Rachel Held Evans and Her Critics: They Are All Missing an Opportunity

"The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed." –Thomas Paine

 Amazon link

Oh good night! The “really saved” brigade is out, proclaiming that Rachel Held Evans, in her books and her blog musings, is guilty of heretical ravings. Some even claim that she is not a Christian and will be judged by God! (Did you not know that there are people on earth that know God's inner thoughts? In some circles that might be considered borderline mental illness.)  Of particular concern is her current book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  This book is garnering the interest of major news outlets, and, as such, deserves intelligent conversation that goes beyond “stomping feet.” I believe her critics and, to some extent, Rachel Held Evans herself, are missing out on a golden opportunity.

Denny Burk weighed in with a negative review here. Please read the comments. He does get pushback.

Of course, The Gospel Coalition weighed in and linked here to a negative review of the book by a woman on the Desiring God site.

Note to The Gospel Coalition: We are in Day 7 of silence on the filed lawsuit against one of your founders, CJ Mahaney. I guess child sex abuse takes a back seat to an “uppity” woman, hmm?

Roger Olson wrote a positive review of the book here.

I have watched her interviews, read her blog, and previewed some marketing videos. Please watch Evans' seven minute MSNBC interview and her two, one-minute videos promoting the book.


My review is not about the book, which I will read on an upcoming vacation. Instead, I want to discuss an underlying issue that I think many have missed no matter one’s opinion of the book.

Simply stated: The Old Testament is hard to understand for almost everybody except John Piper and some first year seminary students at SBTS.  Even Bible studies that purport to examine the “entire” Bible fail miserably in dealing with what I call the “please God, don't let them ask me about that verse" verses.

Through the years, I have listened and watched as Christians attempt to explain the Old Testament to inquirers.  It goes something like this. ”That was the Old Covenant that pointed us to our sins and our need for forgiveness. No one follows that anymore. Jesus took care of it. Let’s go to the book of John.”

But, we do practice some OT commands in some churches:

  • Tithing
  • Moses model leadership
  • Limited roles for women in the church

In other words, we still accept these things but attempt to put a New Testament spin on it. Most average Christians are visibly uncomfortable when confronted with issues such as:

  • God’s command to wipe out certain people groups
  • The numbers of wives and concubines of Jewish leaders
  • The unusual rules in Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Leviticus

When questioned on specific verses by outsiders, many run the other way. They excuse their inability to speak to the issue raised by condemning the questioner. “They don’t really want to know about God, they just want to criticize us. Don’t throw your pearls before swine.”

So, many stay inside their safe little churches and condemn atheists and agnostics for asking the hard questions. However, within those safe enclaves, strange theories abound and are tolerated. “If I can find it, I can claim it!” I have read those proclaiming the wonders of “The Leviticus Diet” and those selling the therapeutic oils of the Old Testament.” Here and here

Let’s face it. Many of the stories, commands, and the lifestyles of the Old Testament  can be difficult to understand and even harder to explain to those who are outside of the faith. For example, Christians condemn the polygamy of the early Mormons. Yet, David had multiple wives and concubines. The usual throw away Christian answer is that God allowed it due to David’s “hardness of heart.” The easy retort is, “So, why not now? I know lots of people who are hard in their hearts.” Of course, there are other ways to approach these questions but many Christians can't even get to first base.

Let’s take a look at a few rules of the OT from the NIV at Bible Gateway.

Leviticus 19:27, “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

Leviticus 21:17-23 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary.

Leviticus 12:1-5 Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.

It is important for us to remember that the Israelites were living under a theocracy. God functioned as the ancient FDA, CDC, police force, refuse management, etc.

So some of the rules make sense. The Israelites could not eat shellfish because shellfish are bottom dwellers and eat anything that sinks to the bottom of their habitat – including human waste. Such a rule would protect the Israelites from an E Coli gastroenteritis which can be fatal for the young and the elderly.

Added at 4:50PM "And this begs the obvious question. What makes someone pure? I can imagine that all of those priests, etc bringing the offering all had their impurities hiding under the surface. So, is God interested in only the "superficial?" Who is more pure: a dwarf or a priest who is lusting after HIldah?"

Other rules are not so easy to explain, especially the command that those with birth defects were prohibited from bringing food offerings to God. The flip answer about "purity" pales beside the concern for compassion of the person with a birth defect. Of course, I could take the John Piper approach and call anyone who doesn't like it a sinner. That takes care of that, doesn't it?

Please feel free to share with all of us your particular “weird” law of the Old Testament. Try to explain why you think that law was instituted. Here is an example of what I mean

Leviticus 19:19
“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.”
(Perhaps due to the sterility issue?)

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.”
(Bad for the nutrients in the soil, one attracts vermin from which the other did not have immunity?)

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”
(Possible shrinkage making the item too small and misshapen, rendering it useless. Difficult if resources are scarce?)

My good friend, Eagle, and I have had frequent conversations in which I have told him that I do not have answers for all of the verses in the Bible. I do, however, believe that the Scriptures give me the single best narrative that explains the world around me.

So, here is my concern for everyone in this conflict. I do not believe that Christians have done a great job of explaining the Old Testament and why we pick and choose what we will follow. I also do not think Evans’ explanation of “just following Jesus” immunizes her either, although I understand her sentiments. We are given the whole Bible and cannot cut out the inconvenient parts. 

We (all of us, not just the theologians) must deal with the inherent difficulties in parts of the Scripture. We need to be able to communicate these struggles to a questioning world. I am most frustrated that this conflict has boiled down to critics claiming heresy instead of kindly explaining their understanding of the issues to those who are listening. I think Evans could ramp it up a bit as well. For example, she could explain how Jesus fulfilled the law and how the dietary restrictions were lifted in the New Testament.

I think everyone should read Evans' book and wrestle with the issues she raises. I also think that her critics, especially all the self-proclaimed “gospelly correct” leaders, need to look at themselves and figure out how they can do a much, much better job in helping a watching world, along with people in the churches, to better understand the Old Testament laws and their relationship to the New Testament. For example,they could explain why God declared a woman, during her period, unclean for 12 days. That would be much more interesting than the usual ho-hum "look at the heretic" response.

Right now, it looks as if Evans' critics are more concerned about "proving" her heresy as opposed to taking this unique opportunity to explain the Old Testament to a confused world. We sure shoot our own, don't we? Oh yeah, "they" don't think she is one of our own.

Lydia's Corner:  Leviticus 11:1-12:8  Mark 5:21-43  Psalm 38:1-22  Proverbs 10:8-9


Rachel Held Evans and Her Critics: They Are All Missing an Opportunity — 539 Comments

  1. How much has the stock market gone up over the last 4 years?

    Folks like Romney have greatly benefited from this.

  2. Hey Muff, somebody has to be the big dog who decides who gets what in socialism too. And socialism does nothing but breed an oligarchy, too, in those who get to decide for the rest of us. (i.e,congress exempted itself from Obamacare) What kills me is that their churches are practice forms of totalitarianism. That is their polity whether they admit it or not. A few decide for the many.

    The problem is with the “many”. Why are they going along? How come they do not love freedom in Christ? How come so many Americans no longer love smaller government? What happened to “Dont tread on me”? Now it is “what are you going to do for me”? Both at church and in government. By today’s standards, JFK was a conservative. And John Weseley was a heretic.

  3. “He was really surprised that she has a following at all. He says that she has little to no theological training at all or really any ministry experience. He has checked out her blog a little and just assumes that she is clever and has struck a nerve in the popular culture and may get some notoriety for a while, or an entire career, if she continues to play her cards right.”

    “Hmmm. sounds like how CJ Mahaney got started. Little education, no theological training or ministry experience…”

    I can think of at least one world-famous evangelist who got his start the same way – yet I respect him as an excellent teacher. The lack of these attributes doesn’t mean someone has nothing worth saying or listening to.

  4. The bailouts were nothing but “fascism”. I could not believe it. Both parties are guilty.

  5. Anon1

    You know what the radical comps do to Deborah. She was merely there because there were no men willing to be men.

  6. Anon1

    I know that I do not understand it and hope it will be cleared up for me when I go home. The Bible doesn’t answer some questions for me but it answers all the big ones.

  7. Dee –

    You know what the radical comps do to Deborah. She was merely there because there were no men willing to be men.”

    Well, that seems to be where we are today. Maybe Rachel is a modern day Deborah. The TGC boys should “look in the mirror” as Michael Jackson would say.

  8. HUG

    But, in distinguishing the “practice” of the faith, it could be perceived that God allowed guilt and shame to be placed on thoe who were handicapped through no direct fault oftheir own.I do not see any place in the OT in which these folks were otherwise honored to make up for this slight.

  9. Val

    Excellent questions on TGC’s use of Keller to go after RHE and the fact she was mysteriously absent on the infamous Wilson quote bungle.

  10. I heard that Bill O’Reilly’s $10,000 generator failed during the storm. How does one of those generators fail?

    Natural gas big generators like this have several moving parts. They have a motor which needs to be run periodically. A generator. And an automatic or manual cutover system tied to your houses breaker box. All of these need to be tested and maintained. Oil changed. Fittings lubricated. Most people don’t.

    Buy a car. Drive it home. Park it in the driveway as your emergency car. Now don’t use it for 3 years. Emergency happens. Run out and use the car. Guess the results.

  11. Anon 1, with regards to this:

    My nephew said that Evans tried to start a house church that basically floppped and now she doesn’t go anywhere.

    Do you know if that is correct?”

    I don’t follow Evans that closely. I have read her blog a few times over the years. Have read it more recently. I think she has some very good discussions, asks good questions, etc. I do not understand this fascination with following anyone for things that are of Christ.

    I am not a subscriber to the concept of “starting a church”. I think that is backwards thinking. I believe a church happens when believers decide to meet together for lots of reasons such as study, worship, helping others, etc. I think our typical definition of “church” is tradition. If Evans is trying to be a big church guru, as you seem to suggest, she might want to find a bigger city and a bigger house. (wink)

    I already answered that earlier. No, RHE did not try to “start a church” in the way that question seems to be intended (being compared to Mahaney and Driscoll who started churches, and have been the leaders of those churches).. She was apparently part of a group involved in a house church that eventually failed– but neither she nor her husband was the pastor.

  12. http://www.dennyburk.com/why-was-rachel-held-evans-on-the-roof/

    Boy oh boy. Doug Wilson is becoming the go to guy these days for the Calvinistas. Amazing how far the Cavlinistas have fallen into embracing a dominionist, pro slavery apologist and hard core patriarchal pastor who used to be considered the fringe. (Oh, did I mention a pedophile supporter, too)

    As Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice said, “I am all astonishment”

  13. KR, I am sorry I did not mean to dismiss your comment. I just did not know about it first hand as I did not read about it on her blog. So, I had no idea what that meant in terms of logistics, etc.

    I guess I went a bit off topic on a rant about this whole church planting/starting a church thing that is so popular these days. I just cannot help myself sometimes. :o) I think the YRR guys want to use that against her because they believe women pastors are from satan.

    I really have no problem with them having a church in their home at all. That is what they did in the NT!

  14. Anon 1 – great Huffington Post link! It expresses so much of my discontent!

    And, yeah, the turn to Douglas Wilson, I think, is also the fruit of worldvie apologetics and the way that Calvinistas are toying with theocracy without even knowing it!

  15. Denny Burke continues to attempt to run down RHE on his blog. We all out to run over to his site and thank him for helping her to sell more of her books.

    Denny is a BULLY!

  16. mot, I left a slightly ornery comment about Burke’s endorsement of Wilson – we’ll see how long it stays there.

  17. Anon1

    I saw that post and thought the same thing. He fusses about Evans and her “corner of the roof”example but seems to have no problem with marrying a young woman to a convicted, serious pedophile. So, what is wrong here? Perhaps he follows a different faith that coddles those men who are involved in terrilbe sin?

  18. Denny is an outstanding example of what too many leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention also feel towards women. Many in the Southern Baptist Convention would argue with me but IMO the Southern Baptist Convention is anti-women.

  19. sigh….. about all this.

    “It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.” –Anne Rice

  20. “http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/10/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-some-hopefully-constructive-thoughts-on-evanss-critics/”

    This guy makes a great point.

    “But here is the question that keeps ringing in my ears: “Why has this one person with this idea caused such a stir?” After all, books and ideas a whole lot more destructive, by any reasonable notion of the word, are uttered daily for Christians to get worked up about (sex-trafficking, poverty, torture). So why do we see reviewers getting so focused about what one person thinks about “biblical womanhood” and resorting so quickly to condescension and destructive rhetoric? (In addition to misunderstanding some hermeneutical issues, that is my general assessment of two recent reviews here”

  21. Androidninja:

    Yes. That was only my nephew’s opinion.

    I was at church tonight, and heard from my pastor that Ms. Evans was on the Today Show this morning. He had never heard of her, but saw my nephew’s assessment.

    I haven’t seen Ms. Evans’ performance on the Today Show, and probably won’t take the time to follow up. My pastor asked if that was the same person that Kelby was writing about, and I said to my knowledge it was.

    My pastor’s only comment was how unbelievably uniformed she was. He was surprised she was on the top 50 of anything list.

    Maybe you watched the Today Show performance. Did you think it was good?

  22. Pingback: Linkathon 10/31-11/1 » Phoenix Preacher | Phoenix Preacher

  23. Val:

    If you read my comments, I have not read Ms. Evans. I had not heard of her until this blog. The only person I know personally who knew who she was, was my nephew, so I commented on what he thought. Then when Dee or Deb said they were interested in him, he chimed in on the blog himself.

    I am capable of reading her blog and reading her books, but they don’t interest me that much. It’s not really a topic that I have struggled with that much (i.e. how much of the OT to try and keep?) and if I had, there are probably many in Christian history who have tackled the subject.

    I am glad that you find her helpful and enjoy her writing.

    I do value my nephew’s opinion, and I find it representative of a certain segment of the young Christians in our nation now. He is at one end of the spectrum of that good, and is unusual for his background, intellect and reading habits.

    I haven’t read any blogs about her either, so other than what this site has posted, I don’t know what others are saying.

    My pastor was shocked when he caught her performance on the Today Show.

  24. Anon1:

    Are you saying that Tim Keller’s wife is reviewing her book?

    I respect Tim Keller, have visited Redeemer and have friends there.

    Don’t know his wife.

    Maybe Keller’s wife has some interesting things to say.

  25. Dee:

    Does Evans take on the dwarfs and handicapped issue in the OT? Let me know if she addresses that. My nephew, who is handicapped, might want to read her book if she addresses that just for information purposes.

  26. Jeff S:

    Keller is primarily in the PCA because of doctrinal orthodoxy (in his case – the Westminster Confession), not because of comp/egal views of women in ministry.

  27. Mot:

    The stock market over the last 4 years?

    Romney has benefitted from all this?

    What, pray tell, are you talking about?

    I thought we were discussing a young woman with a blog and a new book?

  28. Lucie:

    Agreed. Lots of uneducated people have been used by the Lord. See my later posts on this.

    There are some areas of the faith where an education can be quite useful. Ancient history, Semitic languages, archaeology and such can be quite helpful when discussing difficult questions from the OT and its relation to the NT. Agreed?

    Otherwise, I’ll ask the bus driver tomorrow who the Sons of God were in Genesis, and I’ll get back to you with his thoughts.

  29. “My pastor was shocked when he caught her performance on the Today Show.”

    The clip is on the post. Which part shocked your pastor? The part where she says she loves the Lord on TV?

  30. “My pastor’s only comment was how unbelievably uniformed she was. He was surprised she was on the top 50 of anything list”

    Your pastor sounds like Eddy Haskell. I know the type in ministry.

  31. “Jeff S:
    Keller is primarily in the PCA because of doctrinal orthodoxy (in his case – the Westminster Confession), not because of comp/egal views of women in ministry.”

    I am struggling to find the link now, but what he said in that paper was that he originally intended to minister in the PC(USA) but couldn’t due to his views on women in ministry.

    This doesn’t dispute what you are saying, and my guess is that the PC(USA) and PCA churches were more closely aligned at the time he went into ministry (technically the PC(USA) is confessional too). Remember that the role of women in the church was the major point of contention that caused the PCA churches to split off.

    I am at a PCA church, FWIW.

  32. “Are you saying that Tim Keller’s wife is reviewing her book?”

    I don’t think I said that. I think it was mentioned by someone else here that she wrote something about it. I was asking questions about the polity at Kellers church concerning women. I know nothing about them.

    There is some question now as to the veracity of Mrs Keller saying she tried to contact RHE, I read. Evans says she has had no voice mail or email from her. Perhaps Mrs. Keller will share how she tried to contact her to clear the matter up?

  33. http://www.upc-orlando.com/resources/written/doctrines/doctrine06.html

    This is Tim Keller speaking here:

    “We live in an era of tension. In many churches, a particular view of women-in-ministry has become a basis for fellowship. Sometimes the message is: “though we believe in the Scripture, in Jesus as the Son of God, the need for repentance and faith in order to be born again, the importance of spreading the kingdom through the ministry of the Holy Spirit—if you don’t share my view of women-in-ministry, there’s the door!” Some 15 years ago, we would have entered the Presbyterian Church USA to minister, but we were told that our view of women-in-ministry precluded us from serving there. Though we would have worked beside people with different views, those on the other side of the fence would not work with us.
    We do not want that to be the case at Redeemer. If you hold a view that differs from church policy or of the personal approach of the pastor, you should not feel bound to leave. We know what it was like to be “disfellowshipped” over this issue once! We will not do it to anyone else.”

  34. “Otherwise, I’ll ask the bus driver tomorrow who the Sons of God were in Genesis, and I’ll get back to you with his thoughts.”

    Scholars do not agree on that one. Just ask him if he knows Jesus. You might learn something real.

  35. And here’s the part I was talking about earlier:

    “In a nutshell, our position is this: whatever a non-ruling elder male can do in the church, a woman can do. We do not believe that I Timothy 2:11 or I Corinthians 14:35-36 precludes women teaching the Bible to men or speaking publicly. To “teach with authority” (I Timothy 2:11) refers to disciplinary authority over the doctrine of someone.”

    I’m not saying I agree with his view, but this is a far greater role for women than most Comps allow.

  36. Anonymous, I’m not getting you. What is your take on these bible verses?

    Matthew 11:25
    At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

    Matthew 18:3
    And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  37. “The Woman’s Vote” (or not) – as seen in Boardwalk Empire.

    I’m starting to get deja vu with this cringeable moment and the RHE debate about how she’s not ‘educated’. Back in your box women!


    Background explanation:

    The Commodore finds women voting a frightening prospect. Nucky sees a vote as a vote. The Commodore calls for his maid, Louanne, and is irritated when she does not come. He rings a hand bell, annoying Nucky. Louanne eventually arrives and The Commodore berates her for being slow to respond. The Commodore asks Louanne to tell Nucky her thoughts about the League of Nations and she is unable to comment. The Commodore moves on to the Halliday Act and she apologises for not being versed in such matters. The Commodore was using Louanne to make a point to Nucky about how ill informed he believes female voters are.

  38. JeffS:

    Thanks. That is great information to have. Our church is similar to Redeemer in its beliefs. I can identify with what he is saying.

    One of our members was upset because we have had women teach in Sunday School and because we have women who pass out the elements during communion, take up the offering etc. He objected because he said that he thought our church held a complimentarian viewpoint we should not have these things.

    Our point to him is that we do not hold a view called “complimentarian” that other people define which then tells us what we can and cannot do in all of these particulars.

    It’s amazing how people want to stretch things to extremes.

  39. Hatch:

    I certainly believe these verses. And I believe that God reveals himself to people who enter as a child.

    But you are misapplying these verses.

    These verses do not support the concept that believers should be know-nothings.

    There are numerous verses in the Bible that encourage us to study, to know the Scriptures, and to have pastors and teachers who are knowledgeable.

    Is your pastor a child? Are the people who teach the Sunday School classes at your church the most untrained and unknowledgeable in the faith?

    It seems to me that the criticisms of Ms. Evans is that she is essentially untrained and is wading into waters where she can’t swim. My 20 year old nephew says as much. My pastor thought so, too. Basically anyone who doesn’t have some grudge or ax to grind against Ms. Evans’ critics seems to fault her because he book is just not that smart.

    I am not questioning her faith or walk. I have never heard or read her. And if she is as ignorant as people say, then I probably will read someone else who can actually teach me something.

    Being a free market person, however, I applaud her success. I believe that the national media is likely to continue to give her a spot light. She’s earned it. That’s one of the great things about America.

  40. Hatch:

    I would enjoy reading an educated person’s interpretation of the OT and its application to NT Christians, man or woman.

    I would venture to say that Anon1 or Dee or Deb, for example, would have much more cogent thoughts on that subject than the author we are discussing.

  41. Anon1:

    You miss the point. Sure, I can ask the bus driver if he knows Jesus, and he may, and his walk may be exemplary.

    But I would not ask him to teach a Hebrew class or to give a discourse on textual criticism or historical theology.

    The point that the critics are making re Ms. Evans is her attempt to address a subject with no educational background to do so, and to treat it in a childish way.

    I have always admired that you encourage us to seek to be like the Bereans in the NT. I agree with that.

    But in this case it appears that rather than have us learn from knowledgeable sources, we should go to the most untrained and ignorant sources. And that just does not make sense to me.

    Btw, my pastor was shocked because while he found Ms. Evans nice, he could not believe how ignorant she was.

  42. Anonymous:

    I do not generally respond to anonymous comments but yours fired me up.

    You said:”Btw, my pastor was shocked because while he found Ms. Evans nice, he could not believe how ignorant she was.”

    IMO your pastor’s comment is BULL!!

  43. Anonymous

    Keller’s wife did have soe interesting things to say. I think she picked up on my point that more could be done to help people understand the relationship to the OT to the NT.

    The problem with the Today Show was Evans went up against a machine which is clever in portraying a particular point of view. She has never had national exposure on such a scale and was not adept in handling the direction of the interview. But that is not uncommon.

    Do you remember reading about how the media used Billy Graham in his early days and ,for one brief moment, succeeded in sucking him into the politico scene? I think I remember reading in his bio how he was upset at himself when the proess asked him to kneel outside of the building in which he met with one of the presidents (?Eisenhower). Even so, he made a number of blunders in the popular arena and he was surrounded by a staff of people. She is on her own and there sure aren’t any Christian leaders trying to support her.

    I think the Calvinista crowd missed a marvelous opportunity in addressing RHE and her book. Some of the more vocal should have asked for a sit down and interviewed her from the angle of faith as opposed to the Today Show’s angle of “see the Bible is full of holes.” If one takes a big picture on RHE, as I do, you will find her as someone who has something to say about the difficulties of Biblidal exposition for the average person, what the difficult questions are and how are we addressing them. I disagree with her on some subjects but I believe she is a thoughtful person who has caused a major storm in the evangelcial community. We need to address her, not condemn her.

    And why has she caused a storm? I think it has to do with the complementarian issue more than anything else. She is now public enemy number one because, if one disagrees Wayne Grudemn’s and John Piper’s rules for comp living, then one is a heretic on the level of denying the deity of Christ.


  44. Anonymous

    She does not address the handicapped She only addresses the women’s issues. I was trying to make a larger point that goes beyond the issue of women in the Bible. There are some things in the OT that I find difficult. This is one of them. I do not buy the explanation that the pagans who surrounded God’s people used handicapped people in their rituals so God wanted the Israelites to be different. If that is the only explanation, then I am hoping God will clear it up for me in heaven because it is weak and does not answer the deeper question. 

    I believe we Christians use the trow away point that we are now in the New Covenant and therfore that stuff is obsolete. However, it existed for a over millenium and we don’t solve the porblme by saying “move alon,g nothing to see here.” Thoughtful people will ponder why such a rule was necessary no matter the introduction of the new Covenant. After all, God has not changed, has He? 

    I believe that RHE has similar questions on the roles of women in the Bible. Frankly, I wish some of these loudmouthed self-appointed keepers of the purity of the faith would quit their yapping and start addressing, in a thoughtful manner , the issues raised so that someone that watches The Today Show would understand. Right now, all they know is that evangelical leaders think she is evil and a heretic and that they see a nice woman who is asking questions that seem reasonable.


  45. Anonymous

    As you know, the two of us are trying to steer clear of the election stuff. The only time I addressed it was about a year ago when evangelicals were up in arms over a Mormon running for President. I believe that Christian can disagree on politics although some treat it like a central faith issue.

  46. Anonymous

    There are many at SBTS and The Gospel Coalition who would think your church is bordering on “unbiblical” for allowing women to do such things. And these are the leaders. So, would you say that the leadership of these groups is extreme?

  47. Anonymous

    I do not believe that Evans is ignorant. One needs to read her over time to understand that. I believe she went to Bryan College so she had a good education from a Christian standpoint. Here is what I think ahppened. She went to some of these classes and started asking some questions that were hard to answer. I believe that the Christian church is quite weak in explaining the OT to the world. For most people, the answer is not “its over so forget about it.” 

    I bleive that the average person in the faith cannot answer the questions of many people and avoid going there. Perhaps your congregation is different but I interact with many people in churches and am concerned about their ability to answer anything beyond a simple explanation of the Gospel. And most of them will never talk with an atheist or agnostic because they avoid it.

  48. Caleb W

    Doug Wilson is devastating to the church’s witness in the world and the fact that these guys don’t see it is evidence that “ignorance” is pervasive.

  49. The criticism of RHE as being somehow educationally ‘unqualified’ or to ‘ignorant’ of the biblical issues involved in her book is completely BOGUS. First, if having a Ph.D. from a seminary is a requirement to speak on the topic, then the rest of us must be silent on the issue as well – I guess we’re just supposed to accept what the Calvinista Ph.D.’s have to say without question.

    Second, I’ve never heard them rip into CJ Mahaney and other non-Ph.D.’s for their lack of an advanced degree in religion. Sounds like hypocrisy and misogynism to me – paint a woman as ignorant is a popular tactic of theirs.

    Third, RHE’s book is NOT a scholarly treatise, nor is it presented as such. It’s a look at issues in the Bible related to women from the perspective of an educated layperson trying to make sense of what the Bible says about women and how much of that applies in today’s world. In short, it’s a book written by a Christian believer exploring the meaning of the Bible – something almost every Christian can identify with.

  50. “The point that the critics are making re Ms. Evans is her attempt to address a subject with no educational background to do so, and to treat it in a childish way.”

    So your point is what? She is should not have written it? I have not read the book yet but plan to now.

    I think where people in your camp are missing the point is that Evans has not set herself up as the “educated” guru for doctrine like Piper, Mohler, Mahaney, etc. She is asking questions and making applications in her own faulty way. So what? Why is that so threatening to your camp?

    I really do think the problem is two fold when it comes to the YRR and others who have treated this book like the plague. They are worried. First the comp doctrinal stance is becoming a huge problem. There are many reasons for this and one of them is the internet. More people have access to REAL scholars like Fee, Kroegers, Bushnell, etc. So the gurus don’t have as much control as they used to over indoctrinated thinking processes and control over answering questions in the way they used to.

    Secondly, the same group of guru’s and their followers are not equipped to have irenic discussions around the many questions she is asking. They want to indoctrinate not discuss. This works well with those who are not real independent thinkers. Those who love rules, creeds, neatly packaged Christianity. And I hate to say it, but that describes most of the YRR we see today.

    What I find interesting is again we see this push to make “camps” or “tribes” using RHE’s book. I disagree with a lot I read over at RHE in the last few days. I disagree with Piper a lot. I disagree with Mohler a lot. I disagree with NT Wright over certain things. I think all who have written books or are teachers/preachers and make their pov’s public are worth discussing. It is called spiriutal maturity.

    So I am not in an RHE camp. Nor am I in a Mohler, Mahaney, Wilson, Piper camp. I don’t do camps.

    The stupidist thing the YRR and other critics have done is come out swinging. As Enns said (and I disagree with him on things, too!) this is not a book about sex trafficing, etc.

    My view is that these guys are picking silly battles but important ones to them. And that speaks VOLUMES to many people.

    RHE has not protected pedophiles or taught others to do that. She does not lead a church and insist people sign covenants or seek to discipline people using power and position. She is not marketing porno visions she has about others. She has not called Jesus a redneck or Esther a whore. (SBC partnerned with a Pastor that does that sort of thing) She is not asking her readers to support her with tithes but by buying her product in a free market system.

    The problem boils down to this for me: YOur side is afraid of free discussion on these issues. So you come out with insults such as she is uneducated and therefore not worthy of having an opinion based upon her own study and questions. And sad to say, you have a pastor who affirms such backward thinking. Which only leads me to ascertain, I would not want to be in your church and have a disagreement with your pastor or the elders.

  51. I think the biggest problems most of the detractors of this book have is one of language. Rachel speaks irony — the language of her generation. Most of these nouveau reformed folks don’t get it. The gentle points she makes are lost in their outrage over what they think is poor understanding of the text rather than what it is — commentary on the inconsistencies in what too many people CHOOSE as the texts they follow and elect to call “biblical.” Calling out hypocrites is very much a Jesus thing to do.

    Anonynmous with the nephew and the pastor — you might actually choose to read things yourself.

  52. One more thing, anonymous: YOur camp started with the ridiculous descriptor: Biblical Womanhood. It was coined years ago starting with the Danvers statement which some scholars have driven mac truck exegetical holes through.(McGregor-Wright, for one, who did an excellent job and he is Reformed!!!)

    This term has been used ad nauseum by your camp to indoctrinate for the last 20-30 years. Why are you all surprised when after the advent of the internet people start taking a closer look at what that term really means and how it is applied? We have heard many different sorts of rules and roles for years. Few are on the same pag with their Christian rules Talmud for women.. It was never marketed as “New Testament Biblical Womanhood” so us uneducated folk might think Jael is a perfect example of Biblical Womanhood. :o)

  53. Anonymous –

    I think maybe you are attempting to address RHE with no educational background in communication styles and are treating the subject in the only way you know how. You do not even read the book, yet you don’t mind commenting on the author.

    I would say that RHE is not misunderstanding the interpretations involved. I would say that she rejects the ones that your pastor and nephew hold. There’s a difference. Not only does she reject the interpretation, she rejects the method of communication they employ. She chooses to communicate in a different way, and it is your nephew, your pastor and you who seem to be missing out on what is being said.

  54. From the Challies link-

    “Doug Wilson looks at Rachel Held Evans’ new book and offers a devastating critique. “I think we have better things to do than learn about biblical womanhood from someone who is having trouble with distinguishing subjects from predicates.”

    Well….Doug (and Tim),

    I guess if you put it that way, then I think I have better things to do than learn about “Gospel Deeps” from your buddy Jared C. Wilson, who tweets (for the public to resd) about standing in line buying his underwear at TJ Maxx worrying that he won’t get the check out girl that goes to his church. Or, from someone who insults his readers reading comprehension. Or, from someone who tweets mocking insults about people’s physical appearances.

    And… what can I learn from a supposed self-ordained, denomination inventor, wordsmithy, ambiguous gospel preacher (you just gotta know him, you gotta know him says John Piper) “pastor” who hid a pedophile from his own congregation for months, helped him obtain legal counsel, pleaded with the judge for mercy, since he felt Sitler had “really repented” and even married him off last year to a young woman with whom he fully intends to have children even though he is on lifetime probation and cannot be left alone with any child? (All while saying in his Fidelity book that pedophiles are not a good gene pool from which to pick sons in law…huh? but ok for other women, I guess.)

    My goodness-this is concerning…what can I possibly learn from Tim Challies? A definition of total depravity? From his A La Carte today:

    “Christians Are Sinners Too – Here’s the best line from an article at the Westminster Seminary blog: “We not only believe in total depravity, we practice it too!” Ain’t that the truth.

    No it ain’t. But what I can learn from Challies is that he agrees he practices total depravity. What could I learn about the faith from him? How to practice sinning? But does total depravity mean gross sinning?

    Total Depravity or Total Inability

    “Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not – indeed he cannot -choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ – it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation – it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.”

    Calvinism-Total Depravity, from Biblelife.org

  55. I thought the general ideas Kathy Keller stated were objections I would have had. It seems RHE does deliberately and knowingly misconstrue some passages of scripture (admittedly, I haven’t read it, but the examples stated do sound like she did this). Doing this weakens her points I think, though I think the point she is trying to make is a good one. I would actually really like to hear a conversation between (or maybe read a co-authored book by) Kathy and Rachel. I think those two might have one of the more beneficial conversations on this topic. I must admit I’ve long been a complementarian, but now I’m not sure- Piper has just about converted me to egalitarian! I take no stand at all on the issue now- I’m waiting for complementarians to offer a framework that makes sense and is not oppressive- until that point I’ll function as an egalitarian.

    The one objection to Keller’s critique I had when she asserts that RHE was influenced outside of scripture. One of the things that scares me about how some interpret scripture is that they do an end run about commands to “love” and “show compassion” by redefining those words to mean something entirely different, citing that our definitions are influenced by the culture. I agree that we need to understand these words in terms of scripture, however we must be very careful not to redefine these words to mean things so different that they lose all meaning. Both Paul and Christ said loving our fellow humans was the summation of the law- we cannot set any scripture against this principle, and redefining “love” to justify oppression is the game of Pharisees.

    I do think that this culture gives a lot of credence to “me and my Bible” type teaching, which can lead to a lot of bad things. Whatever RHE intends, many people may latch on to what she’s saying because they like the message they think she’s preaching and feel bolstered by her indepentend spirit. That’s not a good thing, IMO. But on the flip side, I would accuse Piper and a lot of his crew for pulling “me and my Bible” type teaching, especially when he takes a stand on something that is different from his church (a permemence view of marriage). When you compare Piper’s position paper on remarriage and divorce vs David Instone-Brewer’s work, Piper comes off as just some guy with an idea and a Bible, just the same as RHE. IB is the scholar with a depth of understanding that is rooted in intense study and discipline.

    So maybe this is the issue for me- I don’t see much difference between John Piper and RHE. Neither of them are biblical scholars, and both appear to be intelligent people with knowledge of the Bible. The only difference is that many people believe that Piper’s platform is ordained and RHE is not. I think they both need to be very careful about how they lead others, because they will be held responsible as long as they presume to teach. I see many people attempting to hold RHE accountable- I hope she listened and is able to glean wisdom. Who is calling for Piper to be accountable, and is he listening?

  56. Jeff T;
    Yeah, but I really don’t see Rachel as “leading” – not the way Piper et. all do anyways. She asks questions, points out the contradictions in the Bible and leaves it at that. Then, the other side over-reacts to her questions.

    Driscoll (and likely others there) have gone ballistic on congregants for a “questioning spirit” – as if that is a sin! Piper and his “it’s a sin to not like predestination” is also just a chip-on-should provocation, not true teaching. Keller sends his wife after her, classy, really, that was low. And the condescension these guys project towards her is unbelievable.

    To compare her “influence” to theirs is crazy. She is where she is because, like the kid in the “emperor has no clothes” she called out “you do realize…{fill in the blank}, right? and they freaked. How dare she ask us???? Then, readers began to flock to her site and fill in the blanks she didn’t know. The commenters began to join the conversation and add to the questions. They (commenters) opened up the door to legitimate critiques – see her blog-call over Piper’s “masculine” christianity. She didn’t write a stunning critique – she opened up the floor. Reading her is like reading a plethora of great people all weighing in. She gets the power of the internet in ways the others just don’t get – and that is why they are running scared right now.

    Honesty is not an easy road if you are trying to look like the “right” way. Rachel had no such agenda, so she could afford honesty. It has cost her – read Burk’s Rachel says this, Rachel says that comments. But, through it, she has gained a following. People trust her in ways they don’t trust the others. Open, honest questions about the church are fine with her. There is no “are you a true believer” inquisition going on in her blog comments. She doesn’t delete the comments that don’t fully support her view – and she engages in them. If a comment of mine stays up on the TGC sites, they are usually ignored. I have NEVER seen a TGC blogger say they stand corrected due to their commenters reactions. Rachel has done this twice. (NT Write being a Calvinist and herself not being a feminist because she loves men). That has gone miles for her. She is humble – a rare, rare trait in Christianity today, and vulnerable.

    This under 30 generation values those traits far more than the over 40 set, so she appeals. Being right and arrogant gets one nowhere with this younger generation.

  57. Eagle

    And they will calmly say that all were wicked and unregenerate and come up with more such as gospel women clean their toliets once a week.

  58. Jeff S

    I believe that RHE is far more accuntable than John Piper. She allows comments and gets panned all the time. Piper will NOT allow comments on his blog.

  59. Jeff S “I must admit I’ve long been a complementarian, but now I’m not sure- Piper has just about converted me to egalitarian!”
    I’m right there with you on that point!

  60. Eagle

    And they will calmly say that all were wicked and unregenerate and come up with more such as gospel women clean their toliets once a week. — Dee

    Only once a week?
    Why not once a day? It’s Biblical(TM)!
    (Humbly(TM) and in a Biblical(TM) way, of course)

  61. Jeff S and Dave AA –

    “Jeff S “I must admit I’ve long been a complementarian, but now I’m not sure- Piper has just about converted me to egalitarian!”
    I’m right there with you on that point!

    I have a question for the both of you. How exactly is beeing more egalitarian versus complementarian going to play out in your lives (assuming you are both married)?

    Will you lead less? Will you give less input to your wife? Will you request more input from your wife? Will you share in the child rearing more? Will you work less? Will you clean the house up more? Will you pray for direction less? Will you love your wife more? Will your wife agree with you that egalitarianism is better for the two of you?

    Curious minds would like to know 🙂

  62. HUG —

    I once knew a couple where the wife was asked to completely clean the house “every day.” It was only a small two bedroom apartment with two of them living in it, but two-three hours every morning she cleaned. I was a young adult working with the teens and he was overseeing that area. I had some reservations about this man in my own dealings with him, but when I found out that this was a requirement of his wife, I knew that I no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. I resigned from a small position that I had where he was being slave-driver toward me and others. He was not happy and used all sorts of verses to inflict guilt. It didn’t work. Shortly after this he left our church. Shortly after that his wife divorced him. I was a relatively young new christian, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something was amiss. I felt very bad for his wife. She was a saint, but very naive and the man new it and used it to his advantage.

  63. Bridget

    You know, I had the same thought. My guess is that there will be no functional difference. That is the point I often make. Most comps act egal but say they are comps .

  64. Most comps act egal but say they are comps

    I think it’s because most women won’t go along with that BS 🙂

  65. I am divorced, so there’s no difference for me in my current relationships.

    As for whether my previous marriage was egal . . . I don’t know. It’s a complex and difficult question for me to answer at this time. I think the effects of comp thinking show up in subtle ways, even if couples mostly behave egal. But if we were comp in our behavior, it was never because I demanded her to do anything. I figured my job was to love and submit- she could worry about what her job was (which are the same things, right?).

    I’ve been thinking long and hard how I would approach a future mate who has bought into the more specific ways of behaving that Piper suggests, especially if she has family pushing her to be that way. On the whole, I don’t want to marry someone who has no identity or expects me to tell her how to behave. And maybe the first time around I might have not felt as strongly that my mate needed to be self assured, but I sure do now.

  66. Jeff S —

    Thanks for that reply. Hope you didn’t feel “put on the spot.” I’m just a curious cat about some things. I’m sure I ask too many questions for some people, but they can always decline an answer. I wan’t sure which Jeff you were, but I remember your story now. If you have daughters, help them to be thinkers 🙂 It’s the best gift to give them!

    And, yes, love and submit go both ways for me.

  67. Val, This was excellent!


    I hope everyone will go over and read it. It is basically a critique of Kathy Kellers hermeneutics in HER review of RHE’s book. Lots of interesting things to consider.

    This is why I no longer pay attention to pleas concerning orthodoxy, historically approved hermeneutics, church history, etc, etc. Heck, I don’t even know how they define those concepts anymore. Seems church history started with Calvin for some, Augustine, for others. It seems to be a moving target. Evidently pedophile sin is easily forgiven and forgotten but Evans is ignorant and uneducated and blasphemed God according to some critics and their fellow travellors. I know for certain I do not define them with the determinist God filter that Keller might use as a Presbyterian. She has a right to interpret scripture with that filter and even teach it to the masses. I have a right to reject it and argue against it.

    This review is worth your time. Seems our NC crtics have not done their homework as this person cites scholars who have been having the same debate they are accusing Evans of being totally ignorant concerning.

  68. @Anonymous on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:30 AM said:
    “I certainly believe these verses. And I believe that God reveals himself to people who enter as a child. But you are misapplying these verses. These verses do not support the concept that believers should be know-nothings. There are numerous verses in the Bible that encourage us to study, to know the Scriptures, and to have pastors and teachers who are knowledgeable”.

    Anonymous – my question to you was ‘what is your take on these bible verses’ – it was a genuine question,. I did not ‘apply’ those verses to anything, so how can they then be ‘misapplied’ ? But way to go with being dismissive and thinking I’m exceptionally unintelligent. Of COURSE we are called to be educated, to study, etc. But that wasn’t my question was it? Your answer was revealing though – it said a lot about you. And btw, I don’t have a church or Sunday School, I choose to avoid those in case I bump into people like yourself or Denny Burk, who tell me how and what I should be thinking. You assume too much. I’m agnostic bordering on atheist.

  69. No, I love to talk about myself- don’t worry about putting me on the spot :p

    I’ve thought a lot about comp/egal and how it may have affected my marriage, even though I never thought about it much while I was married. But perhaps men have the privilege of not thinking about it? I am struggling to find anything good that came out of any kind of comp influenced thinking that was there.

  70. Bridget,
    I’m very glad that curious minds wold like to know! I am married, and your questions are a very real, practical “work in progress” for me right now. This evening or tomorrow I would like to elaborate. In the meantime, my wife has been begging me for days now to get this mess of a house tidied up, and my efforts to convince it to clean itself have failed! “If you have daughters, help them to be thinkers”. Wow– will tell a story about that also! Stay tuned.

  71. TedS

    Thanks for the link. Tomorrow i am covering one of your favorite topics “he whose name must not be spoken” aka Mark.I think you will like this one. The title is going to be something along the lines of Mark Driscoll: You Are No Captain Sully!

  72. TedS,

    Comment from your link:

    “I have determined that Paul was turned into Moses by post reformation Christians.”


  73. There seem to be a number of “educated” men who are a little insecure about RHE’s lack (as they perceive it) of learning. They seem to feel that what a Godly™ Gospel™ minister needs is whatever they’ve got.

    Several things.

    Knowledge, which is nothing compared to love, puffs up – that is, it increases size without increasing substance. Studying scripture is good and necessary, but dangerous: because Bible study that feeds the fleshly ego, and leads to pride and condescension, is idolatry and sin. If I can fathom all knowledge, but have no love, I am nothing. Not “less than totally effective” – nothing.

    The Pharisees, the scribes, and the teachers of the law, likewise noticed the boldness of Peter and John and likewise noticed that they were unlettered and unlearned men. They’d been with Jesus, granted, but what difference did that make among that mob that knew nothing of the law? The point: learning is not, in itself, wrong; but neither learning nor lack of it make for spiritual stature. Being with Jesus, and being changed to the core by the encounter, do. Paul had accumulated many of the trappings of Bible™ learning; but he considered them (literally) excrement in comparison to gaining Christ.

    One more thing. My first serious study of a certain famous preacher from Seattle took place last year, when some friends asked us to join them in listening to a series of podcasts from [rhymes with “park fiscall”] on spiritual gifts. I had high expectations, having heard good things about the young man in question. But by the end of week five I was astonished and appalled at the sloppy exegesis and sheer crude inaccuracy of the “teaching” on offer. He seemed to have little idea of what a spiritual gift is, for a start, clearly had no grasp of scripture, and in boldly setting out “what the bible teaches”, was meddling ill-advisedly with matters far outside his gifting. He really should stick to vision-casting and pro-istemi leadership, which is biblical and at which he clearly does excel. I have yet to read RHE’s book, but if she is as illiterate as the calvinistas claim, she’s in famous company.

  74. Val, This was excellent!


    I second that!

    Also check out the following comment to this article by Morgan Guyton:

    You might also appreciate a piece I wrote for Reformation Day on the way that Augustine in his De Doctrina Christiana promotes the same hermeneutical standard that Rachel describes as a “prejudice of love” with which she reads the Bible: http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/reformation-day-restoring-augustines-hermeneutic/

    Including love as a standard for interpreting the Bible seems to be anathema to Calvinistas (perhaps it’s not a ‘manly’ criteria?)- they seem to prefer wrath.

    Matthew 22:36-38
    “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    That should say it all. RHE has it right.

  75. Don’t know how accurate it is, but I’ve been taught that some of those rules simply served the purpose of making the Israelites stand out as not the people around them. That God was teaching the principal that we indeed are to be in the world, but that God’s people are separate from that world.

    In many ways, they may have functioned much like gang tattoes do today, creating a people separated from the larger population.

  76. Jeff S –

    “But perhaps men have the privilege of not thinking about it?”

    I think this IS true for some men.

    But I actually believe that the comp/pat position has done harm and been difficult for some men as well. I think there is much pressure and stress put on men by other men, and sometimes their own wives, to “live up to” a standard that God never intended.

    Remember the woman is to be a “helper.” This could be worked out in thousands of different ways, depending on the couple. The comp/pat positions seems to put the relationship between husband and wife into a nice tidy little box. The problem is that life doesn’t come in nice tidy little boxes (as we see with Larrisa and her hubby) and instead of looking to God for help and wisdom for the chaos of life, we look to a system (comp/pat) to fix it. Then, we have the Piper’s of the world who look at the Larrisa’s of the world and say stupid things (that most people find bizarre) to make them continue to fit into the box.

  77. linda

    I do believe that what you say is true in some instances-circumcision, hair length, dress, etc. I still have a hard time with excluding dwarfs and other handicapped people from presenting the sacrifice.

  78. Jeff T

    Oh good night!  Years ago we wrote a piece on Copeland. i believe that he was the guy who told us how tall God is and how wide his hand breadth measures. 

  79. Years ago we wrote a piece on Copeland. i believe that he was the guy who told us how tall God is and how wide his hand breadth measures. — Dee

    I remember hearing about an Appalachian folk belief that Christ was the only person in history exactly six feet tall, but I kind of doubt that was related.

  80. I once knew a couple where the wife was asked to completely clean the house “every day.” It was only a small two bedroom apartment with two of them living in it, but two-three hours every morning she cleaned. — Bridget

    Sounds like a combination of Neat Freak and Control Freak. Did he do the White Glove Inspection and/or have a stroke if he found even a speck of dust?

    I was a young adult working with the teens and he was overseeing that area. I had some reservations about this man in my own dealings with him, but when I found out that this was a requirement of his wife, I knew that I no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. I resigned from a small position that I had where he was being slave-driver toward me and others. — Bridget

    Sounds like that was the only mode he had to relate to anyone else.

    Sounds red, round, and puckery.

    He was not happy and used all sorts of verses to inflict guilt. — Bridget

    Narcissists and Sociopaths often demonstrate a Mutant Power to Inflict Guilt. As well as a Mutant Power to Redefine Reality. And in a Church context, that usually means Guilt Manipulation through God-Talk. God and Christ become nothing more than just another weapon to use in the Guilt Manipulation.

    Shortly after that his wife divorced him. — Brigit

    I’m not surprised. Let me guess — he was the only one who didn’t see that coming? Rationalized it away as “Satan Hath Entered Into My Wife” and redefined reality to make himself a Martyr?

  81. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/10/30/women-in-the-hood-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood/

    I could have missed this in the many posts above, but this is the best favorable review of RHE’s book that I’ve seen. I’ve been reading the book and I don’t see what the usual suspects are getting up in arms about. RHE is (as she does) gently confronting a rigid mindset that had tradmarked and sold the word “biblical.” I’m pleased by her book because its something I can talk to friends who do not believe in God about. (sorry for the poor grammar.) TGC (and others) seem to want to reenact the Salem witch trials (no this is not a shameless paean to our blogging diva hostesses). I can see Denny Burk as Cotton Mather. Anyone?

  82. Juniper:

    I’ll say this Burke sure has done everything he can to discredit RHE. I do not believe it will work.

  83. Bridget asked:: How exactly is being more egalitarian versus complementarian going to play out in your life? A: the biggest, most entrenched area, I think, is laying down my perceived tie-break or veto rights. I’ve been roughly in agreement with Keller in this area, and may have acted “egal”. But many times I’ve “given in” on decisions, only with resentment that my direction wasn’t heeded, because “she should have just submitted”. I became good at undercutting, I Told You So’s, and just doing what I wanted anyway without discussing it. Because I was trying to be “head” and “lead”. But my wife sometimes didn’t want to just go along with the program.
    I think I’ll skip some of specific questions right now, which would have been more appropriate 5 years ago. Life is no longer in the tidy boxes it was. I’m now a FT domestic engineer and part-time child-rearer. Will you love your wife more? Yes. Will your wife agree with you that egalitarianism is better for the two of you? Yes.
    Re: If you have daughters, help them to be thinkers.
    One of my daughters recently told me that her friend (whom I’ve not met) told her, “Your Dad must be REALLY LIBERAL!” My mind raced through her first 18 years. Liberal? Really? What was it?? Elsie Dinsmore? The ultra-modest attire? Protecting her from TV, and Harvest and Winter Parties? Driving 30 miles to a secluded swimming spot to protect her from seeing “Thong Man”? (Google if you dare) The Wait for Marriage ring? Encouraging her to marry the first boy she liked, even though he wanted to remain a boy, and not remain married? “Why did she say that?” I asked. “You encouraged me to pursue my education and career, and to think for myself!” was her reply. I guess I was a bit better patriarch during the last 13 years!

  84. Juniper – It’s all too easy to figure out why some people are causing such a ruckus: RHE is a woman. An educated, articulate, pull-no-punches – but compassionate – woman.

    I think they all feel threatened.

    Dee – I do *not* get the restrictions on diaabled and wounded, maimed etc. people in the OT. My hunch is that these rules have more to do with folklore than with actual facts on the ground – given that the OT was pretty much pulled together post-Babylonian exile, well… (I know you likely don’t subscribe to that idea, and I used to be in that category, but now… not so much. I think textual analysis of the Torah makes it pretty clear that there were different writers involved, and that different parts of the texts date to different times entirely – which seems to be a given with many ancient manuscripts, not just the Pentateuch. Part of the problem for many seems to lie in the hyper-literal interpretation accorded to “… of Moses”; ditto for “of David” and “of [other writers’ name]” in Psalms. “Of” in these cases is more than likely “in the style of” and/or “these are the traditions of…” that autograph-perfect authorship – which is a pretty modern concept.)

  85. Jeff T – thanks for the great link, Nick, thanks for weighing in.

    Just through the first chapter of RHE’s book. I haven’t found unexplained sloppy hermeneutics yet. She explains why she decided to do penance on the roof clearly. Not sure why the Doug Wilson’s of the world missed this point (probably from not actually reading her book). I can’t speak for others, but this book has drawing power.

    As she lives out the virtues, they grow on her, and by extension the reader. I want to cultivate a gentle and quite spirit as Jesus commanded *Everyone* to do (not just women). If the book continues like this, it will be helpful to me. I have certainly noticed the effect of her attempts to practice virtues on her blog. She is so calm and gracious while the critics are character-assasinating her, sometimes in live time. Not sure she would have been as gentle pre-year of practicing virtues in the Bible.

    Well, I will have to see if she is going to start misleading me about the Good Book, but I am more suspicious then ever that her detractors either a) didnt’ read it, or b) skimmed it. Sitting through her first month has less to do with her (good or bad) hermeneutics and more to do with her attempts to be something she feels she can’t be, then learning how to rest in God and finding that is the way to have a gentle spirit – while still being strong. Do they go after Ann Voskamp too?

  86. Val – my guess is that most of them cherry-picked her publishers’ press kit and/or one-sheet press releases.

    [sigh – oh for actual book reviewers who read advance copies from cover to cover!]

  87. numo and Mot,

    Agreed! If ever SGMers should be able to read the writing on the wall, it is NOW! Maybe only the true believers are hanging on.

  88. Juniper

    I can see Doug Wilson as one of the trembling girls, pointing his finger at someone and crying “Witch.”

  89. DaveAA

    That comment at 1:28AM is the comment of the month!!!Thank you for your honesty. Youi truly deserve the title of TWW apostle! Thank you for being willing to share in such a transparent manner.

  90. Val

    I bet they do not read each others books before they “endorse” them. I am suspicious that many often pretend to read the books so others will pretend to read theirs and endorse them. 

  91. Dave A A –

    Thank you for responding in such detail. I was curious on your take, from the manly side. In the past 11 months, I have pretty much come to the conclusion that my marriage was much more egal than comp. I just don’t see how one camp functions that much differently than the other unless “discretionary” lording is allowed in the comp camp.

  92. Val –

    I believe that one of the TGC guys did get after Ann Voskamp when her book came out.

  93. Dee–yes, if we read our current culture back into the OT we can get awfully confused.

    Re the midgets and others banned from serving in the temple:

    No one had the “right” to be a priest, just as today no one has a “right” to church leadership or ordination.

    God chooses and calls whom God wills.

    In the OT we see progressive revelation at work. And eye for an eye may sound barbaric to us, but to them it was pure bleeding heart liberalism. In their culture previously, insult me and I may off with your head. God’s justice and mercy are slowly being revealed.

    The priests were types or shadows of Christ, as was the sacrificial lamb.

    Just as the lamb had to be without defect, so did the priests, pointing ahead to Christ our perfect Lamb of God and great High Priest.

    Today we shudder to call anything a defect, but not in those days.

    Allowing those visibly defective to serve would not have been an accurate foreshadowing of Christ.

  94. Brridget – a while back the whole what is a comp/egal marriage was hashed out in the comment section of RHE’s blog, with everyone deciding our marriages were all about the same degree of mutuality, yet labelling them differently. Many pointed out their parents would call their marriages comp. and they would call them egal. but they were living out (the decision making) pretty much the same between generations.

    So, it was settled. …Until, I kid you not, some panel at TGC had a speaker claim marriages these days weren’t comp enough (were they reading Rachel’s blog first?, because, if is on her blog, it must be wrong, ITO -In Their Opinion-). Shortly after, they quoted Doug Wilson claiming the marriages have to be submissive, even in the bedroom, against, well, people on both side’s view of the Bible. And now, Rachel is persona non grata, a threat, dangerous. I went from thinking, OK, we can agree to disagree, to thinking, they have totally lost sight of Jesus Christ and are now all about gender roles, who cares how many people they turn away!

    I think Rachel may have overturned a rock and sent revealed a much less God-centred heart in many of these guys. Otherwise, who cares how comp/egal someone’s marriage is – it isn’t a Kingdom priority anyways.

  95. @ Dee/Deb

    I think you may need to consider adding something to your blog. 🙂

    You have the counter going of how many days goes by before TGC mentions the SGM lawsuit. I think you should add a counter of how many times Denny Burk posts an article on his blog about Rachel Held Evans. He seems to be very, very interested in her. I’ve counted 7 posts on his blog about her in the last 10 days. The commenters in his latest Evans post (yesterday) are picking up on the weird frequency of these posts.

  96. I think he is just trying to make sure the ladies in his arena don’t pay too much attention. Rachel is getting a lot of national attention . . . must be aweful hard for some peeps to swallow

    I think the blog counter is a good idea too. Maybe he’ll see how odd it looks and how much more attention it is drawing to the book.

  97. I think you should add a counter of how many times Denny Burk posts an article on his blog about Rachel Held Evans. He seems to be very, very interested in her. I’ve counted 7 posts on his blog about her in the last 10 days. The commenters in his latest Evans post (yesterday) are picking up on the weird frequency of these posts.

    Not only that. He deleted one post– his third or fourth one about Rachel Held Evans– called “What is an Evangelical?” in which he explained why she was not one. I asked him why three posts in a row about RHE and said it was starting to look like a vendetta. The next day that post was gone. But since then he has posted three or four more/

  98. Accuracy astonishment?



           When the Dead Sea Scrolls were examined by Jewish scholars, (in this paticular case the book of Isaiah) they were absolutely astonished at the accuracy  of the current text when mapped against that of the discovered text, which subsequently provided a dating range of 200 BCE – 1 CE. The Authenticity of Old Testament Scripture, can we trust it? Consider Carefully? You Decide.



    P.S. I am glad you were in the shadow of His mighty wings, during the tremendous storm. My prayers in general were exhausting! Forgive me for not being able to push it out to sea. I will have to humbly request a refund on that”mustard seed”.  I am still heart anguished with earnest prayer for those most severely afflicted.  I am however quietly please not to have numbered you among them, my prayers are with you:   “O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.” Psalms 36:10. ATB


    You may be interested to know that this post has surpassed a post on creationsim as the Number One most commented post of all time at TWW. RHE is sure shaking things up in Christendom.

  100. if one disagrees Wayne Grudemn’s and John Piper’s rules for comp living, then one is a heretic on the level of denying the deity of Christ.

    Well, if the Deity of Christ is completely dependent on Young Earth Creationism, why not also on Male Supremacy?

  101. You may be interested to know that this post has surpassed a post on creationsim as the Number One most commented post of all time at TWW. RHE is sure shaking things up in Christendom. — Dee

    And that pic with the “Dan Is Awesome” sign is cute.

  102. IronClad – am not sure one can make a case for the entirety of the OT based solely on the Dead Sea Scrolls, as – to the best of my knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong!) – there are only portions of the OT in that archive.

    whether or not dating is accurate is, in some ways, kind of irrelevant to the point I was trying to make, but hey… text-only communication can be confusing at the very best of times, for me!

    Hope I’m coming across clearly. 🙂


  103. P.S. – IronClad, thank you for your concern and for your prayers! But please take it easy on yourself… God is God, and we cannot shoulder all the burdens of the world by ourselves.

  104. I know this thread is pretty much dead but I finally got the chance to read Kathy Keller’s review of the book. While thinking on it I have to wonder exactly what she does do with the Jerusalem Council and Paul’s Nazarite vow in Acts?

    This issue about the law is not as clear cut as she wants to make it in order to critique how Evans approached her book project.

  105. LOL Anon 1 – I actually learned something from the comment thread on her post – that Paul went and purified himself and paid a priest to do a sacrifice for him. I am sure TGC will twist it around to say it is bad hermeneutics to believe that meant anything (then we can have fun critiquing their hermeneutics) or some other silly excuse.

    Kind of funny that a post critiquing Rachel’s understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testament has glaring errors in that area, but… I guess all if fair in battling the heretics in their opinion. I am about 45% through Rachel’s book, no strawmen, no deceiving the reader about what the Bible says, no mockery yet… and it doesn’t look like it will show up later… I wish they would cite exactly where their problems with mockery or deception exist, and that they would actually read the book, not skim it… The book is pretty clear that she is poking holes in modern, western evangelical’s interpretations of 2,000, or more, year old texts, not the texts themselves.

    Plus, is all this so far off the Amish, Quiverfull or other groups literal readings? Long hair, skirts only, head-coverings, no birth control (even Catholic approved natural forms), polygamy (fringe Christians in her book), they are practiced today. Keller says no one applies it this way. Duggers anyone? Do those Duggar girls ever wear pants or cut their hair? I bet it is their literal readings of the Bible that inform their dress choice and hair cuts.

  106. Val, thanks for calling my review academic. I didn’t realize it was. This post is a really healthy challenge. Why not accept the challenge to explain your view rather than ad hominem attack your theological opponent?

  107. Morgan Guyton

    Sorry, I meant it was less simple/quick reading than many posts people link to on the thread. I didn’t mean it was bad, just a little different than some other links (longer, takes longer to think it all through). Sorry, after so many Driscoll/ Mahaney links, yours seemed deeper, more thoughtful.

    My apologies if the world I used was negative. I didn’t mean it that way.

  108. I didn’t take Val’s comment and link to the thread as negative at all, but I just went and had really good read. I can see a huge amount of work has gone into the post and responding to comments. I was fascinated by the interaction between MG and serrevin but also mentally exhausted by the time it was all over. #need to take a short walk outside as brain is now chokka

  109. And while Val was so quick to apologise and made it look easy, I’d like to apologise to ‘anonymous’ for doing a spew at him. I felt ashamed afterwards – I’m sorry I lost my temper. I posted when I was cranky at the comment and should have taken a breather. I’m learning…

  110. Val

    I do not think that Morgan was critiquing you. He was referring back to the article and emphasizing his critque of Keller. I realized that after reading it twice. I wrote him and we are going to repost his review here.

  111. Haitch

    I got permission and I am going  to reprint that article here, probably when i am away. I reformatted it to emphasize some of the quotes. I am sure he did not mean to be critical of Val. I think he was referring back to his concern about Keller’s review and mixed them together.

  112. Val you said —

    “The book is pretty clear that she is poking holes in modern, western evangelical’s interpretations of 2,000, or more, year old texts, not the texts themselves.”

    But this is exactly why they attack her so fiercely. She is poking holes in what some people believe and, in some cases, what is called orthodoxy, or the beliefs of some of the “fathers of the faith.” Orthodoxy has been placed on a pedastel for many, and they prefer to believe what someone else believed and wrote instead of wrestling with the texts themselves as we see RHE doing. If we only view the scriptures through the eyes of others, we are doomed to repeat their mistakes as well as gladly repeating what they understood correctly.

  113. Bridget —

    “If we only view the scriptures through the eyes of others, we are doomed to repeat their mistakes as well as gladly repeating what they understood correctly.”

    Or perhaps incorrectly.

    I’ve known people who seem to read “My Utmost For His Highest” every day, like a super-nutritious drink to get in one’s system.

  114. Morgan Guyton writes:

    The way that we attribute to the Bible completely un-Biblical affirmations about womanhood and marriage based on very recent, self-validating middle-class sensibilities is by convincing ourselves to read the Bible with the populist, ahistorical hermeneutical approach of Biblical literalism, which gives us permission to dismiss the need to read the Bible in conversation with its interpreters throughout the ages or with any consideration of its original historical context. And then we let our independent megachurch pastors, who operate outside the discipline of any magisterial authority, come up with the Biblical interpretation that will play the best with their target audiences. What’s utterly comical is the way that what so many Christians today call “conservative Biblical values” are really a market-driven reinvention of the Bible in the image of contemporary suburban sensibilities.



  115. Bridget – Oh, I didn’t know the Church fathers had much to say about women in their writings – well, nothing used today. Do you know what is considered Orthodoxy regarding women? I know the priesthood is exclusively male, but a) I have never been that comfortable with the priesthood to begin with, and b) no Protestant church has a priesthood (well, Anglicans don’t really, though some use the word ‘priest’ for a male reverend). So mostly what I think Rachel is getting at is how we love to turn the Bible into a how-to book for suburban middle class families. How to live out perfect gender roles, how-to live in a “godly” marriage, how-to – this and that. I didn’t actually know she was touching on true orthodoxy (church father’s prescribing gender roles), interesting. Can you point me to who I should google to learn more?

  116. Dee – Oh? Sorry, I thought my use of the word “academic” offended him. I have occasionally heard it can be insulting to Christians in some southern states to be called that word, but I don’t know if that is true, or why. So, I’m glad he isn’t upset with the word. I think ‘academic’ is a complement – because it involves hard work and deep thinking, just hard for us non-academics to read (I often use a note pad to keep track).

  117. Val

    You said  no “Protestant church has a priesthood”  Shhhh, don’t tell Driscoll, Dever, Mahaney, Mohler, Piper, et al. 

  118. Just found this article by Matthew Lee Anderson who identifies as complimentarian – it’s a post not just about his take on Biblical Womanhood and RHE but blogging culture also. I feel I need to go back and read it a few more times.

    The last 5 paragraphs are pretty punchy. Posting this ‘after the fact’ for posterity.


  119. RD,

    Just to clarify for our readers, the Pastor Mark Review is pure satire, and it’s pretty funny!

    Here’s the direct link, along with the disclaimer. 



    This is a fictional review not written by nor endorsed by Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church or the Acts 29 Network. But, it does use many repeated phrases and thoughts spoken by Pastor Mark over the past several years. This is the review Mark wishes his PR team would allow him to write.

    And, by the way, the authors of this review don’t have an “ax to grind.” This is what people with a sense of humor call “satire.” You’re welcome.