What is Deconstruction?
by Barrett Duke
Deconstruction is designed to strip texts of their meaning so that readers can appropriate foundational values in ways that are satisfying to them, regardless of authorial intent.
Deconstruction as a literary pursuit is not an objective methodology. Its purpose is to expose the underlying structures that give rise to meaning in a text until the meaning imposed by the text no longer exists. All this does is destroy the text and the certainty it conveys. One is left with nothing except his or her own perception of meaning, at best. In other words, deconstruction does violence to texts. Why would we do that to the Bible? I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on text linguistics, or how texts create meaning. I understand the value of examining the way in which texts guide readers to meaning. Underlying deconstruction is the belief that there is no absolute truth. Deconstruction is not there to help understand the creation of authorial intent. It is there to do the exact opposite. It destroys authorial intent so that readers are free to appropriate underlying values in ways they choose. The Bible conveys certain truths and applies them in certain ways. We are not free to separate those truths from their moorings in the text and re-appropriate them to our own satisfaction. Someone might be able to show you some ways in which a value conveyed by a text can be applied in biblically faithful ways when it is stripped of its moorings in the text, but the very premise of deconstruction is that he also is imposing his own meaning on that value, and that no one is obligated to apply that value in that same way. There is no authority in that. There is only personal preference. That simply is not biblical.