There is a new movement going around in churches all across the country today that has grown much support and much criticism. That movement is called, “Deconstruction”. Some of you may have heard this word buzzing around because there is a fair share of published opinions about it already out there. But for those who are fortunate enough to avoid most of the craziness on social media, we will start with this basic question to help you get up to speed:
What is Deconstruction?
In short, no one really knows!
That’s it! Blog complete!
But seriously, I’m only joking to a certain extent, There is a level of seriousness in that statement as well. The definition of Deconstruction is masked a bit. It has a wide variety of potential meanings depending on the context it is used in. I’ll call it a “spectrum word”. Spectrum words can be used broadly to reflect one thing, and specifically to reflect a different thing. Deconstruction can broadly mean simply changing the way you think about something. “I changed my mind about LG phones when I bought the LG Wing. I like them now.” In other words, I deconstructed my slightly negative preconceived ideas about LG phones to some level of respect or appreciation. (Though not a complete 180 degree on them) That’s deconstruction used in a broad sense. In a more specific case, it can mean something as dramatic as Apostasy/leaving the “said” faith. (A complete 180) That’s why there is so much confusion on the word. My plain and hopefully simple definition is this: Deconstruction is a critique of the beliefs you have once believed without question.
Here is a positive example of deconstruction. When I was 6 years old, I “said the prayer” that was supposed to make me a Christian. The problem was that the decision to do that was because I wanted to be like my parents, who were Christians. I grew up as a pastor’s kid and went to church every Sunday, so I knew what to say. Outwardly, I said and did all the right things. But if someone asked me why I believed what I believed, though I might have known to say, “because Jesus is my Lord and Savior”, I don’t think I knew truly what that meant. When I was 13, I rededicated myself to the Lord. This rededication was in the light of me knowing truly what it meant to be a believer and wanting it for myself, not just to be like my parents. In a way, I went through deconstruction. Internally, I had to dismantle the question, “what it means to be a believer”, and construct in my head what confession, faith, and declaring Jesus as Lord and savior truly means. I challenged that question in my head and now I have a more firm understanding of God’s gift as it relates to me.
“Deconstruction sounds pretty good, Brad! Let’s join the movement!” Hold on a second! This is a very conservative approach to deconstruction. The problem is that the Deconstruction movement today is championed by liberal theology. In other words, it’s being chanted by people who have a very loose interpretation of scripture and a very low view of it as well. So, when these people say “deconstruct”, it comes out to be something more along the lines of self-discovery at the expense of the truths the Bible holds. “Deconstruction” is just a fancy way of saying destroy every reformed orthodox view and build your own theology based on your personal experiences, wants and desires, cultural norms and sociology. THAT is what most people are doing when they say they are deconstructing their faith. We should not align ourselves with this kind of thinking.
Some people have even gone so far as to say that Reformation leader, Martin Luther, was a deconstructionist. They say something like this: “He challenged the status quo and called into question his and the church’s beliefs. The reformed theology we have today is because he deconstructed his faith.” Well, in response to this, I love the example Red Pen Logic with Mr. B gives. I’m sure many of you may have heard of Creation Scientist, Ken Ham. He debated Bill Nye (the “science” guy) on evolution vs creationism back in 2014. On a macro level, Ken Ham could be called an “evolutionist” because he holds to the idea that “biological things change over time”. Evolution, in a broad sense, means “to change” over time. According to this broad definition, Ken Ham agrees. But calling him an evolutionist is very misleading because an “evolutionist” is someone who believes in cross-species evolution and that non-living material evolved into living material. To this, Ken Ham would certainly not agree, nor wish to be referred along similar lines to. That is what people are doing when they call Martin Luther a deconstructionist. There is quite a difference between Martin Luther’s Reformation and today’s Deconstruction. The main difference is simple: by whose authority are we allowing our minds to be changed by? If you truly want to align yourself with men like Luther, then your authority ought to be rooted in scripture and scripture alone. (sola scriptura) Deconstruction today, as I said before, has been used more along the lines of self-discovery at the expense of the truths the Bible holds. Luther challenged the church of his time WITH Scripture, not personal experience or bias, sociology, or current cultural norms. Everything he reformed was shaped by re-examining scripture at a closer level, not by throwing it out the window to pursue how he feels.
Romans 12:2 says,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Renewing your mind simply means this: to interpret your experiences, feelings, emotions and thoughts through the lens of God’s Word. If you are feeling confused about your purpose in life, go to God’s Word and find it. If you are feeling pain or trauma, go to God’s Word for healing and understanding; why you experience this pain, and how to deal with it. If you begin to experience temptation towards things in the world, go to God’s Word to help you combat those and realign your desires. (put on the full armor of God) If you think evil thoughts towards people or things that have wronged you, go to God’s Word and renew your mind towards things above. Colossians 3:2-6 says,
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”
This is the only deconstruction that should be going on in the believer’s heart. The believer’s mind should be on a continual process of constructing their minds towards the things that are above and setting aside the things that the Bible says belong only to this world. True Biblical deconstruction takes place when God’s Word is regarded as… God’s Words. When deconstruction takes place outside of God’s word, there is a much better word for it than deconstruction. It’s called APOSTASY! It’s to fall away from the truths of the Word and reject it.
Though not all deconstruction leads to apostasy, ALL apostasy is the result of deconstruction. There is no way around it. Sometimes deconstruction (done the right way, with the right motives) will cause a person to firmly understand the truth of God’s Word and believe it without doubt. But in most cases, deconstruction is a masked celebration of Apostasy. People would rather hear what the world thinks about God rather than what the Word says of God. And should we be surprised when the world curses God and denies Him? No! The world is, by default, against Him! If you are deconstructing your faith and going to the world to hear “their side of the story”, what do you really think you are going to hear? Answer: You are going to hear what your flesh wants to hear. WE are, by default, against God as well. Words from the world will be appealing, and you will fall for it if you never truly gave yourself as a complete living sacrifice to the Lord. I said it in my apostasy post, but I’ll say it again; if one moment you can say “Jesus is Lord”, and the next moment you are spitting in his face, denying him, and walking away from the faith, then you, my friend, never knew him and he was never truly Lord over your life.
Sometimes people unknowingly stumble into listening to what the world says. That’s understandable. There’s grace for that. And if you are truly a child of God then He promises to reel you back in. And I pray if that person is you, exploring what the world offers, please take this as a loving warning: turn back to God! If you are actively seeking out answers from the world as if they have equal or more authority than God’s Word, then you are on a dangerous track and should seriously evaluate your heart.
Some people genuinely want to deconstruct their faith under good motives, but it ends up leading to the destruction of their faith because they are going to the wrong places for answers. Let this be a teachable moment to the genuine person (again, maybe you) who has questions and wants to know the truth. When I was studying end-times-related material, my dad told me this; he said, “If you want to truly understand something, go to the people who actually believe what they are saying. Don’t just go to the people who are against it because they will never fully represent the opposing view.” In other words, I could sit here all day and tell you why I think CrossFit is a complete waste of time and energy, and why standard Olympic lifting is much better for you. But if you really want to know the benefits of Cross fitting, then go talk to someone who actually does CrossFit because (let’s be honest) I’ve never done CrossFit in my life and I only talk trash about it because it looks funny. I don’t actually know all that much about it, nor have I experienced its effects on my body. If you want to know why the God of the Bible is real and good, then read the Bible and talk to people who are convinced of Him because of what the Word says. That’s not to say that ignorance is bliss regarding what the world has to say. Consider this: in reality, it’s the unbeliever who is living in blissful ignorance of what the Bible says. Christians dwell within a world that is hostile towards Christ. A believer believes in Christ DESPITE all they’ve experienced their entire lives in the world. This world shackles us in chains. We don’t live in neutral territory. We live in hostile territory. The Gospel is invasive to this world. It offers freedom from the chains. We are born sinners, bent towards sin. The Gospel bends us towards Christ. The world will never give you the whole picture. That is why deconstructing your faith must always bring you to dive deeper into the Word. Don’t let your questions turn to doubt and disbelief. Give those questions a fair shot by giving them to the Lord because otherwise, we are predisposed to answer them as the world would. In faith ask God your questions and He will answer them through a deeper study of His word.
Don’t let the world fool you into deconstructing Jesus out of your life. The Bible is much more than just a list of do’s and don’ts for moral upkeep. Only let inside your heart the kind of deconstruction that critically evaluates doubt because doubts left unchecked lead to complete disbelief. They come hand in hand. The Bible is clear on its stance against doubt. James 1:5-6 says,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that “Now I know in part…” In other words, Paul, one of the greatest spiritual giants in scripture, acknowledges that he does not know all the answers to everything. But does that mean he was lacking in faith? NO! We know only in part. That is why we walk by faith and not by sight. When one question gets answered, it’s not uncommon for 5 more to pop up. And when those get answered, 10 more show up. It’s an endless cycle of not ever knowing everything. Our society today is so obsessed with having all the answers. We are so obsessed with information that we arrogantly claim that anything we don’t know must be false. That certainly wasn’t Paul’s mindset. To him, the empty places where questions remain unanswered don’t have to equate to doubt. It’s in those empty places where faith resides! Now we know only in part, but we know enough for belief and faith in God for the things we do not know or for what we only see pieces of. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 13 to say that the day will come when “we will know fully, even as we are fully known.” “That which is in part will be done away.” (v10) Someday there will no longer be a need for faith. All faith will be turned into sight.
Here is a series of questions for you to think about:
Do you lack wisdom? (Obviously… we all do)
Do you know everything fully? (Nope)
Is your faith being crowded by doubts?
Then pray for God to help your disbelief. Don’t praise doubt as the “progressive” deconstructionists do. Doubt is not the missing ingredient to growing abundant faith. It’s cancer to it. It causes a “regressive” faith.
In Mark, chapter 9, Jesus meets a man who brought to him his mute son. The son suffered from having a “mute spirit” that throws him down to the ground, causes him to foam in the mouth and gnash his teeth. The father brought him to Jesus in faith that He could heal him. But in verse 24 he cries out to Jesus and says this,
“…I believe; help my unbelief!”
If this was the prayer of every believer who is in a time of questioning, our churches today would be erupting with spiritual growth. You have to want it! You can’t just casually walk around saying, “Ya, I love Jesus, but I have my doubts.” It’s so cool now for “so called” believers to distance themselves away from orthodox Christianity by placing themselves in this static position of doubting and criticizing the very thing they claim to partially be standing on. “I’m spiritual but I’m like, the cool rebellious kind.” No! You are all in or you are all out. The true believer must cry out to the Lord to remove the doubts we have. I BELIEVE IN YOU! BUT LORD, HELP ME WITH THESE DOUBTS!
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
Praise the Lord that all we need is a mustard seed of faith to be counted as righteous before our Lord because there is an abundance of things in this world that I cannot see or know much about that could cause me to doubt. It’s that little mustard seed of faith that is enough to convict us of those things we do not see. That little mustard seed of faith champions us through those doubts and uncertainties. But let this encourage you: Jude 1:22 says,
“Have mercy on those who doubt.”
Have mercy on those who doubt because God has mercy on those who doubt. Make no mistake, doubt is sin. It’s not a firm belief, which equates to a less rigid stance of disbelief. But there is grace if faith abounds, nonetheless. “How do I know if my doubt has turned into disbelief?” Well, if you are asking that question, that’s a good indicator that you are on the right track. A doubter who is not concerned about whether or not they are saved is a disbeliever. But a doubter who trembles at the thought of possibly hearing “Depart from me, I never knew you” is someone who (though has doubts) is truly saved, merely lacking assurance of their salvation. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There will always be things not seen until Christ returns for us. Faith is the assurance of that hope. Faith will grow in spite of your doubt, not because of it. Sanctification is the gracious promise given to us that the Holy Spirit sets those who belong to Christ on a processional journey of growing faith. You will fall, your faith will grow weary at times, but it will pick you up and keep you moving because it is confident in the destination.
Faith grows by placing doubt underfoot. Doubt is a staircase that faith uses to walk upwards upon. Every step it crushes doubt. Faith propels us, not doubt. Doubt is daunting. Faith is driving. If you are going to deconstruct, deconstruct by crushing doubt with the truth of God’s Word. Walk by faith, not by sight. Don’t regard the big steps of doubt in your way. Keep your eyes on Christ because someday all that we see only in part will be fully visible before our eyes. And one day you will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”