A Few Thoughts About “Deconstruction”

Deconstruction is a term you hear frequently these days in Christian circles. It tends to mean different things to different people, and I believe there is a reason for that. In my view, the term is being applied to three, very different phenomena. Let’s take a look at each of them.

1. The Open-Minded

It’s frequently being applied to people who have changed their minds about some significant piece of their theology. These were previously persuaded that the Bible says “X” about issue “Z” but have now come to believe that the Bible is actually teaching “Y” about issue “Z.”

If that’s deconstruction, then I’ve done it four or five times over the last 45 years or so. For example:

  • In college I changed my mind about “cessationism,” i.e, whether or not the gifts of the Spirit and miracles ceased when the writing of the New Testament was complete. (Thanks Jack Deere, et al.)
  • A few years later I changed my mind about the accuracy of Dispensational eschatology, particularly concerning the issue of when Jesus’ rule of planet earth begins. (I have a book in the works about this.)
  • Around that same time, I had a radical reformation of the lens through which I read Scripture in an awakening about the nature of Grace. (Thanks Dudley Hall. See any of my “Praying Grace” devotionals.
  • Several years after that, I changed my mind about the meanings of the terms “the elect,” “sovereignty and “free will.” And a few years after that, I changed it back again. (See my newest E-book!)
  • A few years ago, I experienced a complete overhaul of my understanding of “church” and being a part of a Christian community. (See this white paper I wrote!)

I think you get the point. These are all big doctrinal issues. Christians, at least a certain significant percentage of them, have always changed their views on core issues as they matured and grew in the faith. (Heck, in this sense, the reformers we all admire, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Wesley Bros., were Deconstructors.)  I suppose there are some out there who got born-again at 7 years of age and died at 87 having never rethought a single doctrine of whatever stream or denomination they were born into, but I haven’t met any. 

2. The Abused and Disbelieved

The second way I hear “Deconstruction” used occurs within a very sad and serious space. Many people have experienced some form of abuse inside the church communities in which they planted their lives. That abuse is sometimes spiritual and sometimes sexual. And in far too many cases, if these people somehow found the courage to come forward, instead of redemptive arms of love and healing, they experienced shunning, victim blaming, and other forms abuse and gaslighting. And often, a circling of the wagons to protect the abuser.

Frequently that abuse was at the hands of the lead pastor. And because of the nature of the predominant model of “church” that I laid out in that white paper I mentioned above, there is no context or pathway for accountability for the abuser. 

In a recent Facebook comment, I wrote: “I’ve spent much of the last 40 years working with and for and around high profile leaders. Rare is the one who intentionally keeps some people close who are willing and permissioned to plainly tell him when he’s being a dolt or a jerk. Or a lech. Most are surrounded only by people with powerful incentives (employment, prestige, acceptance, etc.) to keep the party going. I said “rare” not non-existent. I know, and know of, wise leaders who are quite intentional about staying accountable. But we won’t hear about them in the news.”

In the wake of this under-recognized phenomenon, we have a growing sea of people who still love Jesus but aren’t sure they love His churches. And as a result, aren’t sure they believe much, or any, of what those churches have told them about what a life in Jesus looks like. 

They sense deeply that they were built for community but they, correctly, cannot believe that what they’ve experienced is what a good, loving God had in mind for that term.

They’ve lost their faith. (Note that I didn’t say they’ve lost their salvation.) They are understandably angry. They’re wounded. They’re confused. They are sheep without a shepherd. And sheep cut off from the flock are oh, so very vulnerable. 

They need our compassion, not our offendedness. They need our understanding not our tribalism. They need to have redemptive love applied and healthy New Covenant communities modeled. 

Healthy connection will ultimately fix whatever flaws there may be in their theology. Let’s heal their wounds before we fix their belief system—if it indeed needs fixing. The Samaritan “woman at the well” wanted to debate theology, Jesus refused and instead invited her to drink deeply of Him.

That’s two groups. There is a third group to which the term “Deconstruction” has been applied. And here is where I’ll probably step on some toes.

3. The Government Messianics

There is a large and growing contingent, of mostly younger Christians (or at least young people raised in church), who find the deep abiding positions of the church and widely accepted interpretations of the Scriptures at odds with their preferred political orientation and public policy preferences. 

Put another way, they can’t reconcile the way they want to vote with what their Bibles and their Bible teachers are telling them, so they look for a new way. It’s a form of reverse engineering that begins with what they want the Christian faith to command and require; and then go looking for proof texts and interpretations that fit the model, while ignoring any that don’t.

Let me illustrate this by turning a rhetorical device Jesus used on its head: 

  • You have heard it said that believers (individually) and churches (collectively) should care for the widows, orphans, the poor, and the oppressed. But I say to you, Christians should vote to have the government use its coercive power to confiscate wealth and redistribute as it sees fit.
  • You have heard it said, “He who gives to the poor lends to God, and He will repay.” And to “give cheerfully and willingly whatever is in your heart to do.” And to be “generous.” But I say to you “Be generous with other people’s money, not your own. Elect politicians who will force your neighbors to be generous whether they want to or not.”
  • You have heard it said to “know no person according to the flesh.” And that “in Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile.” But I say to you, “Adopt a lens that looks at people first and foremost as members of identity groups based on natural/fleshly characteristics, rather than as individuals. And assume all members of each group think the same and have the same experiences.”
  • You have heard it said that God loves us as individuals, saves us as individuals, and that we are individually responsible before him for our choices. But I say to you, believe in collective guilt–including guilt handed down from your ancestors. Assume that all people of certain groups are oppressors and all members of other groups are oppressed.  
  • You have heard it said that God created humanity, male and female. That both the masculine and the feminine are of his design. But I say to you, gender is cultural construct, and biological sex is a continuum with many points.
  • You have heard it said that “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to inform doctrine and belief.” But I say to you, Paul is VERY problematic and you’re better off with a “Red Letter” Christianity.

I could continue but you get the point. Progressivism is increasingly a religion in our culture. One that elevates government to the role of replacement “messiah” for the true Messiah who came to make all things new. 

Thus some . . . I said some, Deconstructors are really just abandoning the historic Christian faith for a substitute that easily comports with the new, dominant, idolatrous religion in our culture. 

So the next time you hear the term, you might find it useful to discern which of these three phenomena you’re encountering. 

New! A Comforting Answer to a Painful Question

Over the years I’ve encountered scores of people who had either walked away from God or had what amounted to an “arms-length” relationship to Him because no one had offered them a satisfying answer to this question:

If God is good, why is there so much tragedy and heartache in the world?

As I mentioned in a Facebook comment just days ago, virtually every “atheist” was really just someone who was mad at God or profoundly disappointed in Him.

Philosophers call it “the problem of evil.” Theologians call the subject “Theodicy.” Millions and millions just call it something like: “If God is good and loves people, why are tragedy, misery, and heartache constantly raining down on them in the world?”

In my new e-book, I reveal an answer that is simultaneously comforting, liberating, accessible, and thoroughly biblical. If you or someone you love has struggled to fully rest and trust in the goodness of God because of questions like these, these pages hold your “good-news” answer.

Decoding Revelation 12: “In Heaven an Event of Great Significance…”

This Christmas season has been filled with heart-rending news out of Israel and infuriating news from Western Civilization’s once-great capitals–New York, London, Sydney, Paris.

The former, as realities of what Hamas terrorists did on October 7 have trickled out from survivors and released hostages, and, of course, the terrorists own GoPro footage.

The latter, watching those who despise Western (Christian) Civilization either celebrate or excuse those atrocities.

This season is also one in which I’ve made my annual efforts to promote my 31-day advent devotional, Christmas Grace: 31 Meditations and Declarations on the Greatest Gift Ever Given through my puny social media footprint. Would it surprise you to learn that there is an intersection between my devotional and the the events of the last two months? Including the re-emergence of widespread hatred for Jewish people? Well buckle up!

On pages 91 through 94 you’ll find an entry titled “A Sign in the Heavens.” You should definitely go buy the devotional and read it, but I’ll spoil that one for you. It’s about the sign the “magi” in the east saw that convinced them the prophesied “king of the Jews” had been born.

There I make the same case others have made. Namely, that the “sign” the star watchers saw was the same heavenly sign John was shown in Revelation Chapter 12.

What was it?

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.”

Revelation 12:1-2, NIV

If this indeed is the sign the magi saw, then it’s possible that Jesus was born on September 11, 3 BC–a date that coincides with the Jewish Feast of Trumpets that year.

What is abundantly clear is that the 14th chapter of Revelation is about the birth of Jesus; His entry into earth’s material/physical timeline; and His victory over Satan, signified and sealed by His ascension to the right hand of the Father. (This poses a bit of a problem for those who hold the “Futurist” view of Revelation–a view which holds that the book describes events that are future to us, yet Jesus’ birth and acension obviously lie in the past.)

What I want to get to in this post are the actions and reactions of the “dragon” in this prophetic vision. Let’s take a look:

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads . . . The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 

Revelation 12:3-5

You probably won’t be shocked to learn that the dragon in this vision is Satan. (Verse 9 makes this explicit.)

Here, from a heavenly-spirit realm vantage point, we see Satan’s efforts to prevent the birth of the Messiah. Of course, he would. He’d heard God’s prophetic promise to Eve that one day her Seed would crush his head. In a sense, the entire Old Testament is a narrative of God’s preparations to fulfill that promise and the Serpent’s efforts to prevent it. Failing to prevent it, he does what he can to kill the “Child.” (Recall Herod’s “slaughter of the innocents” in Bethlehem.)

Here in the vision we see that the dragon fails and the Child is ultimately “snatched up to God and His throne.” So how does the dragon respond to these failures? He becomes “enraged.”:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

Revelation 12:17

Throughout Christian history, there has been much speculation about who “the woman” is in this vision. Not surprisingly, Roman Catholics see Mary, the mother of Jesus. Others have seen ethnic Israel as “the woman.” I think this is almost, but not quite, right.

For reasons I’m about to explain, I think the woman in the vision represents “believing Israel,” that is, the faithful remnant of Judah that was receptive to the preaching of, initially, John the Baptist, and later of Jesus and His disciples.

Many Old Testament prophecies speak of this “remnant.” (See, for example 2 Kings 19:30-31; Ezra 9:8; Is. 10:20; Is. 11:11; Is. 28:5; Is. 37:31-32; Jeremiah 6:9; Jeremiah 31:7; Micah 2:12; Micah 5:7; Zeph. 3:12; and many others.

These are the the Jewish inhabitants of the Land who embraced the message that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

Simeon and Anna who rejoiced to see the infant Jesus when Joseph and Mary brought Him into the Jerusalem Temple are representative of this believing remnant.

Having failed to prevent the birth and acsencion of the Messiah, notice what the “enraged” dragon’s next move is . . . He “went off to wage war against the rest of [the woman’s] offspring.” And who are these offspring? “Those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.”

In other words . . . Christians.

The book of Revelation was written in the midst of a fierce persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. John’s vision of the woman and the dragon serves to explain to believers in that era that the trouble they were currently facing was the aftermath of a cosmic spiritual battle that Satan had just lost.

In a series of recent blog posts, I’ve made the case that Leftists and Progressives hate Israel for the same reason they despise Christians, the traditional family, traditional marriage, traditional gender roles, and childbearing. You can read them here, here, and here. That reason is that Israel represents an island of Western Civilization in a pagan sea.

But what of the persecution of Jews throughout history. It is not, as some Christians have surmised throughout the centuries, divine judgement resulting from the rejection of the Christ.

Matthew’s gospel is is very careful to note that the Jerusalem mob that demanded Jesus’ crucifixion cried out, “His blood be upon us an upon our children.” (Matthew 27:25) That’s two generations. And significantly, it is that second generation that experienced the judgment that both John the Baptist and Jesus had prophesied. Precisely 40 years to the day after Jesus’ Passover Eve crucifixion, Roman armies began surrounding Jerusalem–a sign Jesus had expressly told the Jerusalem beleivers to be on the lookout for! (Luke 21:20)

A few months later, the Temple was a pile of smoldering rubble, just as Jesus had warned. (Matthew 24:2)

No, the persecution of Christians and Jew-hatred share the same hellish spiritual root.

Namely, that dragon, enraged by his failure to stop the emergence of that Child-King from the womb of a faithful remnant of Israel hates ethnic Jews almost as much as he hates Christians. Which explains why perpetrators of the most vicious atrocities against Jews have had demonic/occult leanings.

You may be aware that Hitler’s Nazi regime was rooted in demonic occult fascination. The KKK showed its demonic cards by making cross burnings a centerpiece of their pseudo-Christian cult. And the sadistic perpetrators of The Inquisition were as likely to torture proto-Protestant Christians as they were Jews.

The “dragon” was desperate to prevent the birth of the Child (Jesus) and, failing that, to tempt and decieve this second “Adam” the same way he had deceived the first one. The First Adam failed the test of obedience in a lush garden with a full belly. The Last Adam passed the test of obedience in a barren desert while starving.

Satan wasn’t sure precisely how Emmanuel spelled his doom. (Otherwise he would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. (1 Cor. 2:8) But he knew it nonetheless.

In closing, let me direct your attention to a special prophecy concerning the age of the Messiah. In a passage prophetically addressing a believing remnant of Judah, Isaiah 26 speaks of a “woman” in labor:

As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, She writhes and cries out in her labor pains;

Isaiah 26:17 NASB

The prophecy continues into chapter 27, where we read:

On that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.

Isaiah 27:1 NASB

Yes, the dragon continues to be “enraged.” But he is also in retreat. And under a death sentance.

For 2000 years he has been a “fleeing serpent.” And the day of his complete destruction is a forgone conclusion. The moment that Last Adam ascended to the throne and began gathering willing, believing Jews and Gentiles into Himself, creating “one new man,” Satan became an outlaw and a trespasser on planet earth.

So now you know how the Christmas story connects to the current global eruption of hatred for Jews. Its source is the same force that animates persecution of Christians in China and Nigeria and Iran and Algeria and pretty much everywhere in the non-Western world.

As Jesus followers–both Jew and Gentile–our posture toward unbelieving Jews has always been a complicated matter. Paul recognized this and so spent most of the book of Romans–the longest of his epistles–addressing it. His case culminates in chapters nine, ten and eleven.

That complexiity and tension is summed up toward the end of chapter 11, where Paul describes Jesus-rejecting Jews as both “enemies: and “beloved.”

In relation to the gospel they are enemies on your account, but in relation to God’s choice they are beloved on account of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 11:28-19 NASB

Summary:

It seems abundantly clear to me that the same unholy spirits that hate the King, His Kingdom, and His Body (the Church) despise Israel– both national and ethnic. Those spirits animate the mass protests filled with people carrying signs saying “By Any Means Necessary . . .” and “From the River to the Sea” while chanting “globalize the intifada.”

They rationalize and justify monstrosities while calling the victims monsters. They advocate for genocide while accusing their targets of genocide.

What’s vital to keep in mind is those spirits are part of a “fleeing serpent who is under judgement and already experiencing punishment. And that “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephsians 6:12)