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The ministry of reconstruction

Updated: Feb 16

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (NIV)

Over the last few years a new social contagion has emerged in Christianity. More and more, you see popular Christians and social media influencers claim that they are “Deconstructing their faith.” Some people would say that this movement is a good thing because people are questioning their faith and making sure that they are only believing things that can be verified. Others claim that this movement is dangerous. Alisa Childers, an apologist and expert on this issue, says that the true nature of deconstruction involves walking away from historic Christianity. She says that deconstruction is not simply seeking biblical truth or questioning what we’ve been taught, but rather shifting to a new authority. That authority is almost always what feels right to the person who is deconstructing. “In practice, though, “deconstruction” almost always acts as a polite cover for “demolition.” Modern “deconstruction” usually means replacing uncomfortable tenets with culturally or personally popular ideas.”1

Here are some quick things you need to understand about the deconstruction movement:

  1. It’s based in critical theory. It sees “truth claims” as an attempt to oppress others. It sees Christianity as a Western, colonizing religion. Because this is the foundation for the movement, you will notice that seeking out the true biblical meaning of a subject is not really the goal. This means that the standard most often used by those who are “deconstructing” is what they feel is the least oppressive and most loving. 

  2. It is becoming a social contagion. Students and young adults are so inundated with this concept on social media that it feels like a person would have to just be naive to not be deconstructing their faith. The dangerous thing about this as a social contagion is that once you start watching videos where people are tearing down historic biblical interpretations and doctrines, social media algorithms will continue to offer up unlimited content that undermines your faith.   Not only is anti-Christian propaganda readily available, but deconstructionists feel compelled to take people away from the faith because they see faith as toxic. They aren’t just telling their stories or sharing information, many are actively trying to “rescue” others from the oppressive religion that tells people that they are sinners, asks them to submit to accountability with each other, or doesn’t affirm everyone’s desires.  Another reason it has become a social contagion is because it leverages “church hurt.” Almost everyone has seen a church leader abuse their position. Almost everyone has been hurt by someone else in a church. But instead of learning to deal with those wrongs biblically (confronting, forgiveness, understanding that we are all fallen, not having to have our way, submitting to accountability when we have done something wrong), many are drawn to explanations that make the case that those things happened because Christianity is toxic. Obviously, some have experienced terrible abuse in a church, and I’m not saying those should be swept under the rug. However, many have turned against Christianity and began to seek out arguments against it simply because someone did them wrong or they were biblically confronted about sin in their lives. 

  3. It almost always involves moving away from hard truths toward beliefs that are more socially acceptable. Somehow no one in the deconstruction movement seems to finish their quest for “truth” at a destination that involves standing against the wishes of secular culture. They will still claim to follow Jesus. But their “Jesus” does not seem to ask anyone to repent of sin or deny themselves. 

  4. It is very sound-bite or meme-based. Part of what makes deconstruction so appealing is that it is spread mostly by quick slogans or brief videos that communicate things that sound great and connect with many people, but they just aren’t true. Most people do not take the time to really drill down and investigate those claims biblically. Most of the research that those who have deconstructed did was based more on listening to videos online rather than searching the Bible for answers. Phrases like the ones below could take hours to explain biblically but they sound good and appeal to our natural desires:

  • “The Bible was written by men and has been manipulated and altered over the centuries.”

  • “A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.”

  • “There are many different ways to find God, it doesn’t have to be through Christianity.”

  • “The Bible has been disproven by science.”

  • “Christianity is an oppressive white man’s religion.”

  • “Love is love.”

So what do we do as a church and as leaders to equip our members, and especially the younger generations, to understand and counter these ideas? First, we need to prepare our people better theologically. I don’t mean that Sunday mornings should feel like seminary. But we do need to have avenues where we help our people understand the big picture of the Bible, know how the Bible fits together, know how we got the Bible, know the basic doctrines of the Bible, know how to read it and interpret it for themselves, and know how to answer typical apologetics issues. We also need to be intentional to point out the arguments that are made against Christianity and answer them. When our kids begin to hear these errant views on social media and our churches never talk about them, it begins to feel like we don’t have answers or have something to hide. 

Our churches need to be places where questions are encouraged! Many who claim to have deconstructed their faith say that their questions were shut down in the church they attended. Questions are healthy. We want people to construct their faith on solid answers. We should not be sending the message that people should just “shut up and believe.” 

Some have asserted that there is good deconstruction and there is bad deconstruction. Bad deconstruction would be just looking for explanations that would free you from submitting to the real Jesus and the plain meaning of the Bible. Supposedly good deconstruction would be working to verify the facts of your faith and make sure that you aren’t sucked into extra-biblical traditions or teaching. Alisa Childers says that there isn’t such a thing as good deconstruction, she refers to what I just described as “reformation.” I don’t know that I’m a fan of that term because that word is already taken. I would just call it “construction.” Maybe for the first time, you are actually building your faith on biblical facts. You are constructing your faith. However, I agree with Childers that the deconstruction movement does not focus on verifying your faith, but rather on tearing it down. 

Parents need to be more immersed in these issues than ever before and should be having regular conversations with their children about them. Keep in mind, that the world is working very hard to “disciple” your kids away from the real Jesus. Maybe a regular question at the dinner table should be, “What have you come across lately that seems to disagree with the Bible or what you hear taught at church?” 

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