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Tag: Deconstruction

Deconstruction Advice for Evangelical Christians


What would prompt you [someone who has questions about Christianity] to feed on the garbage you’re reading and watching, thereby polluting your mind?…Certainly, someone does need to read and interact with secular material, but that person is not (yet) you. You first need to prepare yourself…Quit reading and watching the infidel material you’ve been absorbing. Confess your recklessness and irresponsibility to God. Notice: I’m not saying, quit asking questions. I’m saying, quit going to the wrong people for answers.

Evangelical Apologist William Lane Craig

I get a lot of emails from Evangelical Christians who are struggling with their faith. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, college professors, and devout church members will contact me about their existential struggles. Some of them have questions, others just want someone to listen to them. Consider how bad it is for many Evangelicals that they can’t talk to their pastors or other church leaders, so they contact a stranger on the Internet. They read my story and it resonates with them. They see me as someone who will understand, and they hope I will listen to them or answer their questions.

My goal as a writer has always been the same: to help people who have doubts and questions about Christianity and to help people who have left Christianity altogether. My objective has never been evangelization. While scores of people have deconverted after interacting with me, that’s never been my goal. I genuinely want to help people. I suspect that I am not much different today from the way I was as a pastor. Of course, I no longer see salvation or restoration as the end-all. I am content to help people wherever they are on this journey called life. I don’t try to “save” people. I’m content to let people come to their own conclusions. I might challenge their worldview and beliefs, but I know that their journey is theirs, and I’m content to let them follow the path wherever it leads. Any movement away from Fundamentalism (please see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?) is a good one.

When interacting with deconstructing Evangelicals, the first thing I do is listen. I am fascinated by their stories, so similar, yet so different. Sadly, they find themselves in a lonely place. No one wants to listen to them. Their pastors see them as a “problem” that needs to be fixed. Evangelicalism demands conformity and obedience. While differences of belief are permitted, typically they are discouraged or expected to fit closely defined parameters. Evangelicalism is like a box. Church members are free to wander within the box, asking hard questions such as premillennial or postmillennial, KJV or NIV, speaking in tongues or not, Calvinism or Arminianism, and a host of other game interpretations. Asking hard questions about God, the Bible, and the central claims of Christianity are unwelcome, and will quickly bring a visit from the pastor or a list of approved books from Evangelical apologists to read. Dare to climb out of the box to see what’s on the outside and you will be judged, condemned, and marginalized. And in some cases, you will be asked to shut the hell up or you will be threatened with excommunication. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You Are In It and What I Found When I Left the Box.)

When interacting with Evangelicals, the first thing I do is encourage them to read books and blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch YouTube videos. I suggest they stay away from Evangelical apologists and preachers. Such people have an agenda: to keep asses in the pews and money in the offering plates. Their goal is to maintain the status quo and protect at all costs that which they and their fellow gatekeepers have built. They know that providing honest answers to questions about God, the Bible, and church history will cause more doubts and questions, and even unbelief.

When dealing with Evangelicals, I always recommend they read authors such as Bart Ehrman and John Shelby Spong. If I sense they can handle stronger doses of medicine, I recommend authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the anthologies published by John Loftus. These men speak truth, but their books can be difficult for sensitive Christians to swallow.

If, as Evangelicals allege, God, the Bible, and life after death are the most important things facing the human race, then it behooves us to know whether their claims are true. Reading books written by Evangelical authors will only reinforce, not challenge, beliefs. Such writers are certain they are right, and they want you to be just as certain as they are. Non-Evangelical authors are usually more interested in facts and evidence. Their goal is education, not evangelization and conversion.

The second thing I do is encourage them to talk to people who have different beliefs from theirs. Visit non-Evangelical churches. Interact with writers who are willing to listen and try to answer what questions you might have. My inbox is always open. I will interact with some people for a time and then I won’t hear from them again. I am quite happy to be “used” if I can help people in some way. Sometimes, people will reconnect with me years later. Often, they email me to let me know where they are in life or that they are now an atheist.

Third, I ask people to be brutally honest with themselves. Meet truth in the middle of the road and do business. Don’t try to back up or go around. If people are willing to do so, they will always end up exactly where they need to be. While many of them will remain Christians, I am confident that they will come to understand that Evangelicalism cannot be rationally sustained; that the Bible is not inerrant or infallible; that many of their beliefs are irrational and harmful. Evangelicalism sells itself as THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life, but many people learn that there is a Christianity that exists that is not Fundamentalist; one built on a foundation of love, peace, mercy, and kindness. While I am always happy when people embrace atheism, I know that most people won’t. Thus, I gently encourage people to expand their religious horizons. The goal, from my seat in the atheist pew, is to smother the life out of Evangelicalism.

Hopefully, this short post will be helpful for those who are on the path away from Evangelicalism. I have no interest in arguing with zealots or debating apologists. I don’t intend to cast my pearls before swine. But I do want to befriend deconstructing Evangelicals and help them in any way I can.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

I’m Starting to Think That “Deconstruction” Means Buying New Clothes to Wear

connect jesus dots

I follow a few “deconstruction” Facebook groups. I rarely comment, but I try to take a few minutes each day to read the new posts and comments. In doing so, I have noticed a disturbing trend: when someone says they are deconstructing and having doubts about the existence of the Christian God, members are often quick to tell such people that they can still hang on to God; that deconstruction doesn’t need to lead to a loss of belief in God. Often, deconstruction that leads to atheism or agnosticism is viewed as failure; the desired outcome always leads to some form of God belief.

I have concluded that many people see deconstruction as changing one’s clothes, taking off Evangelicalism, and putting on cooler, snazzier, more colorful God clothing. This leads, then, to group members asking questions such as “I am looking for a new IFB church to attend. Suggestion?” Or asking about finding a “better,” more “accepting” Evangelical church in this or that community. What we have here are people who, deep down, desperately want to hang on to their past beliefs, discarding anything they don’t like or offends them. Such people often look for LGBTQ-friendly Evangelical churches, genuinely believing such congregations exist. Surely there are Evangelical churches that unconditionally love gay people as they are, right?

Recently, a Christian lesbian posted a question asking for recommendations for local churches that are “accepting” of LGBTQ people. Evangelicals quickly jumped into action, smelling blood in the water, and suggested that their churches “love” gay folks to death. It was left to me to rain on the parade. I told the lesbian woman that there was only one “open and affirming” church in Defiance County: St. John United Church of Christ, pastored by my friend Jim Brehler. There are a couple of mainline churches that are friendly and accepting of LGBTQ people, but are not open and affirming. Only St. John’s publicly loves and accepts LGBTQ people as they are; embracing them as family. Local Evangelicals talk a good game, but their goal is conversion, turning LGBTQ people into heterosexuals, or, at the very least, demanding they live celibate lives.

Let me be clear, there’s no such thing as a “good” Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. Why? Such churches believe all of us are broken (sinners) and need fixing (salvation); that people who reject the Evangelical gospel will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire being tortured for their unbelief and sin (or be annihilated or tortured for a while before being granted entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God). Such beliefs cause untold psychological harm. Perhaps, it is holding on to these beliefs that lead people to tell others going through the deconstruction process not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water — never considering that there might not be a baby at all. Fear of judgment and Hell keeps people from following the deconstruction path to its logical conclusion: atheism, agnosticism, and humanism. Many well-meaning people simply cannot envision life without the Christian God.

I encourage people to follow the path wherever it leads. Any move away from Evangelicalism is a good one. If someone pulls up short on their journey and finds a comfortable resting place still believing in God, who am I to object? All I am suggesting is that people follow the deconstruction process to its logical conclusion: that the central claim of Christianity cannot be rationally sustained. If you can still hang on to God after that, so be it.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Responding to John Piper’s “Five Reasons Evangelical Christians Fall Away”

john piper
John Piper

John Piper recently delivered the commencement address at Bethany College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Titled Seventy Years Without Shipwreck, Piper humble-brags about the fact that he has been a Fundamentalist Christian for seventy years; that God has never forsaken him; that he never deconverted.

Piper begins his address by letting students know that he doesn’t like the word “deconversion.” Piper thinks the word is trendy; a word devised by Satan to mask what is really going on; a word that has no basis in reality (since, according to Piper’s Calvinistic theology, it is impossible to “deconvert”).

Piper states:

The word deconversion is not in the Oxford English Dictionary. At least, not yet. Words are created to name reality, not the other way around. But we didn’t need the word deconversion. The Bible abounds with words and descriptions of some forsaking Christ:

apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

falling away (Matthew 24:10)

shipwreck of faith (1 Timothy 1:19)

turning back from following the Lord (Zephaniah 1:6)

trampling underfoot the Son of God (Hebrews 10:29)

going out from us (1 John 2:19)

cutting off of a branch (John 15:2)

becoming disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)

turning away from listening to the truth (2 Timothy 4:4)

denying the Master who bought them (2 Peter 2:1)

We didn’t need a new word. My guess is that the new word deconversion came into existence so that the old, foolish, tragic, heart-breaking reality could feel as trendy as the word. How shrewd is our enemy.

The overarching premise of Piper’s address is that people deconvert not for unresolved questions about “history, science, logic, or ethics,” but because they have a deep-seated love for “darkness” and sin. Yes, the reason you and I walked away from Christianity is that we wanted to sin; that our faith precluded us from fulfilling our lusts and desires, so we divorced Jesus so we could fuck, steal, lie, cheat, and murder to our heart’s content.

penn gillette

While this argument may work with those uninitiated in Evangelical Christianity, those who spent their lives working in God’s vineyard (and coal mine) know better. There’s plenty of fucking, stealing, lying, cheating, and murdering going on among God’s elect. Murder, you say? Yes, murder. One church member I pastored murdered his infant daughter by shaking her to death. Another church member slaughtered his ex-girlfriend with a knife in a fit of rage. He is presently serving a life sentence. While neither of these men were “committed” followers of Jesus, they both professed saving faith in Jesus Christ. Besides, I personally know a number of on-fire Christians, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and college professors who committed adultery and fornication — both heterosexual and homosexual. Piper has been in the ministry too long not to know these things. There’s no difference between how Christians live and how the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines and Jezebels of the world live.

Piper goes on to list five ways the deconverted sin. First, they have a love for “life’s cares, riches, and pleasures. Second, they have a “love for the present age.” Third, the deconverted “reject a good conscience.” Forth, they become “re-entangled in worldly defilements,” and finally the deconverted have been led astray by the “deceitfulness of sin.”

Piper sums up his five points this way:

I don’t think you will find any exceptions to this in the Bible. The root cause of apostasy, or falling away, or making shipwreck of faith, or deconversion, is not the failure to detect truth, but the failure to desire holiness. Not the absence of light, but the love for the dark. Not the problems of science, but the preference for sin.

In other words, Piper only sees one reason for our apostasy: sin. No matter what we say, no matter how many times we tell our stories and explain ourselves, the Pipers of the world refuse to accept we what say at face value. I can only conclude, then, that Piper and his ilk deliberately lie about unbelievers and their motivations, using their apostasy to justify their theological beliefs.

Piper concludes his address by saying that Christians who deconvert were never True Christians®. Of course, he does . . .

Piper states:

We all know — you have been well taught — that God never loses any of his elect. Not one of his predestined children is ever lost. “For those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). None of them deconverts finally. The ship of saving faith always makes it to the haven. “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).

With a quote from the Bible and a wave of his arrogant, self-righteous hand, Piper dismisses millions of people who were once devoted followers of Jesus; people who loved the Lamb and followed him wherever he went; people who committed their lives to sacrificially serving the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; people who were Christian in every possible way. I was part of the Evangelical church for fifty years, and a pastor for twenty-five years. Much like Piper, I was a Christian for a long, long time. Imagine if I dismissed Piper’s faith out of hand. After all, he has not lived a sinless life; marital problems, disaffected children, and all sorts of less-than-Christian behavior. Piper would rightly be offended if I dismissed the totality of his life, focusing, instead, on his “sins.” Maybe the good pastor secretly has hedonistic desires, and not the Christian kind that he loves to preach about.

How about we accept each other’s stories at face value? That’s what decent, thoughtful people do. When a Christian tells me their conversion story, I believe them. I expect the same treatment in return. I once was a Christian, and now I am not. But, Bruce, the Bible says ____________. That’s your problem, not mine. My past life was one of devotion to Jesus and the work of the ministry — in thought, word, and deed. It’s your thinking that needs to change, not mine. And as long as Piper and his merry band of keepers of the Book of Life continue to ignore the stories of those who have walked away from the faith, they will never truly understand why an increasing number of believers are exiting the church stage left.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Yet Another Evangelical Who Fails to Understand Deconstruction

Several months ago, an Evangelical zealot named Nate posted the following on Twitter. Nate is a homeschooling Calvinist:


My first response is to say “sigh.” (Please see Why I Use the Word “Sigh”) Another day, another stupid response to deconstruction from a clueless Evangelical. Such zealots make no effort to understand why Evangelical Christians deconstruct and, at times, as I did, deconvert. People who actually go through the process are rarely, if ever, interviewed. Instead, the Nates of the world put words in the mouths of former Evangelicals. Evidently, God gives them some sort of supernatural power that allows them to peer into the minds of ex-Evangelicals and discern the “real” reasons they walked away from Evangelicalism. Imagine if I made a list of reasons people become Christians without ever talking to people of faith and then posted it on social media for all to see. Why, Evangelicals would lose their collective shit.

Nate believes that those going through the deconstruction process are emotional narcissists, with secret desires to sin, who have problems with the Bible. Rather than engage us honestly, Nate chooses, instead, to attack our character.

Do I have a problem with the Bible? Yep, lots of problems. Why not focus on that instead of claiming people like me are emotionally unhinged, secretly want to fuck their neighbors, and are selfish and in love with themselves? Why not honest interaction instead of character assassination?

Memo to Nate: when you personally attack those you oppose, that’s a sure sign that you have no rational evidence for your arguments. Is it any wonder, then, after dealing with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Nates over the years, I am inclined these days to just say “fuck off”? When someone makes no attempt to engage me thoughtfully, respectfully, and honestly, I’m not inclined to give them the time of day.

Do better Evangelicals, do better.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Mark Farnham Gives Ten Reasons Evangelicals Deconvert


Mark Farnham, a Fundamentalist Christian, is associate professor and coordinator of pastoral and pre-seminary majors at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Yesterday, Farnham wrote an article for Sharper Iron titled Ten Reasons Christians Are Deconstructing Their Faith.

Farnham ignorantly stated:

  1. They have experienced some hurt, trauma, or abuse at the hands of professing Christians, churches, and/or pastors.
  2. They have spent too much time reading, listening, watching, and talking to people espousing weak theology, heresy, and the hiss of the serpent asking, “Did God really say?”
  3. They have wittingly or unwittingly absorbed and adopted naturalistic, atheistic, and hedonistic assumptions and presuppositions and then critiqued the Bible in light of those. As a result they find the Bible objectionable, ludicrous, or repugnant.
  4. They have tired of the scorn, ridicule, and pressure of the unbelieving world, and find it easier to abandon the faith to just get along.
  5. They had deeply-felt expectations for life and what God would do, and when disappointed, could not bear the thought of worshiping the God they feel has let them down.
  6. They have misunderstood and misinterpreted the Bible’s revelation about the character and actions of God, and have come to believe that they are more moral than God, and now stand in condemnation of God’s character and his actions in the pages of Scripture.
  7. They grew up in legalistic churches and families where an abundance of man-made rules were added to the gospel and to God’s moral law. At some point they tired of these oppressive environments and could not separate true Christianity from the legalism, and so left the faith.
  8. They fed on liberal social justice and incipient Marxism, and found the Bible’s acceptance of inequality because of the curse of sin and the Bible’s call to suffering wanting according to their new belief system that salvation is deliverance from inequality.
  9. They simply no longer wished to be bound to the biblical ethic, most often related to the Bible’s clear restriction of sexual activity to one man and one woman in a monogamous covenant of marriage. They wanted to have sex and not feel guilty about it.
  10. They were never true believers to begin with. They are apostates who posed as Christians, very convincingly and for a long time. 1 John 2:19–22 “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. [20] But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.” (ESV)

Let me translate. Evangelicals who deconstruct/deconvert:

  • They have been hurt
  • They spent too much time reading the wrong books and blogs and listening to the wrong podcasts (“wrong” means anything that doesn’t conform to Farnham’s peculiar Fundamentalist beliefs)
  • They have a worldly worldview
  • They are tired of being “persecuted” by the world
  • They feel let down by God
  • They misunderstand the Bible
  • They grew up in legalistic churches and could not separate legalism from True Christianity® (says a Fundamentalist with a straight face)
  • They embraced “liberal” political beliefs
  • They want to fuck anyone they want
  • They were never True Christians®

Absent from Farnham’s screed is any interaction with people who have actually deconstructed/deconverted. No need. Farnham “knows” why people walk/run away from Christianity. Instead of presenting a careful, thoughtful, nuanced look at why people leave the faith, Farnham chooses to build a “these people are weak, ignorant, shallow, selfish, lustful, never-were-Christians” strawman. Anything but accepting the stories of people at face value.

Other Posts About Deconversion

I Smell Fear: Another Gospel Coalition Article on “Deconstruction”

The War Against Deconstructing Evangelicals

Quote of the Day: Evangelicals Ignore Those Who Left at Their Own Peril


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

I Smell Fear: Another Gospel Coalition Article on “Deconstruction”


Yesterday, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) published yet another article on “deconstruction,” this one by Alisa Childers. The excerpt that follows comes from a longer version of the article on Childers’ site than what appeared on TGC’s website. (Please see Alisa Childers, Let’s Deconstruct a Deconversion Story: The Case of Rhett and Link, March 1, 2020.)

TGC, as with many Evangelical parachurch organizations and talking heads, is alarmed over the attention being given to deconstruction and deconversion stories. What was once talked about with whispers is now front and center everywhere one looks. Keepers of the Evangelical flame could, at one time, ignore such stories, writing them off as the rumblings of discontented, disaffected, poorly taught people in love with the world more than with God. These explanations no longer work. Thanks to the Internet, those who are deconstructing, have deconstructed, or have deconverted have a very public place to share their stories. Google has become their friend, as more and more people seek out help for their questions and doubts about God, the Bible, Christianity, the church, and the modern culture wars (primarily being waged by Evangelicals). No longer satisfied with the non-answer answers given to them by their pastors, these Doubting Thomases look for non-threatening places where their concerns will be given a hearing. And this, it seems, has scared the shit out of the people behind TGC. How else do we explain their preoccupation, and that of other defenders of orthodoxy, with deconstruction and deconversion?

Here’s what Childers had to say:

In my book, Another Gospel: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity, which chronicles my own deconstruction journey, I define deconstruction this way: 

In the context of faith, deconstruction is the process of systematically dissecting and often rejecting the beliefs you grew up with. Sometimes the Christian will deconstruct all the way into atheism. Some remain there, but others experience a reconstruction. But the type of faith they end up embracing almost never resembles the Christianity they formerly knew.

I would add that it rarely retains any vestiges of actual Christianity. 

Over the past year or so, it has become common for Christian leaders to begin to refer to deconstruction as something potentially positive. I get it. When I first heard that take, I thought, “Hmmm. That could work. Just deconstruct the false beliefs and line up what you believe with Scripture.” I was operating from the foundational belief that objective truth exists and can be known. But as I continued to study the movement, this understanding of deconstruction became untenable.  

That’s because the way the word is most often used in the deconstruction movement has little to do with objective truth, and everything to do with tearing down whatever doctrine someone believes is morally wrong. Take, for example, Melissa Stewart, a former Christian now agnostic/atheist with a TikTok following of over 200k. She describes how lonely and isolated she felt during her own deconstruction, and how discovering the #exvangelical hashtag opened up a whole new world of voices who related with what she was going through. Her TikTok platform now gives her the opportunity to create that type of space for others. In an interview on the Exvangelical Podcast, she commented on the deconstruction/exvangelical online space: 

My biggest experiences with it were people talking about what they went through—their stories—and it was very personal and it focused on the human beings who have come out of this, rather than on whether a certain kind of theology is right or wrong.

In my experience studying this movement, I think she nails it on the head. Deconstruction is not about getting your theology right. It’s built upon a postmodern-ish embrace of moral relativism. For example, if your church says a woman can’t be a pastor, the virtuous thing to do would be to leave that church and deconstruct out of that toxic and oppressive doctrine. Deconstructionists do not regard Scripture as being the final authority for morality and theology—they appeal primarily to science, culture, psychology, sociology, and history. 


Recent comments by Matt Chandler have made the rounds in which he characterized deconstruction as “the sexy thing to do,” hitting on the almost trendy type of cool factor the word now carries. Aside from giving the deconstructionists endless opportunities to make him the butt of their “Matt Chandler thinks I’m sexy!” jokes and memes, his comments (along with the recent comments by John Cooper of Skillet) have revealed that many Christians are using this one word in profoundly different ways. For example, Relevant magazine claims Chandler and Cooper have a “fundamental misunderstanding” of deconstruction. I disagree. I admit I’ve had a few quibbles with points Matt Chandler has made in recent years. But on this I think he understands something they don’t. He links deconstruction with the postmodernism of Derrida, and in a subsequent Instagram post, commented, “Deconstruction doesn’t mean doubt or theological wrestle or struggling through church hurt.” (All things he said he’s been through and has tons of mercy for.) I think he’s dead right.

We are Christians, and we should be deriving our vocabulary and categories from Scripture.  I see nowhere in the Bible where anything like the current movement of deconstruction is promoted or condoned. I propose we leave it with Derrida and instead use biblical words and categories like doubt, reformation, discernment, and even sometimes, (gasp!) apostasy.

Let’s save deconstruction for what it presents itself to be. Here are some characteristics to look for if you think you might be deconstructing: 

1.     Some type of moral relativism is assumed, whether explicitly or implicitly. If Scripture is your authority, you are not deconstructing. That doesn’t mean you’re not struggling deeply with doubt, seeking healing from church abuse, or have profound confusion over what it means to be a Christian.
2.     You are detaching from the body of Christ and seeking only the community of others who are also in deconstruction. If you are working through your doubts and questions in community with other believers, or at least have the intention of doing so, you are not deconstructing. Sometimes this will mean leaving an unbiblical church environment for a time, with the goal of finding a healthy one.
3.     You are looking to non-Christian religious philosophies, history, or sociology—rather than Scripture— to determine authentic Christianity. Not that things like history and sociology are without merit, but if you are honestly seeking to derive your religious beliefs from Scripture, you are not deconstructing.


As Christians, we tend to protest when progressives and secularists take words and phrases like “love,” “tolerance,’ “biblical inspiration,” and “incarnation” and change the definitions to suit their preferences. Let’s not do the same with deconstruction

Deconstruction has taken on a life of its own, and now is the time to be extremely careful to define our words accurately. After all, if the word means everything, then it means nothing, yet it carries the potential to suck unsuspecting Christians into a very dangerous vortex of ideas from which they might not return.

According to Childers, those deconstructing are moral relativists.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines moral relativism this way:

Moral relativism is the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint (for instance, that of a culture or a historical period) and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.  It has often been associated with other claims about morality: notably, the thesis that different cultures often exhibit radically different moral values; the denial that there are universal moral values shared by every human society; and the insistence that we should refrain from passing moral judgments on beliefs and practices characteristic of cultures other than our own.

I could argue long and hard about morality, how all morality is inherently subjective — including that of Childers and her fellow Evangelicals. But, what I want to focus on instead is the clash of worldviews: one that believes the Bible is the ground for “objective” morality, and another worldview that is grounded in humanistic ideals. Childers, a Fundamentalist, believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. It is Big T Truth. As such, the Bible is the moral rulebook all humans are commanded by God to live by. Its moral pronouncements must never be doubted or questioned. God said it, end of discussion. Thus, abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, premarital sex, masturbation, and a host of other things are crimes against the thrice-holy God of the Protestant Christian Bible. What ancient men 2,000-4,000 years ago wrote down in writings that were later made into a book must be obeyed at all times and in every circumstance. GOD HATH SPOKEN! No amendments, revisions, or memos are forthcoming. For Evangelicals, morality is set in stone, and anyone who suggests otherwise is _____________ (fill in the blank with whatever pejorative word Evangelicals use to describe those who refuse to play by their rules).

Humanism, on the other hand, takes a very different approach:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

As you can see, the worldview espoused by Childers and her friends at TGC is the polar opposite of that which is espoused by humanists. Childers’ foundation rests on the Bible, whereas humanists value science, skepticism, and rationalism. Childers admits as much when she says that people undergoing deconstruction tend to value “science, culture, psychology, sociology, and history” over the B-i-b-l-e (as if this is a bad thing).

Of course, Childers is right. The Bible is no match for science, culture, psychology, sociology, and history. Gone are the days of passing off Genesis 1-3 as science or with a straight face saying that the earth was destroyed by a flood 4,000 or so years ago. Think about all the Bible stories that were passed off as the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God. Think about all the stories that were ignored or sanitized, you know the ones that paint God in a bad light. Richard Dawkins was right when he said:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

This is the God the doubters and questioners see in the Old Testament. And the New Testament is no better. We see a blood cult sacrifice in Jesus’s atonement, misogyny in the writings of Paul, and the wrathful, violent, vindictive God makes a final, glorious appearance in the book of Revelation as he violently slaughters the human race, save the Evangelicals who have been raptured away.

Childers and the TGC want to maintain the status quo. Content to “reform” around the edges, they want things to remain just the way they are. This will, of course, only hasten the death of Evangelicalism. One need only look at attendance numbers to see that Evangelicalism is in decline. I have no doubt that this decline will only continue in the years ahead. What will become of Evangelicalism remains to be seen. I doubt the TGC gang will prevail.

Childers thinks it is okay to have doubts and questions as long as you seek out answers in the right places: theologically sound Evangelical churches. Seeking answers outside of the box is not permitted. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You Are In It and What I Found When I Left the Box.) Lurking outside of the box is are likes of Bruce Gerencser and other deconstruction commandos who only want to destroy your faith. This strawman, of course, is a figment of Childers’ and other protectors of the Evangelical realm’s imagination. I, for one, have never tried to deconvert anyone. Have people ended up walking away from Christianity (and the ministry) after reading my writing? Sure, but I don’t coerce people or try to evangelize. All I do is openly and honestly interact with people, something their pastors are unable or unwilling to do.

The smell of fear is in the air in Evangelical circles. Their house is crumbling, and instead of excavating the foundation, Evangelicals look for outside sources to blame for their demise. Deconversion is just the latest bogeyman underneath Evangelical beds.

I have one thing that Childers does not have: a story. A compelling story. A story that resonates with people who have doubts and questions. Surely, Childers knows the power of a good story. It seems, at least to me, that my story and that of other sevenfold children of Hell, is more compelling than the stories of the tired, less-than-believable stories told by Evangelical preachers Sunday after Sunday. My suggestion to TGC is that they come up with better stories. Better yet, write a better Bible. 🙂


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Quote of the Day: Evangelicals Ignore Those Who Left at Their Own Peril

echo chamber

The answers to evangelical questions of identity, orthodoxy and politics have already been given by those on the margins, by those on the outside and those who maintain solidarity with them. It’s an open question whether or not the evangelicals who remain in their churches will listen to the prophets of the past or the present, who have challenged them on questions of theology, biblical interpretation, church relations, race, gender, sexuality, politics and more — and done so while standing on sound theological ground. But all signs indicate that evangelicalism will harden its heart once again. 

A prime example of this is Christanity Today’s March 2022 cover story, which aims to make caricatures of those deconstructing because it is “trendy on Instagram” and both vilifies and baits those struggling with the consequences of evangelical politics, church practice and beliefs. It neglects to quote a single prominent public critic of evangelicalism — whether they use contemporary in-vogue terms like exvangelical and deconstruction or not — and again cuts itself off from dialogue. As a Midwesterner and an erstwhile evangelical, I understand the chip-on-one’s shoulder impulse to snub such things out of a sense of pride.

But evangelicalism cannot afford to be so myopic and self-serving any longer. Recently, through the Trump administration, evangelicals wrought long-term damage to the republic and to their own reputation; through their own reticence to change within their local churches, they stifle themselves and those under their care. 

Wendell Berry once wrote that “there is an enormous number of people, and I am one of them, whose native religion, for better or worse, is Christianity. We were born to it; we began to learn about it before we became conscious; it is, whatever we think of it, an intimate belonging of our being; it informs our consciousness, our language, and our dreams. We can turn away from it or against it, but that will only bind us tightly to a reduced version of it. A better possibility is that this, our native religion, should survive and renew itself, so that it may become as largely and truly instructive as we need it to be.” 

Those words were published in 1994, and little has changed. People who have tried to reform this thing they loved called “evangelicalism” were spurned and evangelicalism has shown that it does not want to be reformed. Yet in the nearly 30 years since Berry wrote those words, it has gotten “easier” to question and to leave our so-called native religion. We have the guiding lights of those who left before us, who asked hard questions of evangelical doctrine and evangelical leaders (and received harder answers) and blazed myriad trails for us to walk. 

I do not hold out hope that evangelical elites will make the right choice and begin talking with instead of preaching to (or against, as John Cooper of Skillet recently did by declaring war on deconstruction) those who have left. The church will survive, but evangelical hegemony may not. It must not. 

— Blake Chastain, The Post-Evangelical Post, White Evangelicals Must Stop Consulting Themselves, February 17, 2022


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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The War Against Deconstructing Evangelicals

three simple rules

“Let’s say our faith was like a sweater. Yarn: our ideology. Weave: our tradition. This is how you wear it. Don’t change it, even if the sweater doesn’t keep you warm any more. Even if it’s too tight or the threads cut off oxygen at your neck. This is the way. Doubts and questions mean disrespect, and those are the seeds of evil, so just don’t.

But over the years, a thread comes loose and you try to just tuck it in alongside the others. You can cover the fraying up. You can pull the thread and think, ‘Oh, I don’t need this one, because it is harmful to me; it’s itchy and gets caught on corners.’ It comes out easily. And the sweater stays together. Then you pull another, and another, and soon you find all the yarn is gone. You have deconstructed the entire thing. You are left naked. People gawk and run away, and you feel two opposing things: the freedom of glorious nakedness, and the fear of the same.”

— Lisa Gungor, writing in her memoir The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen

Deconstruction in an Evangelical context is the reexamination of one’s beliefs. The reexamination often leads to changed theological/social/political beliefs. Sometimes it leads to an abandonment of Christianity altogether. Not everyone who deconstructs becomes an atheist or an agnostic, but many do. Others move on to kinder, gentler expressions of faith or embrace paganism, spiritualism, or a plethora of other religions. And yes, some people, after carefully reexamining their beliefs, remain Evangelicals.

I follow and read over one-hundred Evangelical blogs and websites, along with listening to a handful of Evangelical podcasts. (I wade in the sewer so you don’t have to.) This allows me to stay in the Jesus loop, even though I haven’t been a Christian for fourteen years. I have noticed an increasing number of sermons, articles, podcasts, and blog posts about Evangelicals who are deconstructing. Most of these media points take the approach that doubts and questions are fine — deconstruction — as long as people remain in the church. Those who exit stage left are attacked and mocked. How dare they leave Jesus! How dare they stop attending church and putting money in the offering plate — they never, of course, say the offering part. How dare they come to different conclusions from those of their pastors. How dare they abandon the one true faith — Evangelical Christianity.

All sorts of excuses are given for why people deconstruct: poorly taught, wrong beliefs, negative church experiences, falling out with church leaders, secret desire to sin, and a number of other excuses. What these Evangelical preachers and talking heads never do is take deconstruction (deconversion) stories at face value. Instead of asking the people deconstructing why they are doing so, these Evangelical gurus impute motives on doubters they do not hold. In other words, they are dishonest interlocuters.

Recently, Evangelical megachurch pastor Matt Chandler had this to say about deconstruction (via Neil Carter’s blog):

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.

Former Evangelical Neil Carter had this to say about Chandler’s statement:

Leaving aside the quibbling over semantics, his posture towards the topic made me bristle for the same reasons it did most other exvangelicals: There is nothing sexy about deconstruction. It is a gut-wrenching, disorienting experience, and no one who has walked through it would ever portray it in the glib, shallow way Chandler did.

He rounded up the usual suspects in his effort to invalidate the process, assuring his listeners that people only leave because they didn’t really understand their faith correctly. Surely they are rejecting some other form of Christianity, most likely a shallow, legalistic version gleaned from a superficial reading of the Bible. Or maybe somebody was mean to them, yada yada. I’ll spare you my rants about those theological scapegoats today.

What gets me most is how naturally Chandler falls back on peer pressure as the culprit. Like we’re back in youth group again. He’s convinced people are only doing this because everyone else is doing it and they want to be cool, too.

I wonder which of our tactics gave us away? Was it the way we enroll our children in weekly group lessons aimed at convincing them to disbelieve in his religion, teaching them songs to go along with each topic? Or maybe it’s the weekend-long retreats where we all hold each other, crying around a campfire as we each talk about how our rejection of faith has made our lives complete?

Chandler, of course, is saying that “real” Christians never, ever walk away from Jesus. Thus, those who do weren’t “real” Christians to start with; that we had some sort of defective, dead faith. However, our stories suggest that Chandler — let me speak bluntly — is full of shit. I know countless former Evangelicals who held orthodox Evangelical beliefs; people who devotedly and unreservedly followed after Jesus Christ; people who gave their time, money, and talents to the advancement of the Kingdom of God; people whose lives were shining examples of what it meant to be a follower of the one true God. Don’t believe our stories? Ask the people who knew us best: our families, friends, and fellow church members, if we were born-from-above, Holy Ghost-filled, adopted children of the Triune God. Ask them about how we lived our lives. Ask them about our devotion to the things of God. I know as far as my life is concerned, I was a real Christian, and critics who suggest I never will search in vain for anyone who knew me who will say that knew I was an unbeliever.

John Cooper, the lead singer for the Evangelical Christian rock band Skillet, took matters a step further when he said:

I don’t even like calling it deconstruction Christian. There is nothing Christian about it. It is a false religion.

And for all those formerly Christian people who have tried to tell all these young folks that they think they found a third way. Their third way is this: It’s OK if you’re into Jesus, just don’t be into the Bible. I’m here to tell you young folks, there is no such thing as loving Jesus but not loving his Word.

A false religion? Child, please. What’s with all the hysteria over deconstructing Evangelicals? Here’s what I see and hear: fear. Young adults, in particular, are exiting Evangelical churches in record numbers. More and more people are saying they are atheists or agnostics or NONES — people who are indifferent towards organized Christianity. Powerless to stem the tide (and God seems quite indifferent), Evangelicals such as Chandler and Cooper lash out at the people who dare to say the emperor has no clothes.

Eric Scot English, a progressive Christian, wrote an article titled Why Evangelicals Hate Deconstruction that said, in part:

Public critiques from evangelicals regarding deconstruction are on the rise over the last few years. Do you ever wonder why? I mean, what could be the harm in thinking critically about matters of faith? Wouldn’t any denomination or church movement encourage such thinking as a means for people to grow in their faith? In this article, I will provide two reasons why evangelicals hate deconstruction and why they continue to call it “dangerous”.

First, it’s important to understand what it means for someone to “deconstruct” their faith. To be clear, religious deconstruction is not the same thing as philosophical deconstruction (which was espoused by postmodern philosopher Jacques Derrida.) Religious deconstruction is the tearing down of theological presuppositions and beliefs in order to reconstruct beliefs under a new paradigm. That new paradigm does not have to be a different denomination or religion, but it often results in a significant change.

Usually, doubt is the catalyst that demonstrates the need for deconstruction. Therefore, all deconstruction is built upon the foundation of doubt. This is an important idea for people who experience doubt to understand. Doubt is healthy and doesn’t necessarily lead to a weakening of one’s faith. There are many people in evangelicalism who begin to doubt and become atheists as a result. This is largely because evangelicalism discourages doubt when they should see it as an opportunity. Instead of becoming an atheist, which is a huge leap from doubt, the individual should consider going through a journey of deconstruction. Deconstruction is the only way that harmful beliefs can be dealt with religiously. However, deconstruction cannot happen in isolation. It must be followed by reconstruction.

Oftentimes missing from the critique that evangelicals raise about deconstruction is the reconstruction journey that often follows. Reconstruction is the rebuilding of religious beliefs upon the new paradigm that the individual has established. Reconstruction allows the individual to find their own beliefs instead of what has been spoon-fed to them most of their religious life. The fact that reconstruction is rarely, if ever, mentioned in evangelical conversations bolsters the fact that they fail to understand the basic concepts of deconstruction on the whole.


There is nothing inherently wrong with deconstruction. It is a process that I would recommend to anyone who wants to develop critical thinking and have faith that is their own and not something that was simply handed to them. Those who deconstruct often find a new sense of enlightenment (no pun intended) that may result in some grief over the faith they knew, but that ultimately grows into excitement about the process.

My only quibble with English is over his suggestion that atheism shouldn’t be the end game. Don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. (Atheists ask, what baby?) Much like the Evangelicals he rightly criticizes, English says that “faith” is the desired outcome — just not the Evangelical version of faith. English says:

There are many people in evangelicalism who begin to doubt and become atheists as a result. This is largely because evangelicalism discourages doubt when they should see it as an opportunity. Instead of becoming an atheist, which is a huge leap from doubt, the individual should consider going through a journey of deconstruction. 

English implies that the path from Evangelicalism to atheism doesn’t involve reconstruction. He really misses the mark on this point. As a man who was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years and who is now an atheist, I can say that the past fourteen years post-Jesus have been one long reconstruction project. And I suspect most Evangelicals-turned-atheists who read this site would say the same. Shouldn’t the goal of deconstruction be to follow the path wherever it leads? English seems to have a desired outcome — faith — in mind rather than encouraging people to embrace their questions and doubts wherever they may lead. In my case, the path has led to atheism, humanism, and socialism. I, for one, took a serious, good-faith look at progressive Christianity, but I found it to be intellectually unsatisfying. And, quite frankly, the progressive, liberal churches in this area are dead as a hammer. Filled with old people (of which I am one) and reticent to change, the churches my wife and I attended had nothing that said to us that this is the place we want to call home. We found sleeping in on Sundays and watching football with my sons far more appealing than incoherent sermons and unsingable music. (Looking at you Episcopals). Nice people, to be sure, but we found these churches unappealing, to say the least.

Punch “evangelical deconstruction” in a Google search field and you will find a plethora of articles, blog posts, sermons, and podcasts about deconstruction. I looked at dozens of these sites. Some of them raged against deconstruction, while others encouraged people to deconstruct/reconstruct as long as they remained Christians. Not one site saw atheism, agnosticism, or humanism as a desired outcome. Why is that? What are the underlying factors that keep these prognosticators from seeing that unbelief might be a desirable outcome? Shouldn’t happiness and peace, along with meaning and purpose, be the ultimate goal? I wonder if some of these folks still believe in the existence of Hell or think that meaning and purpose can only come through faith? If so, how is this any different from what Evangelical preachers are saying? Maybe people such as English will stop by and explain.

Other posts on deconstruction and deconversion:

Yet Another Christian “Explains” Why Believers Lose Their Faith

Pastor Mike Dunn “Explains” Why People Walk Away From Evangelical Christianity


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser