I changed my mind about deconstruction. After researching this topic, I’ve come to see that deconstruction isn’t merely asking questions or a synonym for doubt. Rather, it’s a process with no correct destination, no ending, and no biblical authority. As a result, I don’t use words like “healthy deconstruction” or “good deconstruction” anymore. For me, that’s an oxymoron. Deconstruction is a fundamentally flawed process, and I don’t think that changes by placing a few positive adjectives in front of the word.
I changed my mind about deconstruction.
When I first began looking into deconstruction, I quickly discovered that people were using the term to mean different things. For instance, when someone says, “I’m deconstructing my faith,” they could mean anything from questioning a tertiary doctrine, like young-earth creation, to leaving the faith altogether.
Attempting to bring clarity to the conversation, I thought adding adjectives to the word deconstruction (like healthy versus unhealthy, or good versus bad) would help. So, for example, I would say that while unhealthy deconstruction rethinks faith without requiring Scripture as a standard, healthy deconstruction corrects mistaken beliefs to make them align with Scripture. Problem solved, I thought. However, this approach assumes deconstruction itself is a neutral process. I don’t believe that anymore.
While writing The Deconstruction of Christianity with Alisa Childers, we discovered some fundamental beliefs that undergird the deconstruction process. Moreover, these ideas are antithetical to the Christian worldview. This helps explain why so many who deconstruct their faith end up leaving the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Here are three reasons why I changed my mind about deconstruction.
No Correct Destination
First, deconstruction has no correct destination.
A defining feature of deconstruction is that there’s no right way to do it and no right destination. For example, Jo Luehmann, author of Decolonizing Traditional Christianity, expounds on this idea in a video titled Our Journey of Faith Deconstruction:
This is the thing with deconstruction that I really think it’s important to understand. Everyone lands wherever they land. There is no right place to land with deconstruction. Some people land away from faith. Some people land in a different type of faith. Some people become agnostic. Some people become a different type of Christian. Some people become atheists. And all of those routes in deconstruction are valid and to be respected.
Luehmann is not alone. “NakedPastor” David Hayward, who regularly creates social media content on faith deconstruction, puts it more concisely: “There isn’t a right way to deconstruct, nor is there a right destination. You do you.”
Why isn’t there a right place to land in deconstruction? The answer is that deconstruction is a postmodern process. What I mean is, deconstruction isn’t about objective truth. It’s about personal happiness. In one sense, the destination of deconstruction is like the destination of a vacation. Whether you end up in Hawaii or Jamaica or somewhere else, it’s all personal preference. It would be silly to say Hawaii is the “right” vacation destination for everyone.
Notice how deconstruction assumes there is no objective truth when it comes to religious beliefs. That’s why it doesn’t matter how you do it or where you end up as long as you’re happy.
Now contrast this with Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount. He says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.