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Responding to Deconstructionists and Reasons Why People “Leave” the Faith, Part 2

Responding to Deconstructionists and Reasons Why People “Leave” the Faith, Part 2

In this issue of “Theology & Culture” (T&C), we are going to continue our look at how to respond to those who leave the faith, who “deconstruct” their belief in God and end up walking away from what at one time they believed in.

Before continuing, I would encourage you to read Part 1 of this discussion, available at the Oakridge Community Church website under our resource tab or you can go to my website, to find the previous blog. But we will take a little time to refresh a few things we discussed previously.

The goal in considering this topic is not to put people down, but to help us who are committed Christ-followers know how to respond and what to say to those who have abandoned the faith. As we said previously, trying to define exactly what deconstruction is can be elusive. The reason is that people define it differently and it is used in various ways. We will do our best to explain what is meant by this word and we will also give a response to those who have chosen this route.

We noted a definition given by Jon Bloom, who describes “deconstructionism”, as used by some in the church in the following way, “Deconstruction is a critical dismantling of a person’s understanding of what it means to be an evangelical Christian, and in some cases a refusal to recognize as authorities those perceived as occupying privileged evangelical institutional positions who ‘supposedly speak for God.’”

Our focus in this blog, as it was in the previous one, is in regard to the first part of Bloom’s definition. We are talking about those who dismantle their faith and end up discarding it in total. Some have turned to atheism and others have bought into the values and beliefs of the culture, and lean heavily on subjectivism as a guide to truth.

So, how do we respond to those who have chosen this route when it comes to their belief in God? Is there anything we can say or do to help them reconsider their decision while at the same time, when necessary, lovingly challenging their thought process that led them to walk away?

In our last blog, we started with the following point. When someone says they are abandoning the faith, we need to show grace. This does not mean that we simply let them go their way. We noted Ephesians 4:29 where we are told that what we say is to “fit the occasion” and “give grace.” At times that means being tender, other times it may mean being a little tough. We are not to become belligerent with these individuals because that will do no good. We need to pray for wisdom in what to say and when to say it.

A second thing to do is we need to be willing to do our homework so that we can answer honest questions that people have. Many who have left the faith were unwilling to objectively consider even their own reasons for walking away. This, though, is not true of everyone. There are those who are asking questions and are open to finding answers and we need to give them the opportunity to do so. For our part, we need to know why we believe what we believe. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we need to be ready to give an answer to the hope that we have, the beliefs we hold to.

A third thing to note is that we need to ask questions of the person deconstructing. “Why did the individual decide to leave the faith?” “Was there an event or a person who affected them to the point that they started to question God and Who He was?” This helps us to know how to respond by finding out the reasons behind their walking away. We must also guard against mocking them, or putting them down because of their faith crisis. Though we may be solidly committed to the truth of God, we must not deride them for where they are at.

A fourth point is that we must be willing to challenge them. We are to do so in love and caring but we also need to be totally honest with people. Explain why we believe what we do. Know enough to show that the historic Christian faith is based on the life of Christ and the writings of Scripture. Do not let them “wiggle” out of the conversation by citing the Crusades as a reason to walk away from God, which we talked about in our first blog, or their unhappiness with how God handled some things in the Bible. If they use the old “the church if full of hypocrites” line, challenge them.

It is true that Christian are not perfect, but most are not hypocrites, which by definition means that people purposely say one thing and do another. Most believers I know do not act like this. If they are looking for a perfect Deity or a perfect anything to follow, as made up in their own mind, they will not find it. If they are unwilling to go beyond just their reasons for rejecting Christianity, and will not consider alternative thoughts beyond theirs, they are not going to be open to looking with objectivity at anything that may challenge their thinking.

Deconstructionists usually are honest enough to admit that subjectivity, their reworked world view, what they “see” in the world as to what they were taught regarding Christianity and God, have led them down the path they are on.

When there is no objective truth, no moorings to guide our life, we can pretty much believe, do, and say what we want. Subjects such as the reality of hell, the belief that Jesus will eventually bring everyone into heaven, end up as some beliefs of those who deconstruct and leave behind the historic Christian faith that has been taught through the centuries.

In other instances, as we noted in our first blog, some end up as atheists. They leave everything behind, belief wise, in their search for meaning and understanding. People in our world develop their thinking based on what they “see” or “hear” and when these things oppose what they may have heard growing up regarding beliefs about God, Jesus, salvation, etc., they choose to put their faith in what the world is saying.

In doing so, they already have the mindset of not wanting to listen or even consider any explanation of why Christianity is true and why Jesus is worth considering. They have “kissed the church” good-bye. But that does not mean we give up on them.

A fifth and important thought, and this is for those of us who have not forsaken what we believe, is that we do not need to “deconstruct” our faith to make our belief in God stronger. There are those in the church who make it sound like we need to re-think, and to a point, deconstruct our beliefs to help us grow in our faith. I am in total disagreement with that thinking.

This does not mean that we do not wrestle with hard questions at times. We most certainly do. But we also, based on our view that there is a God Who knows what is happening and hears us when we seek answers, will help us either to find the answer or as our faith grows, we will trust Him even if we do not know everything. We need to be willing to accept that by faith.

Only by spending time in the Word of God, knowing the history of Christianity, and drawing close to God, will we strengthen our trust in Him. Many Deconstructionist live by what they see and feel, as we have noted. To do so will lead to a collapse in many areas of life, not just that of religious belief. That is why we must, once again, as Christ followers, know what we believe and why we believe it.


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