There goes another one, I think to myself, each time I read of another celebrity Christian deconstructing their faith. Why do people deconstruct? There isn’t one reason, and each person has their own story. Deconstruction is all about the story. I’m not going to respond as other people have reacted; many will say I need to listen and understand. I understand that for decades in the church, because of the seeker-sensitive and emergent movements, the church has presented a shallow gospel that is no gospel at all, leading to false conversion. Now, I am not saying everyone who has deconstructed never had knowledge of Jesus. Plenty of people have knowledge about Jesus, have all the right externalities, but their hearts were never changed. This post isn’t about those who have deconstructed; it is about the church that opened wide the gates for deconstruction through pragmatism.
What is pragmatism? The Oxford Dictionary defines pragmatism as “a philosophy. An approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.” When church growth gurus discovered the cross might offend people, they told pastors to take them down. Best-selling books in the nineties said, don’t sing hymns, sing contemporary. Don’t preach for an hour; give thirty-minute talks. And on and on, making the church less like a church and more like an inspirational talk. Theology was out, and practicality was the goal. This was the beginning of a church for the unchurched instead of the church existing to equip believers.
But look at what all that has gotten us, numerical growth, with very little spiritual growth. Whether you look at Barna surveys or the State of Theology, the American church has declined. The church has been on the decline because it quit sharing a full-throated gospel. Look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians and Galatians. Our programs have no power; only the gospel does. We wonder why youth group kids go to college and lose their faith? They lose it because they were never grounded in it; we entertained them for years. Trying to be cool and relevant, making sure we were up on all the latest slang got us nowhere. We are called to share the gospel, not build youth ministries or the church. Jesus said He would build the church – for decades, we have thought our methods are better than His.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV
The bottom line of deconstruction is simple; people are deconstructing a gospel that you won’t find in Scripture. Sure, progressives attack substitutionary atonement? But how well was it articulated and defended in your church? Did you ever even hear the term before progressives started attacking the gospel?
We need to pray for those who are deconstructing, we need to pray for those who might follow in their path, but more than anything, we need to get back to preaching the gospel with no filters.
For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.1 Corinthians 2:2 AMPC