Christian author and apologist Sean McDowell, in a recent interview with Faithwire, made the case that it is common and even acceptable to feel discouraged if people fall away from Christ after receiving shocking news of a religious apostasy, but stated that it should not influence people's belief in the authenticity of the Christian faith.
"I've got to be committed to believing because I think this is really true," McDowell told Faithwire. "So I ask myself, 'Who do I think God is?' 'Why do I think the Bible's true?' 'Who do I think Jesus claimed to be?' And, as best I can, answer those questions so my faith is not rooted in my emotions when things around me change; it's rooted in what is true."
He went on to say that knowing it's true isn't enough; one must also apply it to one's own life and really live it out.
"It's one thing to know God is a loving Heavenly Father; it's another thing to experience God's grace personally," he said. "I want to logically know it's true, so my faith is grounded in truth, not in a human person, because, if we know anything about people, they're all going to let us down."
When that happens, he asserts that Christians will be less tempted to abandon their faith because they have a sound biblical theology, which emphasizes the sinfulness of human nature and his capacity for deception.
McDowell continued by pointing out that, more often than not, a secondary or tertiary question is elevated to the center of many believers' faith "deconstruction" journeys. He explained that within Christian culture, there is often a desire to redefine "very important questions" as "salvific essential questions."
"Let's just keep the main thing the main thing," said McDowell, "so when people come across these challenges to their faith, they're not tempted to just bail on the entire ship."
He added that he was heartbroken to learn from those who "deconstructed" that their genuine doubts and questions were dismissed or condemned by their Christian communities.
The apologist claims that if any religion should be okay with questions, it should be Christianity because it is true and with a strong history of brilliant thinking people.
This surge of believers "deconstructing" their religion, according to McDowell, shows that ignoring Christians' legitimate questions has "devastating consequences."
How Christians Can Help
McDowell encouraged Christians who are strong in their faith but want to help friends and family members who are "deconstructing" to be honest.
"[I]f you have a friend who has questions, this is a chance for you to go deeper in your faith, relationally, because now you know it matters," he suggested."So just tell that person, 'Gosh, I wish I knew more, but I'm gonna read and think with you and help you through this.'"
In the process, the Christian will learn while growing in confidence in his or her ability to contend for the truth. They demonstrate that the person's concerns matter by being willing to engage with those who have questions and speak the truth in love.