i just finished reading my friend, Rachel Held Evans' first book, "Evolving In Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned To Ask The Questions". i even have a chapter in the book! Thanks so very much, Rachel for asking the questions and for including me in your journey! i suggest reading the book as i don't think you will be disappointed. i loved her honesty and the wrestling she did with her faith! "If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that serious doubt - the kind that leads to despair - begins not when we start asking God questions but when, out of fear, we stop." (p. 226) This is her journey out of fundamentalism and into a more progressive faith that enjoys the questions and doubts more than all the certainties of a black and white faith.
i could totally relate to her journey and resonated with much of what she said. Here are a few examples from the book that resonated with me:
"We are not saved by information. We are saved by restored relationship with God, which might look a little different from person to person, culture to culture, time to time...When we require that all people must say the same words or subscribe to the same creeds in order to experience God, we underestimate the scope and power of God's activity in the world." (p. 132)
"The more committed we are to certain theological absolutes, the more likely we are to discount the work of the Spirit when it doesn't conform to our presuppositions." (p. 155)
"I would tell them that the idea of a single, comprehensive biblical worldview to which all Christians can agree is a myth and that it's okay to ask questions about people's interpretations. I would tell them that this doesn't diminish the beauty and power of the Bible but rather enhances it and gives Christians something to talk about." (p. 185)
"The Bible is perfection crammed into imperfect language, the otherworldly expressed in worldly ways, holiness written down by unholy hands, read by unholy eyes, and processed by unholy brains...In truth, the Bible represents a cacophony of voices. It is a text teeming with conflict and contrast, brimming with paradox, held together with creative tension." (p. 189)
"The Bible doesn't exist in a vacuum but must always be interpreted by a predisposed reader. Our interpretations are colored by our culture, our community, our presuppositions, our experience, our language, our education, our emotions, our intellect, our desires, and our biases." (p. 192)
"Perhaps our love for the Bible should be measured not by how valiantly we fight to convince others of our interpretations but by how diligently we work to preserve a diversity of opinion." (p. 194)
"My interpretation can only be as inerrant as I am, and that's good to keep in mind." (p. 195)
"But it seems to me that if evangelical Christians were the only ones to have God all figured out, then they would be the kindest, most generous people around...Most Christians I know are only interested in winning arguments, converts, and elections." (p. 201)
"...But most rejected Christianity because they thought it means becoming judgmental, narrow-minded, intolerant, and unkind...Most weren't looking for a faith that provided all the answers; they were looking for one in which they were free to ask the questions." (pp. 203-204)
"In fact, I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change." (p. 207)
"In a way, we're all fundamentalists. We all have pet theological systems, political positions and standards of morality that are not essential to the gospel but that we cling to so tightly that we leave fingernail marks on the palms of our hands." (pp. 208-209)
Thanks, Rachel, for a deeply honest portrayal of your journey. i am a better person for having read and ingested this story.