McKnight on Three Phases of Deconstruction

True. But this is no excuse for evil, injustice, lies, or abuse committed by the Church in the present. Additionally, the biblical picture of the church is one that is self-reflective and self-correcting (Cf. Paul and Peter in Galatians). Also, the epistles never assume that the problems are the norm, but rather expect that God’s people will strive to be better out of mutual respect and love for one another and for God. When God’s people are unwilling to do that, people get hurt and eventually walk away.

This comes across as a hand wave. However, giving the benefit of the doubt, and to continue your metaphor, the church is seeing an epidemic of deconstruction because of the pain suffered by so many ‘players on the field’. The reality is that they’ve been tripped up, or tackled by other players so many times, or become disgusted by the behaviour of the coach, that it isn’t enough to find another team, they question the validity of the game.


Liam, with the good word pictures! Precisely. And they got to the locker room one day and and found their “Team Kingdom” uniform had been replaced by one for “Team Culture War,” and there were a bunch of new players who had never been trained in any of the “Team Kingdom” plays, so they decided that wasn’t the team they tried out for. Then they found out the team wasn’t even playing the same sport anymore and didn’t need their talents, so they went looking for a new team.


Good addendum. :slightly_smiling_face:

Deconstruction – just another word for? Everybody, the spiritual battle is chaos. War is chaos. Nothing other than chaos should be expected. Each person experiences the battle personally. Quoting the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds,” and from 2 Corinthians 2:11, " so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." The Apostle Peter warns believers from 1 Peter 5:8, " Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Then Peter adds, " Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (1 Peter 5:9).

Are these references to a noncorporal, evil being, real or psychological? The answer is left to you since the experience of struggling with doubt or disbelief seems universal. Therefore, to proceed the nature of this demonic biblical world need not be our focus. Spiritual battle is real.

So far, the aim has been to establish that doubt and disbelief are expected of spiritual faith. With some, surrendering to spiritual deception ceases the warfare. For these, the spiritual warfare became so chaotic it resulted in retreat, doubt, and eventually, fleeing the field of battle. For others, such trials continue a lifetime. But for many believers, faith is never questioned.

At this point, only the spiritual conflict has been observed. Spiritual victory or defeat depends entirely upon what you want. Again, entirely upon what you want! While there are historical and rational reasons to believe, such reckoning does not lead to victory. Winning battles begin with the humble acceptance of one’s own fallibility of their sanctity and reason. This allows one to discount their doubt in favor of divine revelation. Then there is the heart, in other words, the passion. What do you desire? Is the desire for a world you understand that meets your fallible and limited understanding? On the other hand, do you thirst and hunger for the Holy Divine Presence in your life? It is your choice – human understanding or the Divine Presence. If the choice is for the Divine Presence, for some it is a choice that must be made several times each day rather than a one-time commitment. For these struggling souls there is the requirement for a desperation decision with each reoccurring doubt. With each reoccurring doubt one should ask, “What do I want! Human understanding or the Divine Presence.”

Why is the battle so fierce and victory so difficult? Could it be there is an actual war raging for you in the spiritual realm? In other words, you are not alone on the field of battle but there are two other actors. The Apostle Peter has previously been quoted as recoding, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The devil’s opponent is described many times in the New Testament. Referencing such verses is left to you, but your attention is focused on a Deuteronomy passage.

11 “For this commandment which I command you today is

not too difficult for you, nor is it far off .

12 It is not in heaven ,

that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’

13 Nor is it beyond the sea ,

that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’

14 But the word is very near you,

in your mouth and in your heart,

that you may observe it.

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil;

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that

I have set before you life and death ,

the blessing and the curse. So, choose life in order that you may live, you and your seed, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for that is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Deuteronomy 30:11-15, 19-20 NASB edited to include some textual footnotes.

I can’t leave you under the Old Covenant. The Apostle Paul in Athens preached in the midst of the Areopagus. He draws their attention to the idol of the unknown God and begins to describe this unknown God.

# “24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,” (Acts 17:24-27 English Standard Version)

Under both the old and new covenants this God is close to us.

I, that is me, live with doubt and skepticism. I don’t even know if intellectually I believe, but I know what my heart desires. Every day, my desperation choice is to hunger and thirst for the Divine Presence.

I am not personally struggling with doubt or disbelief. I am struggling with disillusionment and distrust of people who were supposed to be my allies in this spiritual battle. The issue is not faith, it’s community of faith. And yes, I believe there are definitely spiritual strongholds and idolatry at work when it comes to the divisions I am seeing, but my conscience is pretty clear.

You are completely misunderstanding the conversation if you think “deconstruction” is mostly about personal doubts and beliefs and not about affiliations and group identities and whose narratives we choose to live by.


Yes, this is interesting. I assume that there are many reasons for the different endpoints.

One guiding line is the feedback we get from other people. I changed the denomination because two young men asked me to a meeting and we started a long discussion about doctrinal issues. When I finally realized that they were more right than I in their interpretation of biblical scriptures, I had to make a personal decision. It was very difficult for me but I try to follow honestly what I believe is true.

A couple of my friends changed church because they became tired of the constant disagreements and continuous underestimation and neglect of their experience. The congregation they had been in changed during the years and the new generation did not put much value to the opinions of the old members, even those that were experienced professionals.

One pair changed church because they were exhausted and felt a constant pressure to serve in their congregation. The woman was a talented musician, a professional. When she became exhausted she just wanted to listen and gather strength during the meetings. All people did not understand and expected that she would continue to serve in music. All of the others serving in music were not as talented and she often felt an internal pressure to do something to it, to take care of the music. Exhaustion grew to the point that the pair switched to a large church where they could just sit and gather strength during the meetings.

One person I know switched denomination because he strongly felt that God was calling him to serve in the other denomination. He became a priest.

Sometimes false beliefs form a central part of the worldview. Sooner or later, the false beliefs collapse, like when a YEC finally accepts the fact that the world and the human race are old. This leads into a crisis where the surrounding relationships and teaching may determine whether the person can reconstruct his worldview and faith on a sound basis or whether he abandons the faith totally.

I believe that we could tell many more examples where different causes lead to different endpoints. In many cases, there is little or no deconstruction involved.

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that’s funny, in a way–as a family doc, you get all sorts of people in a small town, and even more in a church, asking you to treat them on the wayside. We’ve joked that we should attend a Christian Science church, where they don’t believe in illness, so we wouldn’t have to worry about that. It’s not usually too much of a problem–but you get to avoid certain people that try to talk to you in church about their illnesses for a free consultation (not that the money matters, but we’re there to worship and fellowship).


I remember sitting down for dinner quite a few years ago at a Wednesday night pot luck, and had 4 people lined up to talk to me about something medical. I stopped going to church on Wednesday night for a while. One nice thing about being retired, is I now welcome the occasional medical question, and can always tell the one’s asking that they should ask their doctor. Of course, in last couple of years, I find people really do not care what professionals think and sit by amused when someone brings up a medical question, and starts getting advice from the local retired accountant and another from the owner of a hair salon.

What does that have to do with deconstruction? You might think nothing, but a change of career, life stage, or physical capasity does make one consider what expectations are placed upon them as opposed to what they feel is the proper course for their lives, so deconstruction can take place in many aspects of church life, functionally as well as theologically.


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