May 28, 2011

Deconstructionism: What Is It? Why You Should Care About It.

First and foremost I must preface this article by saying most of these criticisms I am about to comment on are a by-product of the Liberal Theology movement of the late 19th and early 20th century that sought to demythologize and remove the supernatural elements from Scripture. This is to say that they tried to remove God from the Scripture (as if...).

First we must understand what Reader-Response Criticism is in terms of Biblical Literary Criticism.

Literary Criticism refers to the methods of studying the Gospels as unified literary works as opposed to dissecting them into theoretical sources and oral traditions. It focuses on the Bible in its final form. It also analyzes the literary methods by the authors. It primary grew out of a reaction to historical and source criticisms. Reader Response is then an approach to the Gospels that focuses on the act of reading and interpreting. It uses as variety of approaches that do not find meaning in the authorial intent (writer's purpose for writing) but rather in the response of the reader(s). This means there is no objective meaning in the text itself, since every reader creates their own meaning. The text itself (Bible) possesses no fixed final meaning or value. In other words, there can be no single “correct” meaning. Meaning is then created in a transactional, dialogic manner between the reader and the text which predominately (and amusingly) excludes the author. This is ridiculous. It is like saying you are going to read about the final game of the World Series based solely on the score and only a few plays of the game never once taking into consideration the players, the crowd, or all the other variables a sports writer puts in his newspaper article. Then...the reader tries to fill in the gaps not having been at the game, or having seen even highlight clips of the game. In a word: Preposterous.

Deconstructionism draws meaning from the reader and does not consider what the authors intent is. To me, this is ludicrous. The author wrote for a reason! In the case of the Bible, the Gospel writers wrote to get their idea or someone else's (God's/Jesus') across to an intended readership whether that be a reader in 1st century Ephesus or 21st century America.

De·con·struc·tion [dee-kuh n-struhk-shuh n]-noun : When applied to the study of literature, that questions all traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality and emphasizes that a text has no stable reference or identification because words essentially only refer to other words and therefore a reader must approach a text by eliminating any metaphysical or ethnocentric assumptions through an active role of defining meaning, sometimes by a reliance on new word.

The key phrase in this senseless definition? "Eliminating any metaphysical assumptions"...removing God people, removing God.

Deconstuctionism is an extreme form of Reader-Response Criticism and also resides under the category of post-structuralism. Deconstruction began as a reaction to structuralism. It views all literature as having no essential meaning (at all). It says that language is not structure but a lack of it and also a lack of meaning. Its premise is that language itself is unstable. As such, words can have a plethora of meanings and therefore meaning is a nebulous thing that is constantly shifting and is relative to the observer(s). Literary sources can be “deconstructed” and ambiguities can be revealed this way. In this way, it is meaningless. There can be as many meanings as there are readers. This lends itself very easily to imposing meaning on the text or performing eisegesis on it rather than pulling out the intent of the original writer. Ironically, when communicating their findings, “deconstructionists” are not even following their own outlined processes. They are hypocrites, or so messed up in their thinking that they do not even realize they are contradicting themselves.

The text then becomes a minefield of subjectivity. Trying to find absolute or “true” meaning with these criteria is like running through said minefield with snow shoes on. In the case of Christians that “text” just happens to be the Bible on which we base or should base our entire worldview. It is in this idea that deconstructionism has its most profound impact in modern viewpoints. The deconstructionist mentality says that if it can be deconstructed it is worth nothing or it is meaningless. This means that Scripture, being based in language or cognate word symbols should in theory, be meaningless also. If we take this to its extreme is means our worldview is meaningless…we are meaningless. If this is to be believed it throws the credibility of the Scriptures into a literary “no-man’s land” (not to mention perspicuity, inerrancy and a few other conservative evangelical beliefs).

Deconstructionism though has a fatal flaw other than the fact that it is an untenable post-modernistic worldview. It assumes that just because something can be deconstructed, it then holds no value or no worthwhile knowledge/data. This is a fallacy of composition. It is a false to assume that because part of text can be deconstructed this must apply to the whole of the text. Things can be true even though they cannot be totally verifiable. Partial knowledge can be valid…it is just incomplete knowledge. Christian’s worldview is based in the precept of something being true based on partial knowledge, otherwise faith wouldn’t be called Christian faith…it would be called Christian fact.

A lot of what we see in the media nowadays a result of this type of thinking (or lack of it). Most so-called theological or religious "experts" subscribe to this twisted postmodern nonsense and most people that listen to them are none-the-wiser. They are passed off as Christians and they do not even believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity/deity of Jesus Christ. They like the "idea" of Christ or Christ's ideas but they don't want Christ Himself. You must be discerning folks. The wolves have gotten really good at pretending to be sheep and shepherds.

This is also what passes for theology and thought processes in much of what is now referred to as the "Emergent Church" and those associated with it. John MacArthur recently wrote a comprehensive book to address this issue called "The Truth War". A large faction within the Emergent Church subscribe to the idea that we cannot possibly know what Jesus, Paul or Peter meant when the Bible was written or when events took place in their lives. Wrong, that is radical historicism. We can know because there are plenty of sources including Paul's own writing to help us get a real close approximation of what they meant. To say that it is not possible is just intellectual laziness or flat-out ignorance of facts that are available for the taking for anyone that bothers to look for them. In the end you see that they cannot validly attack the truth of the Scripture head-on so they go as far as to attack the very nature of the language and the way we understand ideas so to avoid going head-to-head with Scripture.

According to a deconstructionist, everything I have just written is relative to the reader. What I meant means nothing. Take this a step further and we can then see why it is laughable what they are really saying about books like the Bible. They are saying what God meant when He inspired people to write it means absolutely nothing. That kinda defeats the point of inspiring people to do so, doesn’t it? If God solely inspires people to write then God has to have a purpose for doing so or it isn’t really inspired, is it? To think any other way is to deny sequential logic. Deconstructionism not only attacks the word of God, it has indirectly attacked God Himself saying that what a writer had in mind when writing is hardly relevant. Thereby the have flipped God the middle finger. Come on people! God wrote the Bible for the exact purpose of having people know EXACTLY what He meant…that’s why He wrote it!!!

It’s all a bunch of, ahem *junk*...hence the exploded toilet for the post picture. It is where this philosophy belongs....flushed into the sewer. Unfortunately, it is the garbage being passed off as intelligence and academia in many of our institutes of "higher" learning. It would be truly humorous if it wasn't for the fact that...some of them are seminaries.

Strauss, Mark L.. "Chapter 3." Four portraits, one Jesus: an introduction to Jesus and the Gospels. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007. 68-85. Print.

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