How Should Christians Respond to the Death of Rachel Held Evans?


Rachel Held Evans

by John Ellis

How should Christians respond when wolves in sheep’s clothing tragically die? That’s the question, I think, driving the many text messages I’ve received today after the news of Rachel Held Evans’ death was made public. Curious as to my response, I fielded the question, “Did you hear that Rachel Held Evans died?” multiple times. For starters, my response is one of immense sadness. The news deserves mourning. Yet, it also deserves truthful responses that point people to the saving grace found in repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ – a message that was tragically rejected by Rachel Held Evans.

In case you were unaware, RHE had severe allergic reactions several weeks ago to antibiotics she was given to help her combat the flu. After a series of unexplained seizures, doctors placed her in a medically induced coma. On Thursday of this week, according to her husband, she took a turn for the worse and passed away this morning.

In a statement to Slate, RHE’s husband Dan Evans said:

She put others before herself. She shared her platform. She always remembered how others had helped her. She enjoyed seeing other people in contexts where they thrived. She didn’t hold grudges, would forget as well as forgive. She had little time for pettiness and a big heart for people. And these are all things I wish I had told her more while I still had the privilege to keep her company.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Rachel Held Evans, Slate eulogized her with this honest assessment:

Evans was a forceful and winsome public voice for progressive evangelicalism, first as a blogger and later as an author and sought-after speaker. She started her eponymous site more than a decade ago, and in her years of writing she confronted every controversial issue in American evangelical culture. She wrote about biblical literalism, racism, abortion, evolution, theology, marriage, patriarchy, women in leadership, and evangelical support for Donald Trump. She advocated for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church and analyzed her own complicity in racial bias after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The Washington Post once called her “the most polarizing woman in evangelicalism.”

She was definitely polarizing; I can personally attest to that. One of the most read posts on this blog is my review of RHE’s book Searching for Sunday. I lost friends over that review.

Sadly, many in my ex-fundamentalist and ex-Bob Jones University circles found a prophetess in Rachel Held Evans and they blindly followed her to the faux freedom she held out in the form of an inclusive Christianity shorn of sin, judgment, standards, and consequences. While promising freedom, RHE’s religion is actually an eternally damning bondage to sin and self.

Over the years, I have not been shy in my denunciations of the heretical first lady of progressive evangelicalism, and it would be dishonest to change course in her death. With that confessed, how do I believe Christians should respond to the news when one of the most dangerous wolves preying on Christians dies?

Well, we should respond with sorrow and mourning and prayer. First and foremost, a husband has lost his wife and two young children have lost their mother. Not to mention Rachel Held Evans’ parents, extended family, and her many friends. Death is not to be celebrated. We should be praying for the Spirit to draw people to the Father through RHE’s death. We should be praying for the physical and eternal protection of her young children and husband.

So, yes, we should mourn the death of Rachel Held Evans. Death is the enemy. An enemy that Christ conquered with his death and resurrection, but an enemy that will continue to wheeze out its evil and heartbreak until Jesus returns to complete his victory over sin and death. Christians should never rejoice at the death of an Image Bearer. And, make no mistake, Rachel Held Evans was as fully made in the image of God as I am or as you are.

And we should mourn over the death of an individual who rebelled against and rejected the one in whose image she was made. Choosing to worship herself, Rachel Held Evans denied the God of the Bible and, instead, created a god in her own image – a god that allowed her to exist comfortably alongside those who worship the sexual revolution. Out of all the tragedies surrounding her death, the most tragic thing is that all evidence points to the reality that Rachel Held Evans entered eternity under the wrath of God.

We should mourn those who are following her to perdition. I have friends who have succumb to the self-serving idolatry taught by Rachel Held Evans, and I mourn their rebellion against God and pray for their repentance. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be pleased to use the tragic death of an individual that they respected and looked to for spiritual guidance as a means to wake them up to the reality of their rebellion and the fact that they, too, will one day answer for how they respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The good and right desire to show compassion during circumstances like the death of Rachel Held Evans can tempt us to minimize the damage done by wolves in sheep’s clothing when tragedy strikes. Yet, as the untimely death of Rachel Held Evans underlines, life is short and fragile. None of us are promised the next minute, much less tomorrow. How we respond to our Creator is all-important. Related to that, how we respond to those who are leading people astray is important, too. In fact, the most anti-Rachel Held Evans thing that I or anyone else can do is to simply share the gospel of Jesus Christ and call sinners to repentance and faith.

The Bible reveals that all humans are born in sinful rebellion against God. Since God is perfectly holy and just, sin must be punished, and since our sin is against an eternal God, the fully just punishment is eternal. Thankfully, in His mercy, God has provided the way in which His people can be saved from their sins and reconciled to Him. After living the life of perfect obedience that God requires and that none of us can live, Jesus willingly mounted the cross to die as the just punishment for the sins of those who repent and believe on him. Three days later, vindicating his claim to be the Son of God, Jesus rose from the dead. At this moment, King Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for his people. One day, he will return. Upon that day, those who have repented and believed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus will be ushered into an eternity filled with God’s blessings and physical communion with our Lord and Savior. However, those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ will be ushered into their just eternal punishment for their rebellion against their Creator.

Sadly, Rachel Held Evans denied the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, she dedicated her life to the destruction of the gospel. Promising the freedom to be whomever you want to be with no judgment, RHE held out a religion of self. No denial of self; no taking up your cross. A full-throated commitment to self-serving individualism was the religion preached and spread by Rachel Held Evans. While we mourn the death of a woman made in the image of God, we need to mourn even more the tragically eternal effects of the false gospel she preached.

Soli Deo Gloria

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12 thoughts on “How Should Christians Respond to the Death of Rachel Held Evans?

  1. Never heard of her. However, I see that she was very anti-Trump. I think all Christians are against Trump and I would seriously question the Christianity, as well as the sanity, of anyone who supports the guy. Regardless of any other views she held, being anti-Trump is what binds us all together. I’m sorry to hear that this fine lady has passed.

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  2. Thanks John. I appreciate your faithful and gracious words. It can be hard to reject sentimentality to uphold the truth, but uphold it we must. The eternal destiny of men’s souls is at stake.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am guessing I have a lot of reading to do, to claim someone denies the Gospel and is a dangerous wolf is a big claim. I am not very good at being a Christian, if you look at my life I am sure like many there is plenty a fault to be found, that’s why I like to call myself a practising Christian.
    I am guessing she committed a heresy of some sort, although I didnt see one delinated, or did she uncomfortably challenge something, in the same way Catholics and many people get very upset when I do not concur that Mother Teresa was a good person and that I can hold that while certain churches have Christians in them they have long since ceased being Christian, making me look positively saintly, I am not popular, no sandals, no slacks, pastel shirt, not neatly groomed, and I still cuss now and again, I figure I am a guy Jesus came to save, like the fishermen and prostitutes back in the day.

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    • The fishermen and prostitutes became disciples, they didn’t use their encounter with Jesus as an excuse but rather a springboard for transformation.

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      • That is true, what I do not see presented is conclusive evidence of actions not being congruent with Faith.

        However, I do see that elsewhere, and so if that evidence can be presented, then the “wolf” claim can be sustained.

        Not agreeing with a point of view per-se in a highly contested area is not evidence on its own of anything other than being human.

        Having a church with wealth patrons and contractors, and a member of the choir live in a house where the toilet does not work tells me where the wolves really are!!

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  4. Never once heard of this person, so I don’t know why all the attention. Apparently she was popular among some groups. In looking at her life after her death, I would have to agree with others that we lost a great woman. She was anti-Trump, and as others have mentioned, that’s really all that should matter as far as her value as a contributing citizen of the country and the world.

    Apparently she irked a few of the radical right loonies who are obsessed with their favorite pet “sin” of homosexuality. This is the same group that is obsessed with abortion as well, not the type of crowd one wants to be seen with. Now, I’m not saying that abortions are fun or the answer to all of life’s problems. However,no on in their right mind thinks that being a radical pro-lifer is the answer.

    If this lady managed to bother some of these nutcases on the fringe right, her life was well spent.

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  5. “We should respond with sorrow and mourning and prayer. First and foremost, a husband has lost his wife and two young children have lost their mother. Not to mention Rachel Held Evans’ parents, extended family, and her many friends. Death is not to be celebrated.”

    This would have been a kind and compassionate response. That’s all you needed to say. The rest was a cruel and thoughtless opinion that brought great pain to those who are grieving. You have clearly communicated your feelings about her in the past. So very unnecessary and insensitive to repeat at this time.

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