Rachel Held Evans is dead at 37

Dave White's picture


Early Thursday morning, May 2, Rachel experienced sudden and extreme changes in her vitals. The team at the hospital discovered extensive swelling of her brain and took emergency action to stabilize her. The team worked until Friday afternoon to the best of their ability to save her. This swelling event caused severe damage and ultimately was not survivable.

Rachel died early Saturday morning, May 4, 2019.

This entire experience is surreal. I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story. I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids. To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you. We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her.

Dave White's picture


Why did you leave evangelicalism?

I can find my way around a Bible backward and forward because evangelicals gave me that foundation—I was raised to love and cherish and be hungry for the Bible. But I don’t use ["evangelical”] to describe myself anymore. It’s taken on political connotations that I adamantly oppose. Trump has become this figurehead of Christianity, which I think is really harmful. But evangelical is such a loosey-goosey term. You ask five evangelicals what it means and you get five different answers.

Also, most evangelical leaders would not consider me evangelical because I am affirming of LGBTQ people. That’s the line in the sand these days. The unspoken rule is that evangelicals are politically conservative and don’t support LGBTQ people in the church or their marriages—and I’m not politically conservative. I didn’t vote for Trump, and just got an invitation in the mail to a same-sex wedding I want to go to. It’s hard to stay positive in this political climate—this evangelical marriage to Trump is going to impact it a lot longer than folks think right now. But as frustrated as I am, I remain grateful they gave me the gift of knowing scripture and wanting to understand it.

Dave White's picture


Evans notes that as a young evangelical she had questions about Scripture that were largely ignored until she was given a copy of Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, which she quickly dismisses as being too defensive.  Oddly enough, she then goes on at length to defend her current reading of Scripture as errant and primarily a source as a conversation starter.  Yet, she has no struggle with any passage that condemns the rich and praises the poor.  Evans seems oblivious to her ad hoc approach. In fact, I’ve never met a liberal Christian who ever questioned verses they can easily agree with…funny how that happens.  

I don’t have the space here to hit every hermeneutical error that the author commits in her mishandling of God’s inerrant Word but I will mention a few: (1) She follows Matthew Vines (who simply distilled the work of the late John Boswell) in refusing to admit that Scripture condemns homosexual activity despite the fact that Boswell’s work was roundly panned even by Biblical scholars that Evans looks up to such as N.T. Wright (and even Boswell’s own student turned New Testament professor Richard Hays); (2) She anachronistically draws parallels between the socio-economic world of 1st century Palestine (a time of abject scarcity) and post-industrial North America  (a place of abundance).  Evans should read a few non-Marxist economists before making sweeping statements about such matters; (3) She questions, with a fair bit of snark, why God would order the destruction of the Canaanites and their children for their sin of sacrificing children.  What she obviously misses is that God’s commands were not the narrow, angry outbursts of a vigilante but the decree of the creator with absolute foreknowledge (see The Problem of War in the Old Testament by Peter Craigie), which does make a bit of difference; (4) She dismisses the classic view of penal substitutionary atonement with little more than a slouch and an eye roll, which means she has not really spent a great deal of time reading and reflecting upon the holiness of God and the severity of sin.  

Jay's picture

Rachel and I would have strongly disagreed on doctrinal matters, but my heart goes out to Dan and their surviving family; they have been in our prayers over the last several days.  Thanks for linking to this.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Dave White's picture


Bre Payton, a writer for a conservative online newsmagazine and a guest commentator on the Fox News Channel, died on Friday in San Diego. She was 26.

Her death was confirmed by the online newsmagazine, The Federalist. Ms. Payton had the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, and encephalitis, according to her family.

Ms. Payton started writing for The Federalist in April 2015. The site said she quickly became a “rising star” who was regularly featured on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel.

Craig Toliver's picture

Heretical Author, Rachel Held Evans, Dead at Age 37

Rachel Held Evans was a heretic. While she was not a professional theologian or clergy person, her influential writings no doubt led many sinners astray or, at the very least, provided false assurance to those living in sin that they stood justified before God. The Lord takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. The death of Rachel Held Evans is not an occasion for joy but for mourning. We should be in serious prayer for her family and loved ones, who have to mourn without assurance that they mourn with hope.

How Do we Respond to the Death of an Apostate? The Untimely passing of Rachel Held Evans.

Rachel Held Evans was on the wrong side of every controversial issue and point of doctrine plaguing the western church today. With full knowledge she loudly and publicly chronicled her departure from anything that could be considered the historical Christian faith. No need to establish and or document that here and now. It is beyond dispute for anyone with a modicum of commitment to the biblical gospel. In that light, how do we respond when a person like this passes into eternity, by all biblically reasonable accounts, apart from the saving blood and knowledge of the true and holy only begotten Son of the living God? We should certainly not shrink from the realities that such a situation confronts us with. Only God Himself can pass final judgement on a human soul, however He has given us His word whereby we are to declare His revealed mind on all things, including the standards by which yes, we ARE to judge the state of others when it is this clear according to the evidence their life has shown us. If we do not warn that the denial of the saving truth as it in Christ Jesus IS eternal death, then we are presuming ourselves to be wiser and holier than God who commands exactly that. The blood of those who hear us would then be on our hands as the Lord proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel. With that in mind, we also should never rejoice or sneer at the loss of another, no matter who or what they are. To do so is to demonstrate a profound lack of the knowledge of our own sin and the grace and power of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit required to save us from it.

Jay's picture

It speaks volumes to me that she hasn't even been dead for 24 hours and Pulpit and Pen felt the need to publish those kinds of articles.

I hope her family (husband, 3 year old, and infant turning 1) are reminded of just how odious their wife and mom was on the very day she died.

Take a bow, folks. 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

GregH's picture

Jay wrote:

It speaks volumes to me that she hasn't even been dead for 24 hours and Pulpit and Pen felt the need to publish those kinds of articles.

I hope her family (husband, 3 year old, and infant turning 1) are reminded of just how odious their wife and mom was on the very day she died.

Take a bow, folks. 

You already knew this would happen. It always does when the "heretics" die...

The good news is that I am sure the Evans family will never read the nonsense on that insignificant website of losers.

Dave White's picture

Question for Jay

Scenario: you're an elder in your church. Ladies want to have a book study and the book they propose to read is Inspired

What would your advice be and why?


Dave White's picture

Another review of "Inspired" (she should have called it ..."uninspired"):

She strongly urges Christians to go with their gut when figuring out which parts of the Bible are fact, fiction, or just plain wrong. I'll let her speak for herself on this point:

But this is the deleterious snare of fundamentalism: ​It claims that the heart is so corrupted by sin, it simply cannot be trusted to sort right from wrong, good from evil, divine from depraved. Instinct, intuition, conscience, critical thinking—these impulses must be set aside whenever they appear to contradict the biblical text, because the good Christian never questions the “clear teachings of Scripture”; the good Christian listens to God, not her gut...When you can’t trust your own God-given conscience to tell you what’s right, or your own God-given mind to tell you what’s true, you lose the capacity to engage the world in any meaningful, authentic way...(p. 65-66)

My view of RHE:

  • Heretic
  • Sad to see anyone die so young


Craig Toliver's picture

  • I don't care if one is 37 or 87!
  • Died yesterday or died 10 years ago
  • Sweet mother or decrepit curmudgeon

The Bible: Romans 16:17-18, " Now I urge you, brethren, note [σκοπέω / KJV "mark those"] those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."

P&P correctly noted: "As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Ezekiel 33:11)

Dave White's picture

Rachel Held Evans, Christian writer of honesty and humor, dies at age 37

In her books and blog posts, she wrote openly about her faith journey, which led her from Bryan College — a conservative evangelical school known for promoting belief in a literal, six-day creation — to the mainline Episcopal Church. Along the way, she chronicled her faith, doubt, honest questions and evolving beliefs with a sense of humor. That didn’t come without controversy, including pushback from more conservative Christians over “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” which celebrated an egalitarian view of women’s roles in both marriage and the church.

TylerR's picture


Pulpit & Pen is the storefront for the sewer of the internet. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

The same advice I gave when I found out that women in our church wanted to do a bible study of "Girl, Wash Your Face".


A person can be wrong on every major point of doctrine and yet still leave behind suffering family members when they die.  Their wrong decisions isn't an excuse to blast them for heresy on the same morning they die.

The Bible we believe in commands us to love our  enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  It's also pretty clear that everyone, including the family of the deceased, are our neighbors.  So where is the Biblical precedent to jump up and down yelling about her errors on the day she died?

Have a little class, Christians.  All men will know that we are Jesus's disciples by our love for one another, not the way we jump all ourselves in a race to badmouth a dead woman before she's been interred.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

RHE's books are out on Amazon, and a person of reasonable intelligence can infer her worldview and contrast it with their church constitution in a matter of minutes.    Though technically, I'd argue that a study of a book by any author is technically not a Bible study, but rather is a book study.  I wonder if a lot of kerfuffles might be avoided if we heeded this distinction.  (yes, pet peeve of mine)

But that said, a wife and mother is dead.  Let's grieve with the family a bit, OK?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dave White's picture

RE: Rachel Held Evans - Our publishing process was less than perfect.

Added to this was some of his personal history with her, which helped me appreciate her upbringing, her family, and her journey. In addition, I’ve heard stories of how she helped so many grapple with their faith, as well as her continual focus on Jesus. Evans was admired by many for good reasons. When I finished Stonestreet’s piece, I came away thinking he deeply respected and admired Evans despite their serious differences. But as I re-read the piece later, I realized there were problems I should have caught. We now see that what was intended to be a tribute came across as overly negative and not framed well. Stonestreet’s piece was well-intentioned, but one of the jobs of an editor is to help authors see how their piece will read to a larger audience. I failed to do that. And as a result, we inadvertently antagonized many who deeply loved Evans. So, we apologize for publishing a piece that created anger or exacerbated grief over Evans’s untimely death.