Christianity—to be more specific, Jesus—can help, whatever your questions. Whatever your struggle, it gets better with more—not less—Christianity. It might be tempting to leave the church in order to find the answers. But we want you to reconsider the church as the best place to deal with your doubts and deconstruction. Deconstructing, however jarring and emotionally exhausting, need not end in a cul-de-sac of unbelief. In fact, deconstructing can be the road toward reconstructing—building up a more mature, robust faith that grapples honestly with the deepest questions of life.
I had never heard of Rhett and Link—the duo behind Good Mythical Morning (their daily YouTube show with more than 16 million subscribers) and Ear Biscuits (their podcast)—until I learned of their public deconstruction story.
The two of them—who as of December 2020 are the fourth-highest YouTube earners, making $20 million a year—discussed how they moved from Cru staffers and missionaries to unbelievers—or, as Rhett now describes himself, a “hopeful agnostic.” The comedians have for years been a staple in many homes with children and young adults (with videos ranging from “epic” rap battles to testing the world’s hottest peppers to being shot with Nerf guns), so it wasn’t surprising that their public announcement unsettled the faith of many.
While deconstruction stories are nothing new in our secular age—for example, Jen Hatmaker still describes herself as a Christian and Joshua Harris doesn’t—it seems that for many, traditional Christian faith is increasingly implausible. According to Rhett, “If I don’t have to believe [Christianity], then why would I?”
Given how prevalent these stories are becoming, The Gospel Coalition asked some of our most trusted writers to address the deconstruction phenomenon from a number of perspectives. If you’re trying to make sense of your faith, I hope this book will give you perspective, answer questions, or at least help you understand you’re not alone. While it might seem like your world is being shaken, perhaps even like you’re experiencing a kind of death, we are convinced a more robust, settled faith can exist on the other side.
What is Deconstruction?
First, let’s define terms. According to one writer, “Deconstruction is the process of systematically dissecting and often rejecting the beliefs you grew up with. Sometimes the Christian will deconstruct all the way to atheism. Some remain there, but others experience a reconstruction. But the type of faith they end up embracing almost never resembles the Christianity they formerly knew.”
In the past several years, deconstruction stories have drawn greater attention. And the trend extends far beyond the spotlight of well-known Christians with large social-media followings, book deals, and podcasts. It may be that the high-profile cases have normalized unbelief, emboldening ordinary folks to proceed in their own deconstruction journeys.
That’s one of the ways social media could be accelerating this trend. Whereas 50 years ago it might’ve been hard to find a community of deconstructing Christians (and thus you didn’t feel it was a valid social option), now it’s easy to find such community online, further removing fears or stigmas that might be associated with spiritual deconstruction.
Of course, while technology has influenced some of these social dimensions, at its core this path toward unbelief is nothing new. Jesus warned of it: “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:12–13). From Demas (2 Tim. 4:10) to Hymenaeus and Philetus (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17), the early church saw many abandon the faith they once professed (1 John 2:19). We should be saddened, but we shouldn’t be surprised.