Reflecting on Rachel: Why She Mattered

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Watching the reaction to RHE’s death has reminded me that we need to be a safe place for people who wander, and for people who wonder.

Yesterday, Beth Moore tweeted:

Thinking what it was about @rachelheldevans that could cause many on other sides of issues to take their hats off to her in her death. People are run rife with grief for her babies, yes. But also I think part of it is that, in an era of gross hypocrisy, she was alarmingly honest.

I noticed the same thing—people everywhere, from multiple streams of thought and faith, were expressing personal grief and often showing her honor.

Like many others, I am praying for Dan and her small children. But, I’m also reflecting a bit on her influence and our interactions.

Rachel Held Evans mattered in many ways to many people, of course, but I think she also mattered to evangelicals and evangelicalism, and it’s worth some time to reflect on those realities.

Influence

Rachel trended on Twitter for a long time the last few days. It started with #PrayforRHE and then shifted to #BecauseofRHE. The comments were often moving, often from people hurt by the church—particularly evangelical churches.

For many, Rachel Held Evans was a trailblazer. To them, she served as a model of what it means to question seriously what one believes when they need to and to take the time to discover the answers, no matter how long that may take.

She was a hero to many— a woman of valor.

She held the baton high for important issues the church and culture are wrestling with today—issues of gender, race, even socio-economic status—and encouraged many to wrestle with doubts, fears, and inequalities. And she pushed those of us who thought differently, encouraging us to wrestle with our assertions.

We’d do well to ask why she mattered to so many—and I will address that in a bit. But, let me first …

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