“Be careful criticizing the bride that Jesus died for,” said my mentor in response to a student’s criticism of a particular large church. In the not new but currently trendy challenge of deconstructionism, my mentor’s wisdom is even more profound. The intended nebulousness of defining what deconstructionism is occurs because defining or discussing it is deemed as a part of the oppressive white male patriarchy. (Yes, that was said to me before, and more than once.) The noble virtue of Christian compassion has turned into an idol of niceness, and the duty to pass on and defend sound doctrine abdicated. This distorts the image of Christ we hold, and attacks the bride Jesus died for. While an overview, here is a glimpse on dealing with the present challenge.
Being nice vs defending the Faith
Deconstructionism, essentially a tributary of the river nihilism brought on by Marx, Nietzsche, Derrida, and Critical Theory proponents, should not shock the Christian. Nor should Christians ignore its demonic nature (Genesis 3:1). When we see abuse, we say stop. Metaphorically, this is what deconstructionism is doing to Christ and His bride. While the Bible calls for mercy and compassion, in dealing with deconstructionism, compassion will feel more like setting a broken bone so it heals well. Much of what comes out of deconstructionism is what historically would be called heresy, and is part of what Paul warns us about (2Timothy 4:1-4). Christians need to grow thicker skin, knowing that calling things for what they are will likely result in suffering (2Timothy 4:5). The answer is to not run and hide, but to be the church, stand our ground, and speak boldly (Ephesians 6:10-20). That means we need to defend the faith, and this will not be popular or likable, but it is what Jesus called for (Matthew 16:24-25).
Danger of shunning Christ’s Bride
Given the similarity between deconstructionism and higher criticism of a century ago, the likely outcome of deconstructionism will be a non-prophet operation trying to do some good, but void of the Gospel that saves, just like the YMCA. In shunning the overt individualism of current evangelicalism, deconstructionism misses the corporate nature of the church (Ephesians 4:1-6). In pointing out flaws, deconstructionism misses the process and product of what Christ is doing (Ephesians 5:25-32). In seeking their own faith, deconstructionism misses the true faith (Philippians 2:1-13). It also forgets that Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, faith isn’t about you. Rather than deconstruct, it would be better to submit to Christ and His Word, for Jesus already laid down the foundation for faith (Ephesians 2:19-21). Also, we should be very careful on how we build upon His foundation, knowing we will be judged (1Corinthians 3:10-15).
Church of Pharisees vs existence of false teaching
In defending the Word, Jesus, and His bride, one will be accused of being a Pharisee, judgmental, a cult, etc. After all one can be spiritual and not need church as it’s organized religion. Any defense only amplifies their point, continuing the so called oppression. It should be noted that Christ’s bride is the most persecuted minority in the world, and is fairly even in her distribution throughout the world. This point is not mute as the voice of holiness in the world is currently the African and parts of the Asian Church. This is ignored in the ethnocentric viewpoint deconstructionism has towards Christ’s bride. The writing, formulation, and transmission of the New Testament is one of battling false teachers. This is why the New Testament warns us so much about them (2John 10-11). Heresy is a reality. Christianity is a truth received, guarded, and passed on (2Timothy 2:1-2). Straying away from the true faith has dire warnings (Galatians 1:8-9). One cannot separate a groom from his bride, as deconstructionism seeks to do.
Nothing new under the sun
Throughout history there is a battle between accepting God as He is, or removing parts we do not like. Whether Satan of Genesis 3, the Marcionism of the second and third centuries, battle of the reformation in the fifteen hundreds, higher criticism of late nineteenth early twentieth century, or deconstructionism of the current era, the attacks are not new. A problem in evangelicalism, as some Anglican friends have pointed out, is we pragmatically think the Gospel was lost during the dark ages and restarted during the reformation. The Gospel and Scripture, and hence Christ’s bride remained throughout history from her start in Acts 2. The untethering from history is part of what led to deconstructionism, but said movement is also untethered from, and likely incapable of understanding history. This is a result of the critical theory/marxist foundation that is at the heart of deconstructionism, viewing things from an oppressed/oppressor dichotomy. Ironic, as the church is the largest movement against oppression in history (Galatians 5:1).
Setting the bone #1: Receiving the Word
We cannot separate the Gospel from the Word nor the Word from the Gospel, we must accept God for who He is. Doing that created the challenge we are facing… again. Acts describes the process of one becoming a Christian as one who “received the Word” (Acts 2:41). Christians were making declaratives statements of truth and calling people to follow the living God as a result. This truth telling calls on us to not only believe the God raised Jesus from the dead, but to also acknowledge Jesus as lord (Romans 10:9-10). The Word is truth received (John 17:17), and Jesus a savior to be obeyed (John 15:8-11). This means we challenge “your truth” with truth, seeking to bring all to obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). Hence Christ and His bride are inseparable (Matthew 28:19-20).
Resetting the bone #2: Repentance
The men of Nineveh will judge people of Jesus’ day. Why? When Jonah preached, Nineveh repented. When someone greater than Jonah preached, some people of Jesus’ day did not repent (Matthew 4:41). John the Baptist then followed by Jesus said to repent, for the Kingdom is at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). In the first sermon of the church, Peter boldly said to repent and be saved from his crooked generation (Acts 2:38-40). The slowness of Jesus is an opportunity for repentance (2Peter 3:9). Jesus says to His churches, in relation to sexual immorality and false doctrine, to repent or He will come with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:16). Calling for repentance is a declaration that what one is doing is wrong and needs to change course towards truth. We do this with loving patience, but we must still call people to repent (2Timothy 2:25). And sometimes this is done with boldness (Galatians 2:11). Shunning this concept is dangerous as one cannot fall away and then be restored, for that mocks Jesus (Hebrews 6:6).
The bottom line:
We do not judge those outside of church, but we do hold those in Church to a different standard (1Corinthians 5:12). Heresy is such an issue (2John10-11, Jude). We need to return to concepts such as receiving the Word and repentance, understanding Christianity is a truth received, guarded, and passed on (2Tim 2:1-2). We do not ignore areas where the Church falls short, and there are many (Revelation 2-3). We should be careful in how we deal with the Church both in sound doctrine and where we fall short (Ephesians 4:14-16). We need to repent and call things for what they are and also be willing to defend the faith, boldly, as we ought to do. Understand we have the victory in Christ (Ephesians 6:10-20). Thus, we must guard and refine not only our actions, but also our doctrine, this is the Way (1Timothy 4:16). Christian, stand up for Jesus and His bride.