Christian deconstruction challenges the truth of God, the Bible, and the moral value system that God institutes through the scriptures that has resulted in thousands leaving their Christian faith. Many more are added to this number by several faith influencers who have “broken free from the shackles of their faith”. Examples of such iconic leaders: Rob Bell, former pastor and creative speaker; Joshua Harris, millionaire author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”; evangelical Bart Ehrman, and Bart Campolo, a former Christian pastor and son of Christian speaker Tony Campolo, now an American humanist speaker and writer.
Deconstructionism defaults to feelings and experiences over history, research, apologetics, or any universal truth. Thanks to the many podcasts, internet videos, Facebook posts, blogs, and YouTube, deconstruction has become a fad that is taking the Christian world by storm. Can you blame them? Though there are many reasons for this exodus, they all seem to have a few things in common: They have questions about their faith that have gone unanswered; misbehaving Christians are causing them to stumble; most pastors and youth workers are not teaching and making relevant the truth of the Scriptures to their lives; and others leave because they cannot reconcile the idea of a good God allowing suffering.
Joseph Honescko’s story: “I’d always had questions about my faith, despite coming from a Christian home, but these were different. They felt more like dissatisfactions than doubts, and they led to a sort of systematic dissection. It began with questioning God’s goodness. For years, I had watched faithful people pray, fast, and intercede only to find themselves heartbroken and without answers. Doubt became disdain for God’s very being. If his will being done meant his people suffered, I didn’t understand why he deserved my worship. It didn’t take long before I started poking at other parts of the faith, too. One question led to another, and it came to a crescendo that day in the car with my wife. Our pastor had called the congregation to pray for a suffering member, and all I could think of was the times God hadn’t come through.”
Questioning and doubting the Christian faith does not have to level a death blow to someone’s faith. The hope of rebuilding faith in Christ comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in Christians who have a solid understanding of the Christian faith through studying the Bible and apologetics. They are equipped to answer tough questions that, unless answered, will lead to disengagement of their faith.
In dealing with this issue of Christian deconstruction, we need to ask: Did these people have a solid faith in Jesus, or did they, like most Christian teens today, mark their conversion to growing up in a Christian home? Are Christian parents convinced, because their child repeated a salvation prayer, that they are able to live out their faith? Who has been discipling these people into a solid biblical worldview? Are the Christian schools and churches equipped to teach students how to build a solid biblical apologetical faith? For the most part, the answer is “no”.
The good news is that we can become a part of turning the tide of wandering faiths. There is hope! We all need to approach the solution with Christian boldness and not shy away from people who are entertaining the idea of leaving their faith. Rather we must hear their side of the story and be prepared to talk with them and answer their questions about God, the Bible and why a good God allows suffering. Here are some suggested guidelines:
1. Have open conversations with your children or friends about their faith. Ask them to tell you about when they made their faith in Jesus their own.
2. Make sure that they understand that we all have doubts, but they can use them to learn more about their faith. There are answers. Social media is not the place to go to have them answered.
3. Be careful not to judge them but rather listen to their story and engage with them at their level and not your own.
4. Thank those doubters for talking with you. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s love, kindness, and compassion in your conversations. Stay away from letting it turn into a debate. They need to know that you love them and will always be there for them, no matter what.
“In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).