Intended Audience: Anyone familiar with and curious about the decline of evangelicalism and the use of “deconstruction” in public discourse in relation to it.
What follows is a free excerpt from my book Deconstructing Evangelicalism (pp. 18-31):
So what’s up with this word “deconstruction”? Why is it in this book’s title, and what does it really mean?
The phenomenon of “deconstruction”—a term usually (originally?) employed in 20th century philosophy for post-modern literary analysis—is now more or less synonymous with intellectual, spiritual, and social change after modernity. The term has gained considerable currency amongst post/non-evangelical groups dedicated to it—such as The Deconstructionists and The Liturgists, as well as among social media venues of “progressive Christianity” and “progressive evangelicalism,” Christian mysticism, and popular podcasts like The Bible For Normal People. The reason for this connection between “deconstruction” and post-evangelicals is possibly due to the fact that “Bible-believing Christians” have always been “in the world of the text” (as “people of the book”), and that is the area of human experience in which philosophical and literary deconstruction was originally focused. Words accomplish amazing things—whether building, destroying, or just changing history. Regardless, in this new religious context, deconstruction simply refers to the process of questioning one’s own beliefs (that were once considered unquestionable) due to new experiences, reading widely, engaging in conversations with “the other,” and interacting in a world that is now more connected and exposed to religious diversity than ever before.
From a traditional perspective, of course, this is all just a nice way of talking about “people who are committing apostasy.” To completely rethink one’s faith is to commit the sin of doubt and play with the fires of hell and heresy. The faith experience of your Sunday school days should generally be the same faith experience of your retirement days. If there are any major shifts in this period between cradle and grave, they don’t indicate growing up; they indicate instability, or “falling away.”
Whether or not the term “deconstruction” is being used in a “philosophically-correct” manner, it remains appropriate over “destruction” because it highlights the constructed (i.e., contingent, impermanent) nature of reality—or at least what we think we know of it. Our ideas, metaphors, language, customs, and ethical rules are constructed elements of life that can be modified, remodeled, or abandoned as much as a physical house. Humans are capable of reshaping our world in any number of ways. This late-modern/post-modern perspective contrasts to the creation myth/epic of classical western theism, which is primarily ruled by God’s unchanging nature and laws; humans exist to re-enforce those laws upon all who fail to worship the one true King. Human history is told not as constructing conduits for meaning or even searching for God, but as a story of hopeless rebellion against what has been uniquely revealed. As such, the permanent, decreed ideas of conservative evangelicalism and western intellectual thought should not (or can’t be) “messed with.” To do so invites demons to the door.
This “can’t be messed with” attitude has become a particular site of deconstructive transformation. For example, one hears evangelicals say a married lesbian couple “aren’t actually married,” or “a woman’s preaching isn’t real preaching,” or “biblical scholars who don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God aren’t doing real scholarship,” or “Kelly isn’t a ‘real man’ because of y and z.” But, in the view of post-conservatives and those deconstructing, the existence and daily experience of such persons suggests otherwise. If we can’t trust what our eyes are seeing and ears are hearing, what can we trust? (Who’s the relativist now?) This line of thinking raises the question as to who has the right to define what is “real,” and what that even means. The perfect marriage, the perfect Bible, the perfect family, the perfect politic, the perfect church, the perfect “gender role,” is something we don’t have; what we have is what we have. Why is that not “real”? (And this focus on achieving God’s “perfect design” seems a lot more Greek than Hebrew or Christian in the first place.) Furthermore, this “can’t be messed with” attitude seems to neglect the reality of constant cultural and evolutionary change. (Especially for the Christian: cannot the “unclean” be made “clean”? And isn’t such movement and innovation “good news”?) In short, traditional and conservative Christians look at what’s happening in the world and keep saying “you can’t do that; God said…” while the rest of world keeps saying “we already are doing it; you’re not the only ones listening to God…”
Many leave all forms of religious expression and identity after deconstruction, while many others do not. Some describe their story like an unexpected home remodel, while others use less welcoming metaphors like war, escape, or abuse. Indeed, new knowledge of abuse within the (un)holy confines of evangelical establishments (e.g., #metoo), along with the fall of major leaders and failed ideologies, have further catalyzed evangelical deconstruction in the 21st century.
Evangelical apologetics and other standard preventive measures have also compounded the problem. Sociologists concur that the problem is, indeed, from the inside:
Bradley Wright et al. (2011) also recently report from a study of the online narratives of 50 former Christians that 85% of their respondents named interactions with other Christians and disintegrated social bonds as highly significant bonds in their deconversion. It was not those outside the church that helped bring about their deconversion, but those inside. In other words, the push factors from church interactions were more significant than the pull factors from outsiders. This finding has also been explored by Robert Marriott (2015) who found that being hurt by other Christians played a major contributing role in the deconversion of his research participants.
A recent study also showed “that students at CCCU schools are more likely to face a religious crisis than their secular counterparts.” This is the polar opposite of what the evangelical establishment has always asserted about Christian education. Christians are supposed to question their faith at secular universities, not at Christian colleges.
This research presents what business researchers call “disruptive innovation” and “the innovator’s dilemma.” The same means that made the established institution or firm successful are what is now causing it to fail (thereby opening up a vulnerability that can be exploited by disruptive innovators). Whether that’s weekly church services, pulpits and expository sermons, altar-calls, popcorn prayers, weekly Bible studies, apologetics debate clubs, or whatever, these were the means of success, but are now the reason for failure. “Established firms have a good thing going and see little reason to jeopardize it,” and they “assume that they already have the knowledge and expertise about what will work and need only apply it in new situations.”
This accurately describes the attitudes within American evangelicalism. The answers to problems (e.g., celebrities bailing, low enrollment, mass abuse and coverups, etc.) are the always same: do what should have worked before. Circle the wagons. That is what it means to “conserve.” And when that (predictably) doesn’t work yet again, the leadership does something worse: it increases the intensity of these same strategies. This only amplifies the damage coming from the self-destructive cycle.
|Recent Examples of the Evangelical Vindication and Galvanization Phase from the Evangelical-Industrial-Complex|
|Source||Sample (Construction)||Subtext (Deconstruction)|
|Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition
(August 24, 2019)
|“American churches don’t just have a deficit of men—they have a shortage of unmarried young men. This trend makes it harder for young women to find mates who are spiritually compatible.”||God commands everyone to procreate and make more people (and make more evangelical Christians); these stats should spur us to enforce traditional values even more than before.|
|Greg Morse, Desiring God Ministries
(February 5, 2019)
|“Play the Man You Are”: “…effeminacy falls under the category of abomination and, if not repented of, threatens entrance into eternal life….Am I questioning wearing floral shirts and tight jeans? Perhaps.”||Failing to live up to evangelical gender roles—as virtually everyone today now does—may put you on the path to eternal damnation.
We know what it really means to be a man or a woman.
|Brett McCracken and Becket Cook, The Gospel Coalition
(August 23, 2019)
|“From Gay to Gospel”:
McCracken: “Is there a way to reconcile following Jesus with having a gay identity?”
Cook: “They are irreconcilable.”
It is morally wrong to identify as non-heterosexual and Christian.
Christianity isn’t for non-heterosexuals.
Non-heterosexuals are a mistake.
Get back in the closet or
get out of the church.
|The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel
(MacArthur et al.)
(September 4, 2018)
|“We reject ‘gay Christian’ as a legitimate biblical category.”|
|Rosaria Butterfield, Twitter (October, 2019)||“Gay Christianity is a different religion. I’m not standing in the same forest with Greg Johnson and Wes Hill and Nate Collins looking at different angles of the trees, I’m in a different forest altogether.”|
(June 12, 2019)
|“The Church Does Not Exist for the Sake of the World”; “the purpose of the church—the family of God—is not to make the world a better place, but to invite the world into the better place, the place called church.”||Evangelicalism isn’t actually a failure because as long as we have our ducks in a row on our own territory, we still win.
We shouldn’t expect the church to make the world a better place (so why bother trying?)
|Ray Ortlund, The Gospel Coalition
(January 2, 2019)
|“Quit apologizing”: “Quit apologizing for serving the Lord. Go boldly into 2019. Paint onto its canvas what the gospel demands. It awaits your strokes.”||Despite what you’ve heard, evangelicals have done nothing wrong on recent controversial issues. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing; no need to listen.|
|John Piper, Desiring God Ministries
(April 19, 2017)
|“Is Male Headship a Lost Cause?”: “…complementarianism will endure…[it] is not going to go away—[because] no matter how great opposition to Christianity becomes, there will always be a remnant of complementarians willing to die for the truth, and they will be the kind of people who will give their lives rather than conform to a nonbiblical culture.”||Evangelical views about men and women are eternal and inerrant. Proof of this is loyalty to our own ideas.
“Non-evangelical culture” = “nonbiblical culture.”
“Nonbiblical culture” = “culture against God and lacks God’s voice; we can safely ignore and combat it for that reason.”
|The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel
|“WE DENY that political or social activism should be viewed as integral components of the gospel or primary to the mission of the church.”||Social activism—protesting war, exposing racism, sexism and other prejudices in society, feeding the poor, supporting governance that promotes justice, challenging oppressive empires—have little to do with Christianity.|
|John MacArthur, sermon (November, 2019)||“Let me tell you something: If children are in charge, we’re in trouble. If women are in charge, we’re in trouble…When women take over a culture, men become weak. When men become weak, they can be conquered, when all the men have been slaughtered, you [women] can sit there with all your jewelry and junk. You’ve been conquered, because you overpowered your protector.”||Men should fear sharing their power.
Men should fear women, especially those seeking not to be subordinate.
Women must be actively, intentionally, and consciously kept under control.
Women are either inferior to men, or if not, they should at least be forced to behave as if they are.
|Andrea Palpant Dilley, Christianity Today
(August 19, 2019)
|“Celebrate Sexual Ethics. Don’t Apologize For Them”; “Over the last five years, an increasing number of believers have changed their stance on sexual ethics and slipped from the grounded banks of orthodoxy into the current of the times.”||Our sexual-marital ethic has terminated in divorce rates, abuse, and sexual problems as bad as the secular world, but regardless of these concrete realities, we should still celebrate our theories on sexuality and marriage—because they’re right.|
|James R. White, twitter (June 22, 2019)||“Which is more likely to be the central cause for the fact that black women are 3.5x more likely to kill their unborn children?
1) Fundamentally rebellious sexual ethics;
2) Slavery from 160 years ago[?]”
|All cases of abortion are equally immoral, regardless of situation.
Something about being black and female inclines them to be more sexually rebellious than not.
Generational trauma can safely be ignored when dealing with social and structural societal problems.
|Andy Olsen, Christianity Today
(August 19, 2019)
|“Our September Issue: Go West, Young Scholar”: “How could many-centuries-dead white men continue shaping the West? Can moderns or progressives still study Western civilization and all its colonist, slaveholding, prom-iscuous baggage?”||Whatever is wrong with Western Civilization and Christendom, it isn’t as significant as non-evangelicals are saying; we know we can be proud to be western; the “West is [still] the Best.”|
|John Piper, Desiring God Ministries
(August 25, 2019)
|“Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering…Christians care about all injustice, especially injustice against God…Every human is guilty of an injustice, namely against God, that is infinitely worse than all the injustices against man put together.”||Despite recent criticism, our priorities are right, because we call people towards evangelical faith and away from hell, and towards a God who is legitimately narcissistic. Injustices against people are not our chief injustices against God; so we can prioritize the doctrinal over the social.|
|Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition
(May 8, 2019)
|“Stop Saying the Ancient Israelites Believed the Sky Was a Big Solid Dome with a Heavenly Sea Above It”||We’re still going to try to give credibility to a scientifically-accurate reading of Genesis, the tenets of creationism, and deny that the biblical authors wrote down ideas that are a product of their time.|
|Albert Mohler, Albert Mohler (August 16, 2010)||“The rejection of the Bible’s inerrancy will please the evangelical revisionists, but it will rob the church of its secure knowledge that the Bible is indeed true, trustworthy and fully authoritative….The rejection of biblical inerrancy is bound up with a view of God that is, in the end, fatal for Christian orthodoxy.”||Secure knowledge about the full authority and truthfulness of the Bible is required for a Christian’s faith; anything non-absolutist will result in total collapse.
Anything that rejects biblical inerrancy (or the SBC version of it) is non-Christian; there is no room for a plurality of perspectives in bibliology.
(June 21, 2019)
|“True Doctrine Doesn’t Wait: Without good theology, you can’t have Christlike love and compassion.”||Without evangelicalism, no one has the right to say they are loving like Christ (even when they are doing just that).|
|Jerry Falwell Jr., Fox News (May, 2017)||“I think evangelicals have found their dream president.”||There is no degree of moral compromise (or love of money) that can dissuade our political loyalties and supersede the (greater) evil of permitting our political opponents to win office.|
|Rick Perry, Fox News (November, 2015, 2019)||“You [Trump] are the chosen one.”|
There’s a saying in the business world: “Past performance is no guarantee of future success.” Established firms, denominations, religions, and organizations tend to turn this proverb on its head: Past performance is always a guarantee of future success.
Why do the means of success become the means of failure for an established group? That’s easy: because the world never stops changing, so an asset today is often a liability tomorrow. Any concrete embodiment or religious expression is going to take place in the space-time continuum, not in an abstract, timeless, theoretical world. That means such expressions will necessarily be subject to the passing of time. If time were frozen, if the world weren’t a dynamic, moving story, if languages and perceptions didn’t change, then things would be different. There would never be a need for new Bible translations, religious expressions, theologies, doctrinal formulations, prayers, hymns, confessions, rituals, routines, calendars, ethical rules, symbols, and so on.
Honest theologians and public intellectuals are facing the music:
…our inherited symbolism no longer fits the overall cast of life as it is lived, understood, and experienced in today’s world. So it must change, and change in decisive ways, if it is to continue to function properly—that is, if it is not to die out. Change in matters as deeply important to human life as religious symbolism is often difficult and painful; yet it happens all the time, as the history of every religion makes clear. The proper question to put with respect to Christian patterns of religious meaning, then, is not, Will (or should) change occur in the present modes of symbolization and praxis of the churches? But rather, Are the churches willing and able to support the kind of moves that will enable Christian rituals and symbolism to continue their life-giving functions?
To put it differently, our religious and ideological constructs are exactly that: constructs. As such, they can be (and must be) carefully and regularly subjected to deconstruction for the same reason an old house must eventually undergo renovation.
Conservative evangelicals are sort of like that grumpy old homeowner who placates his kids by painting a few things and changing the lightbulbs, but absolutely refuses to get new kitchen cabinets, remove that dysfunctional wall, or fix the roof that’s been sagging and leaking for years. “I like having just two plugs.” “I got along with it for all these years. Why do I gotta change the sink now?” “Newer isn’t always better (…these damn millennials think they know everything…)” The old man sometimes dreams of having a host of guests over, but there’s just no room for them, and the whole feel of the home is stale and lifeless. “Oh well,” he thinks. “I don’t like the way they dress anyway; some of them should just go back to the wherever they came from. They just don’t fit.”
While it is not “new,” the “deconstruction” experience is somewhat modern. Around the 1700s, global trade, immigrations, and new discoveries about religion, history, and the Bible combined to raise questions about various orthodoxies. Perhaps the quintessential example of this after-modernity deconstruction comes from the letters of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) to his father.
Friedrich was encountering this brave new world of science and modernity and found it difficult to reconcile with his dad’s reformed orthodoxy. Young Schleiermacher complained that the world of Christianity is isolated, not taking new discoveries seriously, but should not fear:
…what we see in the scientific periodicals, we learn nothing about the objections, arguments, and discussions raised in the present day in regard to exegesis and dogmatics. Even in the lectures delivered to us sufficient mention is not made of these matters, and yet knowledge of them is absolutely necessary for a future theologian. The fact that they fear to lay them before us, awakens in many minds a suspicion that the objections of the innovators must approve themselves to the intellect and be difficult to refute. I do not, however, share this opinion; and upon the whole, the small amount of discontent I feel in regard to this subject does not as yet disturb my tranquility, and you are the only person to whom I have mentioned it.
His father responded by encouraging him to have faith, to read the Bible more, and to “Keep out of the way of this tree of knowledge, and of that dangerous love of profundity which would lure you towards it.” Predictably, this did not help Friedrich’s budding faith crisis—nor address his specific concerns. He later went on to write one of the most influential theological works of the last two centuries as “the Father of liberal theology,” or “Father of modern theology.”
What’s interesting is how little has changed since the 1780s. Every week, for example, one can personally witness a similar interchange between parents and their young-adult children at the dinner table, on various forums, or in the Progressive Christians, Former Fundamentalists, Exvangelical, and Liturgists Facebook groups. Same struggles. Same arguments. Largely the same results. The experience might be sketched like this:
Phase 1: You deviate from the religious-theological norm one way or another, and slowly express doubts from inside the “orthodox” group.
Phase 2: In response, the group encourages you to read the Bible more, pray more, and not ask any more tough questions.
Phase 3: You take another step towards hell by reading a book by a non-conservative author, or listening to a university lecture on the literary origins of the Bible.
Phase 4: Things escalate to a discussion with one of the group’s authority figures who has a graduate degree, who then re-draws the same boundaries of doctrinal and moral purity, only with more serious language of consequences, eternal and otherwise.
Phase 5: You reveal that you have friends who aren’t heterosexual (or worse, that you aren’t heterosexual). You also reveal that you didn’t vote in the last election—all of which basically announces to the whole world that you’re shamelessly diving headlong into the lake of fire.
Phase 6: You enter the phase where friends and family have given up and only say “I’m praying for you.”
Phase 7: Radio-silence until the next holiday or run-in at the grocery store.
The difference today is the prevalence of this kind of experience: it occurs continually—so much, in fact, that I could probably entitle this book “Deconstruction” and most onlookers would already know what I mean: leaving religious fundamentalism.
 The seminal work here is Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2016, orig. 1967). David W. Odell-Scott, “Deconstruction,” in The Handbook of Postmodern Biblical Interpretation, ed. A. K. M. Adam (St. Louis: Chalic Press, 2000), 55, remarks that deconstruction is “an un-con-structuring, un-doing, de-composing, un-settling, de-stabilizing. Components and their relations are put into a play that is not an obliteration.” For a concise and honest introduction to “postmodern” thought (by a Christian no less), it is still hard to beat the clarity and conciseness of Stanley Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), and more effectively, in conjunction with Joseph Natoli and Linda Hutcheon, eds. A Postmodern Reader (Albany: State of University New York Press, 1993). Cf. Carl Raschke, Postmodern Theology (Eugene: Cascade, 2017) and The Coming Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004).
 A podcast and community born out of the experience of Michael Gungor (a former evangelical musical artist) and his friends (www.theliturgists.com).
 E.g., Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation, and various projects exploring the intersection of Medieval Christian or eastern thought and Christianity (e.g., theosophy, the perennial tradition, etc.)
 Cf. The Robcast and Exvangelical Podcast.
 “Because at its functional level all language is a system of differences, says Derrida, all language, even when spoken, is writing, and this truth is suppressed when meaning is taken as an origin, present and complete unto itself. Texts that take meaning or being as their theme are therefore particularly susceptible to deconstruction, as are all other texts insofar as they are conjoined with these. For Derrida, written marks or signifiers do not arrange themselves within natural limits, but form chains of signification that radiate in all directions. As Derrida famously remarks, ‘there is no outside-text’ (Derrida 1974 , 158), that is, the text includes the difference between any ‘inside’ or ‘outside.’” Gary Aylesworth, “Postmodernism,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
 I.e., marginalized groups and/or “outsiders.”
 Note, for example, Tyler Huckabee, “How to Deconstruct Your Faith Without Losing It: Sarah Bessey, Mike McHargue and Father Richard Rohr on why real faith begins with doubt,” Relevant Magazine (October, 2017). The theme of doubt and uncertainty has played no little role in this discussion. See, for instance, Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty (New York: HarperOne, 2016); Gregory Boyd, The Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013); Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith (New York: Howard Books, 2015); Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999); William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 256.
 Note that “heresy” comes from Greek αἱρετίζω, to “choose” or “decide for oneself.”
 Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990) argues that we are not yet really in a “post-modern” world.
 Cf. Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 41-42: “…the Greco-Roman mind transforms the Garden of Eden from its original earthy stuff into a transcendent Platonic ideal. It is no longer a good Jewish garden; it is a perfect Platonic, Greco-Roman garden. In this Platonic Garden, nothing ever changes, because in perfection change can only mean for the worst. This changelessness means that the Platonic Eden is a state, not a story….Every time we use terms like ‘the Fall’ and ‘original sin,’ I believe, many of us are unknowingly importing more or less of this package of Greco-Roman, non-Jewish, and therefore nonbiblical concepts like smugglers bringing foreign currency into the biblical economy…”
 These cases—such as Joshua Harris (author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Marty Sampson (writer for Hillsong and Delirious) and others who now identify as atheist or agnostic, are habitually scapegoated by conservative evangelicals as ammunition/proof for their own cause, as opposed to being a reason to question it. They imagine that such defectors “were never real evangelical Christians,” despite all the evidence to the contrary. It is extremely difficult to question the “invisible/visible church” dogma of Protestantism, and generally break out of the “told you so” echo-chamber. See the “Death Spiral” graphic below.
 E.g., Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill), Paige Patterson (SWBTS), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), Bill Gothard (Institute in Basic Life Principles), Doug Philips (Quiverful Patriarch), Perry Noble (NewSpring), Andy Savage (HighPoint Church), Tullian Tchividjian (New City Church), C. J. Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Church), James MacDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel), John Crist (comedian), et. al.
 E.g., “inerrancy of the autographs,” purity culture, and “complementarianism,” where (for example) John Piper advised during a Q&A interview that wives should endure abuse from their husbands “for a season.” (The video was pulled by Desiring God Ministries, but remains available on the internet). Or, where Wayne Grudem re-wrote the historic doctrine of the Trinity to support female subordinationism.
 Josie McSkimming, Leaving Christian Fundamentalism and the Reconstruction of Identity (New York: Routledge, 2017), 32.
 Daniel Silliman, “Lose Your Faith at an Evangelical College? That’s Part of the Process,” Christianity Today (August 30, 2019).
 Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma (New York: HarperBusiness, 1997).
 See Jamin Hübner, “Obstacles to Change: Overcoming the Hurdles of the State Apparatus in Higher Education,” The Journal of Religious Leadership 15:1 (2017):16-56, at 26-27.
 Ibid., quoting Dwight Zscheile, “Disruptive Innovations and the Deinstitutionalization of Religion,” The Journal of Religious Leadership 14:2 (2015):16-56, at 5.
 There would never be a need for life, or even God. Cf. Jürgen Moltmann, The Living God and the Fullness of Life (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2015), 36: “It is impossible to consider God as being unchangeable and immovable without declaring God to be dead.”
 Gordan Kaufman, In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 437.
 For an excellent elaboration on this, see Laurel Schneider and Stephen G. Ray Jr., Awake the Moment: An Introduction to Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016), 1-67.
 On the “phases” of one’s faith experience, see James Fowler, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (New York: HarperOne, 1995, orig. 1981) and Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich, The Critical Journey, Stages in the Life of Faith (Salem: Sheffield Publishing Company, 2004). It is no coincidence that evangelical deconstruction seems to happen most frequently in one’s 20s-30s.
 Friedrich Schleiermacher, in The Life of Friedrich Schleiermacher: As Unfolded in His Autobiography and Letters, trans. Frederica Rowan (London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1860), 46ff.
 Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith (two vols), trans. by Terrence Tice, Katherine Kelsey, and Edwina Lawler (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, orig. 1821).
 This ambiguity results in part because of the changing meaning of “liberal,” and the perceptions of the speaker involved. (For example, evangelicals generally prefer calling him “liberal” in the more denigrating way.)