Deconstruction is a buzzword these days. The term exvangelical has emerged as an identity marker and an activist movement. People’s faith stories—and their “losing faith” stories—are often emotional and vulnerable. They grow out of biography and experiences, so Christians struggling with faith need love and listening ears, not merely argument.

Still, we have a responsibility as a church to thoughtfully engage wider cultural conversations around deconstruction. Jesus is the truth that sets us free. Asking hard questions about faith is normal. It’s a necessary part of Christian maturity. But there are better and worse ways to critically assess claims to truth. So take these as helpful guidelines:

First, distinguish between deconstruction and reform. The church is a Christ-made institution, but it is also a sinful institution. It always needs reform. If a person’s frustration with the church arises from the biblical vision of community, that’s not deconstruction. It’s calling the church back to the gospel.

There have always been reformers in the church, and we did not call them deconstructors. This is not merely semantics. To call something to reform (as opposed to simply destroying it) is to implicitly recognize the integrity of its original design.

As an example, I am often dismayed by the misogyny I see in the church. But I also recognize that the notion of women’s intrinsic dignity is given to me by the church itself. Compared to the pagan world around it, the early church elevated the status of women. The idea of innate human equality emerges out of the best of Christian thought. We can’t deconstruct the church while drawing from its very logic, beliefs, and ...

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A Drink of Light
Tish Harrison Warren
Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night (IVP, 2021). Follow her on Twitter @Tish_H_Warren.
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