Is Deconstruction Over?

Yesterday I heard someone say that era of deconstruction of the church is over. That is good to hear. I think.

Between five and ten years ago, a lot of us began to dissect the  church and its place in history and culture. For most, this was spearheaded by the Emergent Church movement and by authors like Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and even Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Donal Miller, and Shane Claiborne. Many people began to ask questions that needed asking and which no one had ever asked before. Has the church been too influenced by materialism and consumerism? Has the church been too influenced by modernism, rationalism, utilitarianism, foundationalism, and the enlightenment? How does the church adjust to postmodernism, relativism, and pluralism? What do we do when our tradition language and style of communicating the gospel is irrelevant and incomprehensible to the culture? Are our beliefs about politics, nationalism, economics, war, and crime really based on the heart of God? What is the purpose of the church? Why do we do church the way we do it? How much of our understanding of God and the Bible is based on our culture rather than revelation? Over the past ten years every element of Christianity has been examined: ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, sacraments, leadership structure, interpretation of scripture, missiology, tradition, and on and on.

We have also seen more examination of the culture than ever before. A new value has been placed on demographic research in the church giving us incredible amounts of data and understanding about what people believe, their attitudes toward Christianity, and the way they are changing. The shift from modernism to post-modernism has caused us to understand the failures of enlightenment and foundationalist thinking. We are beginning to see the profound effects of technology on people’s thinking. We are coming the understand that dramatic changes are taking place in the way people communicate and relate to each other and to the world around.

For many people in the church, this questioning and deconstruction was a disturbing trend, and it received a lot of condemnation. Some of the criticism of the church has been excessive, but all of this examination has produced some terrific forward movement.

Because of the deconstruction, we have come to understand how much foundationalism has shaped the thinking of the church. We have become more open to questioning and testing our faith to be sure that it is built on truth and revelation. From the middle of this examination of the church has emerged the missional movement, which has deep biblical foundations and is sure to shape the future of the church. We have learned that it is okay to adjust the way we communicate the gospel. We have seen the value of some tradition, but also learned not to hold too tightly to it.

Yes, it does look like the deconstruction is winding down. It looks like the height of the Emergent Church is over. It seems to me that God has done all this to help us make some important transitions , solidify some values, and now we are ready to boldly move forward.

Many Christians, though, never realized that this shake up was taking place. (Maybe you are one of them.) Many are still doing what they have done for  years without any adjustment. I’m glad that the deconstruction is about over, but it seems to me that we still need some personal deconstruction. Some of us still need to do some questioning, searching, and adjusting.

2 Responses to “Is Deconstruction Over?”

  1. I am a thinker by nature. I like to question why things are the way that they are. I like to have a reason for the things that I do. I hate doing something just because “that’s the way it is.” I need to understand why.

    I think the main problem that happens in churches is that when a Christian questions why we do things the way we do, other Christians become (scared/offended/upset) by it, especially if the person is questioning something they particularly like. Questioning the method becomes equated with questioning the message, when they are entirely different things. (and to be honest, I’ve found myself on both sides of this situation at times, we all have a certain way that we like things to be, being a part of the Body of Christ requires a good deal of humility and willingness to put others first even if we really really don’t want to…)

    Sometimes a look at the past helps to see things that are happening now a little more clearly. William Tyndale, the first person to translate the Bible into English, was tried for heresy and burned at the stake. The people of his time could not fathom translating the Bible from its original languages into modern languages. Today however, most Christains cannot fathom NOT having the Bible available in their native language. It is simply the way we do things. But at the time it shook things up.

    Shaking is good. Shaking makes us move, it knocks away the extraneous things and leaves behind the core, the foundation.

    “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:26-29

    I don’t think the shaking will ever end (until His Kingdom is fully established, that is) it will continue in one form or another. But we should not be afraid of the shaking, or condemn it, rather we should let God use the shaking to reveal to us which things are eternal and true that we should hold fast to (those things that cannot be shaken), and which things were created by man that we should not be attached to.

    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Cor. 13:12

    None of us have made it yet, but by the grace of God we’ll press on, moving closer to His truth everyday.

    (Also I love you, honey, thanks for stirring up people’s thoughts and challenging us to have a deeper understanding of our faith.)

  2. When people (Jason) first made me aware of the questioning and shaking that was going on within the church, I was uncomfortable. I didn’t really like the idea that things that I had believed my whole life might need some adjustment. But I have come to realize that people are not changing their core beliefs about God and his Son, Jesus; they are adjusting some of the ways they live out the commands of Jesus and how they represent Him to the surrounding culture. They are realizing that the church needs to be more effective in evangelizing and discipling and establishing God’s kingdom, and are pushing us outside the church walls, where we can be people of influence. I am finding it an exciting time to be a Christ follower.

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