Deconstructing: Why Christians Leave the Faith
“Deconstruction” has become a popular term in modern Christianity. Coined by Blake Chastain in 2016 through the hashtag #exvangelical, it refers to the process of unpacking, rethinking, and questioning one’s faith. This process can lead to people dropping their faith altogether or emerging with a stronger faith1. However, many have criticized this phenomenon, seeing it as the replacement of beliefs with culturally popular ideas.
This involves fact-checking (Acts 17:11), thoughtful preparation (1 Peter 3:15), reasonable skepticism (1 John 4:1), cooperation with others (Proverbs 27:17), seeking multiple perspectives (Proverbs 15:22), and appreciating all God has shown in His creation (Romans 1:18–20; Psalm 19:1)234. However, many argue that the modern deconstruction movement is far from this.
Deconstruction Case Studies
Several notable individuals have publicly declared their deconstruction, often causing shockwaves within the Christian community.
- In 2019, Marty Sampson, known for writing music for Hillsong Worship, United, Delirious, and Young & Free, announced that he was “genuinely losing his faith” and declared that “Christianity is just another religion”5.
- Joshua Harris, author of the bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced his separation from Christianity in 2019, saying, “I am not a Christian…”6.
- In 2021, Paul Maxwell, a former ‘Desiring God’ writer and preacher with a Ph.D. in theology, announced that he was no longer a Christian7.
According to research, the number of white evangelical Christians in America has seen a significant decline. In 2006, they accounted for 23% of Americans’ religious identity, but by 2020, this number dropped to just 14.5%8.
Reasons for Deconstruction
Deconstruction seems to happen for a variety of reasons, some of which include9:
- Traumatic experiences in the church
- Poor teaching, often involving extreme views
- The desire to sin without guilt
- Social pressure to conform to progressive ideologies
- A perceived satanic influence or demonic assault
Doubt vs Unbelief
We must understand that doubt and unbelief are not the same, and understanding the difference is crucial.
Doubt is born out of a troubled mind and broken heart, while unbelief is an act of the will10.
Jesus promised that some would be overcome by pleasure and pressure (Mt 13:20-22), and even saw people walk away because they didn’t want to hear his message (John 6:65-66). The Apostle Paul warned that in the last days, people would turn away from sound teaching and have itching ears (2 Tim 4:3-4).
However, when Thomas doubted, Jesus helped him. It’s important to remember: doubt is not the absence of faith; it’s simply the questioning of faith.
Read: Doubt vs Unbelief
Footnotes: Chastain, Blake. "Exvangelical: The Birth of a Movement?" Blakechastain.com, 2016. ↩ Sampson, Marty. Instagram post, August 10, 2019. Harris, Joshua. Instagram post, July 25, 2019. Maxwell, Paul. Instagram post, 2021. "White Evangelical Christians in the United States", Pew Research Center, 2020. "5 Reasons Why People Deconstruct", Instagram Reel, 2021.
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