This morning in my Facebook feed there were several people upset about an article in Huffington Post entitled Rachel Held Evans Defends Leaving Evangelicals For Episcopalians. They called Rachel a false teacher, questioned her theology and her salvation, and said that she was leading people astray. They expressed fear at her perspective and her influence. So I thought I’d share a little about Rachel’s influence on me.
For the record, Rachel responded to the article on her Facebook page saying that the title of the article
makes for an interesting headline, but which doesn’t really reflect the way I see my own church story or how I tell it in the book. This isn’t a story about demeaning one tradition in favor of another tradition. It’s a story about how the Spirit shows up, often unexpectedly, in multiple traditions and congregations and communities – particularly in the tradition that first introduced me to Jesus (evangelicalism) and the tradition where I am beginning to find a new home (the Episcopal Church). In the book I write about how I could no more “leave” evangelicalism than I could “leave” my parents. Evangelicalism is a part of me. It has irrevocably shaped my faith and my view of the world, and I am glad for that. It’s a gift. And anyone who reads the book will see that I honor it as such. ….Besides, I’ve always been under the impression that one can be both evangelical AND Episcopalian – the two are not mutually exclusive. 🙂 Most of us don’t fit into neat and tidy categories when it comes to faith. Most of us, I think, are an amalgam of experiences, beliefs, questions, longings, doubts, and dreams. A rejection of one kind of church for another would make a simpler story, but it’s not my story. And my guess is it’s not many other people’s story either.
I like Rachel Held Evans a lot. I read her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood and am about to start Faith Unraveled, and I follow her on her blog and Facebook. One of my favorite things about her is that she has been open about her struggles with faith and with the church, which are very similar to mine. She is open about her doubts as well as her beliefs, and is honest when she second-guesses herself or changes her mind about something.
I’m really looking forward to reading her new book Searching for Sunday because the subtitle — Loving, Leaving, and Finding Church — describes where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope some day to be. I will be buying the book and reading it with the goal of drawing closer to Christian community and to God. I don’t agree with everything she says. But here is a partial list of other writers whose works I read and love even though I don’t agree with everything they say:
Glennon Doyle Melton
Just to name a few.
I like to hear the perspectives and stories of lots of different people. It helps me realize that we are all trying to understand and describe the ineffable and indescribable, and that my own theology, as well as others’, is not The Truth about God, but just our best attempt to put the things of God into words and concepts we can understand. I am not afraid of being led astray because I trust, more than anything, in Jesus’ promise: “Seek, and you will find.” Evangelicals and other conservatives, you are very good at seeking. But others are seeking, too. Let’s share our own stories and perspectives, listen to those of other seekers, and trust Jesus to keep his promise.