Is Rachel Evans in Hell? Pulpit & Pen and The Transformed Wife Say YES!

rachel evans

Recently, Christian author and conference speaker Rachel Evans suddenly died at the age of 37. The Religion News Service reported:

Rachel Held Evans, a popular progressive Christian writer and speaker, died Saturday morning (May 4) at age 37 after a brief illness.

Evans had been in a medically induced coma for several weeks and never returned to an alert state.

Writer and collaborator Sarah Bessey tweeted that Evans was surrounded by close friends and family at the end, and the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber shared that friends were at Evans’ bedside Friday night, offering “our touch and tears and song. I anointed her with oil.”

Her husband, Dan Evans, informed followers and supporters of his wife’s death on her website.

“This entire experience is surreal. I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story,” he wrote in an update on Evans’ blog.

“I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids. To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you. We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her.”

On April 14, Evans, who was particularly gifted at using social media to connect with her readers, tweeted that she had been admitted to the hospital with a “flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction” to antibiotics, asking for prayer and — with the characteristic humor she often used to defuse difficult conversations — lamenting she would miss “Game of Thrones.”

Later, in an update on her website, Dan Evans said that she began having “unexpected symptoms” while receiving treatment for an infection and that doctors found her brain was experiencing constant seizures. Doctors had placed her in a medically induced coma while working to determine the cause and treatment, he said.

Evans is best known for her popular blog and best-selling books, including New York Times best-seller “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” ”Searching for Sunday” and, most recently, “Inspired.” She also served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

In her books and blog posts, she wrote openly about her faith journey, which led her from Bryan College — a conservative evangelical school known for promoting belief in a literal, six-day creation — to the mainline Episcopal Church. Along the way, she chronicled her faith, doubt, honest questions and evolving beliefs with a sense of humor.

That didn’t come without controversy, including pushback from more conservative Christians over “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” which celebrated an egalitarian view of women’s roles in both marriage and the church.

But in her writing she rarely lapsed into us-versus-them arguments, instead presenting a vision of the church as a place with room for everyone.

“This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes,” she wrote in “Searching for Sunday.”

“And there’s always room for more.”

Evans, a one-time Evangelical, was loved and hated by Evangelicals. Several self-righteous Christians took took to their blogs and social media to let it be known that Evans is now in Hell.

First up, are the miscreants at Pulpit & Pen. Greg Smith writes:

Rachel Held Evans was on the wrong side of every controversial issue and point of doctrine plaguing the western church today. With full knowledge she loudly and publicly chronicled her departure from anything that could be considered the historical Christian faith. No need to establish and or document that here and now. It is beyond dispute for anyone with a modicum of commitment to the biblical gospel.

In that light, how do we respond when a person like this passes into eternity, by all biblically reasonable accounts, apart from the saving blood and knowledge of the true and holy only begotten Son of the living God?

We should certainly not shrink from the realities that such a situation confronts us with. Only God Himself can pass final judgement on a human soul, however He has given us His word whereby we are to declare His revealed mind on all things, including the standards by which yes, we ARE to judge the state of others when it is this clear according to the evidence their life has shown us.

If we do not warn that the denial of the saving truth as it in Christ Jesus IS eternal death, then we are presuming ourselves to be wiser and holier than God who commands exactly that. The blood of those who hear us would then be on our hands as the Lord proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel.

With that in mind, we also should never rejoice or sneer at the loss of another, no matter who or what they are. To do so is to demonstrate a profound lack of the knowledge of our own sin and the grace and power of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit required to save us from it.

It is in the spirit of both of these biblical principles that Pulpit and Pen expresses it’s [sic] sorrow and regret at the passing of Rachel Held Evans. Both for the loss of her soul and for the unbiblical and further soul damning treatment that her already tragic death will inevitably give occasion to

….

Jordan Hall, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana and a writer for Pulpit & Pen, stated he believed Jesus would have likely said the same thing as his Bible buddy Smith:

jordan hall comment rachel evans

Church Watch Central quoted Jordan Hall as saying:

As in her life, Rachel Held Evans was surrounded by heretics and applauded by apostates at her death. She was ‘anointed’ with oil in the hours before her passing by the self-professed “profane bulldyke” and mannish, self-graffitied, vulgar blasphemer, Nadia Bolz-Weber, who better personifies the Grim Reaper than perhaps anyone in a clerical collar. It’s hard to believe that anyone ushered into the world to come by Bolz-Weber would be ushered into the right world.

Perhaps her own tweet conveys this point the best [Evans’ tweet about God not being a dude.]

Evans knows that God is male now. She also knows so much more. The God she expected to see is not the God she now knows.

Evans, who has used her life’s energy to attack the authority and inerrancy of the Scripture, Biblical gender roles and sexual ethics, and commit all kinds of ontological heresies against God, has been eulogized as though a saint after her death by many who criticized her as an enemy of Biblical Christianity during her lifetime.

For many, theological debate is Kabuki theater, where each side has a role to play and even the audience has a part to act out. There are protagonists and antagonists who spar on stage, but go out afterward to celebrate their dramatic endeavors and the show they’ve put on for the masses. This is all basically a more sophisticated version of the showmanship of professional wrestling.

However, some of us religious types view apostasy as a serious matter. Furthermore, some of us think hell is real. Likewise, we think people actually go there. And, we believe that we know what it takes to avoid that place. Ergo, we take theology, you know…seriously and stuff.

Next up is up Lori Alexander and her cadre of followers at The Transformed Wife. My friend, Suzanne Titkemeyer, posted several Facebook screenshots of comments by Alexander and Co:

lori alexander rachel evans

lori alexander followers rachel evans

Many people were outraged by Alexander’s words and demanded she take down her post. She replied:

lori alexander rachel evans

And finally, here’s what Emily Thomes, a former homosexual-turned-Evangelical, had to say:

emily thomes rachel evans

Hateful words from Greg Smith, Jordan Hall, Emily Thomes, and Lori Alexander. However, readers need to understand that their linguistic bile reflects a viewpoint held by millions of American Evangelicals. Evans was viewed by many Evangelicals as a heretic. They despised the larger-than-life presence Evans had among Evangelicals. Her untimely death is viewed by them as God settling the score with one of America’s beloved heretics. That Lutheran pastor  Nadia Bolz-Weber was by Evans’ bedside when she died only confirms their belief that God rained judgment down upon her head. Bolz-Weber’s theology and sexual ethic has been a frequent target of Evangelical writers. That Weber was with Evans at the time of her death only reinforces for them how far she had fallen from grace.

There was a time in my life when I would have agreed with Greg Smith, Jordan Hall, and Lori Alexander about Evans’ unexpected death. I would have viewed her demise as God silencing a heretic. I have long “prayed” that I live to be eighty lest my Evangelical critics turn my death into a sure sign that God has judged me and thrown my ass into Hell. The fact that countless former Evangelicals critique Evangelical doctrine and practices with no recrimination by God should be a sign to zealots that God ain’t paying attention.

Personally, I hope Pulpit & Pen,The Transformed Wife and others of their ilk continue to preach their hatred for people such as Rachel Evans. Their words go far beyond their blogs and social media, leading those with doubts about Evangelical Christianity to conclude that they no longer want to be part of a religion that promotes judgmentalism, bigotry, and hate. Keep preaching the word!

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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25 Comments

  1. Scott

    How very sad. A great human being. Kindness to her beloved.

    (What judgemental pricks those writers are!)

    Reply
  2. ObstacleChick

    Every time someone dies who disagrees with those hardcore evangelicals who KNOW YES KNOW the TRUE JESUS, I can feel the vitriol and smugness exuding from the written words of said evangelicals as they state that the person is in hell now! Mmmm hmmmm! Rachel Held Evans was a Christian, but because she was the wrong flavor she is now in hell? It’s been 25 years since I left evangelicalism, but even then as ling as you had prayed the sinner’s prayer you would make it to heaven. You might be the janitor there and live in a hut, but at least you wouldn’t be in hell. What happened to salvation through faith not works? They don’t believe that anymore?

    The god/jesus of these vile evangelicals seems like a real a$$hole, not unlike his followers.

    Reply
    1. Hugh D. Young

      My best guesses, just taking a shot here, would be- 1) ‘Salvation by faith’ would remove just about any/all reason(s) for them to be self-righteous about anything, and they can’t have that, can they?! 2) When there are ‘extra requirements’, tailored to suit the particular denomination, pastor etc. of course, they then have the MEASURE OF CONTROL they want. Think about it….’God doesn’t like a thief’, to convince us that ‘tithing is not optional for those who are TRULY save-duh! ‘Religion is, and has always been in the CONTROL BUSINESS’.- John Shelby Spong~3) They’re major league ASSHOLES, pure & simple. They just get to hide behind JAYY-ZUSS, that’s all!

      Reply
  3. Zoe

    I’m so sorry to hear this about Rachel’s death. I didn’t know. As someone who was very sick in March, I know how quickly one’s health can turn. Very scary and should give us pause.

    I am not surprised at all about the hell chant going on. Some Christians eat one another with hate and then line up to tell one another that Jesus gives them the right.

    Reply
  4. Brian Vanderlip

    Okay Gerencser, I’m fuming and want to kick evangelical ass. I am so so finished with the viral hate that is this Christianity that I will have to spit my way into this new day until I can shed the filth, the stench of Christian ‘love’ that you have shared in this post. How unbelievably hateful can people be once the Lord has freed them? THIS hateful and THIS full of shit.
    Fuck off, Jordan Hall.

    Reply
  5. thatotherjean

    I have no words. If Rachel Held Evans is in hell, what hope is there for the rest of us? Fortunately, I do not believe in hell; it’s all I can do to believe in any sort of god, most days. Should he/she/they/it exist, I hope that Rachel’s decency, love, and kindness are being rewarded, forever.

    Reply
  6. Sarah

    As a Christian I am offended anyone would say Rachel is in Hell. Only God knows the state of her heart.

    Reply
  7. Caroline

    I didn’t know anything about her until I started seeing the horrible things these crazies were saying. I no longer belong to any church (though I really tried to believe it all!), but am interested in how others see religion and faith. I’m planning to buy one of her books to add to my summer list. I bet lots of people like me, and certainly her loyal followers will keep her legacy alive despite the haters and judgers. The P and P is a nasty place full of bigots and know-it-alls.

    Reply
  8. Hugh D. Young

    If ‘heaven’ is going to be full of people like this, why in the fuck would I want to go?

    Reply
    1. Caroline

      Agreed!

      Reply
    2. Byroniac

      Hugh D. Young, agreed! I saw something, maybe on this blog, that really made me a chuckle: a guy was asking another guy, so is heaven filled with people like you? The other guy says yes. The first guy says something like, then you really need to work on your sales pitch.

      Reply
  9. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    She’s only just died and her husband and children are grieving. These heartless “bastards”, who are so lacking in compassion, kindness and any semblance of decency, write that she’s in hell. If her husband sees these kind of heartless comments written about his beloved, it will only add to his anguish.

    I’ve read quite a bit of Rachel’s blog and she is to be commended for presenting a kinder, gentler and more compassionate Christianity than any of these idiots at the Pulpit and Pen write. They are slaves to Fundamentalism on steroids, a Fundamentalism of the worst kind. As for that jackass, Lori Alexander, if there is a place called hell she’d be one of the one’s populating it. But no hell exists. How can these idiots believe that any God of compassion and kindness could send anyone to suffer eternal torment in hell for finite sins committed by finite persons in finite time? It makes their god out to be a moral monster!

    Reply
  10. Gary

    Yes, it is always amazing how when a young evangelical pastor dies it is described as “a mystery; only God knows why”. Yet, when a young “sinner” dies, it absolutely must be because God had had enough of his or her “wickedness”. It is such a SICK belief system.

    Reply
  11. Gary

    If a young evangelical pastor dies, it is because God wants to use his death to strengthen the faith of those around him. If a young “sinner” or “apostate” dies, it is ALWAYS seen as a punishment for “wickedness”. It is a sick belief system.

    Reply
  12. Becky Wiren

    I’m glad I don’t believe in a burning hell (I’m a Universalist). And an eternal hell would be horrible for any human. But I’d be all right with the hateful evangelists going to purgatory for a time. (Yes, I know there is no purgatory.) But damn, will they experience any karma they deserve?

    Reply
  13. Matilda

    I owe Mrs Held Evans a huge debt of gratitude. I’d been a x-tian for decades and had years of not daring to confront my dissonances. The image in my head was of my putting them in a box and putting that box out of reach on a very high shelf. Anyway, doing children’s evangelism, I was looking for a new exciting angle on the story of Esther. I googled it and RHE’s blog came up. What an eye-opener, I didn’t know such empathetic, sensible, intelligent and compassionate views existed. For some reason I can’t recall she referred to Neil Carter and then again, I can’t recall how, but through that, I got to the blog of a certain Mr Bruce Gerencser. It was all downhill – or uphill – from there. I read these blogs for two weeks, then deleted them, satan must be tempting me, but I was becoming addicted and I re-instated them, and deconverted. So thank you too, Bruce for your blog. I am beyond horrified and disgusted by the despicable fundy comments on the death of a talented writer, wife and mother of 2 small children.

    Reply
  14. Ann Bowen

    I grieve for Rachel’s family on this untimely loss. It makes me question things, like why take a vibrant young woman, in the prime of her life, and let the orange asshole still reign in DC? What was the balance that tipped?

    Nadia Bolz-Weber is still a Lutheran pastor. She doesn’t have a church right now. But once a pastor always a pastor. She can still preach and give the sacraments to people.

    The haters will always claim the BIBLE, but they all forget that little axiom of judge not, lest ye be judged. How easy to forget.

    Reply
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  16. Yielding, Nan

    As I posted on “Ark’s” blog …

    Judge not that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1, KJV

    How soon they forget …

    Reply
  17. Melissa Montana

    And people wonder why no one goes to church anymore. There is no shortage of “loving Christians” who are happy to kick those who are down. The fools never understand why this attitude drives away potential converts. This is why I left religion for good.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Evangelical christians spreading love | Random thoughts

  19. diane

    These people are despicable. Within days of my husband’s death, the born again xian neighbor stood in my dining room telling me he was in hell because he wasn’t saved. She nagged me for the next 26 yrs. to get saved. I hate them all.

    Reply
  20. Hugh D. Young

    Anyone else notice what is NOT stated? People are tired of being peddled ‘love’, then quickly realizing what a TYRRANICAL BULLY the ‘god’ of Evangelicals really is. Is it really soooooooo hard to figure out exactly why folks are leaving in droves?

    https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2012/05/15/what_if_rachel_held_evans_is_wrong_106490.html

    Reply
  21. Dean

    It’s no surprise, these people care more about their theology and their ego than actual human beings. It’s not even worth engaging them. JD Hall, the man behind Pulpit and Pen, cyberstalked and bullied Braxton Caner, the 15-year old son of a man that Hall had beef with, just weeks before he killed himself. You’d think that would be enough for someone to re-evaluate their choices in life, but these people are psychopaths. They don’t have feelings like normal people, these posts about RHE is kid stuff for them.

    Reply
  22. Stephanie

    I was so shocked to hear of death. I can’t help but think of her small children. A tragedy. I really appreciated her writing especially when I was coming out of evangelicalism. Although I don’t follow Christianity anymore she made me see a different viewpoint with humor, compassion while still taking fundamentalists to task. They couldn’t stand such a graceful, powerful woman. These people know no such values. While I get what you’re saying Bruce, it’s still cruel to have them “keep writing.” I wish they would shut up. I don’t believe in hell, which is a good thing for these people.

    Reply

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