Deconstruction and Doubting Your Doubts

Written by Mark Farnham

On June 18, 2024

by Jeffrey Mindler

There is a widespread movement sweeping through the American church today, one that claims to be recent in nature, but upon further investigation is an old phenomenon dressed in postmodern clothes. This movement is called deconstruction.[1] Alisa Childers and Tim Barnett define the word deconstruction as, “a postmodern process of rethinking your faith without regarding Scripture as a standard.”[2] While deconstruction, as it is used today, is postmodern through and through, the process it describes can be Biblically defined as apostasy, renouncing the faith one once confessed and believed. In this post, I want to address one common aspect of the deconstructionist process that is often neglected, namely; doubting your doubts. Allow me to explain further what I mean.

The road to deconstructing one’s faith often begins with unaddressed doubt. Questions or doubts about the reliability of Scripture, God’s goodness in light of the immense suffering in this world, and seeming contradictions in the Bible are just some examples that cause people to doubt their faith. If left unanswered, and Christians have thought deeply and provided numerous answers to all of the above challenges, these doubts and questions can fester, slowly chipping away at one’s faith. But while deconstructionists encourage people to lean into their doubts and use them as a springboard to walk away from Christianity, people very rarely consider the alternative to what they are leaving, or as I like to put it, they very rarely doubt their doubts. For those doubting the truthfulness of Christianity, have they challenged the beliefs or worldview of what they would be swapping Christianity for? In this sense, have they raised the same level of doubts about alternative worldviews such as atheism, agnosticism, or secular humanism as they do with Christianity? This point needs to be a central talking point with those deconstructing their faith.

One way in which we can help those who are deconstructing or considering it is to ask specific questions aimed at subverting the worldview that they would be abandoning Christianity for. Questions such as, “Apart from Christianity, how would worldview X account for universal human dignity?” or “Have you considered what the implications of worldview X are for grounding morality?” These questions should be asked in love, with our goal being to persuade the person to seriously consider what abandoning Christianity would entail. If you know someone who is deconstructing their faith, my prayer is that this post would provide at least one nugget of encouragement the next time you interact with them, help them to begin doubting their doubts, and trust that the Lord will use you in your conversations with them for His glory.

[1] For a detailed account of the history of the deconstructionist movement and how Christians can respond to it see Alisa Childers & Tim Barnett, The Deconstruction of Christianity: What It Is, Why It’s Destructive, and How to Respond (Eugene, 2023).

[2] Childers & Barnett, The Deconstruction of Christianity, 26.

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