Updated: Feb 12
Talk of deconstruction in the church is all the rage these days. Let me add to the cacophony of voices opining. So, two thoughts: 1) Some argue that deconstruction is a healthy thing because it is good to figure out what in the church is cultural reaction and conditioning. Yea verily to that, but notice that those carrying the banner of deconstruction are many times progressive types, using deconstruction (among other things) to mold church attitudes on things like gender, identity, and knowledge into a shape that is itself culturally bound and conditioned. Don't believe this old thing, believe this thing over here that I believe, and pretty much every time, the "this thing over here" corresponds precisely to contemporary, popular, Western attitudes on hot button issues. Don't deconstruct that contemporary thing. Believe it. There is a reason why they write these treatises now, at this particular time in the history of philosophy, in the 21st century individualistic West, rather than a thousand or two thousand years ago in another culture. In other words, the sword cuts both ways. The acid they use to eat away at their targets also eats away at their own paradigms, if consistently applied…but therein lies the rub. They tend to except their own favored views from their analysis.
2) The term “deconstruction” is a tricky word, used in all sorts of ways. If someone means simply thinking hard about what’s true, questioning one’s own views or the majority attitude to make sure they are scriptural, truthful, etc, well there’s nothing wrong with that. Though its hard, we should at least be attempting that. We shouldn’t shy away from living the examined life.
But lets use another term for that–call it “thinking hard” or “questioning” or whatever. Not deconstruction. Yes, when examining you “take something apart,” ie “de” “construct.” But the term “deconstruction” has a very particular history behind it and even when we don’t intend it, that baggage comes along for the ride when we use the term in such vague ways. The progressives using deconstruction often use vagueness to do their thing. Let's not add an assist to their project.
If both those who are genuinely trying to think hard to separate the wheat from the chaff belief-wise and those who constantly ask “has God *really* said?” use the same word to describe what they are doing, that muddies the waters unnecessarily. Such a loose use of the term can therefore be confusing to your average churchgoer. The latter group will continue to try to cloud rather than clarify, but those in the former should strive for clarity by using other words. Lets not do their job for them.
We need a way to help average people distinguish between doubt and unbelief, between trying to find the true Rock to stand on and those saying there is no rock, between trying to find the foundation and trying to melt the foundation. Such a wide usage of “deconstruction” to cover all of that obfuscates rather than clarifies.
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