Editorial Note: Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the unexpected death of Rachel Held Evans—a 37-year-old author and activist beloved by progressive Christians, but often berated by conservatives. Many progressives yesterday lamented Held-Evans’ passing, asking “What would Rachel Held Evans do?” and exploring “Why the Sadness Won’t Go Away.” But I found a Facebook post by Brandon Showalter, a reporter for The Christian Post, especially moving and profound.
Brandon is a staunch conservative and a passionate opponent of the LGBTQ ideology that Held-Evans championed. With gut-wrenching honesty, Brandon admits he once hated Held-Evans for leading so many young people astray. But with similar honesty, he acknowledges the pain and hypocrisy in the church that likely drove Held-Evans’ advocacy. I believe his message is important and one conservatives desperately need to consider. I am republishing it here with permission.
Okay…I don’t do this often but I’m gonna say something sort of controversial and vulnerable. So brace yourself for some raw, transparent ramblings ahead. (Note: This is not to be taken as the official opinion of the publication I work for, The Christian Post.)
A year ago yesterday, on my 34th birthday, (May 4th, 2019) I was on my way to the airport in Atlanta to fly back to Washington, DC when I was flipping through my phone and saw the news that progressive religion writer Rachel Held Evans had succumbed to a nasty infection and had died from complications due to swelling on her brain. She was in her late 30s and left behind a husband and two very young kids, one of whom was around one year old.
Her death rattled me deeply. Immediately I became distressed and nearly broke down crying. Upon sharing the news with two good friends who were sitting in the back seat of the car, they laid their hands on my shoulder and started praying for me.
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You see…I hated Rachel Held Evans. And I mean I absolutely HAAAAATED her. Loathed her. Viscerally. To the point where I physically felt in my body persistent disgust and rage toward her.
In fact, I distinctly remember at one point it got so gnarly that I phoned a good friend and told him that I needed to confess and repent (and I did) because I could not get away from the nagging voice of the Holy Spirit that I had crossed a dark and scary line in my heart where the contempt I was holding toward a person — who, lest I forget, was made in God’s image and Jesus died for — was rotting my soul. It was that bad. It was ugly. I was countenancing some profane, Pharisaical sin. I’m not proud of it at all.
I still believe that like few others in recent history, through her widely-read blog and other platforms on which she published, RHE paved the way for and furthered some of the most virulent, manipulative deception under the guise of “love” and “inclusion” in the church today. I say this with trembling and no glee whatsoever: In many respects, she was a purveyor of several false teachings that led many astray into aimless and hopelessly cynical deconstructionism. And though I believe she was sincere and had good intentions, the damage she did to small-o orthodox Christian faith was grave and extensive.
But you know what else? She was a voice for many who had been wounded by supposedly “biblically faithful” churches. She poignantly cried out for many disaffected young people who have been abused by pastors that purport to proclaim airtight “sound doctrine.” A good friend for whom I have enormous respect that would sometimes graciously challenge RHE’s writings from an influential platform of her own once told me: “You know, I strongly disagree with Rachel and think her characterizations of certain things are not fair but I do have real sympathy for her because she sure writes like she’s been hurt.”
Rachel was indeed deeply hurt by the church.
Rachel Held Evans experienced deep, DEEP wounds that, though I didn’t know her personally and thus can’t say authoritatively, she seemed to have internalized. Those internalized wounds then informed her worldview. This hurt came from being told to shut up and sit down by a right many Christians. In some ways, she was indeed wronged.
If we fail to understand the contributing factors that led RHE to the place she went and fail to at least consider the legitimate grievances she had, we may as well kiss the furtherance of the Gospel goodbye in the United States.
She was a skilled communicator. While I didn’t follow her writing assiduously during her latter years because I thought she became a rather predictably liberal hack, she nevertheless managed to point out some of the worst hypocrisies and weaknesses in the contemporary church with remarkable precision. Some of her observations were painfully on-target albeit mixed with off-kilter theological prescriptions. And, to be sure, some of the bullies she stood up to happened to be religious figures I also couldn’t stand. And stand up to them she did.
I still don’t quite know what to make of her early demise.
But I do know this.
For the past few years, I’ve had both a uniquely insider and birds-eye view of the modern church in the United States from my perch at a Washington, DC newsroom. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people in the ministry world who have integrity and who are honoring the Lord Jesus Christ in everything they do and say. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the unbearable compromise, corruption, and double standards that have led many millennials and Gen Z-ers, like RHE, to throw their hands up and say: “I just can’t do this anymore.” It’s a frustratingly awful mixed bag.
My point is this. If we fail to understand the contributing factors that led RHE to the place she went and fail to at least consider the legitimate grievances she had, we may as well kiss the furtherance of the Gospel goodbye in the United States.
And if I’ve learned anything at all in the past few years recording the first draft of history through the lens from which we at CP report, it’s usually the voices we dislike the most that have some of the most important insights for us even if, indeed especially if, they happen to be dreadfully wrong on primary theological matters.
It really isn’t a cliché. Truly, there but for the grace of God go any of us.
Brandon Showalter is a reporter with The Christian Post and often writes about the intersection of faith and public life. Brandon holds a B.A. from Bridgewater College of Virginia, is a fellow of the John Jay Institute for Faith, Society, & Law.
31 thoughts on “Guest Post: Why Conservatives Need to Consider the “Legitimate Grievances” of Rachel Held Evans”
Thank you for posting this. His confessed hatred for RHE is more than matched by his enemy love expressed in this moving request for compassionate understanding. None of comprehend what makes others who they are. Parents, professors, authors, bloggers . . . everyone has untold stories of hurt and hope. And all of us are called to Jesus-like enemy love.
I am no fan of RHE either. FYI only…….I am no fan of New York congresswoman AOC either .
I am conservative ideologically. But I see much value in listening carefully to the criticism and critics of my own perspective.
As a big fan of RC Sproul, RC Sproul would spend a significant amount of lengthy time on his audio/video tapes defining accurately and carefully and FAIRLY the perspectives of the opposing viewpoint. For example, on one of his many Audio tapes that I have in my collection…..RC spent so MUCH TIME dissecting and carefully analyzing Karl Marx that I was on the tip of my chair thinking that RC will end the message by saying, “ok, so you have now heard the reasons why I have now become a Cultural Marxist !!”
No…..RC Sproul ( who passed away 2 years ago, I think ) believed in integrity and in carefully defining and listening honestly to the opponents and critics of the historic Christian faith. He spent much time defining and understanding the key issues that Karl Marx and Feurebach and Nietzsche and John Paul Sarte, etc…etc…..were talking about.
I view Progressive -ism as a cancer, but after listening to RC Sproul for many years, I no longer interact with them in a hostile manner. Instead, I bring to the table of discussion humility and a listening ear so that I can define what my opponents are saying with integrity and being charitable and fair to my oppoents.
Just like RC Sproul, I view Progressivism ( and Marxism ) as false ideologies that must be rejected.
RC Sproul once said:
all non-Christian ideologies may be good for partially describing the problem, but they all fail at offering a Solution that is rooted in the correct theology or correct anthropology or correct philosophy…..
( Not an exact quote )
I still think of RC Sproul and the positive impact of his writings and lecture tapes on my life. Same way with Norman Geisler.
Thanks for posting the article. I felt the article stopped short. My fear is in order to be heard in the religious world, you almost have to go to the extreme for people to listen. We do need to listen with open hearts instead of being ready to spear those with whom we disagree. Can we agree that people have been hurt mightily by the church? How do we change the church and still hold fast to solid doctrine? Change must happen because we are indeed losing a generation.
it seems to me that “solid doctrine” is simply another way of saying ‘my way or the highway’. i tend to think this is what is driving the generation away.
there are many different interpretations to scripture. are they all wrong except yours? only yours is right? the arrogance is simply off-putting. and heaven will be a lonely, homogeneous indeed.
seems to me less rigidity and a larger umbrella are needed.
We do what we always must do: Demonstrate kindness to all, but reprove error where ever it rears its head. Beware of sentimentalizing matters, and remain true to God. We appraise things based on people’s words and actions. To try to discover underlying factors that lead people to err can lead to many blind alleys and unwarranted sympathy, where none should exist. The Apostle John, AKA the apostle of love, spared no follower of Cerinthus in his first letter.
On the other hand, we cannot mudsling and attack the person. No one should rejoice over RHE’s death. Point out the errors, and seek to redeem.
I am now old (a young Boomer), but i know so many millennials and gen-xers who are done with the church, often for reasons that are very hard to disagree with. For example, everything currently happening at Cedarville poiints to “how can I trust the older, secretive, corrupt leadership who are in charge of my spiritual, intellectual, and vocational formation?” They have lots of other voices they can listen to in our society, and not all who listen to those voices turn out to be heavily tattooed, body pierced serial killers. They seem to actually turn out better than many church members in terms of their moral character (emphasis on moral, not necessarily spiritual) and positive contributions to society.
All that to say, I think the church needs to get back to being the church-i.e feed the flock and do good to your neighbor. Drop the twitter handles, the coffee shop hipster persona, and get back to teaching the word in a way that causes people to believe the life-changing power of Christ to make a sinner a new creation. A long time ago (1973) I was a high school student who read just about every book about religions I could find. I had given up on my liberally-minder theological church as it was mostly a club for seniors so they could fight about the color of the new sanctuary carpet (really did happen!), the cults I had been exposed to were too strange, and then there were my real, live Christian friends who were not like anyone else I knew. They obeyed and respected their non-Christian parents (I couldn’t stand mine and was always looking for a way around them), were involved in community ministries that really helped people, and they were nice to each other. I was intrigued. One of them tutored me in algebra, shared Jesus, listened to me, and confronted with the truth of the gospel. By the end of my sophomore year, I was a believer, and I also passed algebra.
Most of the Christian group I ran with in college, now in our early 60s, are still active in church (not big-box churches, by the way) as well as career-minded and sharing Jesus in the work place. Some did become pastors, although the majority just serve in their local church. Most of us vote, but we aren’t overtly political. Most of our kids went to public schools, although a few to Christian or home school.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that less soap box standing, and more sitting at the gate with our fellow community members in an authentic and truthful living out the gospel way, might serve to advance the cause of Jesus and the church. I think it will be interesting to see how many new people come to church after the pandemic isolation is over. I’ll go back to mine-we have continued our food distribution through the pandemic (now drive-through), operated a lunch program for needy kids out of school, made masks for community workers…and stream our services. But, I hope our neighbors (like the old song) will know we are Christians by our love and not by how many negative tweets we produce about the government, gays, welfare, guns…whatever other hot topic you want to name.
You nailed it Linn. Thank you.
Like Kimberly, I liked the article but thought it stopped short. It’s like a good introduction, but then I was expecting him to muse on why Mrs. Evans held the views she did, and how the church can avoid pushing other people into those views. It is *so* important to figure out why people go wrong. I’m a teacher of economics, and with my experience I can predict which mistakes students will make in doing homework problems and why, and I’m a better teacher as a result of the “why”. I wish I could do the same with theological mistakes.
what makes you so certain you’re the one who hasn’t gone wrong?
The main commandment that many Christians have forgotten is to love others as He loves us. If we don’t have the love of Christ truly in our hearts and to show that unto others then all the rest is pretty useless. He taught us to love, how can we do less.
Allowing any portion of Christianity to be mixed with politics (liberal or conservative) was a huge mistake. People aren’t fleeing from Jesus. They’re running from the hateful, divisive, holier-than-thou messaging coming out of Conservative Evangelical media and leaders. Many people have never heard the gospel. They’re reading and hearing the words and actions of the Evangelicals who purport to believe in it and say, “No, thanks!” Those who still feel a tug on their heart to try to meet Jesus are fleeing to mainline denominations that tell them they AND their sin are welcomed to come on in and abide with Christ. Of course Christ welcomes all just as they are but he will not abide with sin. Many of the mainline churches are encouraging people to believe that they ARE their sin. Of course this is a lie from the pits. Sin is what we do and not who we are. So to see someone brand themselves as a ‘Homosexual christian pastor’ is mind boggling. Surely we can synthesize truth better than that? No matter how long you practice a sin or what internal feelings prompt you to engage in it, you are not that sin.
It isn’t just Gen Z or Millenials running from Conservative Evangelical churches. I’m Gen X and many unsaved people in my generation as well as Baby Boomers want absolutely nothing to do with Jesus because Conservatives have tried (and sadly succeeded) in co-branding the Gospel with their Conservative political rhetoric which has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus. Many people aren’t even running to the mainline denominations. They don’t want anything to do with any flavor or Christianity. So they go New Age, Eastern religion, or atheist. Both sides (mainlines and Evangelicals) cry religious persecution when questioned about their political and social activism that clearly is not in line with the Bible. In the balance lies the souls of millions of people, many of whom, have simply walked away
Beautifully said, Carla. As a fellow Gen Xer, I am seeing the same thing. While my non-believing friends will tell me they admire my faith and love for God’s Word, they stop short at accepting my invitation to church because of how they’ve seen Christianity get mixed in with politics. I was SO embarrassed when one friend said, “I could go to church with you, but just so you know, I’m a Democrat, so I know that means I can’t be a Christian.” All attempts I made to correct this were met with articles and quotes by “famous” Evangelical leaders backing her up. (She had her receipts!) I continue to pray my life is a testimony to my friends (who are looking to anything “spiritual” BUT Christianity), but unfortunately, those same friends have also gotten front row seats to how I have been treated by fellow believers for not “falling in line” and supporting all things conservative while belittling all things liberal. (It’s been an ugly fight at times, but I refuse to let politics overshadow my faith).
Unfortunately, I don’t see things changing, because all attempts at pointing out our own sins are met with “whataboutism” to deflect rather than ANY attempts to reflect address (case in point, the evangelical response to the Christianity Today article criticizing Trump). That “whataboutism” is the SAME way the unrepentant respond when confronted with their own sin. So we aren’t showing the world we are ANY different.
We need to get back to being a thermostat that sets the temperature of the world rather than a thermometer that reflects it.
Don’t understand how a Christian could hate someone so much, not a believer at all, doesn’t know Christ. Rachel was a person, why so much hate
Brandon is a man who’s very passionate about what he believes. And I don’t want to put words in his mouth. But I know one of the issues he’s passionate about is the transgender issue. And the reason he’s passionate is that he’s interviewed so many parents absolutely ravaged by the decisions of their children to mutilate their bodies to match their gender identity. He hates trans ideology and rightfully so. And I think the way our fallen nature works is that we can often fail to make a distinction between a person and their espoused ideology. It happens. I think all of us, if we’re honest, have struggled with doing that at some point in our lives.
has Brandon actually talked to transgender individuals themselves?
why is compassion so one-sided, here? sound to me like a rational explanation for the polarized hate that was a part of him. (still is a part of him?)
For those saying the article stopped short, read Julie’s intro: IT WAS A FACEBOOK POST (and a good one, I might add).
I appreciate the honesty of Brandon being willing to be transparent and publicly admit his strong hatred toward someone that holds different views, and I appreciate that he is willing to admit there are some serious flaws in the American version of the Institutional Church that affects the Kingdom Church… the Celebrity Pastor/Christian Industrial Complex is a HUGE problem, authoritarianism is a HUGE problem, and distorted doctrines and twisted theology in the conservative stream as well as the progressive stream are HUGE problems!
We tend to be quick to point out the flaws in other camps, and coverup/deny/ignore/protect the ones in our own… those who point out the problem in our own camps, often end up being seen as the problem and being attacked… deflecting from the actual problem…
I still have some pause at some of what Brandon says, but will only address one phrase at this point… “cynical deconstruction”? There is a much needed legitimate deconstruction (and hopefully reconstruction going on) – see Matthew 15/Mark 7 where the traditions of the elders/leaders nullify the word of God… there are some traditions that are limiting the priesthood of all believers, while benefiting and protecting those in power… this is the exact opposite of scripture… and it’s based on traditions of the elders/man…
Cynical? maybe because, it comes from a refusal of those on the conservative side that are protecting certain traditions, to engage or hold accountable the hypocrisy (“unbearable compromise, corruption, and double standards”, etc…) that has been going on in the conservative camp that many current progressives grew up in?
Sadly, when those in the conservative stream refuse to engage or worse, vilify, accuse, slander, etc, those who are deconstructing from some traditions of the elders/traditions of man and exposing these deeds of darkness, it is a deep betrayal by those that were trusted with a sacred trust… believe you me, the resistance and betrayal is significant and can be very toxic if there is no healthy re-construction… sadly, some walk away from the faith all together because of how leaders responded to their honest and valid questions and concerns, let alone those who suffered the abuses of power that are far too often part of the responses by those in power… and I don’t blame these spiritual refugees… they were abandoned and shunned, with no support, and instead experienced hostile resistance from those in their churches…
When the conservative leaders refuse to engage in healthy, honest discussion, and instead respond w defensive attacks, this often leaves those in the deconstruction process STUCK! and the reconstruction doesn’t happen, or happens very slowly, or is left to be influenced by those who are kind and open, and will listen and validate the hurt and pain that is a result of toxic leadership response on the conservative side, but might still be out of alignment with the Word of God as well… so, we end up with both sides out of alignment with the Word…
I have come across, from both the progressive and the conservative streams, beliefs that are in LINE w scripture, but are not in ALIGNMENT! One of the key principals throughout Scripture is ONE ANOTHER, this is a command in the NT about 60 times, with LOVE ONE ANOTHER mentioned at least 15 of those times! https://www.mmlearn.org/hubfs/docs/OneAnotherPassages.pdf
Jesus gives us a new command in John 13-17, in His final hours before the Cross… love ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you… and if you love Me, you will keep My commands…
I hope that we are learning this key principle as we the Kingdom Church mature and grow, and part of that process is a deconstruction/reconstruction becoming more in alignment with His Word and His principles…
we can do better Church, as Children of God, new creations in Christ, and temples of, and by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith… for His glory and our good…
I could tell you many stories of similar situations. The church will not listen to young people with legitimate questions. Just follow the narrative, even if it might not make sense to you, or you’ll be labeled a problem child. They feed them the same watered down theology for years and years and never challenge them to truly know Christ. It’s rampant.
Not that I agree with everything Nate and Tim believe (see link below) but these podcasts have really stretched my thinking. I love the quote: (I didn’t include the second reason)
“most people can’t be educated. There are two reasons for this.
First, many don’t want to be educated. They want to be lied to. That’s why cable news and partisan websites are popular. Most people don’t really want their beliefs challenged; they want them reaffirmed. This is a problem inherent to human psychology and is largely insurmountable. It’s part of the “fall of man.”
I enjoy The Roys Report because it does not shy away from difficult subjects and it allows for honest debate. I found this article refreshingly honest. There is definitely an anger that wells up in the heart of the person who is trying to “contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints” when it feels like every progressive opinion in our culture is lauded as courageous, and conservative thinking is seen as repressive and dangerous.
I think that is why there is such hatred for someone like RHE. She seems to get an immediate pass from those who follow her or who have been hurt by the church because they see her as a brave pioneer, while they lambast any conservative thinker as an oppressive ogre. Just because someone has been hurt by the church does not mean they have a corner on the truth. I think good thinking should be just as critical with RHE’s aberrant teaching and writing as it is on bad conservative behavior.
With all that being said, I still am amazed at Jesus’ attitude toward those who don’t “keep his word” in John 12:47. He says “I do not judge him.” In other words, he generously extends mercy while also allowing them to wander and wrestle in their state of rejection. Conservatives, like me, tend to be quick to judge. And the danger with judgment is that it leads towards a natural state of ‘hatred’. In our passion to defend truth, we often forget about the soul that someday will have to face judgment on the last day, (John 12:48) – this will be a dreadful day, not something to ever rejoice in. Mercy, as exampled by Christ, is the only thing that has the potential to move the heart of the one who is in darkness towards the truth of Christ (2 Timothy 2:24-26), not judgment. Judgment only cements further rejection.
And since RHE’s death, I have been convicted to show mercy to the progressive camp, hoping they will see the truth of the word so they may bow their knee to it before the last day. This is a very difficult balance.
We have to have a balance of love and truth. Heterosexual marriage is the only way to live out our sexuality before a holy God. Otherwise we must choose celibacy. The homosexual agenda has done great harm to America as has a host of other issues. Mrs. Evans gained a liberal following by defying God’s Word. I just can’t see the value in that. There are seven passages in the Bible that condemns the practice of homosexuality. This does not matter to liberals. Feelings rule the day with liberals – not God’s word. Seems very wayward to me. I don’t think we can continue in sin and get along with God very well. Maybe Mrs. Evans pointed out the real need of loving the sinner. But by rejecting the other clear mandates of scripture she shot her cause in her clay foot and so she cannot justify her actions before a holy God. Yes we must have love and compassion but we cannot justify, rationalize and explain away sin.
If God’s grace is big enough to forgive me for treating the leaders of the homosexual agenda with contempt, then God must be big enough to deal with a sexuality that is not his design.
I don’t see any wisdom in glorifying something that rejects God’s design and purpose.
Nothing Brandon wrote glorifies RHE’s theology or positions. He simply was saying that those positions often are a reaction to hypocrisy in the church and wounding. If we don’t love people as persons, and instead perceive them merely as the sum of their positions, we’ll never help them find healing or truth.
Ron, it is a GROSS misrepresentation, assumption, stereotype, and generalization to say things like, “Feelings rule the day with liberals – not God’s word.”
First, “all or nothing” statements are EASY to disprove, which undermines your argument. Unless you can prove that ALL liberals are NOTHING but feelings and lack ANY acknowledgement of God’s word, you are not being truthful. And yes, I’d say the same thing to someone who says, “Conservatives have no feelings or heart.” It’s simply not true.
Second, it is statements like that which have been used to belittle and dismiss people who are more left leaning like myself – someone who has been a student of God’s word since 2001 (including travels throughout the Middle East with theologians) – but who doesn’t agree with conservatives on everything. The areas where I disagree are NOT due to “feelings” and are NOT lacking in theology, logic, or knowledge of God’s word. For example, I have “centrist” thoughts on women in leadership in the church. I disagree with conservatives who say “Trump didn’t agree to be a pastor” as a reason to be ok with his unBiblical behavior – and I reference MANY verses where God punished secular kings and nations for disobedience and idolatry. I do not see where the capitalism and nationalism that have become intertwined with conservatism in the US align with scripture – and I have knowledge of scripture, the culture of the time, and the context in which verses were written to back myself up. It is NOT as if those who are more liberal have no brain, and conservatives have the corner on all things truthful and logical.
We MUST be careful about blanket, self-righteous statements that group and dismiss all who have more liberal leanings (or questions) than us. It is part of what has turned away so many (as referenced in the thread above). The areas where we disagree are not always black and white, “all or nothing”, or “facts vs feelings”, and are worth having a healthy discussion, as long as we agree with the core tenets of the faith.
Julie, thanks for posting this. I have to agree, we’ve all made this mistake as you refer to:
“And I think the way our fallen nature works is that we can often fail to make a distinction between a person and their espoused ideology. It happens. I think all of us, if we’re honest, have struggled with doing that at some point in our lives.”
God has been convicting me to show mercy to those people I disagree with instead of judging them.
I became aware of RHE’s death through the IG post of a millienial Christian singer who said she’d been helped by RHE.
This singer has written some solid, beautiful and Biblical worship songs. But when she started veering twd some Emgergent Church and progressive views I got leery. I admit I judged her.
Then I came across an online interview by Jonathan Merrit where she was chatting about her past. She grew up in a very conservative Christian denomination that caused hurt and trauma for her…and was in a desperate place of doubt, trying to figure out God, and to heal…and it clicked. I felt the Spirit telling me, “See, I’ve got her” and that instead of judging her, He wanted me to have mercy towards her. I repented!
Having mercy while holding to the truth is a delicate balance. Easier if we’re humble.
That “deconstruction” the emergent church esposes is a 2-edged sword. Like Jonathan Merritt (a progressive Christian)
said in the same interview it can be good to “destroy our icons” that we believe about God, ie, is it from His Word or just us, but I think even that questioning in the progressive church can be an icon…the “cynical deconstructionism” Brandon referred to.
Kind of like this image of the Emergent Church the Spirit showed me—
It’s like trying to look at Jesus over your shoulder through a mirror, when He’s saying, “Hi, turn around and Look at My Face.”
You know, a lot makes sense when we stop and look at His Face…
Let’s look at Him.
Sabrina, that was amazing! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Chris! It was your comment that got me thinking. Thank you back!
Both sides have a tendency to make over reaching statements. It is basically impossible to find any group that has universal agreement on practically anything. When someone makes these “all or nothing” statements it is hard to know if they are just making a generalized statement not meant to be taken 100% literal.
From my experience talking with people within in the church they are all very different individuals with complex beliefs about everything that are generally not set in stone over a period of time. So, all this talk in general statements is fairly hard to do because the particulars/details of what people think on the many varied topics.
Interpreting Scripture people are all over the place so where do we find common ground?
I draw as close as I can through the lens of the early church, which had many different people with their varied positions as well. Literal leaning vs allegory/spiritualizing, chiliasm vs what was or became amillennial, etc. Others are drawn more by reason, culture, state, feelings or any number of others things. We all have some mixture of what we a drawing from potentially preferring one area or another.
The early church used the rule of faith generally summed up in early creeds to unite but left some areas up for debate that led to longer and longer creeds as time progressed.
Today when I go to many different churches and they profess the Nicene creed expressing unity each other and with the early and broad church. But it Rarely is the early creed but some modified version of it sometimes even removing lines like the one on baptism. This is not even getting into the difference between the 325 creed and the changes at 381.
So, even on a simple creed meant to express the faith in simple terms people cannot seem to unite.
There was also clearly false teachings as best express in my opinion by the letter to the even churches. Paul expressed in Act 20 when leaving this would occur. I don’t see a solution to it this side of Christ’s blessed return.
I pray all of us know the truth with grace and walk it out in hope and love not as the world defines it but as God our Father does through His Son Lord Jesus Christ.
I completely agree with every word you said. In my walk with the Lord, one of the biggest challenges I have had is that the more I study His word, the more I uncover so many intricacies and “non-essential” areas where I disagree with various churches, movements, and even fellow believers. (By non-essential, I mean those NOT involving the fundamental beliefs of our faith – i.e., the Trinity, the deity of Christ, etc).
I initially was frustrated by my inability to find any church or pastor I agreed with universally. But now, it has made me understand the importance of having my own walk with the Lord, fed by my own time and understanding of His Word (not just through sermons, podcasts, or books – while great tools, I need to be in the Word for MYSELF). Now I am just frustrated by the inability to have healthy discussions about these intricacies with fellow believers, often due to the quick dismissal of generalizations. I have been shut down and shut out due to my political leanings, questions on “conservative” stances, interest in social justice causes, and more…often dismissed with phrases like “Feelings rule the day with liberals”. I expect to be dismissed and belittled by those in the world, not from within the church – especially not over disagreement over “non-essential” views.
I speak up because unfortunately, the world is watching us be equally dismissive to one another, and wondering WHY they should take an interest in the gospel if things are no different in the church. THAT is where I call us to do better.
I don’t agree with him about her having been responsible for causing people to deconstruct their faith and saying what she write was the reason. If people my age (mid 30’s) left the church I do not think RHE deserves all the blame for that. If people have left the church it is because they were disillusioned with it long before she came along. Now, her writings may have influenced it and exacerbated it, to a degree. But as a millennial Christian, I do agree with her on the fact that the church is not a loving place always, and it has burned bridges with pretty much every ethnic group and with both genders, more often than it’s gotten things right with being more inclusive and truly wanting to know others stories.
I don’t agree with every cause she championed but I do agree that the church has been more about keeping people out then it has been about letting others in. I think a lot of evangelicals hear the word “inclusive” and take it to the worst place imaginable when it’s not meant that way. They forget Jesus set an example of radical inclusivity in His life and His ministry. He didn’t keep people out or hoard any power for Himself, He gave His life for all of us no matter what category we fall into. He also had healthy boundaries around Him and inclusivity can be done well with the right boundaries.
RHE said “The Gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors and shouting “Welcome- there’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk- this isn’t a Kingdom for the worthy, it’s a Kingdom for the hungry.” That quote is what God’s heart is for. We need to be Kingdom minded, because there are no divisions in God’s Kingdom- the only divisions that exist do so in the minds and hearts of people who aren’t willing to admit that the Christian life is a life of both/and, not right versus wrong, power hungry versus vulnerable. I grew up in the church my whole life. I have seen what walls of every kind do to people and to the church and I know with every certainty that that is not God’s heart.
Interesting, my reading last night included Luke 12:51. The worry many have Is that entrance into the kingdom is no longer including repent (Mark 3:2) due to redefining or justifying sin. Soon it seems likely any who declares repent will no longer be accepted like the voice in the wilderness.
I understand how we as Christians need to be compassionate towards those who believe differently than we do, but just because someone gets hurt by the Church is no excuse to reject Biblical teachings, such as what Mrs. Evans did.
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