Guest writer: Burton, Rachel Held Evans, Inspired

Guest Writer: Larry Burton

Rachel Held Evans newest book, Inspired

“How could I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength while disengaging those very faculties every time I read the Bible?”  Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. Thomas Nelson 2018.

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At almost 75 years old, after 40 years of university teaching, and 50 years of ordination in a Christian denomination, and 50 years of marriage to a wonderful woman, I have fallen in love with Rachel Held Evans.  Now, don’t start worrying about my character.  Neither my dear spouse nor Ms. Evans are in the least bit threatened. 

I am in love with her writing, her journey, her honesty, and her new book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again.  The question of how we should read the Bible has plagued good people for at least a couple of centuries.  Do we read it as history, as fact, as metaphor, as faith, as inspired?  It is that last word that Evans uses as she delves into the fascinating, challenging, and sometimes bewildering world of the Bible.  Where scholars parse the Hebrew or Greek, seek to understand its social, cultural, and political context, and sometimes venture into the mine field of making truth claims, Evans approaches the Bible from the perspective of one who has suffered, questioned, and taken a faith journey, a pilgrimage, from certainty to faith.

Drawing on the insights of her own teachers, professors, clergy, friends, and her own questing spirit, Evans manages to invite the reader to share her journey.  Then, together author and reader discover the depths of wisdom, hope, and indeed, inspiration contained in these ancient texts.

Evans writes: “When God gave us the Bible, God did not give us an internally consistent book of answers.  God gave us an inspired library of diverse writings, rooted in a variety of contexts, that have stood the test of time, precisely because, together, they avoid simplistic solutions to complex problems.  It’s almost as though God trusts us to approach them with wisdom, to use discernment as we read and interpret, and to remain open to other points of view.”

This is not a text book.  It is not a book for anyone who holds a defensive and protective approach to this sacred book.  And Evans does not pretend to be a Biblical scholar.  Rather, it is an invitation to rediscover the wonders of what Christians call the Old and New Testaments.  Evans is an intelligent and loving explorer of a territory she once thought was closed and has now found to be full of hope-filled, living inspiration.

Maybe you will fall in love with her, too.  Don’t worry, it is OK.  I’m pretty sure she is used to it.

Larry Burton