John 20:29 “Because you have seen Me, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
What does today’s popular term “Deconstruction” mean? As staff writer for ‘DesiringGod,’ Jim Bloom gives us a history lesson to help us understand what is going on in American Christianity today. He starts in 1960 with French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who coined the term “deconstruction” by combining Darwinian evolution with Postmodernism to introduce a philosophy on how humans search out meaning and purpose for their lives.
“Deconstruction is a philosophy arguing that we’re wrong to assume that by merely reading an author’s words we can understand something about absolute truth, since our conception of truth and meaning are different from the author’s.” Bloom explains three tenets behind the philosophy of deconstruction:
1) Evolution, Not God, Gives Meaning: “Through biological evolution, humans created psychological constructs of meaning as a survival mechanism. So, ultimate meaning is human, not a divine revelation of absolute truth.”
2) History is Useless: “Studying works of the past to discover absolute truth or meaning is useless, since all we find are other authors’ constructs of truth or meaning. And the more distant we are culturally and historically from the author, the less we understand what the author meant by terms like truth, justice, good, evil, etc.”
3) Deconstruct to Understand: “To understand as much as possible what an author actually meant by the language he or she used, we must deconstruct the author’s words to uncover the conceptual constructs that shaped that author’s understanding of truth and meaning.” So, say goodbye to objective evidence and facts.
Realizing “Christian deconstruction” is too complicated to reduce to a simple statement, he points to Jamin Hübner’s book ‘Deconstructing Evangelicalism’ for a simple definition: “The process of questioning one’s beliefs, once considered unquestionable, due to new experiences, reading, engaging in conversations with ‘the other,’ and interacting in a world more connected and exposed to religious diversity than ever before.”
One recent Christian deconstruction was in 2019 when Marty Sampson, lead singer for the popular Christian music group Hillsong, posted why he left Christianity: “I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy. How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place ‘coz they don’t believe? It’s not for me.”
Actually, many talk about these questions. I minister to many people on these types of questions. There are very rational answers. But in today’s culture, experiences and personal viewpoint can trump factual evidence.
In this week’s verse, Jesus is speaking to Thomas. The context for why Jesus said this to Thomas is found in earlier verses 24-28: “Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, was not with the others when Jesus came. The other disciples said to Thomas, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Jesus was put to death by crucifixion, and Thomas was the only disciple who did not see Him resurrected.
The Gospels record that Jesus not only told His disciples more than twenty times tHe would die and then rise from the dead, but He also told them to study the prophets because their historical writings confirmed this. We see this in Luke 24:13-27, when Jesus appears to two disciples to explain the value of history.
He asks them, “What conversation are you having as you walk and are so sad?” (vs. 17). They answered, “We were hoping Jesus was going to redeem Israel.” (vs. 21). Jesus corrects them: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken.” (vs. 25). They ignored what He had been telling them and the historical evidence from the prophets, believing their experience and the opinions of others around them.
Thomas also had his faith deconstructed when Jesus was crucified. But, when Jesus appears to him, He tells Him to go ahead and touch His wounds – and believe. Thomas’s response: “My Lord and my God!” (vs. 28). These week’s verse gives Jesus’s response – the truly blessed put their faith in the authority of the factual evidence for His life, death and resurrection. Facts always defeat experience or opinion.
So, what happened to Thomas? Historians (Jerome, Eusebius, Ephrem the Syrian) document Thomas as Christ’s missionary to India, where he was martyred around 72AD. Like the transformed lives of Paul, Peter and James (we examined in previous articles), the transformed life of Thomas is another powerful evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and another fact against the ongoing effort to deconstruct your Christian faith.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #508