Desiring God co-founder says Christians should ‘extend grace’ to people undergoing ‘deconstruction’

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The co-founder of the popular online theology ministry is encouraging Christians to “extend the grace of Christ” to people who say they are undergoing “deconstruction.”

Teacher and author Jon Bloom examined “deconstruction” and how it applies to Christians struggling with their faith in a piece published Tuesday on the website he co-founded with theologian and Pastor John Piper.

After explaining the different ways in which the word is used by Christians regarding their faith, Bloom noted that “deconstruction isn’t new” and that Christians should respond with grace.

“Since the church’s earliest days, some have endured faith crises, some have been harmed by sinful cultural influences, some have questioned traditional doctrines and church authorities, and some have departed the faith,” Bloom wrote.

“And to each person, whatever their struggle, we are called to extend the grace of Christ.”

The author of three books noted that the extension of grace can sometimes be “tender” or “tough.” But he stressed that it must be “an issue of prayerful discernment” since the “deconstructing Christian is often someone in significant pain.”

“Anyone, like me, who has gone through a faith crisis (or multiple ones) knows that it’s not some abstract academic exercise. Questioning our foundational beliefs and wrestling with doubts about them often feels like we’re being, in Francis Schaeffer’s words, ‘torn to pieces,’” he continued.

“So, as we seek to extend the grace of Christ to someone experiencing deconstruction — however passively or actively, however privately or publicly — it will be important to press in carefully, ask clarifying questions, and listen well, to inform how we do or do not respond.”

In recent years, some notable Christian public figures have announced that they had undergone the process of “deconstructing” their faith, with some of them leaving the faith altogether and others solidifying their faith in the process. 

Josh Harris, a former megachurch pastor who authored the 1997 best-selling book on sexual purity Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye, briefly offered an online course on deconstructing belief titled “Reframe Your Story.” In 2019, Harris announced that he no longer considered himself a Christian. 

Announced last August, the course was originally going to cost $275 to enroll unless a person either was “harmed by my past work and by purity culture in general” or “can’t afford it.”

“It’s not specifically about purity culture but for anyone who is unpacking and rethinking religious beliefs,” wrote Harris last year, before he dropped the course following negative feedback. “I believe I’m offering something of value to others.”

In May 2021, author and pastor Dominic Done appeared on “The Crazy Happy Podcast” to discuss his own period of spiritual doubt. He said that it was “trendy” to deconstruct belief.

“The trendy thing right now is that we’ve got to deconstruct our faith, walk away from the faith, walk away from the church,” said Done at the time.

“I think deconstruction can be healthy if it’s a … sloughing off of things that are unhealthy in our life, views of God that aren’t correct, things that we’ve kind of taken on board that [aren’t] essential to our faith — that form of deconstruction can be really healthy. But if it’s just deconstruction for the sake of deconstruction, it’s not going to lead you anywhere.” 

More recently, Christian rapper Phanatik, one of the founders of the trailblazing rap group The Cross Movement, renounced his Christian faith. In January, he sent a letter to his church withdrawing his membership.

“I began to look at the faith and say, ‘Man, you could turn this Rubik’s cube any particular way and end up with a different understanding,’” he stated in a Facebook video announcement. “And who can say that understanding is right or that understanding is wrong?’” 

In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Christian rapper Lecrae said that he has gone through periods of what he calls “reconstruction” of his faith. 

“I went through reconstruction and that’s what a lot of people don’t talk about,” he added. “They miss that one. Deconstruction is not a bad thing if it leads to reconstruction. Sometimes you have to demolish a building that has mold and then build something else on that foundation. We’re not getting rid of the foundation. The foundation is Christ. But we’re building on that foundation and tearing down some things that were unnecessary.”

In January, Lecrae tweeted

“Once upon a time I thought I was done with Christianity. But the reality was I was just done with the institutional, corporatized, gentrified, politicized, culturally exclusive version of it.” 

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