“Deconstruction” is the buzzword for reevaluating faith in God, and we have seen many lose faith during the process. Will deconstructing one’s faith will always lead to disbelief? It need not do so.
“Deconstruction” is generally tied to literature and philosophy. The idea is to question all assumptions about words and meanings. It can carry the idea of breaking down something in order to uncover any inconsistencies or problems. We have come to associate deconstruction with mostly negative outcomes, but it need not be destructive.
The issue is not with the idea of deconstruction itself, as some things do need deconstructed before being reconstructed properly (cf. Jer 1:10). Christians must analyze their faith to root out bad ideas and make faith their own. Problems, however, can be found in the motivation, sources and processes used to deconstruct. I went through that process myself because I wanted to make sure that what I believed and taught was my own conviction based on truth. It is a continual process of growth.
Motivation. Why do we want to dig deep and analyze our faith? It is possible that we are looking for excuses or ways out of faith or to feel justified in certain choices we have already made. If this is our motivation, then we will find exactly what we wish. In our analysis, then, we should also analyze our motives for honesty. Think of the lawyer who sought to justify himself over not loving his neighbors (Luke 10:25-37) or the Pharisees, lovers of money, to whom Jesus said, ““You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts…” (Luke 16:15). Also recall the Bereans who were noble-minded and “received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The result is stated: “Consequently, many of them believed…”
When you begin the process of deconstructing your faith, start with your motivation. What is your purpose? Once you have uprooted and torn down, what are you plans for planting and building?
Sources and Processes. Everyone listens to someone, and we have to be honest about the fact that not all sources are trustworthy. Just because someone on the internet (whatever social media site) makes claims about why you shouldn’t believe in God or Scripture does not mean that the person is making logical or sound arguments. Deconstruct their arguments with as much tenacity as anything else you are doing. If you are going to be thorough in your faith, then be just as thorough with those who deny God as you are claiming to be with those who believe God. This takes honesty and a deep desire for truth. It also takes a proper knowledge and understanding of what Scripture actually teaches.
We must make sure that the sources being used adequately represent what they are attempting to critique. This principle goes for both sides. Always be honest about what people actually believe and practice. If you are listening to someone refer to God as a “flying spaghetti monster,” for example, then you should know that this is going to be a straw man argument that carries no real value because it is not representing the biblical belief at all.
If you are being swayed by positions and arguments that do not properly represent what you are claiming to deconstruct, then you will come out at a place that is neither fair nor honest. Look at your sources carefully and understand that those you might listen to on the other side of a position are just as biased as what they claim to analyze. Doing your research here is far more than listening to a few videos or reading a few articles. Sources are plentiful, but not all are valuable, and bad arguments are everywhere.
I have heard many say that they looked for answers to their questions and couldn’t find them. Then I see the questions and think, “Well, you didn’t look very far.” There are more answers out there than you may realize so please do not throw over your faith because of initial doubts and questions that you think aren’t fully answered yet. This is a process that takes much time and study, and I have found that the answers are often right there all along if we don’t allow other presuppositions to get in the way.
Ideas have consequences. If you are contemplating a position, ask, what are the consequences of this position and am I willing to be consistent with the implications morally, socially, and, ultimately, eternally? Don’t take a position and then pretend the consequences aren’t real.
It is one thing to deconstruct one’s personal faith, but it is another to deconstruct God. It’s easy to conflate these, and the result is disastrous.
It’s one thing to reassess one’s understanding of God, but it is another to reconstruct a god of one’s own making who is amenable to us. The former can still submit to God; the latter will make demands of God and then curse him when he doesn’t meet the demands.
At issue, always, is how a person will accept or reject, in total, the God who needs nothing from us but who gives to all life, breath and all things (Acts 17:24-31).