"The Afterlife of Rachel Held Evans"

An article in the New Yorker by Eliza Griswold about a collection of essays assembled by her friend Jeff Chu. If the book contains as many memorable quotes as the article it promises to be a page turner.

…a touching and strangely disembodied series of essays in which Held Evans, with Chu’s invisible pen, explores how one might find a path forward in Christianity beyond conservative evangelicalism.

For Held Evans, wholehearted faith involved dropping the armor of intellectual certitude: “Much as I prefer the self-protection offered by cynicism, caution and carbohydrates, finding my way back to my own belovedness has required receiving a new spirit, one of tenderness and one of vulnerability.”

The arrogance of intellectual superiority, Held Evans writes, isn’t a solely conservative folly. Regardless of ideology, holding oneself above others based on certitude is dangerous. She worries that she is often guilty of this habit: “At times it is as if I didn’t dismantle that fortress at all. I just took one flag down and raised a different one in its place.” She often circles back to the notion of “belovedness,” a watchword of Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, who argued that God’s love is at the core of Christian teaching. This idea, which Held Evans embraced, has become popular among those moving out of conservative evangelicalism. In the end, Held Evans’s final book offers few firm conclusions; it seems to simply stop, mid-exploration. The challenge and poignancy of the collection is that its essays mark both the evolution of a consciousness and its abrupt end. “Everyone’s theology is a work in progress that keeps changing until they die,” Chu told me. “Rachel hadn’t finished asking all her questions, and she never thought she had all the answers.”

With humility and openness, Held Evans helped reintroduce a mode of spiritual inquiry in America that was based in seeking mystery, not certainty. “She made Christianity seem like a decent place to be while you asked questions, rather than something you had to abandon to be free,” Kathryn Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale, said.


So well put.

He’s a great author, precisely for his humility. His appeal is broad–a Baptist recommended him to me.

Thankyou for this post!


Thanks for sharing about her. I had heard her name but I don’t think I had heard more. She sounds like an amazing person.


My impression too.


RHE’s books were some of the first that allowed me to think “differently” than this typical evangelical thinking I had thought was the only way to think. I’m so thankful for the that I found there, that not everything is so certain. This book is on the always long reading list.


I’m certain I am guilty of that!

I first heard of Evans when someone recommended her book Evolving in Monkey Town. It foreshadowed the types of questions asked today of people wondering how to find community in our churches with those of differing views.


The saints always are.

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Nice move, Mark. Ya slipped Rachel H.E. into Biologos.org right under the noses of the Moderators. Ha!

What am I talking about?

Rachel penned the Foreword to David Khalaf and Constantino Khalaf’s book “A Queer Guide
to Christian Marriage”

[copy of entire foreward removed for copyright infringement]

Undismayed by moderator oversight, I quote here the first line of Rachel’s Foreword to David and Constantino’s book entitled: Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage

The world needs this book.

Well Terry, I don’t agree with everything St. Augustine says, but it doesn’t mean discussing him here is forbidden.


(And to whichever undismayed @moderator :slightly_smiling_face:) The entire foreward can be read here using the “Look inside” feature:

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It’s unclear what your point it is. People in the BioLogos network have different positions on gay marriage, as do the different Christian denominations that people in the BioLogos network are affiliated with. We don’t discuss LGTBQ issues on the forum. That doesn’t mean that everyone who at all associates with EC is forbidden from ever talking about them.

Here is the tribute Jim Stump wrote when she died, fully aware of her positions.


Then I’d say you and I are of one mind on that matter.

However, suppose there was a fellow in the neighborhood who started a thread, affirming the possibility that an untimid, forthright, and righteous conversation could take place in this forum on the subject of a Queer Christian Marriage. Just how long a shelf-life would you give that thread?

I didn’t think it was a secret that she was an advocate for being inclusive and, like Jesus, looking out for groups that are oppressed. Her’s is a good example of the sort of thinking that has me thinking more highly of Christianity and Evangelism. When her thinking becomes more mainlined the church will not only have an easier time keeping the children of its membership from giving up their faith. It would also help make the policies of the church more recognizably coherent with the message of Jesus.

It is beyond me why anyone has a problem with the fact that some people form loving bonds with people of the same sex. I have many friends in that group and there is nothing shameful about them, while there is much for those who would discriminate against them to be ashamed of. Why Christians should want to make a bigger deal of homosexuality -even if it is thought of as a shortcoming- than domestic violence or divorce is beyond me.

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Obviously, you didn’t. If you had, I’d have congratulated you for your boldness in waving the “Sexuality Flag” in this forum.

At the risk of watching my response here disappear before my very eyes, “it’s beyond me, too.” The youngest son of my younger brother is Gay.
My mother’s niece is Lesbian.
And I had the pleasure of helping my mother’s 4th cousin–who happens to be Lesbian AND married–locate and connect with her biological mother.

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I suspect we’re far from the only ones here who know fine people in same sex relationships. But I rarely wave that flag since I respect this site’s mission and their need to pick their battles. There are political battles that cost political capital. Got to be strategic or you’ll lose all the battles.

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Sorry, I’m somewhat unphased by a threat “to lose all the battles.”
I was once a member of a bigger forum where moderators could swing bigger clubs. You could get away with quite a bit, but if you crossed the right line, you could find yourself banned … temporarily or permanently, by a vote of moderators. Here, in Biologos, I voluntarily requested similar treatment some time ago in order to prevent me from returning after a point, and I was told: "No can do. But no one makes you come here. Go change your notifications to “do not notify.”

I’ve been on two other Christian sites and found them almost as rude as the atheist sites. I find this site really strives to moderate in a way that exemplifies the best of Christian values. Most forums are like food fights at a middle school and the moderators generally seem to like participating at that level too.

Christians have the advantage as they have a well defined set of values provided anyone is willing to do the onerous work of applying them. I would never want to be part of a poorly moderated forum again.


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