Four False Assumptions about Deconstruction
Despite how many times it happens, it still is a text you never expect.
A close friend told me to check our mutual friend’s Facebook post. I didn’t have to scroll long to see. It was gaining a considerable amount of traction. The post detailed an emotional journey of reconsidering the Christian faith, resulting in a rejection of all belief in Christianity.
I wish I could say that it only has happened once.
This process of re-evaluation and reconsideration of beliefs is commonly referred to as deconstruction. The terms ‘exvangelical’ and ‘deconstructing faith’ often parade across screens as they have become popular topics on social media platforms. However, these terms and the feelings they represent, extend far beyond the digital landscape. The topic of deconstruction is permeating discussions in workplaces, churches, family gatherings, and other areas of our lives.
When we hear about someone deconstructing their faith, natural questions can emerge, such as:
How do I respond graciously? What should I say to them? Should I say anything at all? Why are they doing this? What happened?
While these are all needed questions, believers need to be wary of wrong assumptions that we can easily make about deconstruction.
Deconstruction means the same thing to everyone.
Where clarity lacks, complexity abounds.
When used in specifics, people often refer to an individual who has left Christianity (or some common beliefs of Christianity). Through social media, and websites like YouTube, these stories are publicized worldwide. While the more common usage of the term refers to this process, it is essential to know that not everyone defines it the same. Unless indicated, this will be what we are referring to when the word is used.
In a broad sense of the term, deconstruction is the process of reassessing one’s beliefs.
Difficulty arises when this term is used too broadly or specifically without receiving a definition from the person using the word.
Deconstruction is always a bad thing.
Deconstruction can be a good, necessary process. This again goes back to how someone defines this term. If used broadly (as it often is), someone can reassess their beliefs without abandoning Christianity as a whole.
When saying ‘good,’ I ask if this process leads them closer to the biblical Jesus, friendship with other believers, and a life of obedience.
For example, I had a friend in college who deeply struggled with the belief that her salvation was not earned through her works. She had been taught growing up that salvation came through trusting in Christ as well as her works. Through a long, painful process, she came to a point where she was able to rest in the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Although radically different than the ‘deconstruction’ that others would say, another group would call this deconstruction. When the topic of deconstruction comes up in conversation, one of the most beneficial things to do is to say something similar to:
“I want to listen and care for you during this time. Can you help me understand what you mean when you say deconstruction?”
Deconstruction has the same cause.
For those deconstructing their faith, there was always something that prompted the process. In today’s world, I have observed a few common causes (there are others) that can prompt someone to begin deconstructing their faith:
- A Harmful Influence is something that devalues God, His character, and His Word. For example, if someone grows up with poor theological teaching, this could cause them to reconsider their faith later on.
- An Emotional Experience is an event that creates a strong feeling and influences spirituality. If someone witnesses hypocrisy in the Church, this will often have a catastrophic impact on their life. The impact will often be multiplied if the leaders are those in the Church who do not represent Jesus.
- A Competing Desire is someone or something we want that distracts us from Jesus. With various lifestyles and pursuits all around us, our flesh drifts towards the things of this world. We need to be reminded that all satisfaction is found through the finished work of Jesus.
Deconstruction is only for younger generations.
While the younger generations were raised with technology and social media, older generations can be impacted by the three categories above. Leaving or questioning the faith is not a new thing. All believers should remain mindful of what we are allowing to influence us. When emotions arise, we ought to bring them to Jesus, asking the ‘God of all comfort’ to meet us. As the Spirit convicts of desires that rebel against God, we should invite others and Jesus into these by confessing them.
Deconstruction is a difficult process for all parties involved.
Seek to listen to their entire story of life by asking intentional questions. Pray that God would manifest the fruit of the Spirit when talking to them. In word and deed, attempt to showcase who Jesus truly is and His heart for them.
(Note: There are important nuances, thoughts, and truths that are highly relevant to this topic that cannot be addressed in this short blog. I pray this serves you as we all seek to love and care for those deconstructing their faith.)
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