlightenment. Others have relinquished their theology in order to acquiesce to their declining membership (and funding). These attempts have only lessened the relevance of the church in today’s world. The more the church moves toward pacifying its members and away from God’s principles, the more anemic it has become (Rev. 2:4). The more the church stanchly remains a bastion of our Biblical Christian worldview, the more it becomes identified as a narrow-minded target for ridicule and divisiveness that drives theologically weaker Christians (1 Cor. 3:2) away.
Yes, in my view the Christian church is in a catch-22.
Step Two – rejection of the Word of God
Once one leaves a group of like-minded Biblical Christian believers who study, fellowship and hold each other accountable (i.e. a theologically sound church), it becomes easier and easier to rationalize those parts of the Bible that no longer apply to today’s culture. Often this disparity starts covertly in Step One. Deconstruction of the Bible becomes overt once the church is removed from the picture.
Of course, this step is where the deconstructionists begins to openly question the totality of Scripture, leaving one with only “feelings” about who God is and what His covenants and commandments are. Near the end of this step, the individual is left with a single concept to cling to, that being “God is Love” and my way to express that it is to “love my neighbor”. While this behavior is always an admirable goal and the Greatest Commandment (Luke 10:27), condensing our whole systematic theology to a single three-word phrase makes a mockery of the 1.1 million-word Bible God penned as a love letter to man. Further, a desire to fit in with the rest of secular society typically overrides any form of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), making the individual a “good person” with little or no willingness to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others (Mark 16:15).
Step Three – rejection of God
Fortunately some never reach step three in deconstruction. Others do, but refuse to acknowledge it. One can question terms like predestination vs. free-will, however many deconstructionists finally see no value in continuing the charade of including “God is love” in their worldview and so shorten it to simply “love my neighbor”. There becomes no sense of a relationship with God or Christ. No prayer. No Bible study. No fellowship with believers. Over time and with a support group on platforms like Medium, many move rapidly from agnostics to atheists. They add to the growing megaphone of “I was a Christian for XX years. I left the church because [fill in the blank] and no longer believe in a god that says [fill in the blank].”
By rejecting both the Christian church and those parts of the Bible one’s secular moral code disagrees with, provides a freedom to fully deconstruct to the simplistic and easily rationalized view that,
“if there even is a god, all God wants from me is to be a good person”.
From that position one can apply changing cultural norms to their worldview without regard to any supernatural influences or accountability. Of course, this fresh worldview has at its core sinful humans anthropomorphizing God into their own evolving moral code of ethics. Abortion, homosexuality, the existence of Hell, Eschatology, God’s righteousness, etc., can all be set aside, replaced by “love thy neighbor”. The problem with this approach is that it is anti-Christian and grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:29-30).
Medium, and I am sure many other outlets, have become a breeding ground for those deconstructing their faith (i.e. “rejecting some or multiple components of Christian systematic theology”). There are many writers in the “business” of teaching, guiding and justifying those who are walking down this pathway (James 3:1). The number of claps, followings, and comments on the deconstruction bandwagon is a testimony to the level of interest and engagement. Further, it documents the effectiveness of those who both guide and confirm deconstruction as the answer to Christian disillusionment.
Sadly a few in the church only strengthen this transition through judgements and rejection of those who do not perfectly conform to their expectations of what a Christian should look and act like. Ignoring the plank in their own eye (Matt. 7:3), they use the Bible as a cudgel to beat people over the head, further isolating and disassociating them.
My view is that the Christian church as an institution is failing, caught between two choices. It can either lose its influence by systematically agreeing to weaken its theological underpinning in order to cater to its members who no longer trust or tolerate a traditional Biblical Christian worldview. Or, it can hold firm and lose members by attrition who are unwilling to be persecuted by our woke culture. What is happening to the church is intertwined with the continuing loss of the credibility and legitimacy of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. However, we should not miss the supremacy of God in all this.
Ultimately, God has the final say. That has been the missing link in this post so far.
God not only wrote the history of mankind; He is in control of the future of mankind. God’s timing in all matters is perfect. As Biblical Christians, we should not be concerned about any trends or persecution or losses. As mankind deconstructs, we need to be even more diligent in seeking places and opportunities to serve Him. God is neither surprised nor concerned that there are fewer and fewer labors in the fields that are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). His will will be done (Matt. 6:10).