“This week’s episode with Rachel Held Evans is among her last podcast interviews, recorded 2 months before her untimely passing on May 4. We offer this episode in Rachel’s honor and as a testimony to her humour, insight, power, gentleness, and courage.”

Inspired: Slaying giants, walking on water, and loving the Bible again 

Against Authoritarianism

Listening to Pete Enns and Jared Byas in conversation with the late Rachel Held Evans reminds me of her tenacity in responding to the injustices perpetuated by the faith community that so influenced her upbringing. She had the courage to confront the misrepresentations of the scriptures that inspired her. She lived and practiced her art as a writer out of a desire to recognize more creative and life-affirming ways to interpret the ancient libraries of literature that we have inherited.

She had the courage to speak out against those who might distort language into a tool of authoritarian tyrants and oppressive empires, following in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth.

I don’t know if this goes back to wonky teachings about original sin, but we’re told that we can’t trust anything that we feel or think — we can’t even trust our conscience. We have to bend it all to scripture.

But what we’re bending it to is other people’s interpretations of scripture. It’s so unhelpful. It’s why people become so vulnerable to authoritarianism.

It is because they have been told, “You can’t trust your heart. You can’t trust your mind. You can’t trust your science degree. You can’t trust your instincts about anything. You just have to trust the Bible.” And by that, they usually mean, “Me. My interpretation. You have to trust me.” That’s what makes people vulnerable to that sort of exploitation…

(43:33)

Christian Fascism

When the institutional church abdicates its moral authority to authoritarians and Christian fascists, it becomes complicit in the oppression and violence of the very empires the ecclesia gathered to resist as a counter cultural movement.