DC Talk’s Kevin Max recently spoke out about the deconstruction of his faith, referring to himself as an “exvangelical.” On Twitter, he stated he had been “deconstructing/Reconstructing/progressing/whatever you wish to call it for decades,” adding that he’s been “in the outsider/misfit/seeker club for a long time now.”
Max is yet another on a long list of celebrity deconstruction stories, several of them just in the past few months. Former DesiringGod.org writer Paul Maxwell announced that he “feels really good” about no longer being a Christian. Former Christian recording artist Jonathan Steingard said in May, “I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.”
Kevin Max even stated people should just embrace deconstruction. But it appears that people have embraced the deconstruction story since there seems to be a new one every month or so. Is that the best thing to do though? What do we do with all of these deconstruction stories? Here are five things to keep in mind when encountering the deconstruction accounts.
1. The deconstruction of one person’s faith does not dismantle the truth of Christianity. First, we must recognize that just because a person – even if that person once claimed the name of Christ – has now rejected Christ, that doesn’t invalidate the truth of Christianity. Christianity is true whether everyone believes it or no one believes it. It is not the popularity of a belief that makes a belief true anyway. At one point, a geocentric universe was a very popular and “scientifically” defended position, but that did not make it so.
This is probably the most important thing for us to remember when we read about these deconstruction accounts, especially when they involve “celebrity” Christians. My faith is not built upon a famous pastor’s son or popular Christian artist’s shared belief. My faith is built on the truth and evidence that I have found throughout historic Christianity. The historicity and reliability of the Biblical accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth overwhelmingly establish that He was the Son of God. Therefore, the deconstruction of someone else’s belief system does not negate the strong evidence of the truth of Christianity.
(For more information on the truth of Christianity, check out my book at SHOP – Defend The Faith Ministry).
- They may not be rejecting the real Christianity. Another important thing to consider is that sometimes the god that post-evangelicals reject is the same god I reject. Because oftentimes the god they reject is not the god of the Bible. Those who have deconstructed will tend to reference their upbringing in the church as grounds for rejecting Christianity. Sadly, they may have some valid points about the teachings within their churches.
But what are they rejecting from biblical, historic Christianity? Is it truly the One True God of the Bible? Or is it some other twisted idea of God? One person commented to Kevin Max’s tweet about desconstruction that he was also taught theology that was a “mixture of nationalism, capitalism, misogyny, white supremacy and/or military industrial complex.” I would agree that if he were taught those things, then he should reject that. But that is not the true God, the Creator of the Universe who revealed Himself through His Word.
This highlights the importance of individual study of God’s Word. Everyone needs to digest the Bible for themselves to study who God is in totality, as He reveals Himself to us. We would want the same thing. We wouldn’t want someone to reject us based on a rumor someone has said. We would want someone to get to know who we really are before making a decision about us.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that she was to worship God in spirit and in truth. We cannot neglect God’s Word and think we could ever worship in truth. When we don’t study who God is, we all are guilty worshiping our own idea of God, in spirit only, instead of worshiping God in truth.
Who is God really? What is His character? How does He respond to sin? How does He lavish His love upon us? Read His Word in context and see the great God whom we call Father.
- It is important what you believe about the Bible. In one interview, Kevin Max stated, “I don’t think the God that I believe in is going to just all of the sudden ignore me because I don’t believe every single thing that’s written down somewhere,” referring to Scripture.
First, it isn’t about the god that you or I or your best friend believe in. It is about who is the One True God. However, does it matter if you believe every single thing written down in the Scriptures?
This is such an important question. There is no one this side of heaven who has everything from the Bible interpreted correctly. Now that may make it seem impossible to follow through with what I just said in the previous section about getting to know God by studying His Word for yourself. However, just because there are some prophecies and past events that we cannot see clearly, it does not mean that we do not know many, many solid things about who God is. And those are the fundamental truths that are absolutely necessary to believe about the Bible.
For example, you are welcome to believe, if you so choose, that Jesus was just a street magician. But that is not what the Bible asserts. If you want to believe that about Jesus, you are more than welcome to, but you are no longer walking in the truth of Christianity and really cannot claim to be a Christian. You can form your own religion if that is the doctrine you choose to follow.
Therefore, yes, to be a Christian, it matters deeply what you believe about the Bible when it comes to the nature of God, the nature of man, the method of salvation, and the identity of Christ (and many other things). Otherwise, you are not worshiping the Christian God, but worshiping something else. In order to worship God in spirit and in truth, it matters a great deal what you believe about the Bible.
- Remember the parable of the seeds. One of the scariest passages in the Bible is Matthew 7:21-23. Not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will enter into His rest. Just because someone posted great social media content or sang amazing Christian-themed songs does not mean they will enter into His kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father.
Just a few words prior, Jesus said wide is the path that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. But the way that leads to life is hard, narrow, and few will find it. Between these two short verses we can see that the path for life with God is narrow, hard, and based on obedience to the Father. It will not have a lot of committed followers.
Interestingly, if you read through Jesus’ words through His ministry, He almost discouraged people to follow Him because He knew of the cost. He said that He has no home, that you must deny yourself, and pick up your cross to follow Him.
Later in Matthew 13:4-8 Jesus gives the parable of the seeds: “And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
There are four types of seed that are scattered, yet only one actually takes root to grow and produce fruit. Again, the path for the fruitful life and entering into the rest from God will not be followed by the masses. More people will shake their fists and reject God than those who will submit to His Lordship. Though two types of seed appeared to have roots, they did not. Though people did things claiming the name of God, the Lord said to them, “I never knew you.” More people will go astray and wander off than those who will persist in following Jesus.
Those truths may be hard to hear, but it is good for us to remember that not everyone will choose the narrow path (that is why it is described as “narrow”). This is why so many of the epistles talk about the perseverance of the saints. In Matthew 24 Jesus reiterates that there will be many who will fall away, and many false prophets will lead many people astray. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
- They have legitimate questions that deserve legitimate answers. We must remember when someone “deconstructs” their faith, they have legitimate questions about Christianity that deserve legitimate answers. This, I believe, is one of the biggest factors contributing to people leaving the faith in droves. For far too long the church has either trivialized or outright ignored the legitimate questions of believers and unbelievers.
Instead of telling people to “just have faith,” we need to be taking in those questions and showing them where those questions have answers. Granted, those answers will not satisfy every person asking the questions (see point #4 for more on that), but those questions will satisfy many people who are legitimately searching for the truth.
Not only that, but it will equip them to go forward and share those truths with others. That is supposed to be the role of the church anyway, to equip the believers to go forth and preach the Good News (Eph. 4:11).
In order to adequately fight the spiritual battle that believers face we must be prepared and armed in the proper way. We can no longer go out into the world to preach the Good News with Sunday school platitudes. We must go out understanding why Christianity is truth, how we know God is real, and how Christianity is the only religion that fixes our brokenness. Those are the truths that people desperately need to hear.
Ultimately with each new deconstruction story I come across, I am saddened all the more to see another soul who has come so close to understanding abundant life and experiencing Truth Himself, yet have traded it in for worldly wisdom by suppressing the truth.