On The Death of Rachel Held Evans

What makes the death of someone a true tragedy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Much of the evangelical world was surprised this weekend when it was announced that young writer Rachel Held Evans had died. Now I have never been fan of hers. I think much of her work was very damaging to Christianity and in some cases mocking. My first awareness of her came when she was clinging on to her faith because of Chick-Fil-A Day.

Yet in all fairness, there was an easy way I could have empathy when I heard that she had died. Regardless of what I think of her, she had a husband and two kids. Let’s always keep that in mind. As a husband, I find it horrid to think that I would never share a meal with my wife again, get a smile from her again, spend an evening watching Netflix with her, go on a drive holding hands, pray and worship together, go to sleep together, and of course, have sex with my wife ever again. When I heard a story a year or so ago about two criminals who escaped and killed some police officers, I found myself grieving for the family immediately.

Again, it doesn’t matter what you think of her as a person or of her theology. We can all realize her husband is going through a hard time. My wife and I did pray for her family that night.

Not only her husband but her children. They have to grow up without their biological mother now. That will always be hurtful. Many of us remember as children the first time we were really introduced to death. For me, it was a favorite Sunday School teacher who died suddenly while I was in 7th grade. It would be horrible to think your first experience of death was at a young age and was your own mother.

So you can view someone as an intellectual opponent and still see their death as a tragedy. Death for anyone should be to some extent. Whatever their position was at death with God, they are in some sense locked into that one. There is no repentance beyond the grave.

Years ago when Saddam Hussein was in power, someone told me in a chat that his sons had been found and killed. Wasn’t this good news? It was good news that their evil would no longer plague innocent people on Earth. It was sad because it meant two people passed into eternity without Jesus. That should always make us sad.

So was Evans a Christian or a heretic? I understand the positions of those who say she denied Christianity. I haven’t read all of her writings so I can’t say, but I understand the concern. The good news for me is that I don’t have to make that judgment. That’s God’s judgment. The thing I have to worry about is what about me and my household. Am I serving God as I should? Am I encouraging my wife to serve God as she should be my example?

Something else noteworthy is that Warren Wiersbe passed away this weekend as well. He was nearly 90 years old and wrote several commentaries to help people be living the Christian life. While I wasn’t a massive fan of his, I find it interesting that hardly anyone is saying anything about him whatsoever.

Some are saying it’s too soon to be speaking about if Evans was a heretic or not. I understand both sides. Some people are grieving a loss. Some people are really concerned about the health of the church. I would say if you think she is outside of Christianity, speak it but speak it with sorrow and sadness. Try to emphasize the teaching and not make it about the death of the person.

When someone who is definitely an unbeliever dies, we should take no joy of them being apart from God. None whatsoever. It should be seen as a tragedy. It is also a tragedy when a believer dies, but not for them, but for those of us who are left behind. At the funeral, we don’t really grieve for them as much as we grieve for ourselves.

So in conclusion, my final advice overall is first to pray for the family and realize there is a real husband with real kids left behind. Second, be diligent about your own faithfulness to Christ. Finally, take time to celebrate the loved ones you have in your life today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: God’s Design For Man And Woman

What do I think of this book by the Kostenbergers? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I wish to thank Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger first off for sending me a copy of this book for review purposes. Ever since my marriage, I have been interested in reading material that can help me improve in that area. The book certainly starts off with a gripper. Andreas talks about coming home from being overseas and going through his old home and realizing his Dad’s things were gone. It hits him then. His parents were no longer together. His Dad had moved out.

That is a good motivator to make sure you get marriage right. No one wants to have that.

Now let’s be clear about something at the start. While this book is directly applicable to those of us who are married, the Kostenbergers have plenty to say for singles and it’s not just about how to get a mate. When they go through the Bible, they point out people who served God faithfully and who yet were never married. This includes men and women both.

They definitely go through the Bible as well! They start with Genesis and then give a look all the way through the Bible to see how the relationships between men and women are described. They note that the consistent position throughout the Bible is that in the family, the man is to lead and that this would apply to church and government as well. This does not mean women play no role whatsoever of course, but that the main position has been given to the men.

It’s towards the end that they say how this all works out and this is one area I would have liked some more expanding on. For instance, let’s go with the house rules of Ephesians 5 and the Kostenbergers argue for male leadership here. That means that a husband is to love his wife definitely as Christ loved the Church, and a wife is to submit to and respect her husband.

Okay. How does that work?

Because we know too often that there has been the abusive husband who has used the submission passage like a whip. I am absolutely convinced the Kostenbergers want nothing to do with that. There is never a place for a husband to abuse his wife. Yet knowing the misuse of the passage does not tell us the proper use. How would they recommend this be lived out? I would like to have seen more on this.

I was also surprised there was not much said about the sexual relationship between the two persons in marriage. How should they approach this? In light of Biblical submission, this is a topic that is important too. We wouldn’t want to say a husband has a right to sex on demand of course, but then there is the passage in 1 Cor. 7 about not denying your bodies to one another. Perhaps the Kostenbergers have written on this more elsewhere. If so, I would like to get to see it.

I also found the appendices to be quite helpful. The history of feminism was fascinating and it’s certainly led to where we are today. I had no problem seeing them go after Rachel Held Evans either for her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which I also found to be severely lacking. The Kostenbergers explain the hermeneutical mistakes that Evans makes quite well.

To which, it’s great to see a section on hermeneutics as well. They make it clear that this is not a science per se, but rather a methodology. After all, we may not reach 100% certainty on what a text means, but we can reach a case of high likelihood of what it means. It is not to be seen as an all-or-nothing game.

If you’re someone who disagrees with their view on male headship, you will find your position is treated fairly as well. The Kostenbergers are gentle on those who disagree with them. The book is highly approachable and you do not need to be specifically trained in Biblical studies in order to get a lot out of it. In fact, getting this book could be a great beginning to Biblical studies.

Those interested in male/female relationships and what it means to be a man or woman should get this book and learn it well.

In Christ,

Nick Peters