In 1974, Hungarian architect Erno Rubik designed what he called the “Magic Cube.” The cube was a three-by-three square filled with 27 cubies (smaller cubes). By 1980, this 3D puzzle would become the most popular toy invented. Renamed Rubik’s Cube by the toy manufacturer, more than 400 million cubes have been sold worldwide.
By the 1980s, the Rubik’s Cube fad had taken hold. Smitten by the game, both young and old became known as Cubers. The popularity of the puzzle seemed to have no limit as every aspect of culture had some reference to Rubik’s Cube. Producers of television shows, cartoons, and even books have written about the cube. Solving the puzzle became a national obsession.
As with other popular fads, copycats came along, trying to duplicate the original’s success. However, the simplicity and popularity of Rubik’s cube remained.
Three fundamental attributes sustain the cube’s popularity. The first is the cube’s simplicity. The puzzle does not require great skill to manipulate or lengthy instructions before enjoyment. Upon seeing the six colors on the cube, it’s evident that the goal in solving the puzzle is to ensure all the colors are coordinated on their corresponding side. Next is the complexity of the cube. While in contrast to simplicity, it’s the cube’s complexity—with 43 quintillion variations in solving a cube—that drive Cubers to come back for more. Finally, the ability to solve the cube ascribes a measure of intelligence to the person able to complete the difficult task.
The idea of creating a toy that becomes a popular cultural fad, while challenging, is not new. Today, we are witnessing, with breakneck speed, the advance of ideological fads.
Post-Evangelicalism, which began with the emergent church movement, puts its philosophical finger in the air to test where the ideological winds are blowing. Social Justice and intersectionality are so passé. The new phenomenon that needs our attention today is deconstructionism.
As post-evangelicalism embraces a new fad, some have turned deconstruction into a rite of passage. Currently, there are two camps on the whole notion of deconstructing. The first group uses deconstruction as a road to deny faith in any form of orthodox Christianity. The other group uses deconstruction to maintain some form of orthodoxy while picking and choosing what they like to their satisfaction.
What Is Deconstruction
A google search will provide the reader with a modern-day understanding of deconstruction as “a philosophical theory of criticism that seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by delving below its surface meaning.”
Further study will point you to Algerian-born French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Born July 15, 1930, Derrida developed the idea of deconstruction to examine literature and grammar. Later, this philosophical approach would be applied to every societal construct. Sound familiar?
Derrida’s philosophical ideas fueled post-modernism and laid the foundation for anti-traditionalism where everything is questioned; male-female, love and hatred, cause and effect, etc.
What is critical to the idea of deconstruction is that it never presents a solution; it isn’t designed for that endeavor. It only posits the next question that needs to be asked.
In an article titled, Jacques Derrida: Deconstruction, Catherine Turner writes,
Deconstruction is concerned not with discovery of ‘truth’ or of distilling correct conclusions, but rather with the process of questioning [truth] itself. It is a process characterized by uncertainty and indeterminacy. For this reason…deconstruction is not a ‘method,’ and it cannot be transformed into one. One cannot ‘apply’ deconstruction to test a hypothesis or to support an argument. Rather it is an ongoing process of interrogation concerned with the structure of meaning itself.1Jacques Derrida, “Letter to a Japanese Friend” in Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth G Rottenberg, eds., Psyche: Interventions of the Other Volume III (Stanford University Press, 2008).
For many, one of the attractive components of deconstructionism is that it doesn’t require specific expertise to engage it. The claim to actively deconstruct your faith is sufficient to participate in the subjectivism represented by this worldview. Once you’ve deconstructed your faith, you can reconstruct it into something more palatable to you.
During the most recent episode of the Just Thinking Podcast, Darrell Harrison and I spent three hours examining deconstructionism and one of its most vocal proponents, rap artist Lecrae. In preparation for the episode, we discovered that for most, deconstructionism is more like a gateway drug to the full embrace of social justice, lgbtqia2s+, and Christian feminism.
The 5-Steps of Deconstruction
Darrell Harrison provided warning signs on the Just Thinking podcast by explaining the 5-point progression of evangelical deconstruction. Once you witness these five components happening in someone around you, rest assured they will be announcing their form of deconstruction.
- A person will embrace the idea that the church is a socially-constructed ‘system,’ not an entity that originated in the mind of God and is sovereignly ordained by Him.
- This person will assume that all self-identified socially-constructed ‘systems’ are exclusive to specific intersectional identities and morés (e.g., LGBTQIA2S+, etc.).
- Next, they will subjectively identify “points” or “cracks” in that socially-constructed system that fails and needs to be fixed or ‘reconstructed.’
- Then, they will apply a hermeneutic of suspicion to that socially-constructed system so that everyone connected to it is deemed untrustworthy by default.
- Finally, they will deconstruct that system. This is usually followed by reconstructing that system, into one’s own image and likeness, with a heterodox theology, soteriology, anthropology, hamartiology, and eschatology.
Deconstructionism masquerades as complex; it isn’t. Its appeal is that it provides adherents with nuanced personalized carve-outs from Biblical orthodoxy. Furthermore, much like a Rubik’s cube, it offers endless variations with the goal of self-identity rather than conformity to the image of Christ.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.1 John 2:19
Deconstruction has many similarities to Rubik’s cube. However, deconstruction is not a puzzle to solve. It’s a continuous process of questioning to justify one’s subjective approach to Christianity. Avoid it at all costs.
|Jacques Derrida, “Letter to a Japanese Friend” in Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth G Rottenberg, eds., Psyche: Interventions of the Other Volume III (Stanford University Press, 2008).