Rachel Held Evans defends exit from evangelicalism, calls Christians to celebrate sacraments

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The wildly popular Christian writer offers an exclusive sneak peek into her new book and its pointed message. - Image courtesy of Rachel Held Evans

The wildly popular Christian writer offers an exclusive sneak peek into her new book and its pointed message. - Image courtesy of Rachel Held Evans

The wildly popular Christian writer offers an exclusive sneak peek into her new book and its pointed message. - Image courtesy of Rachel Held Evans

The wildly popular Christian writer offers an exclusive sneak peek into her new book and its pointed message. – Image courtesy of Rachel Held Evans

From the soil of the blogosphere, Rachel Held Evans has grown into a powerful voice in American Christianity. She is author of “Evolving in Monkey Town” and the New York Times bestseller “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.” But those who have followed her writings often note that her thinking has become increasingly progressive–especially on hot button theological issues such as gender and sexuality. This shift culminated in her leaving evangelicalism for Episcopalianism.

Next month, Evans will release “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church,” a book that oscillates between stinging critiques of American Christianity and prescriptions for how she believes we can more faithfully participate in church-life. Here she explains what she believes is the key to revitalizing the church and defends her exit from evangelicalism.

RNS: You say that the way to stop the exodus of millennials from churches isn’t cosmetic–better music, sleeker logos, more relevant programming, etc. Why are these methods ineffective in your mind?

RHE: These aren’t inherently bad strategies and some churches would be wise to employ them. But many church leaders make the mistake of thinking millennials are shallow consumers who are leaving church because they aren’t being entertained. I think our reasons for leaving church are more complicated, more related to social changes and deep questions of faith than worship style or image.

If you try to woo us back with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely-tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something.  We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity. Like every generation before and after, we’re looking for Jesus—the same Jesus who can be found in the places he’s always been: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these. No fog machines required.

Image courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Image courtesy of Thomas Nelson

RNS: If these aren’t the answer, what is?

RHE: Sharing communion. Baptizing sinners. Preaching the Word. Anointing the sick. Practicing confession. You know, the stuff the church has been doing for the last 2,000 years. We need to creatively re-articulate the significance of the traditional teachings and sacraments of the church in a modern context. That’s what I see happening in churches, big and small, that are making multigenerational disciples of Jesus.

RNS: You talk about seven sacraments in your book that you think are critical for the church. Which of these–and your understanding of it or them–will surprise people the most?

RHE: The one that surprised me the most was anointing of the sick. I used to think such a practice involved superstition and false hope, but that was before I learned the difference between curing and healing. We may not be able to cure what ails our friends and neighbors, but as Christians we are called to the work of healing—of entering into one another’s pain, anointing it as holy, and sticking around no matter the outcome. An anointing is an acknowledgement. In a culture of cure-alls and quick fixes, the sacrament of anointing the suffering is a powerful, countercultural gift the church offers the world.

RNS: In the course of your story, you left evangelicalism for the Episcopal church. Much of the Episcopal church has failed to embrace the cosmetic changes you critique and they practice the things you say will draw millennials back. Yet Episcopalians in America have been in steady decline for sometime and are rapidly aging. How do you reconcile this with your thesis?

RHE: Just about every denomination in the American church is seeing a decline in numbers–including many evangelical denominations–so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates! I felt drawn to the Episcopal church because it offered some practices I felt were missing in my evangelical experience, like space for silence and reflection, a focus on Christ’s presence at the communion table as the climax and center of every worship service, opportunities for women in leadership, and the inclusion of LGBT people.

But I know plenty of folks who were raised Episcopalian who have become evangelical, drawn by the exciting and energetic worship or the emphasis on personal testimony and connection to Scripture. It’s common in young adulthood, I think, to seek out faith traditions that complement the one in which you were raised. It’s not about rejecting your background, just about finding your own way. I don’t want to project my experience onto all millennials.

RNS: Many evangelicals criticize the liberal theology of the Episcopalian church, even claiming that it is now outside of orthodox Christianity. What say you?

RHE: Every Sunday morning, I stand in my Episcopal church and join in a chorus of voices publicly affirming the Apostle’s Creed. Together, we declare that there is a good and almighty God who is the creative force behind all things seen and unseen; that this God is One, yet exists as three persons; that God loved the world enough to become flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, taught, fed, healed and suffered among us as both fully God and fully human; that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born to Mary; that he was crucified on a Roman cross and buried in the ground; that after three days dead, Jesus came back to life; that he ascended into heaven and reigns with God; that he will return to bring justice and restoration to our broken world; that God continues to work through the Holy Spirit, the church, and God’s people; that forgiveness is possible, resurrection is possible, and eternal life is possible.

If that’s not Christian orthodoxy, I don’t know what is.

RNS: Related to this, you say the American church shouldn’t be afraid to die. What does this mean?

RHE: Chesterton said, “Christianity has had a series of revolutions, and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” [tweetable]Death is something empires worry about, not something resurrection people worry about.[/tweetable] Lately I’ve been wondering if a little death and resurrection is exactly what the American church needs. What if all this talk of waning numbers and shrinking influence means our empire-building days are over and it’s a good thing? As the religious landscape in the U.S. changes, Christians are going to have to learn to measure our success by something other than money and power.

RNS: Some of your critics might point to the explosive growth of the church in the New Testament. Shouldn’t the church be concerned if it is not making disciples or, as you say, if it dies?

RHE: The New Testament church grew when Christians were in the minority, not the majority. We’re still a long way from that in the U.S., but now may be a good time to remind ourselves that ours is a kingdom that grows not by might or power but by the Spirit, whose presence is identified by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Plus, I’m not convinced discipleship is something we measure best in numbers. A church might produce thousands of attendees without producing any disciples.

  • Manfred

    The church needs a “strategy” to “woo” people??

    The church doesn’t need a “strategy”, the church simply needs JESUS!

  • Jen

    How about evangelizing? You list works the church should be doing, but nothing about reaching people for Christ. Isn’t this part of the downfall of the Episcopalian denomination? What about Christ’s command to reach the nations?

  • Andy

    “You know, the stuff the church has been doing for the last 2,000 years. We need to creatively re-articulate the significance of the traditional teachings.”

    Um. No. She and those like her reject what the church has taught for the last few thousand years.

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    A good article with a lot to think about. There is a limit to what “strategies” can accomplish if the purpose is merely to reel in new congregants and keep in step with the latest hot issue. Churches that come across as being more interested in “tickling people’s ears.” than in helping people develop a relationship with God through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit have no real future although trashing Tradition may seem to be attractive to some for awhile.

  • Neon Genesis

    And I’ll shut the door in your face if you try to tell me I’m going to hell if I don’t go to your church.

  • Neon Genesis

    And I’m sure you’re totally not rejecting the church teachings when you ignore what Jesus says about judge not lest ye be judged and clearly you’re the perfect Christian.

  • Nice ad hominem attack there! Didn’t they teach you in school how to make a rational critique of someone’s position, rather than simply leveling a personal insult?

  • MT

    To me, RHE is a good example of someone who’s an excellent writer, but who’s less excellent as a theological thinker. Furthermore, she’s shown herself to be sometimes reactionary, other times bullying — someone who talks well about gentle, loving Jesus, but who can simultaneously be cruel to people who hold ideas she dislikes.

    Not everyone who can write should be doing so in the name of Jesus or His church. I personally think Christian publishers could do a much better job of sifting.

  • Eric

    Good point well made, MT.

  • RNS: In the course of your story, you left evangelicalism for the Episcopal church.

    Which is not someone not lost in the swamps of ‘re-imagined’ Christianity would do. A continuing Anglican sect, perhaps. The main body of Anglicanism in any occidental country, not on your life.

  • Guillaume

    It’s awesome she found the sacraments. It would be even more awesome if she could find a confessional, conservative Lutheran congregation instead.

  • when you ignore what Jesus says about judge not lest ye be judged and clearly you’re the perfect Christian.

    We’re not ignoring it. The import of that sentence fragment is something you do not understand.

  • Thanks for your input.

  • With an eye to your mortality, I gather you do not frequent these comboxes much. His comment is not notable for being all that far below median quality here; it’s merely notable for its concision.

  • “No fog machines required.” – Rachel Held

    Poor thing. Ugh. The irony.
    Show me a Theology without fog and I’ll show you a new Atheist.

    Religion is dying off and Rachel is only a few years from her own discovery – it was FOG all along. A wasteful and dangerous fog indeed:

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    There is no way to turn such insidious, sinister nonsense into ‘something good’ without hundreds of FOG MACHINES.

  • J

    Always happy to help.

  • J

    You’re just mad that he’s talking about you.

  • Mike

    Evangelical churches are seriously misguided thinking just because they attract numbers with slick productions and Starbucks that they’re the hottest thing to come on the scene because they’ll be short-lived. They won’t even last 50 years.

  • Allen

    Interesting that you left out her previous sentence:
    “RHE: Sharing communion. Baptizing sinners. Preaching the Word. Anointing the sick. Practicing confession. You know, the stuff….”
    I’m wondering if that sentence had any significance for you.

  • Larry

    Its hilarious that given the opportunity, without any kind of outside group to rally against, Christian sects gladly turn their vitriol and malice on each other.

    If you want to know why people are leaving churches in such numbers one only has to look at the bile you guys spew at each other. Who would want to be part of that?

  • Larry

    But surprisingly, teaching bigotry, sectarianism, theocracy and attacks on science education has been enormously successful for Evangelical churches in the last 100 years or so.

  • Chaplain

    What makes you think that the king Jesus is referring to is God? In the parable, it sure seems to me like that ‘king’ represents the worldly principalities, and those being executed are the people who refuse to go along with the world’s greed. I guess in some ways we all (you and me both) read what we want to read.

  • J

    Since you’re not going there you’ll never have to worry about it.

  • Constantine

    calling someone out for being apostate or heretical is not judging, we are supposed to admonish our brothers and sisters with reproof. Correcting those who are outside of orthodoxy is essential to maintaining the truth of Christ. I beleive Paul himself talks about it and even called out some of the disciples for trying to force gentiles into Jewish traditions. Far from “judging”.

  • Constantine

    19:27 is talking about people that claim to serve Christ and do not actually serve him. It is a parable for what happens to those who falsely claim to serve God, yet do not actually serve him. The other servants served God well and were rewarded, the last did not actually serve his master. Those who do not serve God will be destroyed in the end, as the Bible teaches. Nothing sinister about that, if you do not serve God, you will perish in the end. (Hell) There is plenty of good found in that passage, if your heart serves God then you will be rewarded, if that isn’t “something good” then I don’t know what is.

  • Larry

    Not doing much to refute my statement.

    I am pretty sure we can go all day trading infantile barbs. But I will stop myself for now. It looks like you still have some more to go. Have fun. 🙂

  • Larry

    Of course it is judging. By doing so you are saying someone is a bad person for not following in your sectarian tribal version of a faith as yourself. Its an attack on their religious beliefs and a libelous aspersion on their sect.

    “Calling out” is more a function of sectarian animosity than concern for the faith in general. Every sect but yours is wrong. They aren’t real Christians because they follow different customs and dogma than you.

  • Karla

    Constantine-Amen/very well said! The do not judge verse gets misused
    today mostly by people who are living in sin that do not want to change.
    That’s why 1 Corinthians 5 needs to be taught. Preaching against sin
    is not judging. We are not to judge in a hypocritical way but we are to
    judge between right and wrong/preach the whole Truth/against sin.

  • Jonn McDaniel

    She seems to be all over the place. She is ambivalent between hip logos, music, and programs being too shallow and some churches needing to employ more of those things. She says the church is dying because of it being afraid to think outside the box it has created for itself and then says what will save the church is doing the same thing it has done for the last 2000 years.

    Where I think she’s on the right path is found in this one sentence: “I think our reasons for leaving the church are complicated, more related to social changes and deep questions of faith than worship style or image.” It’s more than mellinials who are in the same lifeboats exiting a sinking, ineffective titanic. It’s a multi-generational exodus.

    People understand the value of social change. It is ingrained in us from, and welcomed in, every area of life–except the church. The church is the place you regularly hear a leader of that organization speak out against embracing social change. This alone may be the death knell of the church. But, again. It’s more complicated than that.

    This issue of struggling with the “deep questions of faith” is on-point, though. People can google a seminary’s worth of information about any religion and theological thought at any moment. Deep questions of faith are what everyone has along their faith journey and, sadly, they aren’t being addressed regularly from our pulpits. Churches must being willing to be transparent about the most difficult issues of faith and help people celebrate the mystery of God and faith.

    I keep seeing places (some are not typical “churches”) open to fostering this type of honest, open faith journey continue to grow in every way.

  • Allen

    “Deep questions of faith are what everyone has along their faith journey and, sadly, they aren’t being addressed regularly from our pulpits…I keep seeing places (some are not typical “churches”) open to fostering this type of honest, open faith journey continue to grow in every way.”
    Thank you John. I’ll just pipe in that asking and living into “deep questions of faith” is the meat and potatoes of the Christian contemplative approach and the current Christian contemplative world (which I’m actively part of.)

  • Karla

    Mike-Amen/very well said! Trying to please man has backfred and now we
    have tons of people with faith that is surface only who get upset if you tell
    them to Repent or talk about hell. We are not here to please man but are
    to Preach the Truth/the Word of God. Luke 13 says to Repent or perish so
    we need to preach the Truth/what the Word of God says. We must Repent!
    We have a nation full of so called “Christians” who want to go to heaven but
    don’t want to Repent which is why so many people in church do not change
    and still get drunk,gossip,gamble,sleep around,be mean/don’t bridle their
    tongue. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 need to be taught cause of the compromise.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We all must Repent!

  • Larry

    So now its a sin to believe in Jesus in a way different from your own?
    I didn’t know you were just made the living embodiment of Jesus. Maybe you should tell the other Christians. I am sure Fran would have some words with you on that subject. 🙂

    I guess any excuse you can cough up to act like a judgmental, shrill busybody will be used. I guess there is some gratification in finger pointing. Anything to avoid careful reflection on one’s own conduct

  • John P

    She is right in seeing deep value and benefit from the sacraments as she expressed in this interview. Evangelicalism does indeed suffer from the entertainment mentality she addresses and I bid it goodbye long ago myself. As a home church advocate, we make space for the sacred and I believe this is a needed aspect of church which can help others truly experience the power and presence of Jesus in their life.

  • David

    To all Christians : Repent of your rude comments. Jesus says the world will know you are My disciples by the love that you have for one another. He also says not to mindlessly call someone a fool. My heart broke reading some of these comments. Read your Bibles and start using your life to bring glory to God rather than to prop yourself up. There are some very good points in this article although I’m not sure I agree with all of it. For example, women have to be very careful when speaking about positions of leadership (see the letters of Timothy and Titus). Their submission to the leadership of men is symbolic of Christ’s submission to the Father and the church’s submission to Christ. Does this mean they are less capable people? Of course not. If anything, it shows a stronger understanding of their faith. Does this mean they have to mindlessly let men control them as if they are robots? Nope. There is a way to do it biblically that honors both men and women and shows reverence for God and His word. And the letter of 1st John says that of you are truly annointed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, you will not continue in a lifestyle of habitual sin (1 John chapters 2&3). The Bible specifically calls out homosexuality as a sin. Does this mean we can’t love on people that are struggling with that sin? Absolutely not. Read up on Jackie Hill-Perry’s testimony. I’m excited to see God moving in so many lives, my prayer is that people will seek Him and His word when they awaken rather than man’s opinions.

  • JP

    She lost me at “opportunities for women in leadership, and the inclusion of LGBT people.”
    1tim and 1cor mention directly biblical reasons about women are not allowed in leadership positions, as pretty much only the southern Baptist denomination is the only hold out trying to stay with the word of God. This growing passion to be oblivious to scripture has only grown into the ‘acceptance’ of gay and lesbian pastors who also are ignoring the same scriptures much less Romans 1 as well. To accept sinners is one thing, to try to make sin acceptable is another. The direction the American churches have been heading has been a slow disgrace to where the Lord will remove his hand of protection from them and allow them to be judged as with the nation as a whole.
    I keep seeing books like this released by people with almost no spiritual maturity whatsoever. Just another stick on the fire. Sighs. Lord have mercy. Come soon.

  • J

    Your heart broke reading the comments? Aw, you poor thing.
    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Get a grip, Petunia, you’re no help to anyone.

  • Karla

    Larry-You always like to twist things and use it as an excuse about
    not wanting to go to heaven because a person doesn’t act a certain
    way so you are a major hypocrite because you don’t believe in God
    and already said you don’t want to go to heaven. Heaven will be a
    perfect place so all of the liitle imperfections that crop up that you
    don’t like about people will be gone plus heaven is not just us sittin
    around singing like many people say. Psalm 118:8 says it’s better
    to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man so you and all of the
    non-believers can’t use it as an excuse on judgment day because
    you are accountable for all of your own actions. Romans 1:18-32.

  • Karla

    David-Jesus also said you are one of Mine only if you follow Me and Luke 13
    says we must bear good fruit. That fruit is not good works but of Repentance.
    Bible says that God shall pour out His Spirit upon all flesh both sons and the
    daughters so telling people the Truth/preaching against sin is really needed
    today because many people in church are in for a very rude awakening on
    judgment today if someone doesn’t start preachin the Truth. Read all of the
    Bible not just part. 1 Corinthians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 are a real good
    start because people who gossip,be mean,get drunk,covet/are greedy and
    jealous don’t go to heaven and neither do the people who still sleep around.

  • judy

    Rachel has gone off the rails…very sad. This is not the answer.

  • Paula

    What a strange title for this interview.
    Where did she say she no longer identifies as an evangelical?

    What does that even mean? If CS Lewis is the darling of evangelicals, he too was an Anglican, with universalist tendencies. And hardly a biblical literalist.

  • Larry

    There is no twisting here. Simply presenting the statements in a more honest light than you are comfortable with. Rather than hide behind canned phrases, euphemisms, and vague Bible citations.You want to pretend your specifically sectarian views are the sole definition of Christianity. Very arrogant of you.

    The “sin” Constantine was referring to was Ms. Held-Evans’ membership in a church different from his own. Ms. Held-Evans’ professed belief in Jesus as the center of her religious beliefs. Yet that is somehow being an apostate or heretic? Why because it is not the same version of belief. That is all. So of course such action is “judging” and doing so for rather petty and entirely sectarian reasons. I don’t believe in any of this stuff, but that doesn’t mean that you get to define it for those who do.

  • I think you’re making all this up. The theology that Paul elaborates in his epistles is in complete harmony with the truth expressed in the Gospels, in the book of Acts, and in epistles and other books written by other New Testament authors.

    Orthodox Christian theology as represented by Paul certainly is accepted by millions as in complete harmony with the whole of both Old and New Testament teaching. And while you may not know who he is, the church fathers and apostles of Jesus Himself validated Paul’s ministry, as the book of Acts records.

    I’d be curious as to how many of those millions have ever even heard of this “Celestial Torah Christianity” nonsense of which you speak.

  • Sorry, folks, this was supposed to be in reply to Stephen Lewis’ comment about Celestial Torah Christianity, below. I misplaced it somehow. My bad.

  • I would add that not all branches of Christian faith in America are in decline. Charismatic churches (Evangelical, Protestant, or Catholic) continue to enjoy solid growth throughout the U.S. and elsewhere, according to George Barna’s research organization.

  • Allen

    “I think you’re making all this up…Orthodox Christian theology as represented by Paul certainly is accepted by millions”
    That’s fine; no problem. There’s also completely Orthodox Christian mystical theology, almost 2000 years old, that has been a guide to those who want to live more deeply into their faith.

    “I’d be curious as to how many of those millions have ever even heard of this “Celestial Torah Christianity” nonsense of which you speak.”

    I never spoke of it, you are merging my comment with someone else’s.

  • You’re absolutely right about that, Allen. My apologies!

  • Ger

    Re-release of a 30 year old book pretty well says the same thing!

  • Kevin Harris

    I guess my generation wanted a “hipper” Christianity. The pendulum swings as one generation clamors for change in the church and the next generation wants to change the change! In the 70’s, my generation wanted to better express ourselves musically and artistically. We envisioned being able to bring our guitars to church; to do something technical; to let our creativity soar in God’s grace and have more relevant services. Contemporary Christian Music was born and a strong youth movement flourished.

    Now we got all the stuff we fought for and the backlash is growing! Everything radical becomes passe’. “Alternative” becomes mainstream. The millinnials have their own version of what is hip. (We thought you guys liked coffee!)

    But is there a place in the church for actors, dancers, musicians, writers, choreographers, and lighting techs as well as teachers, evangelists, and pastors? Yes, but not in the Christian ghetto where salt and light aren’t really needed!

    I’ll be interested in what Rachel thinks we ought to do in the church going forward. I suspect I’ll hear echos of 1972, “We want authentic, real, truer, missional, servant, biblical Christianity!”

  • SMH

    There is no such thing as a Christian “Church.” The Greek word is “evangeleon,” which simply means to gather. The “church” is a political body that has no equivalence in the Bible. Christians were people who mimicked the Apostles, met in homes, shared what they had, and went house to house. They didn’t tolerate any sexual deviance; especially repugnant divorce and remarriage or homosexual malfeasance. They didn’t tolerate profiteering; the money was for the widows and orphans, not your opulent programs and salaries. They didn’t go into debt to construct esoteric buildings; they sold their properties and looked toward a better mansion. They didn’t suffer women to have authority over men, and they didn’t suffer unruly children. They didn’t celebrate pagan rituals like Christmas and Easter, nor did they limit their worship to a few hours a week on special days. You talk about “the traditional teachings,” but you wouldn’t recognize the traditions of the disciples if they held you under the waters of the Jordan. The reason churches are failing is because they are worldly garbage, and God does not bless garbage.

  • mickey grooters

    I have to admit Larry, while I was reading this thread, I was thinking a similar thing. Hurtful and not sober discourse over the article itself. Is it impossible to hold an oppositional viewpoint and still be committed to relate civilly with another – or with a book’s author while continuing the discourse? As I look at the conversations Jesus had with people- He spoke truth, but also continued to be building of relationships and entering into civil discourse generally. Really sad to read some of this back and forth and the nature of attack on Rachel Held Evans and also on the Episcopal Church.

  • Ger

    You might want to re-check you NT Greek dictionary; the word you are searching for is “Ecclesia”.

  • James Carr

    Her quest reminds me of two internationally known brilliant converts; John Newman and Edith Stein.

    In their search for Relgious Truth, Roman Catholicism loomed as the One, Holy and Apostolic Church. Both resisted the conversion until the facts could no longer be intellectually ignored.

  • LogicGuru

    The problem is that the Episcopal Church is de facto invisible to most Americans. The visible face of Christianity in the US is Evangelicalism, now perceived as the industry standard. If people say what the Episcopal Church has to offer they would of course want it: no obligations, all pleasure. Fancy services, church as fantasyland. Beautiful churches, beautiful music and the chance to sing: pure pleasure with no downside. What’s not to like?

  • LogicGuru

    I can’t imagine what the appeal of Evangelical churches is. If you want rock concerts and Starbucks, go to rock concerts and Starbucks: why bother with church at all? The whole point of church is to provide an escape from ordinary life, from Starbucks and the whole boring business, into a high church fantasy world that’s unlike anything you can get outside.

  • Ger

    Hmmm – LogicGuru does not equal FactsGuru.
    Have you ever looked at that ECUSA actually DOES, beyond what happens on Sunday morning, but which grows organically out of it?

  • Steve Burns

    Every generation finds that they are the only generation ever to have beheld the truth. Someday, millenials will grow up and, like us old folks, realize that truth is all around us, both more varied and more orthodox than we ever thought. When I was young (I’m a baby-boomer), we were the excitement in church, stretching the envelope, bringing in guitars and new songs. Eventually, most of us who remained in church realized that the trappings were not the essence. I find that I can worship in whatever setting I am in, provided my heart is right an receptive to God’s voice. And whether His voice is heard through screaming guitars or through the priest changing the scripture, I can find peace and joy.

    It is just far too self-centered to say that the church must change to fit MY style. But that’s what we did when I was young, and that’s what the millenials are doing now. Too bad for them.

  • Sarah

    I’m not going to read any of the comments because they will likely piss me off. Just want to say that after a fairly conservative, Evangelical Christian upbringing, I found incredible solace, understanding and acceptance in the Episcopal church about 20 years ago. I have gone back and forth since then, but still just love both the theology and the worship style. It is quite lovely.

  • Tim Hammond

    From your comment I’ll bet you believe there is a fiery hell waiting for bad people with flames of eternal torment. That tells me that you don’t know much about your faith. The popular concept of “Hell” is not at all scriptural and is derived from Dante’s Devine Comedy. There is no such place in the Bible…

  • Karla

    Tim Hammond-Wrong! Jesus warned us about hell so you need to
    do some research. Matthew 13:42 says hell is a place of weeping
    and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:46 says that hell is an eternal
    punishment. The rich man died and he was in torment in hell so he
    wanted to go warn his brothers about hell cause he was in pain so
    hell is real. Many false things are being taught today like that hell is
    not real or the devil is not real but hell is real/so is the devil and the
    Bible is the Truth/the Word of God so do some more research.

  • Jen

    You paint with an awfully broad brush. Eliminate the monster megachurches and you will find many that are still trying to be God-centered. And denominations in “evangelicalism” have been around far longer than 50 years, and looking at numbers today, will out-live many in the mainstream.

  • Jen

    Not everyone who posts here is a Christian. “J” is but one example.

  • Jen

    There’s a few others-PCA is one.

  • Larry

    What is funny is how the 70’s “Jesus Freaks” became the ultraconservative “religious right” the moment they settled down and got real jobs. They sold out their principles the moment they hit the market. Alternative got dropped for mainstream. So of course the next generation will be looking for something different.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Seriously,dude? Pot,meet Kettle.

  • JB

    I skimmed this article and didn’t read every word. What I read, I disagreed with some, but one thing she mentioned, I really really wish the contemporary evangelical church would incorporate. Silence and reflection. Oh to have the guitars and drums and keyboards quiet for just a few minutes! That being said, the praise/worship/service isn’t about what I like or want. I love my imperfect evangelical church, full of imperfect and messed up people.

  • Chaplain,

    “What makes you think that the king Jesus is referring to is God?”

    I realize it is the lesson line from the parable of the Minas (Luke 19:17) But Jesus apparently was unaware that it would be interpreted to be HIS voice.

    The Nobleman is Jesus in a (not so very) veiled attempt to warn his followers what his enemies can expect from him. The good servants are to slaughter the bad ones – just as in every other case, God makes humans do his bidding for him. He does nothing by himself.

  • LogicGuru

    Of course I’ve seen the good works. But that doesn’t get the bums on pews which is what matters. I repeat: people don’t know what the Episcopal church as church does. Sunday morning is what matters.

  • Constantine,

    “Nothing sinister about that, if you do not serve God, you will perish in the end. (Hell)”

    Ridiculous. And ridiculously sinister.
    Jesus tells people to forgive their enemies in one story – but to prepare to kill his enemies in another story. That is called speaking out of both sides of your mouth – and it is beneath an all knowing god to do such a thing.

    As for Hell, nobody goes there. Even the Bible says so. The whole theory is ridiculous.

    There is nothing after we die but perfect nothingness forever.
    Only this life matters. Religion lies about the rest.

  • David:

    “Read your Bibles and start using your life to bring glory to God rather than to prop yourself up.”

    Worshipping the Jesus stories of your childhood is only propping up your own self and your own parents and your grandparents. There is no reason at all to believe that any gods are real. These are just ancient ideas from a time when people didn’t know where the sun went at night.

  • @Jen,

    I disagree. I think “J” is being a spectacular Christian.
    His harsh judgement of others is the first rule of being a good Christian:

    “have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.”
    (2 Thessalonian 3:14)
    “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!”
    (1 Corinthians 16:22)

  • CJ

    “It’s not about rejecting your background, just about finding your own way.”

    Jesus never once said anything like that.

    A Catholic

  • revsharkie

    What does “reaching people for Christ” even mean? It’s one of those “Christianese” buzzwords that drive me to distraction.

    If it means going out and sharing some pre-packaged formula for assuring people that they are going to go to hell if they don’t join my church, then, well, no thanks.

    If it means that we go out and be Jesus’ hands, feet, heart, and voice in the world, then great. But Jesus never told anybody to get their act together and go to church. Instead, he met them, talked with them, touched them, healed them, released them from what held them captive. If the church were doing a lot more of that, we really wouldn’t have to worry about declining numbers.

  • revsharkie

    In every worship service “she and those like her” articulate one of the most ancient statements of belief that the Christian faith has, the Apostles’ Creed. How is that “rejecting what the church has taught for the last few thousand years”?

    Too many people assume that the church has been teaching inerrancy and literal interpretation of Scripture and opposition to abortion and gay marriage for two thousand years, when those beliefs are all relatively recent. Not only that, but all of Christianity is not in agreement on those issues.

    Instead, the Apostles’ Creed tells us who God is (creator of heaven and earth), who Jesus is (born of Mary, suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, and was raised), about the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in and through the Church, that we don’t end with death, and that forgiveness of sin is available through Christ.

    I fail to see what “essential teaching” a Christian who believes what’s in the Apostles’ Creed is rejecting.

  • Ger


  • Ger

    And unless Ms. Held-Evans’ Episcopal Church is somewhat different, her reference to the Apostles’ Creed may be a typo; most churches of the Anglican tradition use the Nicene Creed (a somewhat more fleshed out version of the Apostles’ Creed) as an affirmation of faith following the Sermon. The Nicene Creed is preferred, although the Apostles’ Creed is preferred.
    The Apostles’ Creed dates to the baptismal formula of the 1st c.; the Nicene Creed to the later 4th c. Council of Constantinople; so neither can be labelled “innovative” or “modern”, or “catering to Generation “.

  • drichards85

    Ms Evans says we should do the things the Church has done for 2,000 years, then she speaks of opportunities for women in Church leadership and acceptance of “LGBT” that attracted her to Episcopalianism. The latter is vague-speak for priestess ordination and condonement of sexually deviant lifestyles. This tension is due to the fact that she reduces Church praxis to mere aesthetics while trying to retain aspects of her progressivist worldview that conflict with orthodox Christianity. Though she may perceive herself as pursuing truth, her selection of one tradition over another seems rather to be motivated by aesthetic criteria than what the Church has historically taught. This makes the actual healing of individuals difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, since the doctrines of the Church are not in place to be mean but to lead us down the right path toward union with Christ.

  • Sunday morning is what matters?

    No. Being faithful is what matters. God called us to be faithful, not successful.

  • Kevin

    David. You spoke what has been on my heart.
    We are called to love, as believers. Love them to the truth. We are Gods hands, we are His feet. Men have their place in the church. Women have their place. Plenty of men don’t want to lead and be responsible but God has called them to do so. Plenty of women want to take charge and lead in the church and their families, but God has not called them to do so. Every person has a role in the church but if you turn away from what God designed a void is created. That void will be filled, but possibly with an incorrect piece.
    But no matter what, we are called to love.
    If someone is about to touch a hot stove, do you warn them? Or do you let them learn from their mistakes? There isn’t much time left to learn! Our duty as believers is to love unbelievers and warn them. If we just bicker and argue with each other, our faith is dead to those who don’t believe.

  • There is a mistaken understanding expressed by the person that interviewed Rachel Held Evans. That mistake is that the Episcopal Church is in decline like the other mainline churches. It isn’t. There was a short period in the early 2000s when average Sunday attendance dropped off, but the Episcopal Church has moved beyond that.

    In general, average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church has been remarkably steady, especially when compared to the other mainlines.


  • Kevin

    JP, I totally agree. The bible needs to be taught, not just bits and pieces that fit the present time thinking. That is how people will truly be saved. It’s not about getting people to come to “church”
    It’s about teaching repentance, forgiveness and walking with Christ. Teach the Word and nothing but the Word, whether people show up or not.

  • Jess

    And this is exactly why church numbers have been falling and continue to fall. The world is changing. As our understanding of the human experience, the human mind and the human body grows, so must our hearts, souls and faiths, or they will be doomed to go extinct.

    Many values and teachings of the Bible are understandable and good – and even from a non-religious perspective. To love your neighbor and you love yourself. To not kill, steal or lie. Even without religious implications, these things increase harmony and keep peace among people.

    But despite the many great and wonderful teachings of the Bible, there are some things that simply don’t apply to the modern world. Slavery for instance. We know now that it’s wrong. A daughter being SOLD by her father to her husband. We know that’s wrong too. Rape being alright in specific circumstances (her FATHER being financially compensated, for example). We know that’s DEFINITELY wrong.

    We know that in some instances, we cannot use the words written thousands of years ago. The Bible is the Word of God, but it was also transcribed by MEN. And MEN are fallible. Men are ignorant. Men write things to explain that which they do not understand. Times are different now. We understand things differently. We understand why some of these things are wrong, from a moral perspective, even if they’re given the green light in the Bible.

    So too do we need to apply this to other things – like homosexuality. If someone is not hurting someone – only engaging in relationships with other adults who reciprocate their feelings – we shouldn’t be turning them away. And we CERTAINLY shouldn’t be having the AUDACITY to tell them that they cannot know or understand God as well as ourselves. To have the sheer ARROGANCE to claim that they can not appropriately preach the Word of God, or act in his name simply because of who they are sexually attracted to. To think that God is so petty that he would care what happened sexually between two consenting, married adults in the privacy of their bedroom.

    To deem that it is OUR place, and NOT the woman’s to know what is best for her body, mind and soul.

    This ignorance, arrogance and selfishness pushes people away from Churches of almost every denomination. And until these churches, and their congregations, can reconcile with these facts, they will continue to lose membership, as more people begin to understand that their relationship with God is personal and that while a church can help them, most churches these days seem to do nothing but harm their relationship with God, and with themselves.

  • Kevin

    Amen to that! Let us be alone with our thoughts at worship. Pass the bread and the wine and let me contemplate in silence. This isn’t a football/basketball game where we need constant stimulation. The holy spirit doesn’t need the guitar playing in order to talk to us.
    “Be still and know that I am God.”

  • Karla

    Kevin-Amen/very well said!

  • Scripture_Tradition_Reason

    I KNOW what the Episcopal Church does because I am an Episcopalian. (Please note the proper use of the adjective “Episcopal” and the noun “Episcopalian”). There is no reason to trash any church, and I fail to understand why you, LogicGuru, seem to have a burr up your arse with the Episcopal Church, which is also known as the Anglican Church. Peace brother; because you are coming across as illogical and very far from guru status. Find the love of Jesus for yourself and go get your Mojo back.

  • StuckBetween

    Well said. That is what has turned me away from the church; that and their association with a political party that wants to poison our air, water, food et al in the name of profit.

  • Scripture_Tradition_Reason

    I noticed that as well, Ger. You are correct that the Nicene Creed is the statement of belief in most Masses – Roman Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal). However, it is possible that Ms. Held-Evans attends an Episcopal Church where the principal Sunday Liturgy is based upon “Morning Prayer” as found in the Book of Common Prayer. Not many Episcopal Churches use this form when also offering Holy Communion, but there still are several parishes that uses Morning Prayer with Holy Communion, which is a carry-over from the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer. In this case, the Apostle’s Creed is indeed the affirmation of faith that is used. Other times that the Apostle’s Creed is used is in any form of Baptismal Liturgy.

    But it is also possible that Ms. Held-Evans is so new to the Anglican Liturgy that she simply misspoke. Who knows?

  • Scripture_Tradition_Reason

    Well most of these attack comments reminds me of what happens when you sprinkle salt on slugs in the summertime. The dog that is hit by the car is the one that hollers.

  • Wayne McH

    You discovered that healing doesn’t mean curing? I hope you don’t project that distinction onto the stories about Jesus that clearly describe curing. That would be a very progressive and irresponsible handling of the biblical stories.

  • Diogenes

    Mere sophistry Larry.

  • Diogenes

    Andy Devine was a comic actor, Dante’s composition is the
    “Divine Comedy.”

  • Diogenes

    Andy Devine was a comic actor; Dante’s composition is the “Divine Comedy.”

  • Mark

    I had no idea who this “powerful voice” was, so I had to look her up. After seeing the reviews for “Evolving in Monkeytown” and some of her other works, it was easy enough to understand her becoming an Episcopalian. Her path isn’t greatly different from that of Frank Schaefer Jr., William Lobdell or other people who leave Christianity by way of old institutions once they decide they don’t believe the Bible anymore. In Schaefer’s case it was Eastern Orthodoxy; in Lobdell’s, it was Roman Catholicism. Such persons sometimes leave behind the name of Christian. Schaeffer and Lobdell eventually did this. Others continue to cling to a Christian self-identification even though it loses all meaning, or, worse, because they seek to use the self-identification as both a shield and a sword against critics. Some simply depart the faith right away and even become hostile (and rather disingenuous) opponents, like Jerry DeWitt.

    There have always been people who refuse to believe God. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Disbelief of what God says is always the starting point. Eve believed the serpent instead, and from there it all went downhill.

    It seems like a common thread with people like Rachel Evans is that they want the values of this time and place. They don’t want to believe God. They like the values of the culture better. It is easier to believe in creation than evolution. It is easier to believe that human life is merely animal than that human beings are a special creation made in God’s image. It is easier to believe that Jesus was a good moral teacher than that he was the incarnate Word through whom the world was made, and who rose from the dead so that those who believe, truly believe, Him may do so as well. There are rewards for unbelief. Book sales. Friendly comments by those who hate Christians. A welcoming community — for a time. I don’t say those benefits are the only reasons, but they are certainly the ultimate result.

    My wish for Rachel Evans is the same as it is for anyone. That they believe God, believe His word, and so have eternal life. But whether she does this or not is ultimately her responsibility alone.

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  • Laura

    After reading the unkind screeds against the Episcopal church, this series of comments made me smile with joy. The liturgy centers a conversation about identity where one can discuss the shifts in liturgy since 1928 affect one’s being. Thank you for being lovely Episcopalians in the comment section!

  • Laura

    Sarah, I’m in the same space. The Episcopal church has complimented my Evangelical upbringing & made me less bitter. I’m appreciative for the church’s individual communities that have welcomed me & changed me.

  • Daniel

    I believe that she is correct in most of her assumptions. However I believe that her undertones are that everyone should be included and that sinful actions should not be discussed. I don’t think that sins should ever be a sermon topic or a topic of major teaching but if it comes up in a passage it should be discussed. Abortion, LGBT, etc have to be discussed.

  • Ken

    WHAT? Her “Christianity” is an anything goes brothel where “repenting” is a thing of the past. Well, there is ONE repentance demanded: To repent from not celebrating homosexuality.

    The Episcopalianism of today is no different than the “world and its ways” on any secularized college campus. If ANY Church is full of dead men’s bones and needs resurrection, it’s that one.

    This is just an LGBT propaganda piece uno mas. I guess millennials think they can sell the same old lasciviousness as acceptable behavior if they repackage it in Christian flavors.

  • Ken

    People becoming debauched and seduced by the religion of egomania: Atheism. Now of course, the common busyman can be his own ultimate authority. That secular morality (oxymoron alert!) has risen again to take control of the mobs minds is no surprise. The laughable thing is that the proponents of humanism really try to make it seem enlightened and not the sickness it truly has been throughout time.

    Want to talk to a self-proclaiming knowitall, seek out a “freethinker” and watch the dog and pony show they perform. It’s like a comedy play you get to attend for free.

  • Laura

    That was a helpful video, Richard. The president of VTS is a lovely speaker as well. Thank you.

  • Ken

    Take the log out of your eye dude. You atheists not only hate everyone that won’t kowtow to your ways and belief system, but seem to desire nothing less than to harm them professionally, academically and socially.

    Just ask Francis Collins.

    And of course the millions that have died under secularism’s heartless ways is past pandemic. But the marching zombies of humanistic, freethinker demands keep storm-trooping through society at an ever-increasing pace.

    Of course.

  • Joe DeCaro

    RNS: In the course of your story, you left evangelicalism for the Episcopal church … Yet Episcopalians in America have been in steady decline for sometime and are rapidly aging. How do you reconcile this with your thesis?

    RHE: Just about every denomination in the American church is seeing a decline in numbers–including many evangelical denominations–so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates! …

    But TEC has had a mass exodus, losing entire dioceses under Presiding Bishop Kate Schori.

  • Jeff Messenger

    Ah Atheist Max, you showed your hand…
    “Perfect Nothingness.” Nothingness is perfection? The sentiment borrows from Far Eastern mysticism, some concepts involving Nirvana.

    Atheists believe the Universe evolved from nothingness, and will return to nothingness. So the philosophical challenge YOU face as an Atheist, is justifying the idea that this “life matters.” Says who? John Lennon? Why should this cosmic “accident” matter at all? There’s no intent or eternal purpose behind the “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Given that nothingness is your ultimate truth, and that nothingness is “perfect,” why participate in this cosmic accident called life? A senseless drama, experienced for a cosmic nanosecond?

    And to make judgments that a belief is “sinister.” Where in the gospel of cosmic nothingness is the basis for any such judgment? The idea that killing is bad… why? Those who are killed are just returning to PERFECTION (nothingness).

    What a fine intellect, you Atheists have.

  • Lynne

    Once again I cannot listen to Ms. Evans. At one time I thought she was a bright light. I soon learned that her arrogance and condescension toward scholars who have studied the Bible much longer than has she caused me to revise my initial reaction to her. Her attitude of “I have arrived and you have not” makes my skin crawl. She may have some good points, but her own attitudes prevent me from taking anything she says seriously. Believe me, I have tried. She somehow does not recognize that many folks have thought outside the box (other people are enlightened you know) and have found those ideas wanting when seriously examined and have returned to the understanding and culture of the Bible as understood for 2,000 years.

  • Rich

    The headline should refer to “shallow evangelicalism” and if that’s the only evangelicalism Rachel Held Evans knows then she really does not know evangelicalism

  • I’ve done some research on Hell. It isn’t Christian. “To Hell with Hell”

  • pastorcarl

    What if you’re wrong? Would you rather live in hopelessness and find out you wasted the only life you thought mattered? Or, on the witness of those who have experienced God and spoken with someone who has returned from the dead, could you take the ridiculously bold move to set aside your need to intellectually grasp everything and live this life with hope and joy? Crazy? Maybe. Delusional? You decide. As long as you have life and reason, you still possess the opportunity to acquire more knowledge and make an informed decision.
    When I was 20 I thought I knew everything and could reason my way around everything, including God. The more I exposed myself to scripture and witness the more I found (like a number of atheists I know) that I couldn’t get past the evidence. Jesus was either a liar, a crazy man or he was exactly who he claimed to be. And there is no life I’d rather live than this!

  • John McGrath

    Hopefully your snarky voice, bearing false witness against your Episcopalian neighbors, is not the voice of Evangelical Christianity. It certainly is not from the Holy Spirit of traditional Christianity.

  • William

    Clearly you do not read the bible, hell or eternal punishment is spoken about many times. You are correct that this life does matter and if you do it right you will be spared from eternal punishment. Good luck to you.

  • Stephanie

    This. I read most of these “Christian” comments and am reminded that the theological arguments spewed between Christians are the only reason I refuse to be associated with modern church. The Jesus these people say they worship is not the same Jesus I learned of as a child. This thread is full of nothing Christ-centered. Not one would argue this irrelevant garbage to Jesus himself. I hear nothing but arrogant, self-centered opinions – very typical of the modern day church. I doubt anyone will even take the time to hear the bigger picture of what I am saying – it’s easier to nitpick a phrase I’ve spoken and discard the rest. Bums are sitting in a pew, rituals are adhered to by all religions, and hearts remain stubborn and hardened. Could it not be more obvious? Modern “Christians” can’t see the forest for the trees.

  • Joshua Frye

    Abortion is a recent issue, because before now it was just called murder or abandoning babies by rivers. Gay marriages were never “a thing” until recently, so being against them would not be “a thing” until recently. The problem with the Episcopal church is that it hides the nature of a sin in such a way that it enables people to live in that sin, rather than free themselves from it. Similarly, if someone was overeating, you wouldn’t start fighting against the definition of gluttony to allow gluttons to live in that sin. I agree with Constantine above. Your way might be more attractive to today’s counterculture, but it isn’t what Jesus preached. Ignorance of a sin cannot lead to forgiveness, redemption, repentance, healing, etc.

  • Joshua Frye

    Agreed Karla. It’s not important that we bash people over the head with fire and brimstone messages and flaming signs, but Hell should not be ignored in our own beliefs. Study the Bible people, the message is about redemption……

  • Chaprich

    Karla, I believe you are referring to John 8. The story itself is not found in the oldest manuscripts of the Gospel according to John, and may be a latter addition. I find it interesting that people go straight to the last line, “do not sin again” and completely miss or ignore Jesus’ first word to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way.” He did not say, “Repent, and I won’t condemn you”. He released her from the bondage of religious condemnation, and freed her to go on her way. Perhaps in her journey in God’s love and mercy, she began a life of repentance.

  • Joshua Frye

    I agree, drichards85. While I think it is important that we understand that all should be welcome in church, no repentant heart should be turned away, but if a church starts condoning a sin, then people will never be free from that sin.

  • Thank you, Mickey. I’ve encouraged RNS to create guidelines for comments. I often feel mucky after skimming through comments to find good ones.

  • p duggie

    Its great that RHE says the creed, and believes it.

    But the episcopal church had people, like Pike, who clearly didn’t believe the creed they said [and faced NO sanction for this] and has people like Spong who do likewise without sanction. Joining that kind of Episcopal church is like joining AA: I can believe in “god as I understand him/her” but my common faith has nothing much in common with the Spongs and Pikes.

  • keith crosby

    Right you are. Does anyone think Rachel Held Evans is an evangelical? Really? She can subscribe to the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed but she’s not sure about the Bible? Oops! She talks about the works the church needs to do… but she’s not too strong on proselytizing (i.e. evangelism). Maybe she should read the great commission (Matt. 28:18-20): evangelize; baptize; catechize. Rachel Held Evans is like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and others who coopt the name Christian and jettison it for an Oprah deal. If I want to celebrate sacraments, I’ll return to Catholicism. Millenials, some but not all, want thrills, experience, and rituals that way they don’t have to focus on God’s Word, the Bible. Rachel is a child of her times.

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  • blofty

    For the most part I love the Episcopal church except that where I live it is very conservative and very traditional. Good liturgy that I love but the message from the pulpit and the people in the pews were not the Episcopal people I knew from other parishes. Being Episcopal is very important to me and the progressiveness of the Episcopal Church overall is such a wonderful thing and yes progressives are in the minority now and probably always will be but I hope as “the church” emerges into something else that the Episcopal Church will continue to be what it is….liturgical and progressive.

  • Jeff

    It is sad that so many denominations concentrate on the penalty of being evil rather than the reward for being good… I believe doing ‘evil’ has it’s own reward in this world and in the next without God doing a thing, as doing good has it’s reward. Along the lines of you will be judged as you judge; do onto others as you would have them do onto you. But, certainly, bad things happen to good people all the time but with true faith it will be perceived by the faithful in a much different way thus speeding recovery. Further, there is nothing worse in this world for a religion to use the Christ’s church for their own purposes (they know who they are) rather than for the transmission of God’s love for his children. This is what I believe Christ refers to in his admonitions. You will reap what you sow!

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  • Haley

    Andy, you have just perfectly articulated why millennials are leaving the church in droves. People wring their hands and ask why we’re not coming and why we’re not participating, and then when we come and participate, everyone loves us until we open our mouths and share our ideas, at which point we are invited to sit down and shut up because “It’s never been done that way before.” It doesn’t take us long after that to figure out we’re not really wanted.

  • Haley

    Even a cursory reading of Luke 19:27 in context reveals that it does not remotely say what you’re trying to make it say. Pro tip: if you’re going to lie, you should at least try to do it in a way that isn’t quite so easy to debunk.

  • gersobn

    It gets smaller, that’s about the only thing it “does”

  • Yup,
    Millions of us are coming to our senses – even late in life – and dumping religion.

    What a mess.

  • Karla

    Joshua-Amen! It’s important to warn people/let them know about hell and
    that we must Repent. Bible says Repent and believe Gospel to be saved!

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  • John McGrath

    Thanks God that Christiasn are still able to hate each other. It’s s sure sign that their Holy Spirit is active among them.

  • Steve Flower

    How typical. One follower of Christ says, “I find more meaning in ‘X’ form of Christianity than the ‘Y’ form in which I have been participating.” She gives reasons which are real and valid to her. The remainder of the comments fall into these categories:

    – “Those who participate in the ‘X’ form are heretics and apostates.If she’s smart (which she’s not) she will return to the Y’s from whence she came.”
    – “Everybody knows that the X’s beliefs on topic A are wrong, and we’re just pointing this out to save her from Hell.”
    – “If she really wanted to do this right, she’d find a ‘Z’ church and stick with them.
    – “What a bunch of hypocrites. Don’t you know that church is a waste of time, and us atheists will win in the end?”

    What a powerful, terrifying thing conviction is, that the beliefs of this one woman have threatened the “true belief” of so many, and has all these in an uproar.

    Rachel, I celebrate you, and I’m glad you’ve found a community of faith to call home. Your actions speak so much louder than all the words spilled, here and elsewhere.

  • Pastor-dubya

    Defending one of the biggest “judgers” on the internet with this out of context scripture is rich.

  • Wise Guy

    Hey, Rachel, you forgot the most important one!

    HOLINESS (“the Holy Spirit” – the most common name throughout the entire Bible)

    And another exceptionally important one

    TRUTH (“the Spirit of Truth” – John 14:17)

    “…now may be a good time to remind ourselves that ours is a kingdom that grows not by might or power but by the Spirit, whose presence is identified by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

    Other than that, your quote above is a great quote.

    However, in the process of ditching the Bible (or whatever you may choose to call it) on points you dislike, you are ditching the holiness of God and the truthfulness of God. You cannot follow God and your own ideas. It’s one or the other, but never both.

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

  • Roberto

    Wow. So many people making an idol out of the Bible, in these comments. I’ll stick with Scripture, Tradition and Reason, thank you.

  • This is why I left the role as co-host of The 700 Club some years ago. (I explain it in my new memoir, Chiseled, A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity and Divine Wine. )Reading some of these comments here is surely telling about how far off the mark Christianity has become. Everyone needs to take a deep breath.

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  • Larry

    Ken, nobody died due to secularist beliefs. Secularism is simply the separation of church and state in order to protect the dignity of both.

    Secularism is the reason various Christian sects have not burned each other at the stake in our nation as they would be likely to do back in the days of officially sanctioned religious belief.

    Francis Collins may be an evangelical Christian but he considers Creationism a joke. Like any scientist with a measure of integrity. He is being pilloried by Bible thumping lying ignoramuses.

    Find a new target. Every time you bring up atheists and secularism you merely demonstrate how ignorant, dishonest and hateful you can be.

  • Larry

    Its no mystery. Its much easier and gratifying to point fingers at others and look for socially sanctioned excuses to be malicious to others than to set an example and be a good compassionate human being.

    “You will know a Christian by their deeds” cuts in both directions. One can either lead by example and be a good person or they can mire themselves in animosities, bigotry and ignorance. Either way reflects on their faith.

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  • Larry

    Egomania? You mean like the Christians commenting on the beliefs of Ms. Held-Evans saying she is not truly of the faith because of some minor sectarian differences or because she is not in lockstep with their preacher of choice? It takes a great deal of ego to pretend one speaks for an entire faith of about 2 billion people. But that is a given with self-professed Christians. No egotism there. No sireee /sarcasm

    Ken stop talking about atheists. You don’t know a damn thing about them beyond whatever nonsense your local clergy tell you. You just make your fellow Christians look bad with such displays of bile and ignorance.

  • Larry

    Barney: What if you’re wrong? You find yourself in some afterlife having to explain yourself to somebody? What do you say?

    Dietrich: “Whoops?”

    The problem with your question (Pascal’s Wager) is it posits a God who is not worth worshiping. One who would rather have people fake their beliefs for fear of divine punishment than be genuine in their feelings. It is very reductive and venal of a divine being to accept coercion and fear as the equivalent of belief and devotion.

    “Jesus was either a liar, a crazy man or he was exactly who he claimed to be.”

    Cute citation to CS Lewis’s quandry but it misses another option, “he was a legend”. Someone whom stories started circulating around after their passing.

    “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • Nathan

    The sooner you realize their isn’t one ‘right way’ to do church, the better. It’s easy to write off seeker-sensitive churches as shallow, but tell that to the people people who’s broken lives have been saved by Jesus, Jesus who they met while drinking coffee at a suburban church with a screen and a rock band. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s easy for some people to criticize Episcopalians and an emphasis on sacraments. Just because something doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean its wrong. Some people feel closest to God when reading the Bible or listening to expository preaching. Some people feel closer to God while engaged in worship set to modern worship music. Some people feel closest to God during communion. Why do we need to think our way is better?

    People need to follow their beliefs on what church should look like to their ultimate conclusion. What if every single church in the world looked like yours, would you really want that?

  • Eric

    She mentions getting back to the basics like calling sin out, yet she wants to be a part of a church (the Episcopal Church) that embraces sin (LGBT) and is not calling it out. Sounds quite contradictory to me.

  • Bill

    What will tour religion be if our religion dies? And don’t tell me you don’t have a religion, because you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t have bothered to read the article, let alone make a comment.

  • John Weber

    It’s neo-neo-orthodoxy. Bultmann would be proud.

  • teresa

    I noticed that she lumped ALL denominations that are Evangelical together. In the artical, she(that would be Ms. Held Evans) stated that the Evangelical church needs to stick to what is has done the last 2000 years and not try to be “hip/cool”. I am a Roman Catholic and my church never used “hip” music. There are more than a dozen Evangelical denominations and each one is different. Each one does things(like their service and how they do good works) differently. A few denominations are: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Catholic, Latin Mass Rites Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and even Church of England.
    Also a woman does not need to be leading Mass. Our place is to be leaders of our children and submissive to Christ and our husbands(Christ leader of husband; husband leader of wife. according to 1 Corinthians). Want a laader type role in Church as a woman, lead Sunday School, Vacation Bible School or Kids Mass(Service).

  • Judy

    She finally admitted she’s Episcopalian. She’d been talking like one for years. I wonder if she’ll leave evangelicals alone now or continue slamming evangelicals for being, well, evangelicals.

  • James Carr

    God resurrected the Gnostic Gospels? Hmmmmm……they were never missing. They were rejected by the Church as false and uninspired writings, as they always will be.

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  • @Jeff Messenger,

    “showed your hand”

    What? Caring about the earth, my children and loved ones is not ‘nothingness’.

    Life is not improved by having a sky fairy.
    And you have no evidence that your sky fairy exists.

    You also have no evidence for a life after death.
    So why bother lecturing me about it?

    Who cares if I call it Perfect nothingness? Does calling it complete emptiness sound better to you? Your belief in something does not affect whether it is true.

    Show the evidence of a god or an afterlife – or stop making these claims.

  • Cathy Wynn


    Why do you think there is a life after death? There is no evidence of it.

  • Cathy Wynn

    Jeff, where is your evidence that an afterlife exists?

  • Jeff

    This is the Christ I know and love, I wish all could see Him in this way!

  • Larry

    Sophistry is what passes for excuses to engage in sectarian sniping you were engaging in.

    Somehow pretending your finger pointing and cheap insults to the interviewee’s faith are OK because you are in tight with Jesus.

    Pure self righteous bovine scatalogical sophistry.

  • J

    Patheos, BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

  • TexasPeg

    Thank you, revsharkie. My small group is studying the book Revangelical by Lance Ford, and it’s eye-opening. One statement hit me hard: “…when our gospel is all about salvation and getting to heaven, we tend to overlook what Jesus says about living our lives by Kingdom principles in the here and now.”

  • Dana

    She should be called Rachel Held Over. Her few minutes of limelight are running out. Not that any evangelical deserves anything other than time in the funny farm.

  • Mark

    It is sacred moments (sacraments) instituted by Jesus to dispense His grace to the world. These sacred moments are meant to change us, mold us, and transform our hearts. Thus, we are then challenged to go out and be Christ like. This means reaching out to the poor – materially and spiritually. The problem the Anglican church is having comes from their missed opportunities. They have mixed up and turned around the basic gospel of conversion. Jesus reached out to sinners, but His message always centered on conversion away from sin not acceptance of sin. The Anglican community has not only accepted sin. They have ordained people who publicly live in scandal. They have turned away from certain long held aspects of sacramental theology. For example, we baptized with water not Pepsi. Why? Because Jesus instituted baptism by water and the Holy Spirit. Jesus ordained men not women. Why? There is a long theological reason for it which has absolutely nothing to do with equal rights. It changes the species of the sacrament to ordain women. The church has no authority to change the species of any sacrament instituted by Christ.

  • TexasPeg

    Thanks, Stephanie. I’ve been a Christian for more than 50 years. If I weren’t, if my only example of Christians were the folks who write such unkind and unloving words as some have expressed here, I would certainly not be drawn to the Lord. But I am sorry that you “refuse to be associated with the modern church” – I hope that you can find a body of believers who really are trying to get it right!

  • LogicGuru

    There’s no prohibition on snark in Scripture or Tradition. I’m an Episcopalian distressed at watching the Church die (statistics on decline in membership easily available on the internet) because of commissions and omissions: doing stuff that drives people away and failing to invest in publicizing and selling itself. Congregations are shrinking, choirs are disappearing and buildings are closing, being sold off, or gutted and reused for secular purposes.

    You don’t need the Episcopal Church, or any church, to do good works. Individual Christians can do good through secular non-profits or, even better, by political action in promoting a strong welfare state. You do need the Church to do liturgy and maintain buildings as sacred spaces. That takes an institution, money and bums on pews. And the Church is not doing what needs to be done to keep the buildings open and liturgy done as a public event.

    People don’t know about what the Episcopal Church does religiously. They don’t know that it offers sacred space and wonderful ceremonies, and does not demand that you check your brains at the door. When most Americans think of religion they think of Evangelicalism, which seems to me about the most unattractive version of religion on the planet. And that is a pity, and why I am snarky.

  • Dicky Carter

    I’m in a quandary here. On the one hand, I read Scriptures clearly admonishing against adultery, fornication, and “men lying with men.” On the other, I see the Episcopalians ordaining homosexuals as pastors. Then, to top it off, I hear a fresh new voice for our generation like Rachel Evans advising that sodomy is just fine, and more of us should join the Episcopalians.

    Now I’m confused. The Bible is so old, and Rachel is so culturally relevant. Plus, she seems to like some of the Bible, and she’s so smart. I’m having such a hard time with this decision. Rachel or the Bible … Rachel or the Bible? Hmmm, I guess I’ll go with Rachel, if she will just show me which pages of my Bible to tear out. After all, if the Word is wrong about such an important topic as sex, there’s no telling what other mistakes she might find.

  • and the greatest is Love…1 Corinthians 13..If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • The thing is

    We don’t live in a country where people haven’t heard about Christianity. That was the context of the New Testament command. We’ve all been bludgeoned with the Bible here, but experienced little actual Christ-like behavior from the American church. That’s why millennials leave. Because what America experiences as Christianity looks like the Republican Party and Fox News, racism, judgement, dogma, and hypocrisy. And we don’t want to be sold, marketed to, or analyzed by a religion because that feels icky and false. Maybe mega churches have a lot of seats filled, but as Rachel states, that doesn’t mean there are any disciples. When you say the episcopalian church has suffered a downfall, are you only measuring it by numbers? Because I see great, compassionate, intelligent, open-minded people in that church who display more of christ’s character than I’ve seen in the hoards of evangelicals. And I tend to see even more compassion, grace, acceptance, and love in the secular community than anywhere else. If you guys can pull together and be like that, you can ditch your hip worship, your fog machines, and your slick power points and just be there for each other, the poor, and the needy. Don’t worry about verbal evangelizing. People will come from your example. Go.

  • BC

    It’s not either/or; it’s both.

    Jesus *did* call people to church. He expects his people to function within community. He said whatever the apostles bind, he would bind, and what they loosed he would loose. They explained things like the organization of church leadership (elders, deacons etc.) and expected that people would gather together to worship and like the Bereans, hungrily study to see that the things that were being said were true.

    Christianity isn’t simply a social justice movement. Christianity doesn’t exist to make Earth perfect, or to make life on Earth as painless for as many people as we can help. Christianity exists as a means to deploy information about the existence of God, of his will for us, and of the responsibilities we have to him. If we believe he is real, and that heaven and hell are real, we should be compelled to want as many as will hear to believe and obey. Love calls us to want all to be a part of the church he established, and that none should perish.

    There will always be suffering and sickness and tragedy. It’s not within our power to eliminate it. It is within our power to share the news that God offers hope and salvation for those who choose him.

    That’s the point.

  • JohnnyMac

    “reaching people for Christ” = cloning oneself. It’s a bit like being an Amway salesman: your success is predicated on how many salesmen/clones you have working under you. Also referred to as “making Jesus go viral.”

    But seriously, thank you. I’m a former fundamentalist, current agnostic, who wishes today’s Christians took their cues from Bonhoeffer and Oscar Romero, seeing their calling as a call to serve in a suffering world, instead of proving themselves to be right or better or more humble than thou. It’s too often – but not always, thankfully – simply nationalism and anti-intellectualism and social conservatism, as if all Jesus wanted to talk about was homosexuality, prayer in school, abortion, and homosexuality.

  • JTB

    I’ve been just reading here. But actually Jesus said repent. Turn from your sin. You are all right. The Church has been a numbers game and the message has been luke warm for quite a while. Don’t hear the cross and the Blood preached about enough. Not to mention hell. These are all things we should be talking about. I know it offensive to some. I’m convicted when I study scripture. It is convicting. Gods Holy word is a sword. I’m not worried. We each have to answer for our own selves. The Holy Spirt is still working. Even in a luke warm service, people are being saved. When the Word is heard the work is done in spite of our pitiful delivery of it. Owe is me if don’t preach the Gospel. Even so Lord come quickly.

  • JTB

    Satan is very familiar with scripture. We are taught to try the spirits. Knowing scripture and studying scripture totally different things.

    The only place to start is salvation.
    Accepting Christ as your Lord and Saviour. His Blood was shed on the cross at Calvary. He died for our sins. All sins. By His grace and Mercy we are saved by Him. Confess to Jesus your sins and He believe in His Name. He was rasised from the grave to give you eternal life by His shed Blood.

    Then and only then will you understand scripture. The Holy Spirt teaches us Gods Word. We develop a relationship through prayer, Bible study and fellowship.

    That’s all.

  • Paul Kirker

    You can’t celebrate the Sacraments n outside of Catholicism?

  • Josh Gubser

    Max, i have to respectfully disagree. That quote is horribly out of context. Jesus spoke the words in a parable. The words belong to a king in the parable. Read “parables as subversive speech” if you are actually interested in knowing the context. While many would make God the king in the parable, to do is inaccurate. God is love. Goodness I love. Faithfulness is love. Faith in Jesus creates the basis for a loving world. It creates hope and pushes us toward goodness. I don’t see atheism, new or old doing that.

  • Jesus was all about works! Maybe proselytizing is not the ONLY thing that a Christian has to do. Is it possible to proselytize while doing service? Works? Service? I know that Evangelist say that they do service but do they really? Evangelists are too shallow! Evangelists maybe should look at their roots which were Catholicism whether they like it, admit it or know it. Sometimes fighting over the right way is the wrong way. What is with that? Is that judgement?

  • Sometimes, it is important not to criticize but to from others! Judging? Way to go!

  • This is how it should look like. An educated young person who grew up in an Evangelical environment gravitates to a more mainstream style of Christian faith as a young adult. It makes plenty of sense to me.

  • Neon Genesis

    I must have missed where Jesus gave exceptions to what counted as judging. Maybe you can point to where Jesus NOT PAUL lays those exceptions out?

  • Richard Carter

    This article puts me in a difficult position. On the one hand, I read Scriptures clearly admonishing against adultery, fornication, and “men lying with men.” On the other, I see the Episcopalians ordaining homosexuals as pastors. Then, to top it off, I hear a fresh new voice for our generation like Rachel Evans advising that sodomy is just fine, and more of us should join the Episcopalians.

    Now I’m confused. The Bible is so old, and Rachel is so culturally relevant. Plus, she seems to like some of the Bible, and she’s so smart. I’m having such a hard time with this decision. Rachel or the Bible … Rachel or the Bible? Hmmm, I guess I’ll go with Rachel, if she will just show me which pages of my Bible to tear out. After all, if the Word is wrong about such an important topic as sex, there’s no telling what other mistakes she might find.

  • Sola Scriptura

    The road to heaven, according to Jesus Christ, the guy who made heaven(John 1:1-2, Colossians 2:15-20) is narrow…and few find it. What is truth? In John 17 Jesus tells his Father that “thy word is truth.”
    As for the “go and sin no more” language it is found in 98.02% of ancient Greek manuscripts. Those made up the Textus Receptus and was the basis for the King James Version.
    All this watering down the truth to make men and women who will fade away like grass, happy while on this dying earth, is wrong and takes into account the things of this world and not the things of God.
    I put together as many verses as possible on grace, obedience and salvation. I think every body should consider taking a look at these verse. Peace my friends:

  • LogicGuru

    Brother STR, I am not ‘trashing’ the Church. I’m Episcopalian and I love the Church. I’m distressed that it’s dying and frustrated because I’ve seen it for the past 40 years or so pursuing agendas that drive people away and failing to invest sufficient time, talent and treasure to publicize the Church and sell it. The Church is dying: congregations are dwindling, choirs are disappearing and church buildings being closed. When that’s lost, we’ll all be the poorer for it.

    People don’t know that the Episcopal Church has all that wonderful stuff—fancy buildings and fancy ceremonies: PLEASURE, bliss, the joy of religion—and that the it doesn’t require people to check their brains at the door to get those good things. I just wish the Episcopal Church would show its stuff!

  • LogicGuru

    Brother STR, I am not ‘trashing’ the Church. I’m Episcopalian and I love the Church. I’m distressed that it’s dying and frustrated because I’ve seen it for the past 40 years or so pursuing agendas that drive people away and failing to invest sufficient time, talent and treasure to publicize the Church and sell it. The Church is dying: congregations are dwindling, choirs are disappearing and church buildings being closed. When that’s lost, we’ll all be the poorer for it.

    People don’t know that the Episcopal Church has all that wonderful stuff—fancy buildings and fancy ceremonies: PLEASURE, bliss, the joy of religion—and that the it doesn’t require people to check their brains at the door to get those good things. I just wish the Episcopal Church would show its stuff!

    (BTW, my posts are being blocked and that’s rather irritating. I’m not trolling, or being offensive here)

  • Jesus came to tell people that there was a sin problem. God’s wrath is just and must be poured out (what ‘cup’ did you think he was praying about in the garden?). He called all men to repent and believe in the gospel. That is, that God provided a perfect substitute in Jesus. He bore God’s wrath and judgment so you can be a son or daughter of God.

    This has nothing to do with telling people to join my church, and everything to do with telling people that God is just, and all sin will be punished. Either Christ bore God’s wrath for you, or you will bear it yourself.

    Should we love our neighbor and care for the sick? Yes. But merely doing that without the gospel that calls sinners to repentance (like Jesus’ first sermon in mark 1) won’t deal with God’s judgment.

    Everyone is called to turn from choosing their own path, from being their own God and to trust in Jesus, that is that he paid for your sins.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful and refreshing comment. I felt like I was drowning in the sea of legalising, bible bashing comments. Homosexual acts are siiiiin, we cannot have those people among us and women are told not to be leaders, so we can’t have women as leaders, that would be unbiblical.

    Jesus acted and reacted in all sorts of unlawful ways exactly to demonstrate God’s love toward us freaking out the pharisees who then panicked and plotted against him as the walls of their legalising patriarchy was coming down all around them. The walls have been rebuilt since…

  • Darryl Ward

    ‘Sola Scriptura’ or the belief that the Bible is the only source of theological truth is a human invention – and a modern one at that. That is why we have Church tradition and our God given reason. (Methodists would also add experience.)

    And it can’t be any other way. Fundamentalists don’t like to acknowledge Church tradition. But without it, the first Christians would not have had knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, given it would be decades before the gospels would be written and centuries before the Church would decide upon what books would comprise the Newer Testament.

    And Christians still cannot agree on what books make up the Bible.

    So I am glad I belong to a church that worships God instead of making an idol out of a book.

  • Christian

    Many of you are not going to like my response, but i think you need to see it.

    Uggggh, what universe do i live in!?! Some Christians are simply clueless. And this article misses it at every turn, minus one.

    We have a population of grown adults, whom on a 40-50% basis are hellbent on teaching generation after generation of children that prophecies are true and that people come back from the dead simply because there’s ancient stories about it.

    Or, that you MUST have faith in Jesus, and read only the bible to know love, right from wrong, or to have a relationship with the creator of the universe.

    You’re literally teaching children to drink the blood of another person and using fear based tactics, imparting the ideas of damnation, banking on the non-falisfiability of ancient literary claims about resurrections to impart the idea of love and spirituality.

    Talk about going around your arse to get to your elbow.

    How long do you think that’s going to last in a technologically savvy world? Have you seen the studies on how the most religious countries in the world are the most dysfunctional? Have you seen the level of religiosity in America lately? Have you seen how the Christian right is trying to turn America into their own version of Sharia law with “religious freedom” bills that basically make it legal to be an [expletive deleted] to those outside of your choice of religious sensitivities? Are we trying to be Iran?

    Millennials are losing faith in faith because they understand that love, empathy, altruism, and spirituality are not owned by one religion, one book, or even one prophet.

    Don’t forget the polytheists, and the non-theists. Ya’ll’ve got a humanity sized consensus problem on the whole “one true god” thing.

    The Abrahamic religions are flawed. If they were perfect, or their books and prophets were perfect, they wouldn’t require evangelicals, or apologetics.

    Parts of America are so intellectually bankrupt and religiously ignorant, as soon as someone starts questioning the bible or the 10 commandments, you’re automatically a devil worshiper, or worse yet, Atheist. Why isn’t rape or pedophilia on the top 10? Something very wrong there and when i see Christians arguing for this crap in govt spaces, I swear i’m surrounded by adults with the minds of children. You people demonizing secular morality really should check yourselves.We’re not the one talking about blood sacrifices every weekend ya know…

    A lot of times i’m embarrassed i was raised Christian looking at the cultural ignorance, infighting, and xenophobia that is rampant throughout our “good christian” nation. Yes, I’m judging. Yes, i made some generalizations, but damn, This is why we cannot have nice things.

    The only thing that’s right in this article is there needs to be a truer Christianity.

    The “truths” can be achieved outside of Jesus and Christianity. And that’s why millennials are leaving.

  • When you want to celebrate the Sacraments, we will welcome you back with open arms

  • Darryl Ward

    No she hasn’t. She has given up Christianism for Christianity.

  • K

    After 30 years in the Evangelical church, my husband and I left … no… we ran for the nearest exit. We became tired of trying … actually exhausted… trying to help people within our community see the ugliness of their “Good News”. This Good News included racism, exclusion of women, oppression of LGBTQ, divorcees, and anyone else who did not fit their rigid roles. I acquired a graduate level degree from a conservative Christian college, ran several ministries, and have read and studied the bible for a very, very long time. My husband grew up in a very well known mission organization. After much study and prayer our eyes were opened to the traditions and inclusivity of the Episcopalian Church. It was a breath of fresh air, to experience the worship and recognize that they not only embrace scripture and tradition, but use the brain God has given us. We are grateful to God for showing us this way of worship and serving Him. As such, we are now confirmed to this tradition and will spend our days extending our hands to show others and lead them to where there is grace, love and restoration beyond their wildest dreams …and that there really is Good News … just inside of the red doors of a church tradition that hosts this beautiful Body of Believers.

  • Jim

    Congratulations. You’ve discovered she is a human being, same as you or me. No one is perfect and never will be until we rise to meet God in the end days as spirit beings, devoid of the flesh. Forgiveness and hope is what separates the wheat from the chaff down here.

  • you argue a lot against what you don’t believe in.

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  • donald

    I am pleased that we are discussing spiritual matters, and it is interesting to see so many differing viewpoints. The point of all this is having the spirit of Christ in you. That’s it. How and where you get that is your personal choice. My salvation was worked out with fear and trembling…in many churches over many years. An atheist is simply a future Christian suffering a Jesus deficiency.

  • Yellow

    You do relies that about 75% of the Book of Common Prayer (Liturgy for the Episcopal Church) is nothing but straight scripture. Every Sunday in the Liturgy of the Episcopal there is also readings form the Old and New testament and from the Psalms and the Gospels. So I’m not sure where you think that the “ritual” is a way of not focusing on God’s Word. The reality is that the ritual is nothing less then the people praying out the beauty of scripture. Also I would ad there there is noting more missional then the sacrament of Holy Communion. A service of Holy Communion is often called “mass.” This word come from the Latin meaning something along the lines of “to be sent out.” The belief is that the community of the faithful gather around the reading of scripture and the presents of Christ in the Sacrament so that we can be sent out to be Christ in the world.

    My hope is that you would not be so quick to make such strong judgments about your fellow Christians. Seek unity and understanding, and of course if you disagree, that fine. Make your argument and engage in dialogue in that spirit of Christian Unity.

  • mrtequus

    Jess, you nailed it.

  • ya know Christianity has stuck to the tenants that Christ very much intended and Paul very much exorted! Now, all of a sudden, this girl has a aha moment! ……like she’s been designated a prophet! False prophet for sure.

  • April

    Thank you! You are so right. I am a gay woman in the church, and I know that there is nothing wrong with me–it was simply how God made me. Instead of telling women to be quiet, and telling gay folk to repress who they are, Evangelicals would see better results if they followed the 2 rules deemed most important by Jesus–love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself.

  • Chris

    There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19 (NAS)

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 (NAS)

    Churches should focus on the important things that affect all people, even church goers. I’m a Christian, but some of the most unloving people I’ve met have been at church – rude, creating strife with their gossiping and slandering, cliques, etc., etc. The church for the most part ignores the sins that everyone in attendance is committing and wants to focus on things like homosexuality … as few conservation churches have any homosexuals in attendance!

    Jesus made it clear that love was the greatest commandment and that we are not to judge. I know this may sound simplistic, but I heap love on my friends that don’t know Christ (and know I do), pray for them, and let the Holy Spirit do his work.

  • Christian

    What universe do i live in!?! We have a population of grown adults, whom on a 40-50% basis are obsessed with teaching generation after generation of chidren that prophecies are true and that people come back from the dead simply because there’s ancient stories about it.

    Or, that you MUST have faith in Jesus, and read only the bible to know love, right from wrong, or to have a relationship with the creator of the universe. Catholics and other subsects of Christianity are metaphorically teaching children to drink the blood of another person, and using fear based tactics, imparting the ideas of damnation, banking on the non-falisfiability of ancient literary claims about ressurrections to impart the idea of love and spirituality. How long do you think that’s going to last in a technologically savvy world?

    Have you seen the studies on how the most religious countries in the world are the most disfunctional? Have you seen the level of religiosity in America lately? Have you seen how the Christian right is trying to turn America into their own version of Sharia law with “religious freedom” bills that basically make it legal to be less than cordial to those outside of your choice of religious senstivities?

    Millenials have lost faith in faith b/c they understand that love, empathy, altruism, and spirituality are not owned by one religion, one book, or even one prophet. And they see the religious and cultural ignorance, division, infighting, demonization of non-christians, and xenophobia that is rampant throughout our “good christian” civilization.

    This whole idea that the bible is the perfect word of God and that no other religion or belief system offers you access to the afterlife aor conversation with God, is antiquated at best. If the bible was perfect, it wouldn’t require evangelicals, or apologetics.

    That 30-50% of America is so intellectually bankrupt, that as soon as someone questions the bible, you’re automatically a devil worshipper or an atheist. Why do Christians demonize atheists? Every atheist, agnostic, or freethinker is a former Christian Including myself. And i’ve had two preachers in my family. Trust me, i wholly understand the bible, but how myopic are we to think that one book, compiled by anonymous authors about one prophet from 2000 years ago is the final words regarding spirituality, right and wrong, and love via a supernatural being who had the power to create an eternal universe? Especially considering teaching children that people come back from the dead is somehow a moral teaching that helps children deal effectively with the world?

    Millenials have come to find the “truth” can be found outside of church and outside of Christianity. That’s why Millenials are leaving the church. When the church, and Christians starts to address the hard truths, let me know.

  • Disillusioned evangelical pastor

    It’s no wonder the influence of evangelical Christianity is waning in our culture. We forgotten how to love but have become experts at passing judgment. Frankly, RHE seems more Christian to me than many of those posting here. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on our souls. Have mercy on us. Amen.

  • Phil

    Like so many people, you throw broad-based attacks with no substance. The sad thing is, so many millennials and the like have fallen for it.

    Larry: where do you stand on polygamy or incest? Are you “bigoted” against these people, solely because of “who they love?”

  • Phil

    You could’ve shortened that down to one sentence. You want the Bible to fit you, not for you to fit the Bible. Sadly, that’s not how it works.

    The Bible is inerrant. The Old Testament is Law, the New Testament is Gospel. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, so you can forget about all that stuff about eating pigs, etc. But you still have to observe the Gospel.

  • Rust Belt Rick

    The elderly in our culture are facing a future with inadequate retirement savings, the young in our culture are facing a future with crushing debt and meager career options, the middle class is facing a future with stalled wages, the poor are being left with a safety net that gets more ragged every year, and our system of government is careening toward oligarchy and away from democracy. If the church is looking for people to minister to, just look around you. A too-visible portion of the church seems to care about two issues only (abortion and being gay), but the true church’s greatest mission, that of advocating for and bringing comfort to the poor and powerless, has never been more timely.

  • fredo

    Surely I can’t be the only one who noticed that Evans is decamping to a church that was founded because Henry VIII wanted to kick his wife to the curb for not producing a male heir.

    Kind of doubt that this was the “rock” upon which Christ promised to build his church.

  • Jeff

    This has truely turned into a spirited discussion…pardon the pun…

    It is true many have emphasized areas of Christianity that are more in the negative and as a consequence has alienated many toward the church. They demand perfect worship and strict adherence to the ‘word.’ Christ did say that my father’s house has many rooms, perhaps there is a room for those that believe in that way. But here are also rooms for those that believe Christ is our Shepard, a guide to help us through this life and into the next. A guide that already understands our struggle with this life and is there to comfort us when we reach moments of despair and confusion.

    Psalm 23 – King James Version

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
    He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

  • Kurt

    Just because one recites the Apostle’s Creed each Sunday, does not make one orthodox. To say so is simplistic and deceptive. The creed does not contain all of the liberal theology that is being practiced that is not in that creed.

    As a Southern Baptist, we don’t recite the creed each Sunday. Does that make us not orthodox? I don’t think so.

  • Scripture_Tradition_Reason

    Very well said, “The thing is”.

  • Scripture_Tradition_Reason

    Very well said, LogicGuru! You are truly entitled to be snarky!!

  • Jeff

    Not sure how to directly reply to specific comments is this forum, but want to reply in general to those Aethists that have in their comments asked for ‘proof’ of God’s existence. First off, it is bewildering to me that one would even ask for proof, kind of missing the whole point of faith. But, scientifically speaking… God created the physical world and theoretically has absolute control over it, but has given us free will, so intervenes for reasons only known to Him. However, He does not normally exist in the physical world so how could one attempt to ‘measure’ or ‘prove’ His existence? He has said many times and in many ways that the way to come to know Him is through your heart, mind and soul. Those in and of themselves are only concepts, none of them can be proven that they exist, but certainly we all know that we have hearts and minds, in the ethereal sence. And in truth, we can only hope that we have a soul, faith strengths that hope. However, it is always your choice to believe what you want to believe, you have free will!

  • Andy Carlson

    Yes, thank you for a confessing Faith transition. I want to spend much more time sharing what I am for rather than what I am opposed to. When I lean the deeper whys of the Trinitarian Sacremental church’s traditions, meanings, history and culture my faith is strengthened, deepened or grows more personal and relevant in my own life.

  • Shelly

    Including persons who identify with LGBT lifestyles means introducing them to the gospel of Jesus Christ, while lovingly and compassionately. It does not mean placing people who are according to the gospel, living in sin, in leadership positions within the church. We must not mistake tolerance for ignorance. We must address sinful lifestyle choices from a biblical perspective, minus hidden agendas to advance selfish platforms that increase our wealth and social status.

  • Former Priest now Atheist

    “Religion is a blunder”
    – Robert G. Ingersoll

    There very likely is no God. Just be as kind as you can and try to help others.
    The world needs to wake up and stop wasting so much energy on groundless beliefs.

  • linda

    well said joshua. the crux of the matter is the act of repentance is not being taught in many churches anymore. with sinful things being accepted, how can a person understand what Jesus has said and move toward repentance, forgiveness and redemption. None of these ideas are completely new, these stories are as old as time. sin has always been on this earth, there has always been a need for forgiveness and certainly there has always been the need for the redemption Christ offers us. If everything is okay, then why would we even need Jesus?

  • Mark

    This is exactly what has happened to the church as a whole. People deciding for themselves what is true and what is not true and starting their own church. Hell is a fact of the scriptures. It has been taught by the church since the beginning. People choose to live a life separated from God and thus will live eternally so. in Mark 9:47–48 Jesus warns us, “it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” And in Revelation 14:11, we read: “And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

    Hell is not just a theoretical possibility. Jesus warns us that real people go there. He says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13–14).

  • Karla

    John 7:24 says we are not to judge by mere appearance but make
    a right judgment meaning someone can seem like a Christian but
    if they still get drunk,be mean,gossip,gamble,sleep around we are
    to judge if that person is bearing good fruit which Luke 13 says that
    fruit is the fruit of Repentance not good works because many,many
    non-believers do good works so we are to judge but not judge in a
    hypocritical way or we will be judged meaning we need to live right
    and not just point the finger if we are in sin which is why it is so,so
    important that we Repent. Many do not preach on sin cause they
    still get drunk,have premartial sex,gossip are mean/don’t bridle the
    tongue so they only talk about gay marriage/abortion so they don’t
    have to face their own sin. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6/Romans 1:18-32
    and Luke 13 all talk about sins/Repentance. We all must Repent
    and we are to judge between right and wrong/preach against sin!

  • Larry

    Well then, you should probably stay away from Southern Baptists (and pretty much most denominations in the “Bible Belt” as well). Their “rock” was even worse. The perpetuation of chattel slavery and later racial segregation.

  • Larry

    Hey Ray, stay away from those bananas!

  • KHS

    omg you guys, thanks so much for helping God out with the task of judging humanity. I was talking to Him the other day and He was actually pretty stressed about finding the time to judge all those insufficiently-orthodox people (and gay people, of course), especially with baseball season coming – you can imagine how His prayer-answering load increases come Opening Day. So thanks for taking this load off of Him. Plus, I imagine He’ll be happy to know that people will be judged based on how many converts they made rather than the whole Mt 25 whenever-you-did-this-for-the-least-of-these foolishness. Oh, and He’s probably going to be a little sad to find out that his daughter Rachel is a heretic, seeing how she loves Him so, but there is that breaking eggs/omelette thing. After all, He is all about Tough Love.

  • Tom

    What is your basis for thinking that the church has not regarded gay marriage as sinful, for all of the past two thousand years? There are records that the Jews did, way back in patristic times.

  • Tom

    It’s not Christianity if it doesnt truly reflect what Christ stood for.

  • Larry

    “What if every single church in the world looked like yours, would you really want that?”

    Of course not. Then there would be nobody to feel spiritually superior to and point fingers at!

    To be a bit crass about it, the appeal many have for various evangelical sects is the joy of claiming to be better than anyone outside your sect. The massaging of the ego and impunity in which one can act like a malicious jerk to others with social sanction.

  • Mo

    “But those who have followed her writings often note that her thinking has become increasingly progressive–especially on hot button theological issues such as gender and sexuality.”

    I came to hear of this woman when I kept hearing her name here and there on the internet. So I went to to her website to see who she was and what she was all about.

    I was shocked to see what was apparently a very well known (supposedly) Christian blogger openly supporting homosexuality. And when I commented on one of her articles on this issue, she ended up not only BANNING me, but deleting all my prior comments I had already made on the thread!

    I was not swearing or having a flame war or anything of that nature. I was simply disagreeing with her on some points. And this is what she did to me. Absolutely disgraceful.

  • Jeff

    In earlier posts I was so absorbed with reacting and commenting on other’s post I kind of missed the thread of the original discussion…. Of which seemed to conclude with the idea by honoring the sacraments it might add depth and meaning to church for the ‘millennials.’ And the central theme emerging that there is a movement away from church in general. And then many pointing fingers at this denomination or that as the reason for, sadly myself included. But after thinking about it a bit this is a much larger phenomenon than that, and we really need to look a little deeper, or in fact, a little further back in time, say as soon as 100, 150 years ago… There has been a huge, great, tremendous, (and no hyperbole here), change in the human race in that time period….period.

    Even only 50 years ago, about as far back as my memory goes, being 57 years young, this country, this planet, was a very different place culturally, and technologically. I believe there is very little argument on that point!? TV was fairly new and not everybody had one, mainly the middle class and those that were “well-to-do.” And color TV was a thing for future… There were total of about three channels, the major three, CBS, NBC, ABC, and maybe a few VHF…too young to remember. I understand that even the major three did not have programing all day and certainly not all night. There was a sign off around 10, 11 pm that played the national anthem to a picture of a flag ( I think, something like that) and people actually stood up and put their hands over their hearts, or saluted if you were in the military. Then around 6 or 7 in the morning programing began again…but not on every channel. And TV size, mostly 13″ even smaller just a few years early. There were no 7-11s, Speedy-Marts and the like, no Wal-Marts, damn little fast food places, they were called “drive-ins” which fostered a new place for ‘young’ people to gather starting about a decade earlier. Hardly anybody worked on Sunday, and most everything was closed! In most states you could not by any alcohol product on Sundays whatsoever and when you could buy it, it was only at a “liquor store.” Certainly not in the beverage section of Wal-Mart any day of the week, 24 hours a day! Anyway, you get the point, it was very different world only 50 years ago… People were different, most still believed in government, and felt that they mattered, for the most part, to those in power and were much more connected to everyone, not just their close friends and family, at least that was my impression.

    I’m not saying that it was a better world back then, and in fact in many ways it was much worse. Civil Rights were just beginning to take a foothold and women’s equality hadn’t even really begun yet. As such, a man usually did not go to jail or get barred from buying firearms after a domestic incident and was rarely if ever charged with assault for,the transgression! The point is, people lived differently, customs were much different and just about everybody went to church! It was not legally requirement as it was in Europe just a hundred years earlier… Prior to this time, which is really the time that one can point to that things really began to accelerate in terms of human culture spurred by technological changes. Also, people began to mistrust authority much more than they ever had before or at least began to express their distrust that probably was always there but nobody really dared challenge authority for the fear that they would be considered a criminal. Many point to the Vietnam War as the reason, but there were a combination of factors really. Were the Vietnam war typified those factors, in my opinion, but that is huge discussion un to itself.

    And just 50 years prior to that time, making that around only 100 years ago, most of the population of the world, even in the Western world, lived in rural farming communities and church was very central to their lives! For most it was a time to wash off the dust of the week, get into your ‘Sunday best’ (clothes) and go to church were you would see other members of your probably very small community. In many cases, it was the only socializing that anybody had time for during the week! Of course, most men (and boys) really not big fans of the occasion, but to keep peace, participated. However, I’m sure many men did look forward to the rest after a very physically demanding week of plowing and all the only things required to keep a farm going. Not to leave women out as they had no washing machines, dish washers, electric irons, the list goes on….to ease their physical labors. Contrast that to today’s cell phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter and so on…constant, instant, and continuous socializing! Then add to that fast food and all the other modern conveniences….

    Again, not a critique on today’s ‘sinful’ way of life and I, at least, do not see ‘today’ and all it’s ‘conveniences’ as ‘sinful.’ The point I’m making is church simply does not mesh well with modern life! Many people work on Sunday’s and many work more than one job, in some cases, three and even four jobs! And, in many cases, married couples rarely see each other because of their varying work schedules…sometimes for only a few hours in a whole week! So I ask, how does church fit into those situations? The answer, it simply does not…. However, that is not to say that God is not any less important to people than He ever was. We simply can not get together with Him in church that often, but doesn’t mean we don’t worship him…and even have greater need and desire to know Him. It seems to me that many, probably most, denominations, (at least in this country being that this is the country were this is mostly happening, although this phenomenon is extending to other countries as well.) do not recognize this phenomenon of conflicting work schedules with church and even members of one’s own family and even spouse! Church simply can not be a priority if you do not have time for it, of may not go if going alone. True, some do make time for it and that is great, but it has to be recognized it’s just not that easy for many of our brothers and sisters to do so.

    So the decline in going to church does not absolutely correlate to a lack of interest or even a contempt of religion, but more a lack of energy, at the end of the day. When the Sabbath was observed by most, most people had a chance to go to their local church and enjoy some time off with their Lord. Today that is much more difficult to do. I know that some denominations are responding to this by creating smaller worship groups that can get together because they share similar schedules, and also by offering services at more times during the week.

    In conclusion, I suppose if more denominations, even congregations, found ways to accommodate people of varying schedules it may go some distance in strengthening those churches by building larger congregations. All churches need to recognize and respond to a changing world rather than look for reasons to, well, ‘justify’ declining church participation. Perhaps, an ‘online’ church may be a solution!? In a way, even the discussion that has come about as result of this article could be considered a ‘gathering’ and as such, I believe, has enriched many that have participated!

    “Whenever two or more are gathered in His name…!”

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  • Brian Walker

    If Jesus was the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us and the Word is His Holy book then we cannot discount it. It is not an idol, it is the Word of God.

    Please do not hold Catholicism and Protestant disagreements over which books belong to not hold it in the highest regard. “Sola Scriptura” may be “modern” in the sense of the New Testament, but prior to the New Testament the Pentateuch was highly regarded, taught, memorized and Jews based their life upon its teachings.

    I’m not sure what you mean by church tradition, if you mean Communion then it is prominently taught and practiced in fundamentalist settings though not daily corporately. The church traditions are Biblical and should be embraced by all denominations.

    Perhaps the criticism of the Episcopal Church centers on its public face, its stand on some of the social issues of the times without knowledge of the liturgy it uses for corporate worship.

  • Chey

    BCP is 75% Scripture yes – that Scripture that TEC *approves* of. So it appears she’ll fit right in.

  • Jamie Wheeler

    As “aha” of a moment as discovering the perfect design of the banana?

    The problem with your criticisms is that they come from a person with demonstrably incorrect conclusions. Please, go do your work, but leave the analysis of things to those better suited for it.

  • Christian

    Lol. the bible is inerrant. Ha! like where genesis says plants were put on earth before the plants? Or, the talking donkeys, or maybe the 900 year old people? How bout the part where jesus was supposed to come back before the end of the apostles lifetime. What about all the differing accounts of … well, skepticsannotatedbible dot com > contradictions.

  • Christian

    what exactly does that mean? Patheos is an interfaith hub for online discussion. It has writers from all faiths and you can sign up for email blasts from every faith on there if you so choose. There is a wealth of knowledge being shared there.

  • Mike

    Wow. Looking at these comments, it’s really saddening to see how quickly Christians are to eviscerate each other when “camps” get involved.

    We love Jesus. We cling to the Scriptures. We may have different traditions, but I think we pretty much agree in the larger points of doctrine.

    Why don’t we love each other?

  • MBC

    The Episcopal churh is shrinking and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is growing by leaps and bounds?
    Both Anglican but one is growing and one is not. People are looking for tradition and first century style church! Not entertainment!

  • Brent Walker

    Wow, Keith. Thank you for your comment. I was a pastor in a leading Evangelical church for 17 years. No one I met knew the bible like I did. I used to think just like you. Reading your comment made me aware of how far God has brought me out of judgment and fear to living the sacrificial love of Jesus. Remember what Jesus said on the cross in regards to the very ones who spit on him, mocked and tortured him, and then nailed him to a torture of humiliation, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Information about the bible is not Christianity; love lived is Christianity…”you shall know them by their fruit, by their love…” The highest purpose of the sacred scripture is to point us to the living presence of Christ in order to experience his life…”Unless you abide in me, you can do nothing of any value…” Jn 15. I pray your study of the inspired sacred scripture will point you away to experience the Present Christ who is the Way the Truth and the Life.

  • Steve

    The writer of a previous comment stated, “Christians can do good through secular non-profits or, even better, by political action in promoting a strong welfare state” Much of the difference of opinion in the comments on this article seems to relate to progressive vs. traditional, conservative views. However, I would like to believe there is room for both, or even for a more nuanced blend of such views, in Christianity. For example, some people see a welfare state as generous and kind and consistent with the Bible. Some of these people also see that because the welfare state relies on contributions forced by the government (rather than voluntary altruism) and because it can contribute to a culture of dependency and entitlement, it may not be the ideal way to fulfill biblical instructions to help the poor.

    I have great respect for the Bible and believe it is true. I have much less certainty regarding my ability to interpret the Bible correctly on every issue. Therefore, unless a fellow believer is making statements that are clearly in opposition to easily understood and essential elements of Christianity, I do not feel obliged or qualified to correct them. I do not agree with the writer of this article on every issue, but I wish her well, and there is certainly a need to find better ways to reach millennials (and others). At least she cares and has taken the time to offer some ideas.

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