Faith: The Plague of Deconstruction
Recently I listened to a podcast in which the author of the bestseller “I Kissed Christianity Goodbye” Josh Harris was interviewed. Josh came to prominence in the late 1990s early 2000s. Josh was all of 18 years old when he published the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in which he advocated for Christian young people to abstain from dating. This book became an instant best seller and was used by many families and churches to guide their young people. In the process young Josh became an instant evangelical celebrity.
Josh went on to become the pastor of a church Covenant Life Fellowship in Maryland, which was under the Sovereign Grace fellowship of churches (Sovereign Grace Community Church of the Yampa Valley is not part of this fellowship). Josh went on to publish several more books and continued to pastor the mega church in Maryland. In 2015 Josh resigned his pastorate and moved from Maryland to Vancouver, British Columbia, to attend Regent Seminary. Strangely for Josh, this was the first time he had ever really been in a classroom, as he had been homeschooled the entire time he was growing up — his parents having been considered pioneers in the homeschooling movement.
It was at this point, most likely even before this that he began to “deconstruct” his faith. The term “deconstruct” is a popular term right now which basically is a way of describing the process one goes through as they leave their faith. By the way, this faith is almost exclusively of the evangelical variety in these deconstruction stories. One of the reasons for his change of heart was him becoming aware of people being “hurt” by his book and the principles it espoused. I’m going to guess that these were young people (at the time) who were put under the principles of the book by their parents or maybe even their churches, and they didn’t necessarily want to do that themselves. Anyway, this, and a sexual abuse scandal in the fellowship of the churches his church was aligned with, which is still being litigated today, led to Mr. Harris leaving the ministry.
Then in 2016, via Twitter, he began posting some public apologies about his book — questioning the book and seeming to distance himself from it. In 2018 he publicly disavowed the book and requested that the publisher discontinue the publication of the book, which the publisher did. The following year Josh announced that he had his wife were separating, and then a few days later he announced that he no longer identified as a Christian.
The Biblical reality is that Josh Harris and others like him were never saved to begin with. Josh Harris has never been a Christian. Why do I say this? Because 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”
Josh Harris is emblematic of what I believe to be a enormous problem in evangelical church. Josh, for so long, believed that he really believed. Josh was raised in the church. His parents were homeschooling celebrities, and Josh grew up in an evangelical celebrity and charismatic church and world. By all appearances, even to himself, he seemed to be a Christian.
It says in 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Josh, and many others like him, built their faith on the foundation of many things, just not Jesus Christ. In the case of Josh, he built his faith on movements (homeschooling, charismatic worship, and celebrity Christian culture).
Listening to this podcast came on the heels of a conversation I had with a woman who mentioned to me a friend of hers who is struggling with their child. Their child was raised in a Christian home, attended a “good church,” went off to a large state university and now is an atheist. This woman also mentioned to me one of her own children is “deconstructing” his faith. As I listened to this my thought immediately went to 1 John 2:19 and the Biblical truth that they were never saved to begin with.
So much of what passes for evangelicalism is bereft of Scriptural truth and the result is that our young people far too often leave home, and they have no real grounding nor understanding of what the Bible really says. Most churches are “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Churches today are so focused on the attractional model that even though children “grow up in the church,” they are not familiar with the foundational truths of the faith.
They have built their faith, on a foundation that is built on sand because it is not built on the Rock. They have built it on a foundation of feelings, popular Christian culture, Contemporary Christian Music, false teachings that appeal to the sinful desires of men, and the entertainment culture. They have built their faith on the faith of their parents. “My parents are Christians, I grew up in a good church,” they think, and they mistakenly assume that is enough. Every single one of those foundations crumble and if you have no grounding in the rock of the gospel, when things go wrong, which they inevitably do in life, you “deconstruct” your faith.
If you are a young person and you are reading this, I implore you to shut off the Christian Contemporary Music, stop following the Christian entertainers and cool kids on social media, quit relying on your parents, and turn your to eyes to the inerrant, all sufficient word of God.
Do not worship the idol of your feelings! It says in Jeremiah that “the heart is deceitful above all else.” Your feelings are going to tell you, with a lot of help from our culture, that the Bible can’t possibly be right about all these things. Your feelings are going to tell you that it is okay to be sexually active outside of the marriage. Your feelings are going to tell you that it is okay to indulge in our culture. Your feelings are going to tell you that it’s okay to be attracted to someone of the same sex, after all our culture tells us it is. But the Bible tells us otherwise. Your feelings are going to tell you to trust your feelings, but the Bible says to only trust God.
Young people, find a church that preaches the word of God without apology. Find a church that preaches the Word of God verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. Stay in that church even if the music is not initially to your liking. Stay in that church even if you are the youngest person there by far. Stay in that church and build your faith on the Solid Rock of the Word of God.
Tim Adams, Pastor/Elder, Sovereign Grace Community Church of the Yampa Valley
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Even though Mother’s Day was celebrated last weekend, my thoughts are still on moms and grandmas and the love and dedication they have for their families.