The Missing Piece in the Deconstruction Argument
There are many great articles highlighting the dangers of "deconstruction". Some of the best recent posts can be found here, here and here. Trinidad and I even did a livestream discussing the matter here a few months back. All of these are great resources.
One of the things that I believe is overlooked in the debate over deconstruction is the proper understanding of feelings from a biblical worldview. Those who are trying to throw people into doubt and confusion are honing in specifically on feelings. Their often pithy posts are made specifically to evoke an emotional reaction for the purpose of confusion, not clarity. They do so because personal feelings under either the progressive Christian viewpoint or the current secular humanist viewpoint is their equivalent to absolute truth, having rejected absolute Truth that comes from God's Word and the person of Jesus Christ. It fits well with the deconstructionists view that "questions are more important than answers."
Their desire is to get you to believe that something "doesn't feel right" about God in a particular circumstance because oftentimes this is what started them on the path toward deconstruction. Therefore, they never begin with the proofs for the resurrection of Christ or the glory of God clearly revealed in creation. They always begin with questioning the ethics of God, whether compared to the ethics of our age or our own personal sensibilities.
Subjects like the problem of evil, is God a moral monster and the personal or societal sexual ethics of our age, are used to shift us into the courtroom of the self whereby we put God on trial. This subtle shift of focus moves us to the place where we become the judge of the motives of God based solely on our emotional reaction to the actions of God revealed in Scripture or the commands of God that run contrary to our personal or societal standards.
What we are finding is that this line of reasoning based solely in feelings circumvents our traditional way of dealing with doubt. It used to be that a person dealing with doubt concerning faith in Christ would go back to the evidences found in creation and in the resurrection of Jesus to establish whether or not God really does exist and whether or not Jesus really died for our sins and rose three days later. From that foundation, the accepting of actions of God or commands that run contrary to our personal sensibilities were easily put into submission to the authority of God and the dying of self (by "easily", I do not mean there wasn't necessarily great struggle, but rather we understood why the struggle existed because of the fallen nature of ourselves and our world).
The deconstructionist does not deal with doubt that way. They are not interested in the archaeological evidence that supports the reliability of the gospels or the Bible, as real historic events and man's interaction with a real God. They aren't even really interested in exploring their felt issues through the robust writings on the subjects by ancient and modern day church fathers. Rather, the deconstructionist begins by elevating feelings as the very barometer of truth in the cases of doubt. It is a truly sinister way by which the Word of God and the nature of God is attacked and the self is elevated to take His place in our lives, at the same time!
No matter how the inerrancy of Scripture is attacked, it always produces the same effect. A lowered view of Scripture always produces less faithfulness. Once the Word of God is compromised ethically and seen to be untrue in the area of ethics because of the way it makes us feel, then we can begin to interpret the Word of God any way we want...or discard it altogether. This is the great power found in the deconstruction movement that, as Christians, we must be able to counter and lead those falling for its lies back to the truth.
So how do we do it?
1) We must teach that feelings are a poor Messiah, not a replacement for the real One.
It is extremely important that we point out again and again the folly of "trusting our feelings" (as Star Wars would put it). From the man who abandons his family for another woman to the person who is caught in a cycle of drug or alcohol addiction to the one who idolizes themselves through social media hoping to find happiness to the one who gives into temptation sexually (whether heterosexual or homosexual), we must be willing to point out the destructive nature of these decisions to the individual who walks in them and all the other people who are affected by those decisions. Every one of the above instances are walked into because of feelings that didn't line up with reality. A reality that is affirmed by the Word of God, including the destruction and suffering it brings.
(It may seem impolite to talk about such things, especially if it involves people we know and love. But it is important that we have those conversations honestly, not for the sake of gossip, but for the sake of highlighting Truth. Gossip merely exploits having no regard for the Truth or restoration, but sweeping it under the rug for the sake of protecting the image of someone we love actually has the exact same effect. It creates an image of the person, not based on Truth but how we want others to view them.)
Those we are teaching need to understand the very real hurt and harm that comes from breaking the commands of God for the whim of feelings, that do not always tell us the truth. We need to point out in the Scriptures the great many times that feelings lead to tragic circumstances: Adam & Eve eating the fruit, Abraham's taking of Hagar as his wife to "fulfill" God's promise, the downward spiral of a people given into feelings in Judges, David's affair with Bathsheba, Amnon's raping of Tamar, even Peter's denial of Christ before His crucifixion, just to name a few.
2) We must teach that feelings are fallen, not evil.
We are created in the image of God. Part of that image bearing is the fact that we have feelings just like God does. We can point out feelings of anger, jealousy, desire, happiness, satisfaction, disappointment, etc... that we have because God has them. The difference between us and God is that the mar of sin clouds our judgment in a way that it doesn't cloud God's.
This is why we are given instruction within the Word of God on how to move forward with the feelings that we have. Verses like, "In your anger do not sin" (Eph. 4:26a) and "...each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:14) are reminders that feelings are real and can be dealt with in ways that both lead to righteousness or sin based upon our response to them.
This is why feelings are not always wrong when we have them. As a matter of fact, when our feelings are aligned with the Truth they can produce euphoria with joys, like going to a conference and feeling very close to God because you have drawn close to God (James 4:8). Or righteous indignation when it comes to confronting wrongs, that can lead to redemptive action, like those involved in eradicating the sex slave industry that preys on the most vulnerable.
It is actually those euphoric and convicting feelings that the deconstructionist uses to confuse us concerning the nature of our feelings. They point only to the times where our feelings were right or creating emotional scenarios where only one answer "feels" right. We must not make the same mistake by saying the opposite, that feelings are always wrong.
But if this is true, how do we tell the difference between when our feelings are right or our feelings are leading us in the wrong direction?
3) We must teach ourselves to inform our feelings with the Truth of the Word of God.
This process of our first two points helps us not fall for the trap that the deconstructionist makes. Remember, the deconstructionists attack in two ways. They try to exalt our feelings to the place of God, while at the same time, destroying the inerrancy of Scripture and the authority of God in our lives, based solely upon those same feelings. By recognizing the fallen nature of ourselves and our feelings, we are more ready to leave God on His throne in the place of authority and thereby more willing to seek the Truth of the matter in His Word.
Many lessons will come with this that will continually challenge us to make sure that we are properly interpreting our feelings in the light of Scripture (Col. 2:6-8, 2 Cor. 10:5). Some of which are:
--Biblically, love and hate are not feelings, but rather the desire to to what is good or harmful to the people involved.
--Feeling that something is wrong doesn't make it so, no matter how many people may be for it.
--Dying to ourselves and our feelings is necessary for every Christian in following God, by putting ourselves in submission to His will and not our own.
--Realizing God's ways are higher than our ways and He hasn't revealed everything to us, as if He were accountable to us for all of His actions.
--God always disciplines us for our good.
--Our faith is ultimately grounded in the existence of God, the trustworthiness of His Word and the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, as true events of history and reality. If we feel differently, we should start at the foundation of our faith and conform our feelings to what we find.
But to get to the point that we are willing to explore these possibilities, we have to properly understand what our feelings can and cannot do. By doing so, we destroy the false gospel based solely on feelings that deconstructionist prey on and hopefully create a fertile ground by which true faith in Christ can be maintained and cultivated.