Again and Again
One of the adventures of being a pastor and theologian is the messages one receives from those in need of guidance. Whether it be online or in person, doctrinal and life questions are not foreign for those in ministerial work. This explains why I became interested in learning more about and eventually writing on the subject of deconstruction. I began noticing a trend amongst those in my age group where they would go through some process from claiming to be a conservative, Bible-believing Christian to progressive leaning in their beliefs. A common thread in this pattern was the use of the term “deconstruction” to describe their journey. Since I was being contacted by several individuals going through deconstruction who wanted a conservative voice to talk with, I simply had to dive more into the deconstruction movement in order to understand.
As I began my research, I immediately noticed two points. First, amidst the homeschooling and conservatively raised individuals in their 20s and younger whom I asked, over 90% of them were aware of the deconstruction movement. This reality showed me the impact of this movement was far greater than what many (including myself) would initially have imagined. Secondly, I have spent hundreds of hours studying the critical social justice movement that has ensnared many evangelical institutions. Once I dove into deconstruction, there was a clear tie between what the leaders of it promoted and social justice as well as progressive theology.
Most of those undergoing “deconstruction” came out being influenced to one degree or another by critical theory thus driving them to the left on most cultural and societal issues. Likewise, many of them would either reject classic Christian doctrines such as God’s control over all things, the biblical teaching on the atonement, or the inerrancy of Scripture because of the impact theological liberalism was having upon them. Deconstruction plainly has as its goal the interrogation of basic philosophical categories.1 It was initiated as a movement by Jacques Derrida who was a postmodern philosopher. Thus, deconstruction, wants to dismantle those ideas which were considered foundational to society. Hence my observation, alongside several others, who have noticed that many individuals go through deconstruction and come out far on the left side of the spectrum. For example, they support the LGBTQ movement being at least partly driven by their desire to upend the concept that marriage between one man and one woman is the only true outworking of that institution.
The Tie Between Deconstruction and Progressive Theology
Now, here is where our observations take an interesting turn. There is an unmistakable tie between the deconstruction movement and progressive theological beliefs. Note that Premier Christianity marks Brian McLaren as the one who pioneered the use of the term “deconstruction” amongst broadly “Christian” circles.2 He has long been marked as part of the movement known as “progressive Christianity.” Point and case, he is literally an author for the Progressive Christian Network of Great Britain.3 He believes that churches refusing LGBTQ individuals the ability to participate in church leadership is an action that should be banished to the history books.4 McLaren also undermines the authority and clarity of the Word of God in his belief system.5 Point being, if anyone classifies as a theological progressive, it is most definitely Brian McLaren.
In McLaren we see this connection between progressive theology and deconstruction joining hand-in-hand working together. After all, he was integral to the development of the term in theological discussion. Please remember, deconstruction seeks to demolish ideas like absolute truth desiring to reshape the world as we know it.6 When a person applies a deconstruction approach to theology, what would be the goal? Their objective would be to disrupt traditionally held doctrines and concepts remaking Christianity into something new. McLaren makes this staunchly clear:
“Deconstruction has become a way to reinvent the faith we inherited and give it a future.”7
It is comments like this made by individuals like McLaren which prompted me to begin writing on this particular issue in the first place. He has no sound doctrine of Scripture, he is a theological progressive, and he has denied seemingly most if not every foundational doctrine of biblical Christianity. What do you think he has in mind when he speaks of reinventing the faith? It is no doubt, a version of Christianity he seeks which does not preach the atoning work of the cross of Christ. McLaren, and those like him, are not desirous for young evangelicals to come to the Word of God as the source of inerrant and authoritative divine truth revealed by God. Neither do they want to submit to the grand truth of the glorious Gospel of Divine Grace. No, let me be unmistakably clear, McLaren advocates a “Christianity” remade to be palatable to the spirit of the age. As such, he promotes no true faith whatsoever but the false doctrine which ensnares souls. He may decide to assert his is the historic truthful Christianity, but it most certainly does not bear a resemblance to biblical doctrine!
Christianity Shall Stand
Some will bristle at my explicit tie between deconstruction, critical social justice, and progressive theology. Yet, I stand by my claims because all I am doing is simply quoting the sources and analyzing them on the basis of the Word of God. There is no need to reinvent Christianity in order for it to be alive in the future. Rest assured, the biblical faith has worn out many falsehoods and fads like deconstruction which have arisen targeting the truth. We do not need “new truth” to succeed. What we need instead is a return to the Word of God. Scripture says:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17
Let us return to the Scripture written thousands of years ago. May we go back to truth as revealed by the Creator God. Christ has promised the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). He said nothing about us needing to reinvent the faith from time to time in order to keep it alive. It is ideas like those driven by McLaren which shall go extinct. I got involved in this entire discussion around deconstruction precisely because I want to tell those of my generation this truth . . . you do not need to create something new, but come to Him who already has everything you could ever need. The old Gospel is the sufficient Gospel for it is the only Gospel which saves. Christ as revealed in the Word is the Lord before whom you must bow, not the “new ideas” driven by the culture. Everlasting life as declared by the Apostles of the New Testament is the hope for which we praise God. There is one way, through faith in the God-man Christ Jesus. These old truths, so controversial to the modern ear, nonetheless sound forth today, and shall continue to be declared until Christ returns. Deconstruction and movements like it are here today and gone tomorrow. If you want solidity for your soul come to Christ and submit to His written Word. That my friends is the truth that endures. Reinvent the faith? No thanks! These “new doctrines” are simply old heresies wrapped in modern gift paper with nothing of worth in them. May we preach the Christ of Bible, not the new faith of the deconstruction movement!
6 An article I wrote on the purpose of deconstruction can be found here: