Home » Why Do So Many Christians Deconstruct Their Faith? Several Perspectives

Why Do So Many Christians Deconstruct Their Faith? Several Perspectives

by Dr. Eitan Bar
11 minutes read

Deconstruction, is a phenomenon within American evangelicalism in which Christians rethink their faith and jettison previously held beliefs, sometimes to the point of no longer identifying as Christians.”


Why are several generations now deconstructing? I know you all went through at least one phase of deconstructing when you were younger, but it’s not just twenty-year-old kids who deconstruct today, and it’s on very different grounds that people today do it. It’s mostly a deconstruction of God’s character taught by previous generations. I myself know pastors, missionaries, and ThMs who, much like me, deconstructed some of the same “evangelical doctrines” I did. I feel many older Christians, 50s and above, are afraid to admit that the majority of today’s faith-deconstructors are not pacifist marijuana-smoking teens but mature, strong faith, wise, knowledgable, and capable adults who now deconstruct (and reconstruct out of evangelicalism) the most.

For nearly 20 years, I have been involved in evangelistic ministries in Israel and have witnessed numerous Christians leave the church or abandon their faith. While the reasons vary, it was never because they disliked Jesus. Most often, people struggle with other issues (such as legalism, problems with other Christians, or theological doctrines that they find difficult to fathom.) This has led them to ‘deconstruct’ and, in some cases, to ‘throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater.’ I can’t blame them in some instances.

The question of why humans, who used to be all religious, nowadays reject religion has puzzled theologians, philosophers, and social scientists for the last few decades. At the core of this enigma lie various sociological, psychological, and emotional factors, as well as theological considerations, that attempt to explain this phenomenon. This article will delve into six of these elements and also consider the role that Satan, as understood in Christian theology, may play in driving a wedge between humans and God.

1. Religious Context
Religious environments that are judgmental or overly strict can repel individuals. Suppose someone’s first exposure to God is through a community rife with hypocrisy, legalism, rigidness, or harsh judgments. In that case, in today’s increasingly knowledgable world and the availability of information, concepts like a perpetually angry divine being, like that introduced by Calvinism’s Penal Substitution Model of Atonement, become much less appealing. In that case, Christians might naturally reject that portrayal of God and, therefore, the concept of God altogether.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, consider the following quotes from popular preachers with millions of views online:

R.C. Sproul, a famous reformed theologian, said:

“We always say the Cliché, ‘God Hates the sin, but he loves the sinner.’ That’s nonsense! The Bible speaks of Him abhorring us, and that we’re loathsome in His sight, and He can’t stand to even look at us…” (R.C. Sproul, reformed pastor)1

In his sermon “God Hates the Sin and the Sinner,” Reformed Pastor Tim Conway explains how he views the gospel:

What Scripture tells us is that all of mankind are children of wrath. We are objects of the hatred of God by nature. We don’t deserve His love… God is not unjust to hate mankind. Because mankind is a hateful thing by nature. It ought to be hated.2

Wyatt Graham, a director of The Calvinistic hub “The Gospel Coalition,” defines the gospel in this way:

Jesus bore divine wrath at the cross for our sake, and so protected us from it. This act implies that God hates humans since he would have poured wrath upon humans if not for the work of Christ’s cross.3

I don’t know about you, but I find these quotes repelling and, theologically speaking, a false representation of God.

If you are not sure what I’m talking about, consider the classic evangelical saying, “Jesus took the punishment we deserve.” This imply that the little cute neighbor girl next door who is only five years old, deserves to be flogged with whips until she bleeds, and then nailed to a cross by nails.

2. Cultural Context

The relationship between religion, science, and education has been complex throughout history. There have been periods when Christianity was seen as conflicting with scientific ideas, widening the gap between religion and reason. The Enlightenment era marked a shift towards reason and scientific inquiry that continues today. This emphasis on empirical evidence has led many to question traditional religious beliefs and doctrines, including the very existence of God.

Moreover, the tension between religious and non-religious viewpoints is exacerbated by emotional responses from some religious individuals when faced with questions or challenges they find difficult to answer. Rather than engaging in reasoned debate or admitting the limits of their understanding, these individuals may become defensive, offensive, and emotional, thus pushing away those who are questioning, seeking, or simply holding to different belief systems (traditional vs. protestant denominations, Calvinists vs. Arminianists, etc.). This emotional reactivity serves only to widen the gap between different belief systems.

This cultural and emotional shift is especially evident among younger generations, who are deconstructing their faith at an unprecedented rate. They often find themselves caught between a religious community that reacts emotionally rather than thoughtfully to challenging questions and a secular society that increasingly values empirical evidence and skepticism.

3. Emotional Context

I also suspect that many deconstructions are based on feelings. This is often where trauma or personal preferences come into play. For example, if someone is attracted to a person of the same sex, they may reconsider their understanding and reevaluate what they have been taught the Bible says about sexuality. There are a host of reasons for emotion-based deconstructing, and it’s not necessarily always an invalid form of deconstruction. The pull to conform to society is strong and is part of our survival instinct. In times when Western culture was more aligned with traditional, church-going, biblical values—although we know this wasn’t entirely the case—people were more willing to attend church and live “holy lives.” However, as those values no longer align with the rapidly changing norms of contemporary Western culture, there’s a strong pull away from what some might consider outdated or even regressive religious ideas. Many people simply want to fit in and go with the flow, which, again, is part of our survival instinct. But this can also be ironic given today’s emphasis by many on “you do you” expressive individualism. Yet, people are often unwilling to go against mainstream culture and its “values,” even when they believe they are wrong. Nonetheless, God keeps all of this in mind and loves us, even when we are misguided, weak, or fail. After all, He is the one who created these scary things in us called emotions!

4. The Context of God’s Character

We are made in the image of our Supreme Leader and were given the mandate by Him to rule over His creation (Genesis 1:28). Humans are the highest power on Earth, with an inherent desire for autonomy and control. Therefore, the idea of submitting to a higher power necessitates respecting and loving that power of our own free will. Both human experience and the teachings of Jesus affirm that authentic leadership is characterized by selfless service, sacrificial love, and unwavering forgiveness. A true leader neither resorts to violence nor humiliation and does not use fear or threats of killing to exert authority over subordinates. Instead, they focus on building bridges and mending relationships. By actively boosting the confidence and assurance of those they lead, an effective leader cultivates an environment where each individual can grow and thrive.

However, suppose this higher power and Supreme Leader, who created us as limited and finite in our abilities, knowledge, and understanding, is portrayed as a legalistic, rigid entity who judges us harshly for our inherited shortcomings. In that case, we are likely to reject this portrayal. Such a portrayal does not align with our inherent understanding of what a true, loving leader should look like.

I have heard many Christians call the gospel “friendship” and God “a friend.” I believe this to be true. However, if someone doesn’t want to play with you or be your friend, will you want them to burn in fire forever? What if they mistakenly thought you did something to hurt them or thought you weren’t there when they needed you the most? Most non-Christians I know are unwilling to be friends with our God, not because they know him and despise his character, but because they reject a twisted, perverted version of him. It is a very angry, hateful, unkind entity that they reject after being prescribed to them as “God.” The Jewish people are, of course, a classic example (just consider the Christian persecution of Jews in Christ’s name). They simply don’t yet understand that Jesus is not that monster threatening to burn them forever if they refuse to accept his conditional love, but a loving friend offering them His life as a gift.

5. Traumatic Experiences & Disappointment Context
Experiences of trauma or extreme suffering not only provoke existential crises but often cause individuals to question the very foundation of their faith. Take, for example, the secularization of Jewish communities post-Holocaust. The sheer magnitude of suffering during that period led many to grapple with the inconceivable notion that a loving and caring God could allow such horrors to occur. This mass loss of faith is not an isolated event; stories are widespread of people losing their faith due to unanswered prayers, especially when dealing with the life-altering illness or death of a loved one. Research on the psychology of religion confirms that such traumatic events can have a profound impact on religious beliefs.

It’s worth noting that these departures from faith are often based not just on traumatic experiences but also on flawed preconceptions about the nature of God. Misinterpretations, wrong doctrines, and false perceptions of who God is and how He operates can exacerbate these crises of faith. Therefore, while the trauma and disappointments are real, they are frequently compounded by misunderstandings that veer away from theological truths about a compassionate and loving God.

In many of these cases, the fault can partly lie on the shoulders of religious teachers who propagate false impressions of who God is. As mentioned in James 3:1, ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.’ The weight of this responsibility cannot be overstated. False teachings not only distort the divine character but can lead many away from their faith, especially when they are grappling with trauma and existential questions. In this way, those teachers contribute to the misunderstanding and eventual disillusionment that many face. In light of that, it’s hard to blame and judge those who deconstructed their faith.

Is God losing to Satan, or is God only tricking Satan?

From a Christian theological perspective, while some argue that our shortcoming is the primary force separating us from God, I contend that Satan plays a more crucial role. Satan strategically exploits sociological, psychological, and emotional vulnerabilities to sow division among God’s creatures, increase doubt among people of faith, disseminate false doctrines, and exacerbate human suffering. In essence, we find ourselves as the metaphorical chess pieces in a cosmic duel between God and Satan. The evidence of Satan’s effectiveness is especially apparent in the deep divisions he fosters, not just between religious and secular communities but also among people of faith. Throughout history, for example, Christians have persecuted Jews, and even within Christianity, divisions run deep—evangelicals often harbor disdain for non-evangelicals, and vice versa. This encourages many Christians and seekers alike to run away from religion. Again, it’s hard to blame them.

Is God that weak that He only managed to save so few?

Classic Christian theology contends that God’s will is unassailable and undefeatable, not in theory nor in practice. God’s will for mankind is made clear in the scriptures, particularly in verses like 1 Timothy 2:3-4, which states that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” However, as we’ve already established, Satan obstructs this divine intention by perverting the truth and causing division. This raises a crucial question: If God desires the salvation of all people, will His will ultimately prevail over Satan’s schemes? Or, to put in other words, does the sacrifice of Christ atone for the sins of all people, irrespective of their past beliefs or deeds?

If God is indeed omnipotent and omniscient, His will must inevitably be realized, one way or another. This certainty is underscored by biblical declarations such as, “EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess” (Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10; Romans 14:11).

I completely agree that there are lifelong consequences; even Yeshua mentioned that some would come last in the Kingdom. Everything in life has a reward-loss aspect, which is how we thrive as humans and protect our society. However, a good society, while upholding high morals and ethics, always aims to mend and repair rather than destroy its own members. God, being greater than any human society and far more capable, would operate on an even higher plane. While some may suffer for their sins, I believe some will have to spend time in a “correctional facility” that also aids in their recovery. I can’t fathom the classic evangelical (and messianic) afterworld where 99.9% of Jews are condemned to eternal fire; such a scenario would render the God of Israel, who is “mighty to save,” impotent and weak. But my God is strong and able to save! Also, I don’t think that a billion years of your skin melting as you suffer in firey flames aligns with God’s statement that “every knee will bow and every tongue confess.”

“But, Eitan, there’s free will. God can’t force others to love Him.”

True. But it’s not about forcing; it’s about proving! Love can’t force itself, but it can prove itself worthy. That’s the only true way to win others! The Serpent tried to convince us what? That God is not trustworthy. Who will win in this cosmic battle between God and the Serpent over our trust? If God and Satan are fighting over the trust and love of 10 people, and we believe God is wiser than Satan, will it be 4:6 to God? 8:2 to God? If God is so powerful and all-knowing, the answer must be 0:10. God must win each and everyone to ultimately be the best of all. EVERY tongue will confess. That’s 10:0. How? I have no clue. I am only reasoning from logic.

What I’m wondering out loud here is whether there will come a time when all of us, of our own free will, will understand who God really is—not through reflections or human doctrines—and then choose to accept Him. Yes, the Church is His bribe, but that doesn’t mean others won’t be there with them to celebrate. If Jesus is a king, then His wife is a queen. King and Queen over who? Aren’t they leading a huge Kingdom? Who is in this kingdom, if not those who died as non-believers?

Look, I am an Ashkenazi Jew; I want Hitler to burn in hell. But God’s will is greater than human feelings of revenge. He wants all to him, including the greater sinners of all. If God can one day, somehow, get them to change their mind, repent, and believe, too, He would be considered the greatest one of all kinds!

So, does it then logically follow that the blood of Christ was meant to cover ALL people of ALL times, even those who have failed to recognize Him? While I may still struggle to give a straightforward answer, this conclusion aligns with the views of Billy Graham, arguably the greatest evangelist of our age, who at age 79 declared:

“Whether they come from the Muslim world or the Buddhist world or the Christian world or the nonbelieving world, they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”4

Dr. Billy Graham

If Billy Graham is right, this suggests that eventually, everyone—no matter their past beliefs or deeds—will come to understand the true nature of God’s love and wisdom. In this final moment of enlightenment, whether in this world or the next, every single human limitation that has contributed to disbelief will be transcended and cleared away, revealing to all the full truth, love, and wisdom of God. At that point, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess – out of free will, love, and admiration of the God of Israel.


While the reasons people reject God in this world are complex and multifaceted, we may forget that God is greater than our shortcomings, and He is more powerful and wiser than we sometimes give Him credit for.
Honestly, when I hear some explain their understanding of the doctrine of salvation, I’m led to believe that they view god as small, weak, and impotent, unable to figure out a way to save more than just a handful of people. This, however, cannot be the God of Israel, who is “mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). If God is indeed mighty to save and does indeed will all to be saved, is He not great enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to save all human beings without overriding our free will?

Perhaps a hopeful resolution in the grand scheme of things, is to consider the idea that God’s will, which desires salvation for all, cannot be thwarted—even by the machinations of Satan. This theological view suggests that, ultimately, God’s love and wisdom will prevail, leading all individuals to a saving knowledge of the truth. This does not contradict God’s judgment, as hierarchy will continue to exist in the next world as well, and each one will receive a role and rewards according to their deeds and faith in this world.

P.S. If you are wondering, “but what about hell?” then read my article about Hell.

I would like to invite you to further explore God’s love with me in my new book, “God as Father: Unveiling God’s Love for the Oppressed, Sinners, and Outcasts Through the Prodigal Son.”

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqAuvdEtbCk ↩︎
  2. God Hates the Sin and the Sinner – Tim Conway“, YouTube, Sep 18, 2018.  ↩︎
  3. Does God Hate People? WyattGraham.com, April 18, 2020. ↩︎
  4. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/religion/article38008473.html ↩︎

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist