An apologist recently shared three common reasons why some Christians deconstruct their faith: intellectual issues, disagreement with doctrine and emotionally negative experiences with Christianity and Christians.
Apologist, author and speaker Brett Kunkle joined Pastor Jason Jimenez for an episode of the "Challenging Conversations" podcast posted earlier this month. They tackled the issue of deconstruction, a term used to describe Christians who question their faith.
Jimenez, the founder of STAND STRONG Ministries and faculty member at Summit Ministries, said many Evangelicals use deconstruction as "a process of stripping what you were raised to believe, with the intention to hopefully reconstruct your faith into a better and stronger version than before." However, Jimenez questioned if deconstruction is necessary.
Kunkle, the founder and president of the MAVEN movement to equip the next generation to pursue goodness and truth, said that deconstruction is based on postmodern philosophy, which argues that people cannot understand a text due to various intellectual or cultural biases.
He believes that some Christians have taken the postmodern idea of deconstructing and used it more "to tear something down," like one's own beliefs, than to rebuild.
There are "a myriad of reasons" why people "deconstruct" or move away from traditional Christian and god-centered beliefs, noted Kunkle.
"I think a lot of the reasons why people deconstruct can kind of be boiled down into one of three reasons," Kunkle said.
"They have intellectual reasons. So they're really wrestling with maybe some doctrine of Christianity that they grew up with that now they find that it's incoherent, or it doesn't make sense or it doesn't maybe fit with the surrounding culture. … There are some real honest questions, and we don't want to minimize that."
Kunkle said people often pretend that the only reason they are deconstructing their faith is that they solely disagree with the doctrines of Christianity. However, he stated there are two "deeper and [more] fundamental" reasons why the majority of people deconstruct from the faith.
"A lot of times, people deconstruct because of some emotional or psychological reason. And typically, it's because they've been hurt by the church, been hurt by someone in the church or maybe they think they've been hurt," Kunkle stated.
"I don't want to minimize someone's hurt, but they think that the hurt has come due to some particular teaching. So, this is where people in the deconstruction movement will talk a lot about purity culture, for example."
Kunkle defined "purity culture" as "referring to the church's conservative teaching on human sexuality," which involves "God's design for abstinence [from sex] before marriage."
"Now, we have this derogatory term 'purity culture' that people point to, and certainly, there may have been abuses in it," he said. "I think sometimes those are — just to be honest — overblown. I think there are plenty of people who grew up in the church in the 80s and 90s, at the height of this alleged purity culture, and who had a very healthy experience of it."
"And then, there are those who will talk about their hurt from that," Kunkle continued. "Or they [are deconstructing because they] grew up in a home that maybe mom and dad were very legalistic, and there was just this constant guilt and shame that was beat into them. And so, there's hurt there."
Kunkle believes it is "the hurt and pain in the woundedness that they may place at the feet of the church or at the feet of Christians."
Other than "church-hurt and disagreeing with the doctrine within the Gospels," he said, some people deconstruct because they choose to live in direct disobedience of the Word of God.
"The third is moral reasons. This is not unique to the deconstruction movement. This is all humanity since the beginning of time. This goes back to the garden, where Adam and Eve do what? They suppress the truth in unrighteousness, as Paul talks about in Romans 1:18," Kunkle said.
"There are just a myriad of ways that human beings have been suppressing God's moral law in our sin for a number of ways," Kunkle noted.
Kunkle advised Christians who know someone who is deconstructing their faith to "just spend time getting to know them and their own unique story."
Christian artist Lecrae garnered headlines and scrutiny for going public last year about his decision to deconstruct his faith. The rapper argued that it was an important step in rebuilding his belief in the Gospel.
"I did a lot of spiritual deconstruction over the last few years, and now I've been reconstructing," he explained in an interview with NGEN Radio. "God has really been connecting me in different places and spaces that I never really imagined."