There may prove to be few more controversial figures in the early 21st-century Evangelical world than Rachel Held Evans. Held Evans was not a highly trained theologian although she did possess a keen intellectual mind and was passionate about any topic revolving around her faith. She was a blogger, often looked down upon by the more educated Evangelical community, largely because of the tremendous sway she held over what they considered to be their flock. Evans regularly defied the old-guard Evangelicals, but in the process, she gave theologians some incredible gifts. Here are three gifts Rachel Held Evans gave the world of theology.
She wasn’t afraid to question her faith
Most major religions are built on decades, if not centuries-old concepts. They are considered to be time-honored, tested and unquestionably true. They are also the bedrocks or foundations of most people’s faith, which means to question them puts them on shaky ground. A feeling most do not like. Therefore, it is often considered a sin in and of itself in most religious circles to even question the oldest and deepest tenets of their faith, which Evans did – regularly. But questioning and challenging deeply held beliefs is often the only way to determine their worth, validity and merit – which many simply do not have.
She wasn’t afraid to admit what she didn’t know
Theologians, like doctors, are the people others generally turn to in any type of crisis. They are also generally expected to have all the answers, which they often don’t. Instead of simply admitting to what they do not know, they can instead send seekers journeying in long, never-ending circles chasing false answers and believing in false promises. This can leave seekers in an ever-worsening position and more jaded toward religion than ever before.
She created a more inclusive table
There can be no doubt that power and religion go hand in hand. Over time, every major religion or even religious body develops gatekeepers that often pride themselves on being keepers of the gate. When gates grow too narrow, however, religion stagnates. Held Evans threw the gates wide open and even encouraged others to storm the gates. In the process, she created a much more complex and healthy dynamic within the religious community.