I’ve just finished reading ‘Faith Unraveled,’ the first book posted by the now well know Christian author Rachel Held Evans. It tracks RHE’s journey as a young woman raised in evangelical America who suddenly encounters questions and doubts about faith she wasn’t equipped to answer.
I found the first half of this book rang very true for me and my experiences – I was also raised in a Christian family, in a Christian community. Just like Rachel, as a kid I prided myself on knowing bible facts and understanding tricky concepts. I consumed books, I answered every question in kids church and zealously invited my friends to church.
But just like Rachel, I’ve struggled with the suffering in the world and the hypocrisy of Christians. I have slowly let go of the rote answers and neat explanations I once clung so tightly to. On many issues now, my answer is simply ‘I don’t know,’ and it’s not for lack of reading and research and thinking and praying. I have lost certainty in my own rightness, but I have not lost my faith. I just don’t think there’s one way to follow Jesus or one group of Christians who have a monopoly on truth and have it all right.
‘When we refer to ‘the biblical approach to economics,’ or ‘the biblical response to politics,’ or ‘biblical womanhood,’ we’re using the Bible as a weapon disguised as an adjective. We inadvertently imply that embracing the Bible as truth requires embracing one interpretation of it. This results in false fundamentals, which results in an inability to change, which results in a failure to adapt and evolve.’ – RHE, Faith Unraveled.
I agree that for too long the statement ‘I am a Christian,’ has come along with a lot of baggage and assumptions about your opinions on things. I can see that changing though, at least in my corner of the world. But I am still not sure about the nature of truth, and what is and isn’t open to interpretation. Some things must be sacred, some things must be true, or what is point?
RHE spoke a lot on what she doesn’t think the Bible is, but I’m not quite sure what she does think it is. If Jesus is true and real and good, and his word is good, than surely that must be true? If he says that scripture is the word of God, than surely that must be true?
I’m still figuring it all out – I’m still thinking things through. I don’t agree with all that RHE says – but her story is still important and helpful to me in figuring out my own story. Maybe I’m moving to a place where I can see people in more than black and white terms – good or bad, right or wrong – but instead can see the shades of grey and rainbow of opinions instead. I can accept what is helpful about someone’s work or writing or worldview with taking it all with me.
I don’t think it will be the last RHE book I will read, but not because I think she’s right about everything – but because I know I am still figuring it all out.