Rachel Held Evans Dead at Age 37

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nickipicki123

Puritan Board Freshman
Rachel Held Evans, Christian writer of honesty and humor, dies at age 37
May 4, 2019
7 Min Read

Author Rachel Held Evans. Courtesy photo



(RNS) — Rachel Held Evans, a popular progressive Christian writer and speaker, died Saturday morning (May 4) at age 37 after a brief illness.

Evans had been in a medically induced coma for several weeks and never returned to an alert state.

Writer and collaborator Sarah Bessey tweeted that Evans was surrounded by close friends and family at the end, and the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber shared that friends were at Evans’ bedside Friday night, offering “our touch and tears and song. I anointed her with oil.”

an update on Evan’s blog.

“I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids. To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you. We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her.”

Fellow Christian writers start Twitter prayer chain as Rachel Held Evans is hospitalized

On April 14, Evans, who was particularly gifted at using social media to connect with her readers, tweeted that she had been admitted to the hospital with a “flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction” to antibiotics, asking for prayer and — with the characteristic humor she often used to defuse difficult conversations — lamenting she would miss “Game of Thrones.”

Later, in an update on her website, Dan Evans, said that she began having “unexpected symptoms” while receiving treatment for an infection and that doctors found her brain was experiencing constant seizures. Doctors had placed her in a medically induced coma while working to determine the cause and treatment, he said.

most recently, “Inspired.” She also served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.


Rachel Held Evans made homemade matzoh toffee for Passover during her year of living biblically. Courtesy photo

In her books and blog posts, she wrote openly about her faith journey, which led her from Bryan College — a conservative evangelical school known for promoting belief in a literal, six-day creation — to the mainline Episcopal Church. Along the way, she chronicled her faith, doubt, honest questions and evolving beliefs with a sense of humor.

That didn’t come without controversy, including pushback from more conservative Christians over “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” which celebrated an egalitarian view of women’s roles in both marriage and the church.

But in her writing she rarely lapsed into us-versus-them arguments, instead presenting a vision of the church as a place with room for everyone.

“This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes,” she wrote in “Searching for Sunday.”

“And there’s always room for more.”

Readers shared online that they recognized themselves in her words.

A number of women said during an online prayer vigil they would not have pursued ministry if not for Evans, and others said the only reason they had hung onto faith amid doubt was because of Evans.

Fellow writers praised Evans for sharing the considerable platform she has built, both on her blog and at “Why Christian?” and “Evolving Faith,” the conferences she co-founded for evolving or progressive Christians who aren’t sure where they belong on the spiritual landscape.

Rozella Haydée White, a coach and consultant, tweeted about how Evans had cheered her on as White released her first book, even offering her advice on insurance, and pastor and author Nate Pyle tweeted that as he prayed for Evans, he reflected on “how much of my writing career is because of her encouragement and promotion of my work.”

“My guess is that it’s true for many, many people. She embodies graciousness and generosity in amplifying the voices of others,” Pyle said.

And in the midst of Evans’ illness, Bessey tweeted she was reminded of her friend’s own words in “Searching for Sunday”:

“There is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.”

RELATED: In new book, Rachel Held Evans gets ‘Inspired’ by the Bible

The news of Evans’ hospitalization had been met with an outpouring of support from readers, writers and Christian leaders, both conservative and progressive.

On Good Friday (April 19), Bessey and writer Jeff Chu, who worked with Evans on the Evolving Faith Conference, gathered friends and fans online to pray for Evans. The hashtag they started for the online prayer vigil, #PrayForRHE, soon was trending on Twitter.

A GoFundMe fundraiser to cover medical and related expenses for Evans’ family — including two small children, Henry and Harper — set up the next Monday (April 22) exceeded its goal within a day — even after organizers increased the amount they hoped to raise.

Evans was raised in a nondenominational, evangelical Christian family in Dayton, Tenn. — the home, she liked to point out, of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, the watershed case about teaching evolution in schools that caused many conservative Christians to feel alienated from the American mainstream.


Rachel Held Evans. Photo courtesy of Maki Evans

She joked about the prizes she won as a kid for having all the answers when it came to Christianity, such as the time she won the “Best Christian Attitude Award.”

But as a student at Bryan, Evans began asking tough questions about her faith, like why God would send people to hell, which she wrote about in her first book. “Evolving in Monkey Town” was published in 2010 and later re-released as “Faith Unraveled.”

Evans brought her sense of humor to those questions in 2012’s “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” in which she took the Bible’s instructions for women to hilarious extremes and shared what she learned from women of diverse faiths, including Amish and Jewish women.

When she was growing up, the word “evangelical” had seemed synonymous to her with “real” or “authentic,” she told Religion News Service several years ago. She finally abandoned the label in 2014, afer a number of evangelical Christians canceled sponsorships for children in need after the charity World Vision announced it would employ people in same-sex marriages. (World Vision later reversed that decision.)

That incident “confirmed what I’d been suspecting for a while — that my values were simply out of line with the evangelical culture’s values,” she said. “And by then, I’d just grown weary of fighting for a label that no longer fit.”

She wrote about her subsequent journey away from church and what kept leading her back in 2015’s “Searching for Sunday,” and about rediscovering a love for Scripture in 2018’s “Inspired.”

She worshipped with her family at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Tenn.

“Death is a part of life,” Evans wrote this year in a Facebook post at the beginning of Lent, the solemn time of penance and fasting many Christians observe leading up to Easter.

“My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

https://religionnews.com/2019/05/04...n-writer-of-honesty-and-humor-dies-at-age-37/
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Very sad. I don’t know much about her or that semi celebrity strand of Christendom in which she dwelled. But very tragic the passing of a young soul.
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
A question rather than a comment: Did her theology recently change that we should have a different view of her work?
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
A question rather than a comment: Did her theology recently change that we should have a different view of her work?

No. Which makes her sudden passing all the more tragic. I can mix rejoicing with mourning if someone has a credible profession of faith. With Evans, there is only sorrow because of the state of her public theology and life. Perhaps the Lord intervened at the end to draw her back to Himself - we won't know in this life.

I'm sorry for her family and I hope her followers see this as a wake-up call to deal seriously and honestly with spiritual issues.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
A good reminder that your kids can go to church all their youth and still turn out to be saved.
A question rather than a comment: Did her theology recently change that we should have a different view of her work?

One of her last tweets was about on the Day of Resurrection many folks being surprised that God is "not a dude."
 
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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Senior
I do pray she was converted. I hate to speak so harshly on a thread reporting someone's death, but something like an endorsement from Nadia Bolz-Weber, that putrid heretical minister of a damning false gospel, does not give me much hope.

But our God works marvelous things.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
A good reminder of why it is important for us to pray for and to seek the salvation of the lost, because none of us are promised tomorrow.

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”- Hebrews 3:13
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I hope that, during the time she was in the medically-induced coma, God did a mighty work in her soul and that he granted her salvation. Nothing is impossible with God.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
I don’t know her at all. It does say she was a Christian did she hold to a different Gospel?
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I don’t know her at all. It does say she was a Christian did she hold to a different Gospel?
She was very liberal and had become something of a favorite of the major media outlets any time they needed a "Christian" to affirm the leftest position on things like homosexuality, transgenderism, feminism, or that white people are all evil.
 

User20004000

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don’t know her at all. It does say she was a Christian did she hold to a different Gospel?

Here’s a link to a particular post from her blog. https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/follow-friday-transgender-christians

I don’t know whether she professed to be resting in Christ alone for her personal, everlasting pardon. What I do believe is she rejected the natural order of things related to gender as revealed both in nature and Scripture. On this matter, she called evil good and good, evil.

Rather than wondering about her soul, we might ask ourselves, would our own churches lovingly pursue one in discipline who although didn’t practice such things, promulgated them? What might we learn from this? How are our churches handling same sex attraction (SSA) and women in church leadership?

That’s not aimed to foster discussion on this thread. Just food for thought.
 

brendanchatt

Puritan Board Freshman
That probably needs to be unpacked a bit more. Is it, in fact, tragic when one whose voice is leading sheep astray is silenced by God?

The sad part is the lack of known repentance. There are, of course, several ways to look at it.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
That probably needs to be unpacked a bit more. Is it, in fact, tragic when one whose voice is leading sheep astray is silenced by God?

Some say that we should never speak ill of the dead. I do not subscribe to that notion, as it would logically preclude us from speaking ill of Stalin or Hitler. On the day of her death, I deemed it prudent to refrain from saying too much other than expressing human sympathy with her family. Still, it is also proper that, at some point (probably sooner rather than later), we acknowledge that God has closed the mouth of a false teacher.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I hope my self-written obituary isn't going to be something along the lines of disappointment for missing an episode of Game of Thrones.

This is a personal tragedy for her children and a loss to her husband and family, but it is solely up to God to determine if she is one of the elect. That she was a false teacher is unquestionable.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Another point to consider is that given her status and widespread influence as a false prophetess, she was the legitimate subject of imprecatory prayers. That being the case, we cannot complain now that God has chosen to answer such prayers, even if it was not in the precise manner that we desired.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Another point to consider is that given her status and widespread influence as a false prophetess, she was the legitimate subject of imprecatory prayers. That being the case, we cannot complain now that God has chosen to answer such prayers, even if it was not in the precise manner that we desired.

Sobering.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Rachel Held Evans may have passed into eternity, but there will be others who will take up her mantle. While we may lament the damage her unbiblical teaching has done, we should also commit ourselves to the truth. The truth of the Word of God is the only way to combat false teaching.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Sometimes the wicked live long lives and accumulate much wealth; sometimes they die young. Sometimes the righteous die young, and sometimes old. It is best that we refrain from declarations that God has punished any particular sinner with an early death because we are also sinners and could also soon die.

"In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing." (Ecclesiastes 7:15).
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Nothing is more pernicious or more dangerous to the Church, than those perfidious brethren who feign religion, when they despise it in their hearts.

John Davenant, An Exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, trans. Josiah Allport (1627; 2 vols, London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1831), 2: 275.

God has providentially removed one of these "perfidious brethren" from this earth. From what I have noticed, however, an overly sentimental reaction to her death on the part of those who should know better is causing some people to read the writings of Rachel Held Evans. Thus, I believe that we have no option but to warn people that she was a false teacher - even if we would prefer not to do so at this specific time given that her family are grieving. Despite her family's grief, her false teachings have the potential to lead others into perdition and so we have no option but to warn others to mark and avoid them even after her death.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I wasn’t a regular reader of her blog though I would now and again when trusted folks I read would respond and link to her. This is sad now and was sad before she died. She had gifts including wit. She was attractive, sweet looking in a pleasant girl-next-door way. Cogency and logical rigor were largely absent in her writing though this was probably an act of the will rather than lack of ability.

She emoted regularly. Like many on the left she would follow an accurate observation (like kitsch and showmanship not being what is needed in church for millennials) with a string of leftward talking points about ‘change.’ What gave her more popularity was her positioning herself as an evangelical rather than a liberal Protestant. This makes sense as the latter has lost any cultural presence even through negative references unlike evangelicalism which remains in open season for the mainstream. I personally don’t consider it courageous to complain about a minority that is disdained when you have the full backing of the larger culture. Nancy Guthrie, Elisabeth Elliot, Rosaria Butterfield, Summer White Jagaer, Barbara Duguid and other women demonstrate Christian courage that they communicate truth with appropriate level of compassion. Held confused the two and would end up with neither.

I’d hoped and even a few times prayed that Held would publicly return to orthodoxy. I hope in the end she at least did so privately. We need more people, dare a I say women, with the gifts Held, had to speak to women in truth and not to steer women around it.
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It is best that we refrain from declarations that God has punished any particular sinner

If the deceased was a believer; one should not think of it as punishment, but a mercy - stopping the deceased from continuing in a sin.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sometimes the wicked live long lives and accumulate much wealth; sometimes they die young. Sometimes the righteous die young, and sometimes old. It is best that we refrain from declarations that God has punished any particular sinner with an early death because we are also sinners and could also soon die.

"In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing." (Ecclesiastes 7:15).

Why not? Is not the death of the wicked always a calling to account for their sins? Whether they be young or old?

And for the believer, though he may be a sinner, death is not punishment but gain. It is final delivery from the body of sin. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Why not? Is not the death of the wicked always a calling to account for their sins? Whether they be young or old?

And for the believer, though he may be a sinner, death is not punishment but gain. It is final delivery from the body of sin. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Sin and death are not always a clean relationship in life. Many sinners remain unpunished for their sins for decades and many believers die young. To say a person died early because God was punishing them for this or that sin is to go beyond what we can know from Scripture.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sin and death are not always a clean relationship in life. Many sinners remain unpunished for their sins for decades and many believers die young. To say a person died early because God was punishing them for this or that sin is to go beyond what we can know from Scripture.

We don't know when God will call a sinner to account for their sins, but we do know that when they die that God is indeed calling them to account. That one dies early does not mean that they are necessarily a worse sinner than one who dies in their old age, but they are certainly being punished for their sin.
 

Spurgyon

Puritan Board Freshman
Some say that we should never speak ill of the dead. I do not subscribe to that notion, as it would logically preclude us from speaking ill of Stalin or Hitler. On the day of her death, I deemed it prudent to refrain from saying too much other than expressing human sympathy with her family. Still, it is also proper that, at some point (probably sooner rather than later), we acknowledge that God has closed the mouth of a false teacher.

I agree. I didn't gloat at all, and it's truly tragic for her children and husband. But her beliefs didn't just endanger her own soul--she influenced many others. I pray they repent.
 

Peter Hyatt

Puritan Board Freshman
I wonder the damage she did to the homes of Christians already struggling with the pressures of this world regarding who they are, and what they are called to do.


I appreciate the sober commentary here.
 
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