Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teetering on the ledge

Roger Olson recently plugged a new book by Rachel Held Evans:

Among other things, he says:

All that is to say that I don’t live in Rachel Held Evans’ world—at least not in the one she’s struggling with in her book. I see it and hear of it, but I stay out of it. However, I see the damage it does to young women called to ministry. They are among my students and I watch them struggle to be affirmed by their home churches and families. Often they are not affirmed.

Of course, that’s ironically paternalistic. Adults should outgrow the need to be constantly “affirmed.” If a grown man or woman “struggles” with not having emotional pats on the head, then they have a maturity problem.

Olson also uses his review as a pretext to bash Reformed complementarians like Piper and Grudem, drawing an invidious contrast between their Christian piety and the piety of Rachel Evans. Well, here’s something she said recently:

Images of lines snaking out of fast food restaurants, taunts and jeers on Facebook, tearful conversations with gay friends, failed attempts to understand and explain both sides.

If the sight of customers lining up to buy sandwiches at Chick-fil-A reduces Held and her homosexual friends to tears, then homosexuals in American don’t have very much to worry about. Is this their idea of persecution?

Is this what following Jesus is supposed to be about? Eating a chicken sandwich to prove a point?

She conveniently forgets how this got started. Chick-fil-A came under attack.

Is this what mobilizes the people of God?

Why do critics like Held even assume that this was a Christian protest? Is there exit polling on how many customers were Christian? Does Held have the percentages?

Suddenly, my religion is alien to me—small, petty, reactive.  My faith has lost its bearings.

There’s no doubt that her faith has lost its bearings.

I don’t feel like praying anymore…

She doesn’t feel like praying anymore because she sees customers lining up at Chick-fil-A?

Can’t you just imagine Daniel, Elijah, or Jeremiah out of the mood for prayer because they saw lines of Chick-fil-A customers?

…not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.

Can I blame him?  Perhaps it is better if he stays away.

Why did he swear off church? Just because he saw customers lining up at a fast food restaurant to a make a statement? If a teenage boy is that emotionally fragile, then he has serious problems. If he has feelings of rejection at the sight of perfect strangers eating chicken products at a fast food joint, then what does that say about his expectations or his emotional stability?

Indeed, doesn’t that suggest a link between his homosexuality and his deep-seated insecurities? Regardless of who or what you are, everyone isn’t going to accept you. Deal with it. 

I am hanging by the tips of sweaty fingers on this ledge of faith, wondering if letting go will bring freedom or death. I’ve hung on before—through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars—but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place.

First of all, it’s not as if she was conscripted to fight for her pet causes.

But more to the point, she’s teetering on the ledge of faith because she saw TV coverage of Chick-fil-A customers? Really? Seriously? She’s prepared to jump from the ledge of faith because she saw customers lined up at Chick-fil-A restaurants to quietly express their support?

And this is the kind of piety that Roger Olson is lauding and applauding? That’s Arminianism for you.


  1. Perhaps we can imagine Elijah feeling defeated after seeing the line at Chick-fil-A.

    1. It would be enough to put him on suicide watch.

  2. I was so appalled by Rachel Held Evans's comments that I clicked over to her post. Then I read this:

    "Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us."

    Oh my goodness. "The definition of terms is left solely up to us." Can you imagine that? Brings to mind some quip from Lewis Carroll's book.

    Anyways, this is a prime exemplar of the blubbering emotionalism that frequently predominates both egalitarianism and arminianism.

    1. For what it's worth, Rachel doesn't seem to censor a lot. On her posts that have drawn controversy, lots of negative comments go through.

  3. Rachel Held Evans is a a great argument for why women shouldn't lead a church.

  4. This is pathetic. Toddlers get turned off to their "faith" in church if they don't have picture books to keep them interested, and here we have a fully grown mature adult who is falling apart at the seams because of lines of people eating at a restaurant?? What a positively gutless woman.

  5. She doesn’t feel like praying anymore because she sees customers lining up at Chick-fil-A?

    Fouled prayers, because of fowl preyers?

    1. Annoyed, I did not know you were a poet :-)

    2. Perhaps this is the same "dark night of the soul" that Mother Teresa had?

      Pray that hers doesn't last quite as long.

  6. Considering that Evans is one of the Enns devotees it doesn't surprise me that she is "hanging on to the ledge of faith". I have found in my own life when doubts use to rack me about everything, I didn't have a true faith. I needed conversion. Thankfully, God in his mercy opened my eyes about a year ago.