Deconstruction, the Evangelical Church, and the Worship of Christian Celebrities

Look! A title that engenders mixed and/or polarized feelings! Sorry about that. I just wanted to get straight to it and get everyone on the same page, even if only for the introduction. Effective? Let me know! πŸ˜‰

If you’ve been paying attention to what one might call the “mainstream” or maybe the “popular” or the “American” church or church culture, you’ve probably noticed that there has been an exodus, not of the promised-land-seeking kind. Well, maybe metaphorically. If you’ve heard of names like Joshua Harris, Audrey Assad, Kevin Max, Abraham Piper, Jonathan Steingard, and plenty of others that aren’t coming to mind, have begun considering themselves “ex-vangelicals.” (This means that they were formerly considered evangelical Christians, with the exception of the Catholic-rooted Audrey Assad; and it often means they have left the orthodoxy of Christian faith or Christian faith entirely, but not always.)

There’s an underlying theme here, and it’s not something everyone knows by its name, but it’s called “deconstruction.” Not to be confused with “deconstructionism,” deconstruction is essentially the process of taking apart a system of thought or belief, or a worldview, to see what it’s made of and whether or not it is true and actually holds up. Deconstruction-ism is different. We’re not talking about that. Just setting some terms.

Deconstruction often arouses bitter feelings for Christians. This makes a lot of sense, especially if someone they know has left the faith, because the Christian worldview includes such beliefs as the existence of an ultimate truth, an ultimate morality, and ultimate justice (which is where the belief in heaven and hell is rooted and a lot of the feelings of grief come from) β€” all defined by an almighty, all-good God. In other words, faith has real consequences not just eternally but here on earth. That’s not what this conversation is about. This is not about how people leave us feeling let down when the leave the faith or what it means in regard to Christian faith. This is about something more important. This is about the fact that we who believe the gospel of Jesus often miss some very important things when we watch Christians we know either personally or by their popularity reject their prior beliefs.

So, strap in.

Let’s start by addressing some preconceived notions and problematic understandings of what deconstruction is and how it works.

We often think of deconstruction in one direction only: away from ourselves and toward something else. In the church, we talk about deconstruction in the sense of people deconstructing their Christian faith in order to believe something else. And surprise, surprise β€” there is a reason for that: probably because that’s how it happens a lot of times. I’ve had mentors, friends, pastors, and totally random acquaintances that have experienced this. A daughter leaves the faith. A father retracts from Christian community. A fundamentalist becomes a universalist. We imagine the horror stories others have told us, or we relive things we’ve seen play out in front of us. Understandably, that makes people afraid of the concept. We forget a few things, though, when we think assume the worst.

First of all, we forget that we who now believe the gospel of Christ, even if we have believed as long as we can remember, also deconstructed former beliefs in order to believe God. A look at Paul’s dealings with the Athenians confirms as much from a biblical perspective (see Acts 17:16-34). A culture, the Greeks, who prided themselves on their centuries of intellectualism and polytheism, found themselves breaking down their own philosophies and theologies in order to understand the earth-shattering idea of resurrection from the dead, namely that of Jesus. If you believe the gospel, then you’ve deconstructed old beliefs as did the Greeks, and you’re probably going to do that until the day you die because salvation is something that we are working out (Philippians 2:12-13), not something that stays exactly the same forever. The only thing like that is Jesus himself, not the nuances our faith in him. In one sense, we have been saved, which cannot be undone. In another sense, we are continuously being saved from the sin still in our flesh. That’s what sanctification means. So, to accept sanctification as described in scripture, we have to accept that we, too, are deconstructing our former selves in the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that Christ is reconstructing us into a holy temple for his presence. Not only that, but remember that our actions are an outworking of our faith, so as our faith in the wrong things deconstructs, the corresponding actions often do the same. In other words, deconstruction of some kind is a necessary part of the natural progression of biblical sanctification, with the goal of stronger faith in Christ and a closer resemblance of him.

Second of all, deconstruction may be prompted by doubts and questions, but it is usually the result of a desire to find the truth and hopefully preserve faith. After all, the bulk of the New Testament scriptures are answering questions and solving problems. Some were trying to understand sexuality (1 Corinthians), others to understand the end of all things (1 Thessalonians), others still the relationship between Jewish law and the law of grace in Christ (Galatians). And those are only three examples out of numerous letters written to the infant church, which was not only deconstructing particular beliefs but whole religions. Deconstruction isn’t new, and it’s not un-Christian. It’s a part of growing in a world full of differing perspectives, ideas, and experiences. It’s a part of being human and trying to learn.

Finally, not only is deconstruction often not prompted by a desire to abandon faith, deconstruction doesn’t have to end in a loss of faith. However, people often assume as much, and it wouldn’t be completely unwarranted. It happens. A lot of time, there are very good reasons when it happens. People find problems with the version of Christianity they knew, and they rejected it, not knowing that they could reject the parts that have been twisted by humankind without rejecting the true faith. In fact, when you understand that you don’t have to reject the truth from God in order to reject the lies of men, your faith can come out stronger in the end.

So, deconstruction isn’t what you might think it is, and it can actually be a very positive thing. Now that we have a little ground work out of the way, we can talk about a potentially worse problem: Christian celebritism.

As I mentioned, many well-known Christian leaders of celebrity status have begun to at least in part reject their faith. Some have reconstructed their faith and saved it, while others haven’t. As this has happened, I’ve done the worst possible thing for my sense of sanity: read the comment sections on posts about deconstruction by these people (0/10; NOT recommended). As difficult as it has been to acknowledge some of the things these people have said, seeing the comments directed toward them is worse sometimes.

Think about it for just a moment. We have an unprecedented amount of worldly freedom to do and say almost anything we want, yet when Christian freedom calls us to control our tongues, not only do we fail to do so, but we don’t seem to even try (James 1:26; 3:9-12). In the referenced passage, that audience James was addressing were wealthy people who boasted of how religious they were; yet not only did they falsely tie their wealth to their piety, their piety was false because it blatantly ignored the needy in front of them. In our case, the needy are those who are deconstructing. When their minds and hearts are in chaos, they need others to let them know that they are loved and that things will be okay.

However, not only do we often meet them with our disappointment and disapproval, we meet them with pious talk and condescension rather than speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-16). Even in those who are genuinely [pre]grieving the potential loss of the faith of a loved one often (though not always) carry a measure of arrogance in their grief. Rather than grieving the soul itself, what is being grieved is often like the Pharisee in Jesus’ teaching: that this friend and their faith are no longer on our level. There is a way to combat false teaching and to aid those deconstructing their faith in their journey, maybe even to help them save their faith. What we often do in the comment sections of social media is not that.

That’s not the biggest problem, though, as big of a problem as it is. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, right (Luke 6:45)? So, the comment section is just a symptom of other problems. Those who are deconstructing are not forcing people to retaliate. We each make our own choices. That means, disappointed or not, understandable or not, we are responsible for our own reactions to people. This has implications.

For one thing, our expectations are probably in control of us. The evidence is that we act like the world is ending when those expectations aren’t met. Take a moment to think about that.

We place expectations on people whether or not it is intentional. Expectations are something that everyone forms, and it’s part of how we survive in the world. That’s not wrong, but if left unchecked, it can be damaging to you and the one upon whom you place the burden of unrealistic expectations. People in general are supposed to act a certain way, much more so if they are a specific kind of person in a specific line of work or, in this case, a specific set of beliefs, having a specific sphere of great influence. It’s even biblical to have expectations on people who lead the church (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Those are standards and accountability. Those are good things for people’s wellbeing in any sense of the word. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Too often, we see a person for their talent, their position, their power, their popularity, their influence. You name it, and we see it before we see the human being behind it. It’s like how people can swoon over an actor for their way with presenting a character or a singer for hitting the note and melting your heart. We become infatuated with such people for what they do and what they are, kind of like a guy goes crazy for a cute girl, but doesn’t actually know anything about them. Suddenly, they find themselves dreaming up this ideal individual and borderline worshipping it.

Ironically, that means that we are both dehumanizing and idolizing those we hold in high esteem.

Then the dream shatters. The gods we made of them falls from heaven like lightning. The expectation isn’t met. The apparently perfect faith falters, only to become the death knell for the faith of their followers.

And it isn’t only when people of renown deconstruct. It’s when they betray the faith by their double-lives because so very often, such actions, when brought to light, can be the beginning of deconstruction for people who have been inspired by people’s faithfulness, only to be failed by the very same people. In ways, that level of hypocritical betrayal can sting worse than watching someone walk away from the faith.

The megachurch pastor becomes the unfaithful husband.

The masterful apologist becomes the manipulative rapist.

The songwriter of praise becomes the mouthpiece of relativism.

The list goes on.

And it isn’t just “celebrities.” It’s those who are celebrities to us.

It’s the childhood pastor who, rather than check on you to see if you’re okay, is more angered by the fact that you’re not as open as you usually are.

It’s the leader that expects things from you that you don’t even know how to do, initiative for things for which you don’t even have a starting point, then gets enraged rather than helps you do it.

It’s the teacher with strong theology but can’t seem to acknowledge that their political biases and blind spots are actually destroying lives.

It’s the preacher whose message is not quite “prosperity gospel” enough to raise a red flag, but in the real world it falls through. You prayed and prayed, but you’re still in poverty, your neighbors are still jerks, and your grandmother is still dying.

It’s the friends that suddenly stop showing up in your world without any warning or explanation when they were once beacons of love for you.

The mentor who judged you when you were confused on an issue or sinned, rather than even attempt to walk you through it or empathize.

The youth group leader who was a little too interested in the kids he was leading to keep from abusing them.

There are a million different ways that professing Christians can utterly fail us. Not just walking away from the faith, but also betraying it and casting doubt on its credibility.

If you’re deconstructing because of the failings of a leader or someone you trusted, or their own abandonment of the faith, I feel you. All of these things and so many more are ground-shaking events that may even shake our faith.

Good. Let it.

That means you’re thinking about whether or not certain beliefs truly produce the behaviors they profess or are based in reality at all.

That means you’re not just taking your beliefs for granted.

That means you are actively trying to grow.

Maybe most importantly, it means you are being honest about the problems you see. The church needs more of that. If you are deconstructing your faith or thinking about it because someone fell short, you probably should. Why? Because if you do, maybe you will lose parts of your faith that weren’t even truly biblical. After all, if scripture is true, it should hold up in reality and in those who believe it.

But maybe it is not only our faith that should be shaken, maybe not even primarily. Maybe our faith in fallen people β€” any of us alive in the flesh β€” should not be so strong. If the gospel of Jesus Christ is absolutely true, then maybe the thing that made you doubt wasn’t actually the gospel or true Christian teaching. Maybe the thing that made you doubt was a person failing as all people so often do. If we realize that, not only can we help save the faith of one another, but we can also hold leaders accountable for what they do. After all, if scripture is true, then when unstable people twist it for their own benefit, then we should do whatever we can to rectify the situation and protect those who would be devastated by the teachings and abuses of toxic leaders β€” that’s everyone (2 Peter 3:16-18). It’s okay to rely on people. God gave us community for that reason. But people do fail us, and often. When they do, we are compelled to hold them accountable. If the church will not do so, then those deconstructing and leaving certainly will.

Best of all, maybe you will develop empathy, grace, and forgiveness for those who failed β€” and no, they don’t deserve it. Maybe their beliefs were toxic. Maybe they harbored secret sin that they prized more than Christ. Maybe what they did was destructive. Maybe as you watch them fail or deconstruct, you will begin to realize that they are just like you in ways β€” and no, I’m not putting victims and abusers on equal footing here. I’m only saying that we’ve all sinned, and no one has perfect theology. At best, we’re imperfect. At worst, we’re despicable. In either case, no one can get it all right, everyone is still learning, and everyone sins. We don’t have to validate abusers to acknowledge universal fallenness and humanness, even of those who behave like monsters. Maybe they are in need of the same grace in their deconstruction as you are, all while being held accountable for how they hurt people.

And despite all of that, maybe your deconstruction had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not someone else sinned or misrepresented the faith. Maybe the thing you’re deconstructing is precisely the truest version of Christianity. Good. Keep doing that work. Keep trying to figure things out. You’re not alone in this, and you are no less loved. Even if you aren’t seeing it now, even if the ones by whom you are surrounded are against you, so many of us out here are cheering you on. We want you to trust Jesus and believe the gospel, but if you have doubts, you should feel safe sorting them out.

Church, do better. I know it may seem harsh, but we need to hear it. We are not doing well with this.

We should never demonize people for doing something we all do, including publicly deconstructing. Let’s reflect on what we now know. People don’t usually leave the faith on a whim. To assume as much is insulting at best. To berate people in the comments of social media based on an assumption that likely is not even based in reality is unbecoming of Christ followers. Worse, to pretend we’ve never drifted from our faith in understanding or practice, or even had questions, is not only pompous but hypocritical. Again, we have all deconstructed something at some point. What is the use of denying it besides to make ourselves look better to everyone else?

If we are demonizing others while propping up ourselves, then what we are actually doing is setting up idols in the mirror and worshipping ourselves. We scream that others have abandoned the faith when they’re simply being honest, while we sit in our shiny houses on holier-than-thou hills and proclaim the false gospel that we are better than these. No, it is we who have not only abandoned faith but betrayed Christ and “the least of these” for an inflated ego.

And it’s not just the comment sections of social media. We’ve been doing this for a long time. This is just the public overflow of something that has been brewing in smaller, more private circles. It has been in small groups, in private meetings with toxic leaders, in church camps, in churches, through the western Christian cultures of consumerism, celebritism, hyper-conservatism, toxic masculinity, white supremacy (even if implicit and cultural and localized), and party-worship. In an effort to maintain the status quo and keep our bolstered numbers, we have berated, demeaned, belittled, dismissed, and oppressed those that dare challenge our extremely biased, largely western interpretations of eastern scriptures, which we have overlain on its intended message (which is a very different discussion for a different day).

(And yes, both sides of political lines usually have issues of their own. It’s not just white masculine evangelicalism or conservatism, but there is a reason people engendering these veins of thought are under such scrutiny for inspiring a mass exodus of believers β€” not just that the other side is “so tempting and godless” as many would say. Again, that’s not what we’re talking about right now. Those issues deserve their own time.)

I realize that being in a relationship with the perfect Lord is what makes us better, but it doesn’t make us perfect. We’re all the same. Therefore, it is only through true humility and genuine love of the one who gave himself for us that we can ever hope to know him. After all, Satan himself was in God’s very presence, and he fell as far as anyone ever could. Take that as a warning. The fact of God’s perfection, or our proximity to him, does not make anyone who trusts in him any better at theology or not sinning than anyone else β€” not celebrities who are blinded by their pride, and certainly not normal, everyday Christians blinded by false humility. If we have arrived a point where we can’t be wrong, can’t learn, can’t grow, or can’t change β€” none of which anyone would ever want to admit β€” then we have been deceived by the very enemy against which we war in the Spirit.

It’s ironic how the demonization of people is the work of demons, and the western evangelical church is often all too complicit. We demonize the deconstructing, democrats, and just about anyone else that “comes against us,” all while ignoring the facts that our war is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:3-4), and that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). He didn’t come to die on a cross as an insurrection against human government but against Satan’s government in human hearts. Therefore, he certainly did not delegate that task to us.

We all struggle to work out our faith. Would you not expect compassion for yourself if you had questions or doubts? Why not extend the same to the deconstructing celebrity, or your former pastor, or the kid in your youth group, or your coworker, or literally anyone struggling with their faith either in the church or in Christ, all of whom you are called to love and “bear one another’s burdens”? (Galatians 6:1-10). Why is the default reaction anger and disappointment rather than seeking to understand what happened and to show compassion and grace toward that individual? Isn’t that how evangelism is supposed to work β€” to extend the grace of God which we have received, through the message of the gospel, to those who have not yet had the privilege? Isn’t that what it means to be sanctified conformed to the image of God β€” to forsake sin and to extend grace to those who have not?

Maybe if their Christian friends and families β€” heck, even their Facebook followers β€” had extended the same compassion and conversation, these people would have circled back around. Maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they did receive such dignity from their loved ones, and it still didn’t work. But the goal is not to “make it work” or to “ensure” they are won back “at any cost.” The work we do is important, but only the Holy Spirit can ultimately keep a person secure in their faith. It is his work that makes ours even effective (Philippians 2:12-13). It is his presence in us by which we receive grace to extend in return, or by which we understand the truth enough to convey it to those who are doubting, or to have the compassion to walk through their deconstruction with them. And of “any cost,” the one we should not pay is to talk down to these people or perpetuate the cycle of decrying others in our disappointment. If we don’t have the compassion to extend to them, and if we are not willing to walk through their questioning and doubting with them, maybe we are the problem. Maybe we are part of the reason they are gone. Maybe we are in reality worse disappointments to them than they could ever be to us. Maybe we should be asking ourselves why we lack compassion, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

On top of all of that, let’s not forget what is hiding in plain sight: that we have put such behavior on display for all the world to see. We are not welcoming to deconstruction. We are openly hostile to it. We often see it as a fault or a weakness rather than just a part of the process of living and learning, for which all of us need grace and would expect it yet put forth so little effort to give it. When the comment section is full of belligerence and anti-intellectualism, no, the church is not a safe space.

Out of one corner of our mouths we sweetly sing the love of Jesus on Sunday mornings, then out of the other we blast the “bad Christians” and “infidels” on the internet like the keyboard warriors we like to think we’re not.

Treating people kindly who are losing their religion but trying to save their faith is not a sign of compromise of the truth. It is a sign that we have truly accepted the love of Christ for all people, the very message he preached and lived, as truth. To forsake that is to cast doubt on whether or not even we ourselves believe what we say.

This is not evangelicalism. This is not even evangelism. This is a slaughter of generations of faith.

What makes it all so much worse is that we often set up our structures of worship such that it is easier to follow other people than it is to follow Jesus, and our affections are no exceptions. It is much easier to throw on a worship record from a major label or a megachurch and listen to it on repeat, or obsess over a celebrity pastor, or to celebritize your own pastor, your own church community, your own presence in your own town, than it is to forsake fame of your own or of another in order to follow the teaching of Christ which are given in his infinite love and wisdom. We prop up leaders in isolating positions where they are the center of attention and their pride can be easily fed, and we wonder why they fall so easily and why so many are falling with them.

So, we decry celebrities in the faith at the same times as we prop up Christian celebritism. Will the hypocrisy and the addiction to fame, power, and consumerism never cease? (Galatians 6:11-16).

(In case you were wondering, yes, that means that the problem is not only personal but also systemic. Please don’t stop reading even if the word “systemic” shuts you down β€” if you’ve made it this far. BONUS: The passage I just cited from Galatians 6 is clear evidence that dismantling systemic issues in the church is 100% biblical. Carry on.)

As if it couldn’t get any worse, we spend so much time obsessing over how lofty people keep falling from their faith that we completely miss the people right in front of us. Then, we spend so much time painting others in a negative light that the people who might even look to us for encouragement or answers that could help save their faith, don’t. If that’s how we treat people who are deconstructing, why would they?

We act offended when people deconstruct the faith under the presupposition that they have abandoned the worship of God, but too often, we worship faith itself more than we worship God. We idolize those who put it on display, so when they show signs of questioning, it upsets us more than it should. I’m not saying there isn’t reason to be upset, but it isn’t always, and it definitely isn’t at the first sign of deconstruction. So we take out our frustration on them when their faith is shaken, but that might mean our faith is also being shaken because its foundation is on them and not on God. Worse, our faith might be on the idea of faith, which is nothing unless the object of faith is sure. It’s like trying to lay bricks in midair. It just doesn’t work, and it is effortless for the bricks to fall. So we have reduced faith from the intimate relationship we have with God, whom we should treasure, to being the treasure itself, thereby stripping it of its entire meaning and purpose.

In so doing, we have set up the church in the west for abject failure. Like a dead, rotten tree, the exterior may be holding together, but it is ready to fall, and it seems evident that it is falling already. It is tragic to see people abandon the faith, but maybe the faith they are abandoning was never truly Christian to begin with but something else entirely. Maybe their deconstruction is not a symptom of their sin or their lack of true faith. Maybe it is a symptom of ours. Maybe it is our inconsistency and lack of humility that people are done with, not the message of Christ. Maybe, in trying to save their faith, they realized it wasn’t what they thought but something worse.

Don’t misunderstand. We can mourn a loss of faith, but we should be glad when people cast off an image of Christ that is fundamentally false, and we should be glad that people would ever be honest with a group of people who have historically been unsafe to be around when deconstructing. We should be grateful that we get the opportunity to see it. It is an incredibly vulnerable thing for a person to bare the falling apart of the beliefs that make their world spin. We can gain insight into the ways we as individuals and the church have failed either to act in accordance with our faith or to communicate our beliefs. We can gain insight into genuine, legitimate concerns that believers and non-believers alike have, taking the opportunity to empathize, realizing that we have had our concerns in the past and will have them again at some point. Heck, we might even find that we share their concerns, or even, God forbid (sarcastically), that we should.

So, where do we go from here? Here is my conclusion.

Maybe we shouldn’t so much grieve those leaving churches or leaving the church altogether or leaving the faith entirely as we should follow them. Maybe the church is the problem. Maybe the church is holding onto a version of faith that is actually killing its members rather than reviving them. We don’t have to abandon the true Christ in order to do that. Maybe that is actually what will help us find him again. Maybe we do know him, but maybe we’ve assumed a lot of things that aren’t true and made things up to satiate our present understanding of him, rather than do the heavy lifting of true deconstruction in order to humbly submit to him as he is.

After all, if they leave, and we don’t go after them, we’re confirming their worst suspicions: that the love we professed was never even real at all.

Jesus left the ninety-nine to go after the one. What if our part in leaving the ninety-nine isn’t just the evangelizing we do in the middle of the week but is now actually more like leaving the places that have become corrupted in order to start something new? What if it isn’t our job to stay with the ninety-nine nice little pompous religious sheep that stayed nicely in their pen? (That’s not the point of the parable, but that’s exactly why I’m using it this way.) After all, Jesus beckoned people to withdraw from the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, didn’t he? What if we are seeing this parable and misappropriating it for ourselves when it doesn’t even apply to us in this conversation? What if we who are watching people leave are not actually the “faithful ninety-nine” but more like the “comfortable and prideful ninety-nine”? What if the struggle to sustain hyper-conservative white evangelicalism, fundamentalism, celebrity culture, and the American way isn’t actually a part of this parable? What if it shouldn’t even be the goal? What if people leaving behind a version of the faith filled with problematic systems isn’t the problem? What if we are not actually being faithful? What if we are actually just fearful of losing power?

Maybe we shouldn’t be coming up with new strategies and models and programs and what have you, just so that we can hold people in a place they know they don’t belong. That’s imprisonment. That’s taking hostages. That’s conniving to sell someone a contract they cannot fulfill because they were misled about the terms by a culture that doesn’t really care about them. Besides that, the approach doesn’t matter if what you’re selling is killing those you call your family. You’re not going to entice people to drink poison, no matter the fancy glass containing it. They’ve had enough of it. It is long past time that we poured it out.

We can’t stay in the same pIace doing the same thing and expect the cycle to break. That’s just proof of our insanity. It’s time we did something new.

It’s time that the love we profess left the building.

It’s time to admit that we have been wrong for a very long time.

For those of you who are walking with someone who is deconstructing, this final bit is for you.

It may feel natural to simply react out of shock or concern for someone we love who is deconstructing. A lot of times, we overcorrect out of a fear that they will be lost to us. We panic. We yell. We cry. We shut down. Based on the tenets of Christian faith, there are some valid emotions behind those actions. I won’t invalidate those feelings, but beyond those reactions, we don’t always choose the best responses.

So, we need to remember a few things.

  1. First off, no berating, and no freaking out. You have been invited into someone’s messy process. Get in or get out.
  2. Don’t force it. You will push them away.
  3. Give them the decency of doing research and finding answers beyond gospel-tract style platitudes. Really get in there and do the work of helping them tear down what’s bad and build up what’s good. They’ve already heard all the churchy stuff. Find something else.
  4. For the most part, people don’t change overnight. They didn’t just wake up one day and choose to throw out the beliefs upon which they’ve built their lives. That’s just stupid. People don’t wake up and detonate dynamite under the foundation of their home on a whim. People who are deconstructing their faith worked it out over time that what they experienced and observed about life didn’t match up with what they originally thought was true.
  5. Along those same lines, people don’t usually change beliefs out of malice or to retaliate. The change in belief is usually something genuine that happens because, again, life and the world and the universe didn’t seem to match up anymore. They are using the best judgment they have, even if they are interpreting things wrong, misunderstanding things, or acting out of some sort of bias; and that’s something we all do. In fact, genuine belief cannot be simply willed into being. Belief is formed. Trust is built. Houses aren’t held up by malice. An uncalculated tantum cannot build the place in which you live, not even if that is what it looks like on the surface.
  6. Christians deconstruct things all the time. That’s a part of the learning process. That’s why there are denominations and sub-denominations β€” I’m being highly reductionistic about that one, but it’s still a big part of the reason. It’s why there are different views on predestination and translation and eschatology and any other argued doctrine. Your faith, your worldview, is being refined through time as you live your life. That’s actually a good thing. If we didn’t dismantle things that were untrue, we would never learn and accept what was actually true. Remembering this will help you do part 3.
  7. Not all deconstruction leads to the abandonment of belief or devotion. It just means that something about what a person has believed is wrong, and they are trying to sort it out. Don’t assume the end before you know what is even happening. (By the way, if that is the assumption, you may want to explore the possibility that you have abandonment issues to sort through. Trust me. I get that. If you’ve been a reader here for long, you know.)

Deconstruction is not the disease. It’s a symptom of doubt, and doubts usually point to a problem. Don’t assume that the problem is the doubter. It might be us.

If we deconstruct what is broken together, we can reconstruct better together. It might be the only thing that will finally prove our love for one another and bring us back together, just like Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21). Then the world will truly know him.

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