Sean McDowell explains why deconstruction stories have become more prevalent and unchecked in the modern world.
Sean: The Scripture talks about people leaving the faith. That idea is not new. What is new today is, with social media, everybody’s told, now tell your story and express yourself. So, we’re hearing these stories so much more than we ever have.
Greg: Also from high-profile individuals.
Sean: My suspicion is, it’s only going to get worse. Now, why? We hear certain people—whether worship leaders or, in some cases, certain pastors or high-profile people—and one common thread we see is a lot of people are hurt by the church. We also see, in many cases, bad theology and a lack of depth.
Now, in the past, for somebody to be on stage or produce an album, there were certain gatekeepers that would at least try to care about right character and theology and try to weed out bad character and bad theology. Now, there are no gatekeepers. If you have the right TikTok video, you can become a celebrity in your own mind on TikTok overnight and build an audience. I think five, ten years down the road, what we’ve heard from worship leaders we’re going to hear of former TikTokers and former YouTubers. Sadly, probably worse.
Greg: When you say worse, you mean it’s going to happen more frequently. It’s just going to be more high profile—the things that do happen—and so it looks like it’s happening.
Sean: Probably worse, numerically, would be my guess. Because of the influence of the high-profile people and social media and stuff like that. I think this will happen because of two reasons. Number one, there’s fewer gatekeepers to weed out potential abuse. And now, there’s so many more people. “Celebrity” used to mean something. There are only so many people that are celebrities. Now, technically, if you have more Twitter followers than people you follow, in a sense, in your own mind, you’re a kind of a celebrity, and there’s such a narrative about these stories that people want to hear.
Here’s an example. My friend Bart Campolo, Tony Campolo’s son, I remember hearing him speak at Biola University. He had a huge influence on my life in a lot of different ways. He’s a humanist. He left his faith. There was a big national story about him. There is no national story about Josh McDowell’s son keeping his faith. It’s not interesting. It’s not going to get the clicks and get the views. It just doesn’t tell the story that many gatekeepers want to tell, and there’s a lot of people that want to tell the story of the faith crumbling. John Piper’s son is an atheist, and he’s got quite a following, my sense is because he’s being used by that whole crowd. Because he’s a celebrity. He’s the son of a celebrity Christian, so to speak. I’m not dissing John Piper. I think he doesn’t play to that kind of thing, but because he’s so well known, and then his son becomes an atheist, then he’s a nice tool to be used against Evangelical Christians.