The Most Dangerous Form of Deconstruction

What if some evangelicals are so burned out on church that they don’t even know it?

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

With all this talk of deconstruction these days, one problem is that very few people mean precisely the same thing when they use that word.

For some people, deconstructing means losing their faith altogether—becoming atheists, agnostics, or spiritual-but-not-religious nones. For others, deconstructing means still believing in Jesus but struggling with how religious institutions have failed.

And there are also many for whom deconstructing means maintaining an ongoing commitment to orthodox Christianity, as well as a robust commitment to the church—but without the cultural-political baggage associated with the label “evangelicalism.”

On one level, these divergent meanings may suggest that the term deconstruction doesn’t signify any one thing specifically—not without a great deal of qualification, that is. This is true, come to think of it, of the word evangelical these days as well.

But that doesn’t mean that deconstruction is a lesser phenomenon than we think. As a matter of fact, I think the case could be made that all of American evangelical Christianity is deconstructing—at least in some sense of the word.

It’s just that I believe there’s more than one way to deconstruct.

At one level, we can see deconstruction happening in terms of institutions. Someone asked me a few weeks ago what percentage of churches or ministries I thought were divided by the same political and cultural tumults ripping through almost every other facet of American life. I answered, “All of them. One hundred percent.”

I don’t mean that every church is in conflict; many aren’t. …

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