A Response to “Rachel Held Evans: An Evolved “Evangelical”’

on February 19, 2013

Dear Rachel et al.,

First, thank you, Rachel for taking the time to respond. I was traveling this weekend and just now had a chance to review the comments, and I agree with you, many of them are hurtful and unproductive. Certainly not reflective of what a Christ honoring community should be. The intent of the original post was not at all to attack you or elicit attacks from others. Our job at IRD is to observe and report on trends within the Church, so that was my intent in writing about your talks in Williamsburg. I welcome discussion about the substance of your message, but do not condone the assumptions about and attacks on your character.

Second, to those who have posted accusatory and mean-spirited comments: please do better. This blog often discusses contentious matters that Christians ought to engage, but name-calling and accusations have no place in that. Please be thoughtful and rigorous in debating the actual issues at hand, but don’t verbally attack individuals.

Some of the comment threads on this blog have become quite appalling recently and consequently, we will begin moderating the comments more stringently. Please read our code of conduct here: http://juicyecumenism.com/our-code/

Thanks to everyone for reading and engaging in this conversation – let’s please be more civil in the future!

In Christ,


[Editors note: The above post appeared in Juicy Ecumenism’s Comments section of the Rachel Held Evans: An Evolved “Evangelical” blog post. We thought it best to place it more prominently so that Kristin’s sentiments, which reflect those of the organization, are clearly stated.]

  1. Comment by SallyClay Mainly Mark Smith on February 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Kristin, good point. I can understand why Rachel may be offended by some of the commentary, but I would point out that she has voluntarily put herself in a position of provocateur in the Christian community.

    That certainly does not excuse personal attacks, but I hope she can work through the harshness and recognize the truth in much of what has been said. Feeling offended, even with some justification, does not give one license to ignore a truth inartfully conveyed.

    I would further observe that Rachel may have come from a church tradition that exhibited prejudice and judgmentalism, and they may be influencing her to a great extent. If that’s the case then her reaction is somewhat understandable, but going to the other extreme is not.

    I am hopeful that Rachel is open to the possibility that she may be exchanging one form of judgmentalism and prejudice for another, not so obvious one. The invective regularly thrown out at conservative Christians by religious and secular leftists makes any commentary in this forum seem quite tame by comparison (but, again, I do not excuse personal attacks).

    Here is an article that I think argues persuasively against progressive Christianity without invective: http://talbotdavis.blogspot.com/2013/02/top-five-tuesday-top-five-reasons-why-i.html

  2. Comment by skotiad on February 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Sally, you hit the nail on the head with the word “provocateur.” When someone is clearly trying to generate publicity via controversy, she has to be prepared for a certain amount of negativity. I think some of the comments about her and her book may have gone over the top, and naturally any author starts to take it personally when her book gets harsh criticism.

    My take on this author is that, like many people who grew up in fundamentalist homes, she is trying to distance herself from her past. In running away from it and depicting it as repressive and judgmental, she falls into her own judgmentalism. Frankly, I pity Evans because I have known people like her who spent their entire lives running away from a past that they are ashamed of. I know lots of happy people who are unashamed fundamentalists, but I’ve yet to meet many ex-fundamentalists who were truly happy, as they always fear being judged as backward, anti-intellectual, etc. Evans will, I hope, come to realize that embracing the Christian label means looking at beliefs and values and asking “Are these in keeping with God’s will?” instead of “What will keep people from thinking of me as provincial and reactionary?”

    A key moment in the Christian’s life is when he can affirm Paul’s words: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

  3. Comment by Ed Cyzewski on February 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks for this response.

    Honestly, the one point of your original post and of many other posts that have preceded it is that folks keep kicking Rachel out of the evangelical community, saying that her approach to scripture is not “evangelical.” Rachel fits comfortably within many evangelical groups and looks to prominent evangelical theologians such as NT Wright, Scot McKnight, and Roger Olson in her research. She’s not REformed and she may not even be mainstream. However, if you look up the definition of an evangelical according to experts like Mark Knoll and John Stott, she’s certainly an evangelical since she bases her arguments in scripture and believes in personal conversion and the importance of sharing the faith. She may not read the Bible the way some evangelicals, even the majority, prefer, but to kick her out of the evangelical camp suggests both a narrowing of what it means to be an evangelical and an oversight of evangelicalism’s diverse history and present.

    I bring all of this up because such oversights could have the result that unnecessary divisions will be created within the broader community of evangelicalism. I fully understand that some disagree with Rachel’s approach to scripture, but it is consistent with certain segments of evangelicalism.

  4. Pingback by Rachel Held Evans: An Evolved “Evangelical” « Juicy Ecumenism – The Institute on Religion & Democracy's Blog on February 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    […] 3:50 PM: Editors note: Kristin Rudolph has posted a response, which appeared yesterday. The full text is available on our […]

  5. Pingback by Thursday Threads, 2/21 ¶ The Registered Runaway on February 21, 2013 at 7:14 am

    […] Kristen at Juicy Ecumenism, A Response to “Rachel Held Evans: An Evolved “Evangelical&#8… […]

  6. Comment by btay1 on February 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    So now juicy Ecumenism is pandering to the heretics like RHE. She needs to be accused of here ungodly speech and actions. it is a sad day indeed.

  7. Comment by dogmatix2013 on February 23, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Amen! I’ve lost a ton of respect for the IRD in the past week. Especially now that many of the regulars are no longer posting comments and the comments sections are overflowing with left-wing trolls.

  8. Pingback by Lessons from the Rachel Held Evans Dust-up. | Juicy Ecumenism - The Institute on Religion & Democracy's Blog on February 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    […] responded with poise and grace, in the best IRD tradition. She did not back away from any of her impeccable […]

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.