This leads me to my warning for those in the faith. First, though, I want to provide a disclaimer: Some will disagree with my definition of deconstruction, and I do not wish to argue about terms. I will simply comment on a popular interpretation and then provide what I believe to be an accurate definition, explaining why I am so brazen about my warnings. Some say that the term simply means, “reading the Bible afresh and being willing to challenge your beliefs that may be based on traditional thinking.” This may sound harmless, and even virtuous, but there are two major distinctions that need to be mentioned:
One, there are those who hold a conviction that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word and, therefore, approach it with faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them into deeper conviction of sin, a deeper love for Jesus and His perfections, and a deeper understanding of what is righteous and what is evil.
Two, then there are people who read the Bible afresh, but without faith and without a belief that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word. They consider the words on its pages of no greater or lesser importance than any other book, religion, or TikTok influencer. Rather, they use their own feelings and intellect to decide what they agree with and disagree with.
Do you see the danger in using the same word to describe both something very good and very bad?
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In my opinion, “deconstruction” is not a good term to describe the first set of people. This option is, in fact, how we should always approach the Bible, and it leads to sanctification (the process of becoming more like Jesus). If someone wishes to call that “deconstruction,” I won’t put up a fight. Call it whatever you desire, but I believe that what people usually mean by the term is more like the second group’s approach, described above. Let me quote a definition to clarify the need for greater warning:
“‘Deconstruction’ is the heading most recently applied to the process of questioning, doubting, and ultimately rejecting aspects of Christian faith. This is an application of deconstructionism, an approach that claims to dissemble beliefs or ideas while assuming their meanings are inherently subjective.” — GotQuestions
Therefore, true deconstructionism leads to rejecting absolute truth, which is a core tenet of postmodernism. I fear the term “deconstruction” is being manipulated to soft pedal something into the faith that we should not allow. It is not a term that has been used historically within Christianity to describe reformation or doctrinal faithfulness. Whether or not we agree on the terminology, I believe it’s being used deceitfully by those who truly do wish for Christians to not only deconstruct their faith but also to deconvert. Many ex-Christian influencers subtly try to encourage deconstruction by offering an inclusive “space” to have doubts and ask questions. But the “space” is designed to do the second kind of deconstruction I listed.
What they mean is, “It’s OK to question, it’s OK to doubt. You just need to forget everything you’ve been taught, become a blank slate, and start completely over. Maybe your faith will be more like a mixture between Christianity and Humanism. Maybe you’ll become someone who still loves Jesus, but Jesus won’t be defined by the Bible … because God is bigger than the Bible.” This is more like the aforementioned direct-message guy. Subtle, perhaps, but potently persuasive. These not-so-subtle arguments are poison, yet they are tempting to many Christians, because they fall in line with current popular culture.
Let me explain. Does the “world” (non-believing culture) hate ex-Christians? Have you ever seen an ex-Christian influencer make the secular culture angry because of his or her stance on a culture war issue such as abortion? Of course not! Because ex-Christian influencers tend to align with everything culturally popular and acceptable. And you can bet whenever the next faux pas begins to have culture-tipping-point power, they will be on the “right side of history” (but the wrong side of the Bible) on that argument, too. Believe me, it is tempting to be able to be a “spiritual person-who-may-still-kinda-be-into-Jesus-but-not-really-but-sometimes-even-though-God-isn’t-real” person and also be embraced by the world.