I’ve read Rachel Held Evans’ blog off and on for a few years now, especially as I was moving away from my faith. She’s definitely a progressive Christian in her beliefs, and she’s taking a little heat from some Christians.
I stumbled on an article criticizing her post, “I Would Fail Abraham’s Test And So Would You”.
(While writing this post, I searched for the article mentioned above but it has apparently been taken down.)
The author writes,
“Rachel Held Evans, that former evangelical Christian girl of no little fame, continues to write herself away from the historic Christian Abrahamic faith, and into the arms of something even beyond so called ‘liberal Christianity;’ she seems to almost be at the doors of atheism.” (Emphasis mine)
I wonder if people would have written the same about me if they’d known what was going on in my life? Probably. While I’m definitely not a Christian, I have to admire her for being brave enough to challenge long-held beliefs.
Evans shares openly about many religious leaders who have spoken to her regarding her faith.
“I have often been told by pastors and apologists that my misgivings about these biblical passages represent a weakness of faith, and that my persistent questions about suffering, evil, and violence in God’s name betray a deep distrust in a God who owes me no explanations. You have to take your emotions out of it,” a Reformed pastor once told me. “You’re letting the humanism so pervasive in our culture affect your sense of justice.”
“But why would the very God I believe imprinted us all with a conscience—with a deep sense of right and wrong—ask me to deny that conscience by accepting genocide as just?” I asked. “And how could I ever bring myself to worship a God who, if these accounts are true, ordained and derived glory from actions I believe are evil?”
Several phrases in the above quote really hit home for me. Throughout my life I was told that questioning displayed a ‘weakness of faith’ or that it shows a ‘deep distrust in a God who owes me no explanations’. While the words were phrased differently, the intent was the same. Don’t question. Don’t seek answers. Don’t try to understand. If you’ve heard my
story then you know the answer my Dad gave when I went to him with a question. “God’s ways are higher than our ways. We’re frail human beings. How could we know God’s mind. Our job is to accept what he says.” For me, that sent a clear message: Doubt=Weak Faith=Sin. I guess the religious cliche` I’ve heard all my life sums it up well.
“God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
Again, I know she’s a believer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire her courage. Trust me, I understand just how hard the religious community can come down on a person who dares to ‘color outside the lines’! Anyone who acknowledges their doubts, their questions, and struggles with ancient beliefs while knowing how they will be treated is brave in my book.
Is she close to being an atheist as the author claims? Who knows, but that’s not the point. Recognizing that there are some who intentionally engage the questions, intentionally refuse the ‘approved beliefs’, and speak out earns my respect.
You may think I’m soft on religion. No, I’m not. But while I disagree with religious theology, I do see people who have the guts to call out those who promote a hate-filled system of faith. I used to believe like Evans. It was the last phase of my faith. But unlike her, I didn’t talk to anyone about it much less write public blog posts! My hope is that her writing will inspire others to think deeply.
Knowing that there are some people who actively engage the text, wrestle with it, and refuse to take it at face value is commendable in my book.