I’ve brooded and grieved over the topic of deconstruction among Christian influencers. I’m hesitant to address it, but couldn’t escape the feeling I needed to. I’ve listened, read and prayed for hours to understand perspectives of people who’ve altered or discarded their faith.
Why does it matter to me? First, I care about people and hate to see them exchange their Christian faith for a doctrine they’ve cobbled together. Secondly, I’m concerned about the people they’re influencing.
I’ve learned a lot about the Christian deconstruction trend from podcasts, such as one featuring a favorite communicator. My first introduction to her was during a women’s conference a dozen years back. Vivacious, transparent and hilarious are words to describe her—all qualities of a dynamic speaker. I didn’t want her message to end. I went home encouraged to love the neighbors and strangers around me.
In the recent podcast interview it was as if I heard an altogether different person. I was stunned and sad. Only her perky voice was recognizable. Where I hoped to find some biblical insight or motivation there were well-worn trendy phrases and curse words, even the f-word. I looked for a floating plank to grab onto in the murky waters of the conversation, but there was nothing solid to tether me; there was no mooring. It was a shipwreck.
These newly enlightened Christians have turned away from their former biblical tenets. Original doctrines are gone and new altered beliefs conveniently support their current lifestyles. They’re led by their feelings and preach a me-first doctrine. They are their own authorities. I wonder how a person survives the ups and downs of life without God’s power and grace.
This dismantling isn’t new–it’s as old as the early church. In Paul’s letters, he warned Timothy to be aware of a falling away of believers. Timothy was told to protect what was entrusted to him, walk away from the godless, empty voices and to turn aside from objections and arguments that arise from false knowledge. (Timothy 6: 20) The Voice
Paul told Timothy there would be a time when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. They will listen to teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn against real truth because they prefer the sound of fables and myths. He urged Timothy to stay focused and alert at all times. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
About thirteen years ago I took a deep look at beliefs I’d collected over decades of following Jesus. To deconstruct—take apart our beliefs, examine them closely and search for errors–can be a helpful exercise. At the time I worked with a woman whose political and spiritual beliefs varied greatly from mine. While I had a front row seat to her life, I watched her serve and care for other people daily. She lived what she believed. Her consistent kindness caused me to review my habits to see if they were in keeping with the Christian faith I proclaimed. I asked God to reveal hidden beliefs in my heart and hold them up to His light. In myself, I saw judgment and disdain towards people and sometimes a tendency to assume the worst in them. I also came to grips with my selfishness.
With new hunger and passion, I delved into my Bible.
In my personal evaluation, I stopped short of deconstructing Christian doctrine. Although we, along with our Christian communities, create and abide by our own social constructs, Christianity isn’t a construct. Christianity is a person. The man-made rules are up for review, not the Bible. I didn’t sift through my underlined passages to see if I still believed them. I didn’t wonder if they were too outdated for a constantly changing secular society. Rather, I wanted to understand those familiar verses in a fresh way. I wanted to be a representative of the Truth that never changes— to put them into practice more often and concretely than I’d done before. In my personal deconstruction, God’s Word stood strong. Through all eras of societal upheaval it provides us with a sure foundation. A mooring.
Who Steers the Ship?
A person who’s led by whatever feels right may find herself in an open sea, turning away from God and veering toward a lifestyle contrary to His Word. Today, far-fetched terrible ideas plague our country, communities and churches. Adapting to those ideas and becoming hardened to the voice of the Holy Spirit can lead to a complete rejection of faith.
We can’t steer our ship—He alone can guide and direct us.
Why do people turn away from faith?
My heart breaks for the ones who’ve experienced church-hurt, marriage-hurt, or abuse of any kind. I cannot imagine all the events that have led people away from their faith or the church. There are as many reasons as there are people.
I want them all to know God loves them and is compassionate towards them. I want them to turn to God, rather than away. I want them to know Him as their Source. When lived as intended, the Christian faith is not one of shrinking, but is a gift of freedom to enjoy forever.
When famous people question their faith, I wish they’d go about the investigative process differently. In reality, their disagreements are probably with people, not God. I wish they’d seek out godly counselors, pastors and believers. I wish the process could be accomplished in private, and wouldn’t negatively affect their many followers. If only they could deconstruct in a way to come out on the other side with stronger faith in God. I wish they’d show us how to love folks in the margin without approving and promoting their lifestyles.
Allow nothing to keep you from looking God sternly in the face about yourself and about your doctrine, and every time you preach see that you look God in the face about things first, then the glory will remain all through.My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
Airplane pilots carefully watch their course direction by degrees. They continually correct their course in order to stay on the route. On a cross country trip, one degree off course, a pilot will land the plane 50 miles from the planned destination. If a trip from earth to the moon is one degree off course the target would be missed by more than 4,000 miles.
Just one little degree.
Let’s be faithful to course-correct our path. Let’s stay in God’s Word and hold to the Truth closely. Listen to the Holy Spirit, rather than our flesh for guidance. Spend time with other believers for encouragement, prayer and fun. Love and befriend people who are different from us.
Brothers and sisters, pay close attention so you won’t develop an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God. Encourage each other every day… so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts.Hebrews 3:12-13