Because I spent all day Saturday enjoying our church’s women’s conference and most of yesterday at church (we had a coffee fellowship after the service), I didn’t see Elizabeth Prata’s announcement that Rachel Held Evans had died until late yesterday afternoon. My heart sank. RHE leaves behind a young husband and two small children. Having lost my father mere days before my tenth birthday, I feel sad for her children — it’s a hole in childhood that never gets filled.
I also understand the cultural notion that we should “never speak ill of the dead.” That’s generally a good policy, I guess. Especially when the death is fresh and the wounds of grief are raw. Consequently, we face a huge temptation to fold away our theological differences with RHE in favor of showing respect for her family. I get that.
Along those lines, I quite agree that any pronouncements about her eternal state are inappropriate. Her theology definitely veered south, causing grave concern, but we have no idea what transpired between her and the Lord during those weeks she was in the coma. It would be highly arrogant to presume she went to hell…and just as arrogant to presume she went to heaven.
Ad hominem statements about Rachel Held Evans only betray immaturity, and by all means must be avoided. At the same time, we must not pretend that her teachings honored the Lord. Both Denny Burk and Allen Nelson IV have documented the serious errors in her theology, and I strongly urge you to read their articles. Rachel Held Evans espoused a liberal theology that strips the Bible of it’s authority, thereby putting her followers in danger of becoming false converts. And, of course, calling her own salvation into question.
Her liberal positions on homosexuality and the authority of Scripture leave us no option but to consider her a false teacher.
I take no pleasure in calling anyone a false teacher. Those who regularly read this blog know that I shy away from writing about false teachers as a whole, preferring to teach discernment through sound doctrine. And when a false teacher like Rachel Held Evans dies, it gives me no joy to remind people of her errors.
Yet often a celebrity’s death sparks renewed interest in their works. I don’t doubt that more people are buying her books and reading her blog in response to her death, opening themselves up to her liberal theology and thus questioning the Bible’s authority. Undiscerning readers risk falling into deception if people conflate respect for the dead with unwillingness to acknowledge that person’s errors. Perhaps especially now, we must warn against the teachings of Rachel Held Evans.