'Death is a part of life' Christian author Rachel Held Evans wrote before passing
NEW YORK — Progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans passed away Saturday in a Nashville hospital at just 37 years old. The New York Times bestselling author wrote A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Searching for Sunday, and recently released Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again.
Evans had been in the hospital since April 19 in a medically induced coma. Her health problems started with an infection, which turned into brain seizures following her treatment, according to her husband Dan, who kept fans updated on her blog.
Evans is known for making noise in conservative and evangelical Christian communities. She challenged the evangelical church on many issues from sexism and racism to compassion for the LGBTQ community. She also stirred a generation of Christians — particularly women feeling marginalized by the church — searching for deeper connections to God, struggling with doubt and feeling stranded in a political divide.
In a 2014 blog post, Evans wrote why she decided to leave the evangelical community. She’s one of the voices that sparked the #exvangelical movement, giving others a permission of sorts to think through theology and question authority without leaving the faith altogether.
In March, she wrote a blog post criticizing “Desiring God” ministries and Reformed Baptist pastor John Piper’s response to the #MeToo movement. Piper argued that the assumption that men and women should be equal has nullified men’s God-ordained protection of women.
“In this interview, Piper’s response to the sexual harassment and abuse highlighted by the #MeToo movement is to call for a return to patriarchy, wherein men rule over and ‘protect’ women who in turn ‘submit’ to men,” Evans wrote. “This is a dangerously misguided response for a few reasons…”
During president’s Barack Obama’s second term in office, Evans sat on the White-House council for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships.
Many people felt she was a voice for the marginalized and are tweeting their support and condolences with the hashtag #BecauseofRHE.
PB Michael Curry @PB_Curry
Today is a sad day for our Church and for everyone who found the path home to our loving, liberating, life-giving God because of Rachel Held Evans. She was a fearless seeker of truth and servant of Jesus, and her witness will inspire and heal generations to come. #BecauseofRHE
Rev. Emmy Kegler @emmykegler
She taught me how to hold my faith upside down and shake it till grace fell out.
I'll do the same again today, not just for myself but for all in need.
Rev. Preston Yancey @therevpreston
#BecauseofRHE I listened to the Holy Spirit and repented of embracing patriarchy explicitly and implicitly.
I drafted that out so many times as “changed my mind about,” but Rachel was a truth teller.
Dan wrote on her blog to express his grief and gratitude during this hard time.
“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,” he said.
Lent for the Lamenting was Evans’ last blog post (on Mar. 6), where she described what she thought her 40-day period of fasting and prayer would behold and encouraged people to join along:
It strikes me today that the liturgy of Ash Wednesday teaches something that nearly everyone can agree on. Whether you are part of a church or not, whether you believe today or you doubt, whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called “none” (whose faith experiences far transcend the limits of that label) you know this truth deep in your bones: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” Death is a part of life. My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.