Some Christians Attacking Anyone Who Is In the Process of Deconstructing the Christian Faith – Part 4 – Pastor Matt Chandler Oddly and Patronizingly Frames Deconstruction as Being “Sexy”
Deconstruction Blog Series:
Late last year, pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church started a fury on social media when a clip from one of his sermons was shared. In the clip, he came across as being smugly or insultingly dismissive of people who are deconstructing the faith.
(Yes, this is the very same Matt Chandler who pressured a married woman to stay married to her perverted spouse – she annulled her marriage once she found out her husband was a pedophile. This is that Matt Chandler! The very same!
I really, really do not appreciate getting lectures from a guy who thinks it’s acceptable to guilt trip or command a woman to stay married to a pedophile, when she understandably wanted to leave his ass as quickly as she could.)
The article below mentions “exvangelicals.” I am not an “exvangelical.”
Most people who go by the “exvangelical” label are far left liberals (they support critical race theory, identity politics, intersectional feminism, black lives matters, transgender activism, and other view points or practices which I vehemently disagree with), and I’ve not experienced many who are willing to be friendly to anyone with opposing political stances, such as myself.
Dec 7, 2021
By Jesse T. Jackson
Matt Chandler is making waves on social media after a 35-second clip from a 47-minute sermon he gave in August of this year at The Village Church, where he is the lead pastor, began circulating. In the clip, Chandler described Christian deconstruction as something today’s culture views as “sexy.”
The word “sexy” has been used to describe something that is appealing or exciting. In this case, Chandler was explaining that deconstruction of the Christian faith is popular at the moment.
… Preaching out of 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, Chandler titled his sermon “The Depth of the Gospel,” and focused on answering the question, “Are you a Christian?”
…Just because someone has been coming to church for a long time, or possibly their entire life, it doesn’t mean they are a Christian, Chandler preached. He then set out to clearly explain the gospel as it relates to one’s relationship with God.
Chandler Warned He’s Willing to Offend
“I have a feeling that I might be guilty of some offense today,” Chandler admitted during the introduction of his sermon. “I am willing to offend with the cross alone if it provides clarity for you that brings about real life.”
“You and I are in a day and age where deconstruction and the turning away from and leaving the faith has become some sort of sexy thing to do. I contend that if you ever experience the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, actually—that that’s really impossible to deconstruct from. But if all you ever understand Christianity to be is a moral code, then I totally get it. And if you find yourself in that spot, I’m telling you, I love you right now, and we’ll sit down with you and you don’t have to punt on this thing. You might not have ever tried it,” Chandler said.
...Deconstruction Comment is Highly Offensive to Some
As the 35-second clip has made its rounds throughout the Twitter world, many have voiced displeasure with Chandler’s words regarding deconstruction. Many attacked The Village Church, pointing the finger directly at Chandler as emblematic of why people deconstruct.
“@MattChandler74 I contend that someone might ‘actually’ know the grace and mercy of God, in Christ and would still leave their church and have some ‘deconstructing’ because their church was wildly abusive or because they mishandled a case of abuse. Not because it’s ‘sexy,’” Will Robison wrote.
Adrian Gibbs, co-host of the popular exvangelical podcast “Dirty Rotten Church Kids,” wrote, “The reductive language here, ‘if you really experienced Jesus you wouldn’t deconstruct’ speaks volumes. Also, Chandler calling deconstruction a sexy fad as if we all weren’t Neo-Calvinist theobros in 2011. Pot and Kettle, Matt.”
“No, just no. Also, there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING ‘sexy’ about #deconstruction. It is hard. It is lonely. It is exhausting. But it is NOT sexy,” Hilary Engel commented.
Author Stephanie Tait said, “I don’t want to hear another warning about the evil of deconstruction from yet another man participating in the very behavior that thrust many of us into deconstruction in the 1st place. We didn’t choose this, men like Matt Chandler and the men who enable them chose it for us.”
Tait also alluded to an earlier post she wrote describing how Chandler and his wife, Lauren, met at a church camp. Chandler was a 23-year-old pastor while Lauren was a 17-year-old camper she noted.
/// — ///
I definitely think that Chandler made a poor choice of words. I, for one, didn’t begin walking away from the faith because it was “sexy.”
Back when I began my walk away from the faith (which I have not altogether rejected), it was a few years before more and more began doing so and the word “deconstruction” became de rigueur.
Not everyone who leaves the faith or contemplates doing so because it’s “sexy,” or to run out and start sleeping around and partying, or because they never heard the “real” Gospel to start with.
Christians will continue to lose adherents if they continue on with assuming or perpetuating such strawman arguments.
A few days ago, a 35-second clip from a sermon Matt Chandler gave in August, wherein he described Christian deconstruction as something today’s culture views as “sexy,” stirred controversy among deconstructionists. On Tuesday, Chandler briefly responded to that controversy.
Chandler’s viral clip was taken from a 47-minute sermon he preached to The Village Church this past August, titled “The Depth of the Gospel,” which focused on answering the question “Are you a Christian?”
During the clip, Chandler said,
“You and I are in a day and age where deconstruction and the turning away from and leaving the faith has become some sort of sexy thing to do. I contend that if you ever experience the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, actually—that that’s really impossible to deconstruct from. But if all you ever understand Christianity to be is a moral code, then I totally get it.”
The clip was cut right before Chandler told the congregation, “And if you find yourself in that spot, I’m telling you, I love you right now, and we’ll sit down with you and you don’t have to punt on this thing. You might not have ever tried it.”
…Chandler explained what he meant when he used the term deconstruction in his sermon, saying, “It seems there are as many definitions of deconstruction as there are people going through what John of the Cross called ‘the dark night of the soul’ or even wrestling through significant and real church hurt. When I use the term I am using it in the vein of its father, French philosopher Derrida who believed that the meaning of a text was unknowable and therefore truth was not really knowable.”
“Deconstruction doesn’t mean doubt or theological wrestle or struggling through church hurt,” Chandler continued. “I have the deepest empathy and compassion for those who find themselves wading in those waters. I certainly don’t want to make things harder for anyone in those seasons and struggles. I’ve journeyed through all three of those spaces in my 30 years of following after Jesus. If that’s where you are I think you’re going to get to the other side and see Jesus as more beautiful than you previously imagined…that’s the way I’m praying.”
…Jonathan Merritt Compares Chandler to Mark Driscoll
On Tuesday, well-known author and writer, Jonathan Merritt posted a different clip from The Village Church’s pastor, comparing him to former Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll.
“A recorded rant by Pastor Matt Chandler’s is being passed around. Some are noting that the condescending tone, dismissive laughter, unhinged yelling and name-calling (eg – “narcissistic zero” & “silly pathetic little boy”) sounds oddly like Mark Driscoll,” Merritt said.
BY TYLER HUCKABEE
DECEMBER 6, 2021
Over the weekend, a clip of a sermon from Village Church pastor Matt Chandler went viral in which he offers a take on deconstruction that illustrates how far off the rails the conversation around this buzzy word has gotten.
“You and I are in an age where deconstruction and the turning away from and leaving the faith has become some sort of sexy thing to do,” he says. “I contend that if you ever experience the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ actually, that that’s really impossible to deconstruct from.”
“But if all you ever understand Christianity to be is a moral code, then I totally get it,” he continues.
Chandler is arguing for a Calvinist principle that teaches true Christians can never really “walk away” from the faith, because their salvation is dependent on God and not on them — “once saved, always saved.” That’s standard evangelical theology. But in doing so, he is invoking “deconstruction” as a synonym for leaving Christianity altogether. That’s a misunderstanding of the word.
In Chandler’s defense, the definition word deconstruction has evolved a good deal over the last 50 years or so. It originated with French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who coined the term as a criticism of Platonism.
But in more recent years, the word has become popularized by theologians like Father Richard Rohr to refer to a cultivation of religious belief.
Rohr argues that most Christians begin their faith journey with construction (deciding what they believe, usually by hearing it from others) and then later on, enter a phase of deconstruction (rethinking some of their original beliefs).
Anything can ignite a deconstruction process. Sometimes, it’s spurred by internal doubts and tensions. Sometimes, an external event — like spiritual abuse or a church leader scandal — and kick off a deconstruction process.
This deconstruction phase can be very scary and lonely, and it can look like a lot of different things. Sometimes it leads to a big theological shift — like deconversion or the Dark Night of the Soul. Sometimes, it leads to smaller, more nuanced rethinkings of certain cultural or theological teachings.
Often times, people going through deconstruction meet a lot of resistance from their faith communities, who discourage them from asking questions and bring a “shape up or ship out” energy to the proceedings. This really raises the stakes of the person deconstructing, who are now not only asking big questions about their belief system, but feel like they’ll be kicked out if they reach a conclusion their community doesn’t like.
… The important thing to remember is that it’s a natural process that many people go through at some point — between 43 and 44 percent of people undergo some sort of “faith transition” in their life, according to sociologists. And that transition is hard enough without handwringing and shaming those, accusing them of “walking away from the faith.”
… If you’ve ever done any sort of deconstruction, you might be aware that no matter how it may look to observers, you’re actually working very hard to hold onto your faith. It’s isolating, painful and sometimes downright horrible. The best thing anyone can offer someone who’s asking questions about their spiritual beliefs is a friendly ear and, if they need it, a shoulder to cry on.
This blog post contains a lot of truth:
…Because this…misunderstanding…is so pervasive, let me clear something up for you. Deconstruction is not sexy: it is horribly traumatic.
Deconstruction is not fun in ANY way. Reevaluating every tenet of the faith you literally built your life on? Not fun.
…Many of us gave our best years to the church. We made life-long friends in the church, the best and closest friends we had up until deconstruction.
You would think when enough of your pillars walk away, you’d start wondering why…
Imagine our devastation to learn that so much of what we were not only taught to believe, but taught others to believe was simply not true? To learn of the pain those beliefs caused so many? And that we gave our best years to teaching those beliefs?
Sadly, it seems, the evangelical American church continues to have no desire to change, no interest in looking inward at what might possibly be causing this mass exodus (spoiler alert: it’s not the enemy, it’s you).
Interesting commentary with a nice summary of the situation:
Apart from being a dumb thing to say (which I can forgive, because I say dumb things all the time), Chandler’s remarks lack self-awareness. Consciously, he clearly believes he is defending the gospel, God, and Christian orthodoxy.
But, as Hauerwas often says, “Anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshipping an idol.”
In this case, the idol is the tight system of modern neo-Reformed Calvinism, and the incredible evangelical/political power its keepers wield. They are God’s theology cops, policing the borders of orthodoxy.
Their power is rooted in their authority over theology, and their ability to dictate and even control not only beliefs, but bodies—especially with regard to women in ministry, and sexuality.
I am not a supporter of CRT, Black Lives Matter, neo-Marxism (or even old school Marxism), etc, and I do not think, contrary to this O’Fallon guy’s tweet (linked to below), that any and all re-examination of a belief, group, system, or person, is necessarily a case of woke, progressive, neo-Marxist theory put in practice.
I think Christians and all conservatives need to be very careful in not assuming that any and all criticisms or willingness to alter something in a world view, organization, or group is always a case of Marxism – it may be, rather, a very much needed change.
Tweet by Michael O’Fallon (link), tweet time stamped October 15, 2021:
A truthful admission of what @jdgreear
and @EdLitton have been doing in the SBC: Deconstruction. The “tearing down of hierarchies.” CRT is controlled, “Identity-Marxism” demolition. Intersectionality is the “building back better” with Neo-Marxism.
[He quotes a tweet by Josh King, @JoWiKi
I am thankful @EdLitton is #SBC Pres. And very thankful @jdgreear had been the previous 3 years.
What looks chaotic right now is the stripping away before a better thing is built.
You can’t fix decades of rot without the demo.]
Podcast / Audio (45 minutes long):
What Is Fueling The Trend Of Christians ‘Deconstructing’ Their Faith?
Deconstructing: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD – on the Phoenix Preacher blog
With this much rot, there’s no choice but to deconstruct – by Karen Swallow Prior, August 2021
(RNS) — Deconstruction is a scary word for most of us. In the 1980s, when I was in graduate school, deconstruction was all the buzz in literary theory. But the deconstruction we are hearing about in Christian circles today is something different. It describes everything from deconversion to “exvangelicalism” to ultimately reaffirming one’s belief after serious examination.
Deconstruction essentially describes “what happens when a person asks questions that lead to the careful dismantling of their previous beliefs.”
…In the church, that kind of rot can lead people to deconstruct their faith.
Abuse. Cover-up of abuse. Racial strife. Lack of integrity. Membership declines. Partisan divisions. And divisions over disagreements about how extensive these divisions are. An abusive leader in this corner. A negligent board over here. A world-renowned apologist accused of raping and trafficking women over there.
And the wounded piled up everywhere like debris on the lawn.
… To be fair, I haven’t had the kind of crisis of faith I’ve watched so many others undergo. But I’ve certainly had to step back and examine honestly where I’ve been complacent — or even complicit — in enabling others who have abused their power in the name of the Lord. It’s a process in which I’m still engaged.
/// — ///
I don’t think that some of these still-devout Christians fully understand what deconstruction is (especially the ones who are critical of those who are “deconstructing”), and some of them, despite their protests to the contrary, sound very angry – they are very angry and disgusted by anyone and everyone who is undergoing a faith crisis.
It should not matter how much someone is questioning and to what degree, and if they are turning to sources other than the Bible to work through their issues.
I mean, seriously, Cooper (the cranky sounding Christian rock star I quoted in part 2 of this series) lays out, what, is, in his opinion the only proper way for a person to “deconstruct,” but notice his one and only acceptable means involves never leaving the reservation.
Cooper is ultimately advising people to stick with the status quo, just return to what your evangelical church always taught you, don’t seek answers outside of your faith tradition or outside the Bible – all of which begs the question, does it not?
If a person didn’t have doubts or concerns about the Bible and/or the faith in which they had been raised, they’d not be doubting to start with or be seeking information from other non-church resources, good grief!
The way in which some of these Christian pastors and personalities are reacting to anyone who leaves the faith, is considering leaving the faith, or who questions the faith (and in a way that is not met with the approval of these same pastors and personalities) reminds me of Islam.
Did you know that in Islam, if a Muslim deconverts, if they apostatize, other Muslims may ostracize or kill them for it? You can read more about that here on Wikipedia.
This may sound like a far out there comparison for some who may read this blog post, but when I hear or see Christians today, such as Chandler, Cooper, and others, demonize or act scornful and contemptuous of “deconstructing” Christians, I honestly am reminded of how radical Muslims will ostracize or murder any other Muslim who rejects Islam or converts to another religion. It looks and sounds that bad to me, yes.
The mainstream Christian response to deconstruction continues to be disappointing and a total put off.
Most Christians who speak out against deconstruction, such as the Calvinists, evangelicals, Baptists, and fundamentalists, continue to misunderstand what it is, and what is driving it (it’s not far left politics – at least not for all).
I’m also somewhat surprised to see the vitriol, derision, and hatred against anyone who is doubting the faith or thinking about leaving the faith. It’s been sad to see, and it’s also disgusting.
I don’t see Jesus modeling spitting vitriol at people who leave the church or the faith, or who are tempted to leave it, who are considering leaving it, over the actions of present-day Pharisees and hypocrites.
And in my book, no, today’s Pharisees and hypocrites do not amount to Trump voters, but to the sadly common mindset by many preachers and church members that goes something like this:
“Protect the church’s or pastor’s reputation, even at risk of throwing any church members under the bus who are in violent marriages, or who have been molested by our church’s youth pastor.
“Let’s not meet people’s daily or earthly needs but just keep screaming at them about soteriological concerns, and let’s keep screaming and yelling the words, ‘Gospel,’ ‘sin,’ ‘repent’ at them!
“Let’s shame people for having needs and shame them for asking to have their earthly needs met!
“Be sure to tell anyone who approaches you for any kind of help or empathy that they are being selfish, that getting one’s needs met is not what Christianity is all about, and then polish it off by yelling at them that they are nothing but icky, yucky, selfish, Moralistic therapeutic deists!
“And for good measure, assume they’re all far left, woke, social justice warriors, too, and tell them so!
That is where a large part of the problem is.
Ex-Christian or progressive Christian Trump haters are just as wrong to keep bringing Trump up in these conversations – for one, a lot of them turn a blind eye to Democrat politicians, or Democrat persons of whatever career, who have been guilty of “Me Too” (sexual harassment) charges and accusations,
they continue to assume that Christianity should echo American progressive politics and preferences (e.g., supporting the trans rights activists, supporting abortion, socialism, Black Lives Matter, etc).
If you think Jesus would support any of that leftist garbage
(and yes, I’ve seen far left liberal Christians online who honestly believe Jesus would totes vote Democrat, support socialism, BLM, trans activism, and CRT, among other progressive hobby horses),
you’re an absolute hypocrite for complaining that the average evangelical or Baptist Christian is, in your view, equating Christianity with the Republican Party and/or Trump.
Hopefully, mainstream or conservative Christians will stop being so hateful, dismissive, condescending, contemptuous, or vitriolic towards anyone and everyone who is having doubts (whether it’s expressed under the “deconstruction” label or whatever other label).
When you do so, when you remain dismissive, rude, vitriolic and so on towards doubters, you only succeed in driving those ex-Christians, or doubters, even further away from the faith.
Since Matt Chandler wants to think of deconstruction as being “sexy,” I dedicate this old Justin Timberlake song to Chandler:
“I’m Bringing Sexy Back!”