It’s a word that is becoming all too well-known in Christianity. And not in a good way. For those not regularly reading articles online or watching YouTube videos, this word may not have much meaning to you. But it’s one that we need to be aware of, as it is becoming a troubling trend in the Church today. But what exactly IS deconstruction?
Alisa Childers, author of “Another Gospel?” describes it this way:
“Deconstruction is the process of going through everything you’ve ever believed about God and Jesus—the Bible, Christianity, all of the doctrines, all of the history—everything you thought about it, and you’re sort of rethinking everything.”
So basically, it is when a person who has lived their life as a professing believer begins to question and dissect everything they have ever believed to be true, tearing it apart until they discover they no longer believe what they have proclaimed, perhaps for decades. In essence they “recant” their faith.
No doubt you have been hearing the stories the past few years. Joshua Harris was the first “big name” Christian whose deconstruction I remember taking notice of, even before I knew the term. Harris is best known for his best-selling book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in which he laid out biblical principles of relationships and dating. It took the Christian world by storm and paved the way for “purity culture” back in the 1990’s. At the time, Harris was just in his 20’s. He later became the lead pastor of Covenant Life Church, pastoring there for 14 years. Until the time of his deconstruction in July of 2019. Harris made his shocking announcement to the world via Instagram post that his marriage was over and that he was no longer a Christian. After making his post heard round the world, he followed with this statement:
“The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.“- Joshua Harris
Not long after Joshua Harris’s announcement came Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson’s Instagram proclamation.
Perhaps one of the most widely known deconstruction stories was that of Rhett and Link from the highly watched and loved YouTube show “Good Mythical Morning”.
These deconstruction stories have continued to make headlines now for several years. Two of the most recent are both connected to retired pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and founder of his Desiring God ministry, John Piper, perhaps the saddest one being his son, Abraham Piper, who has become “TikTok famous” for bashing the bible and mocking evangelicalism.
From Church Leaders Magazine:
Abraham Piper was excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist Church when he was 19, because he wanted to stop pretending that he was a Christian. Four years later, he returned to the church after, as he put it, “God made it possible for me to love Jesus” after reading the book of Romans one day. He has since walked away.
The deconstructionist has over 925k followers on TikTok. That’s almost as many followers as his father John Piper has on Twitter(over 1 million). Abraham’s focus is geared toward debunking Christianity and the truth of the Bible. His page is filled with a plethora of videos with titles such as “Almost Nobody Believes in a Literal Hell, “Why Life Would Be Pointless if there Was Ultimate Meaning”, “The Bible Says Having Kids Isn’t a Good Idea”, “What I Replace Christianity With”, and “If You Still Live with Evangelical Parents.”.
The most recent deconstruction story connected to John Piper is from “Desiring God” and “TGC” contributor, as well as former Moody Bible Institute professor of philosophy, Paul Maxwell.
Maxwell made startling headlines last week such as: “Paul Maxwell, Former Writer At Desiring God, Announces He’s No Longer A Christian” and “Desiring God and TGC Author Renounces His Faith, Says He’s in The Best Place of His Life”.
Maxwell said in his all too common Instagram deconstruction announcement, “What I really miss is connection with people,” Maxwell says, “what I’ve discovered is that I’m ready to connect again. And I’m kind of ready not to be angry anymore. I love you guys and I love all the friendships and support I’ve built here. And I think it’s important to say that I’m just not a Christian anymore, and it feels really good. I’m really happy.”
This is tragic. This is deconstruction. Perhaps a more fitting word would be DEMOLITION. Because for those who have renounced Christianity, it is like taking a wrecking ball to everything you’ve ever believed about God in your entire life and trying to somehow reconstruct it into something that fits how you want to live. But sadly, most don’t see it this way. They see it as their freedom. Like a release from prison. How could this be? Because living a lie ultimately becomes impossible, and they would rather live without the pressure of keeping up the act and instead be “at peace” in the freedom of the truth: That they were never truly regenerate believers.
Joshua Harris was right. The biblical term is “falling away”. Another term is “apostasy”. But is it falling away from Christ? NO. That is impossible. John 6:39 says:
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.”
Jesus says that none that the Father gives Him will be lost. It is a falling away. But it’s the falling away of a person’s disingenuous appearance of living for Christ. Those who leave the faith never possessed saving faith in the first place.
Perhaps the best biblical example of apostasy is that of Judas. He certainly had the appearance of a believer. After all, he was one of Jesus’ disciples. He lived the life, walked the walk. Until he couldn’t. In the end Judas proved himself ingenuine with his betrayal and ultimate suicide. He was never a true believer. True believers cannot walk away. 1 John 2:18 tells us:
“They went out from us, but they did not belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their departure made it clear that none of them belonged to us.…”
But who is the “they” that is referenced here? Antichrists. Not THE Antichrist from the book of Revelation. But “antichrists”, defined as those who oppose Christ and the Church. They look like us. They live like us. They attend church with us. But if they leave us? 1 John makes it clear that they were never ONE OF US. Non-believers trying to live as believers will at some point become so weary of the charade that they give up trying and start live as the people they truly are: LOST.
This is a tragic reality. There have always been pretenders in the Church who have walked away. We see it in our own churches with people who live as faithful believers for a time, but ultimately cannot continue to live contrary to their lost nature. The seed was planted in rocky soil, or was choked out by the weeds.
But what is the difference between historic apostasy and apostasy today? Today celebrity ‘Christians” who renounce their faith have the platform of social media. They are being applauded by “progressive Christians” ( who are likely not Christians at all ) who tell them:
“You are so brave!”
“You are finally living your truth!”
“You can follow the teachings of Jesus without being a Christian!”
Hebrews 6:4-6 says:
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age—and then have fallen away—to be restored to repentance, because they themselves are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to open shame.”
The John MacArthur commentary explains, “Enlightened: They had received instruction in biblical truth, which was accompanied by intellectual perception. Understanding the gospel is not the equivalent of regeneration…It is clear that enlightening is not the equivalent of salvation. Sharing of the Holy Spirit: This could be a reference to their participation in ministry.”
MacArthur also explains that there is no salvation for one who is enlightened, understands the gospel, but rejects it. Unless one believes, there is no hope.
We can pray for those people who have walked away to come to a genuine saving faith. We don’t know who God will and will not save, but we can trust His sovereignty in all things. So we go on praying for those who have deconstructed and renounced their faith, with the hope that they will come to a genuine, saving belief one day.
Alisa Childers, who I mentioned earlier, went through a season of deconstruction as the result of being in a church whose pastor turned out to be agnostic, but she has come through her questioning time as one of the most solid teachers and outspoken opponents of progressive Christianity we have today. So there is hope.
One thing is certain, this popular trend is likely to continue with even more voracity. It is becoming easier to see the separation of the wheat from the tares in this progressive society. A society that is becoming more and more hostile to the things of God and one that rejects biblical truth. We mourn the ones who walk away, but this should motivate us to even more fervently try to reach the lost with the true saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
For further reading and watching: