A friend sent me an article today from the Mere Orthodoxy website asking my thoughts about the current trend of theological deconstruction that is becoming prevalent in evangelical communities of faith. The author, Skyler Flowers, does an appreciable job of attempting to develop categories that sort the conversation, albeit akin to nailing jello to the wall.
Evangelical deconstructionism is a topic forceful enough today to have become a cottage industry, complete with books, podcasts, and small group gatherings to discuss theological dissonances. It’s not nearly as tidy as the six neatly defined categories outlined in Flowers’ article, but yes, it’s a thing. By definition, to “deconstruct” basically means to question or doubt what you have previously believed. It can be motivated by the awareness that one doesn’t really know why they believe what they believe due to strict indoctrination, or from a negative event associated with a church such as spiritual abuse or moral indiscretion from a church leader.
The motif seems to follow this model: prior order, disorder, then re-order. In other words, a person has their normative belief and practice disrupted by something or someone, then re-ordering takes place as persons attempt to put the pieces back together. But the pieces create a new picture. They re-create the old one into something new.
Admittedly I know little with regards to the deconstruction movement, but there’s a reason for it. There is no template to follow. Deconstruction tends to be more individualistic by necessity, for each person has their own catalytic moment that produces disorder and their own rhythm and tempo for processing re-order.
When I think about it, King David may have been the first deconstructionist. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann used a similar patter to interpret the Psalms. His structure is orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. If you read the Psalms carefully, you’ll see David wrestle with people and situations that cause in to question what he had always believed that then turned into something stronger. Deconstruction, to that point, doesn’t have to end with atheism or apostasy as some would assume. It just transports you from where you were to where you are, and ultimately to where you’re going.