Archive for the ‘Rachel Held Evans’ Category

Reading Like an Egalitarian

March 25, 2014

Owen Strachan wrote: “The curse bore down upon Eve’s primary activity, childbearing, showing that her intended sphere of labor and dominion-taking was the home (Genesis 3:16).”

Rachel Held Evans responded: “Classic. Root feminine identity in the curse rather than the redemptive work of Christ… .”

I’d call Evans’ response unfair, if I thought she was smart enough to figure out what Strachan actually meant.

Strachan’s point was simple: each was being cursed in his respective sphere. The curse identifies the spheres, it doesn’t define them. Women were made for childbearing before the curse, but the curse made that a burden to them. And keeping in mind Christ’s redemptive work, the Apostle writes: “she shall be saved in childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15). Female identity is rooted in creation not merely the curse.

The Teacher tells us: “he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7-9)

Furthermore, in that state of innocence in the garden, the woman – not the man – was deceived. The Apostle again, now in fuller context:

1 Timothy 2:11-15
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The curse is not what led to women being responsible for childbearing. The curse is what made childbearing laborious and painful. And redemption doesn’t free women from maternal responsibility, it urges them on to it!

Titus 2:1-6
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

What Rachel Held Evans has a problem with is God the Father’s creation ordinance of human patriarchy. I’m not sure whether she has the ability to read clearly, so I’m loathe to say that she intentionally misrepresents the Bible. Nevertheless, her unwelcome and illogical teachings do not conform to Scripture.


August/September of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 28, 2013

The following is part seven of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


A month of Silence, in which Rachel critiques the Apostle Paul (and of course, by implication, the Holy Spirit) for two passages: 1 Timothy 2:11-12, verses saying that a woman should learn in quietness and submission and not teach and/or assume authority over a man; and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, verses that say the same thing, adding that women who have questions should ask their husbands at home, because women shouldn’t speak in the church.

It seems that Ms. Evans understands the importance of context in Biblical interpretation, for she mentioned it in a previous chapter, so it is surprising that she does not deal with the verses 13 and 14 in 1 Timothy 2 which follow the first set of verses she cites. Here the Apostle Paul gives the reason for the teaching: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.” So here we have two separate reasons: the order of creation and aptitude for deception displayed at the Fall. One conservative commentator suggests that since the woman was deceived into sin, she was less culpable than Adam who went into transgression with his eyes wide open. Whatever you think of this comment, it is indisputable that the reason God gives for women to not be teachers and authorities in churches is based on two historical incidents: the Creation and the Fall.

Evans views New Testament epistles as “letters, broken pieces of correspondence between early Christians, dating back thousands of years,” clearly once again impugning the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy. This is really the key to her errors. There are differences among believers about a number of things such as forms of church government, mode and type of baptism, worship song, etc. This is undeniable, and in this life in which we see “in a glass darkly” it is hardly avoidable. Yet these differences can be accepted graciously if those who hold to the different views share a view of Scripture that acknowledges it as infallible and inerrant. But when Scripture is no longer believed to be God-breathed and therefore without error, one’s conclusions become suspect. One may arrive at “conservative” conclusions even with unsound, liberal assumptions (an accusation sometimes leveled against scholar-theologian F.F. Bruce). Nevertheless, a high view of Scripture is warranted by Scripture itself!

One of what Evans calls “the embarrassing bits” of the Bible is Titus 1:12 which she quotes as saying, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This (partial) quotation is followed by a few not very funny, sarcastic remarks; however, she once again neglected her own rule about context– she left out the beginning of the sentence, “One of them, a prophet of their own, said…” Kathy Keller did a good job reviewing the book on the Gospel Coalition website [FN1], making mention of Evans’ glaring omission.

And when Rachel says she never once heard a sermon preached on this passage, may we not conclude that she just ought to get out more or go to better churches? Surely is easy enough to use.

She constructs a straw man argument next by saying, “we dishonor the original intent and purpose of the Epistles when we assume they were written in a vacuum for the purpose of filling our calendars and bumper stickers.” No doubt people use them that way, but who would assume they were written with such an intent and in a vacuum? For a few much more cogent comments about placarding Bible verses without context, please see Rosaria Butterfield’s Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, pp. 66-67, a book which takes the Bible’s inerrancy and inspiration quite seriously.

The next part of the book gets really interesting. I’d love to know who originated the story, but here are the key elements of the plot:

churches of Ephesus and Corinth attracted a lot of women, particularly widows…of particular concern to Paul was a group of young widows who had infiltrated the church and developed a reputation for dressing promiscuously, sleeping around, gossiping, spreading unorthodox ideas, interrupting church services with questions, mooching off the church’s widow fund and generally making common floozies of themselves (1 Timothy 5)

I am not making this up; it’s on page 261. This is how she, quoting Scott McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet, reconciles that some women could prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:4) and others were to keep silent. She concludes, “Obviously Paul didn’t have a problem with women teaching in general” because of Priscilla and Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Did Priscilla teach in the church? Did Timothy’s mother and grandmother teach in the church? Did women who prophesied (in fulfillment of Joel 2:28) teach? Or did they utter what the Holy Spirit gave them by inspiration? These are important questions Ms. Evans leaves unanswered.

The latter part of the chapter covers her visits to 1) a Benedictine monastery in Alabama; and 2) a Quaker Meeting in West Knoxville, Tennessee. Nothing of much interest happened, except she learned that wearing heels in a monastery is distracting so she switched to flats for the Quaker meeting. An important lesson, should any ladies reading this decide to make such visits themselves.


The keynote for the last month of Rachel’s Biblical Year is “Grace” and the key verse is “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.” What follows is her comical foray into finding a shofar (ram’s horn), learning to sound it, and then proceeding to keep the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), which included baking challah and less traditionally, making a New Year’s Resolution List. In the coming year she would: try a new recipe a week, eat more ethically (seriously!), embrace the prospect of motherhood, identify and praise women of valor, nurture the contemplative impulse, make room for ritual and remembrance, champion women leaders in the Church, partner with World Vision to work for the women’s empowerment and education worldwide, and honor Dan (her husband).

She also had a Tashlich ceremony, dating back, she says, to the Middle Ages, in which “the sins of the repentant are ceremonially cast into the currents of God’s grace.” She ties her conclusion to her introduction: 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 commended long hair for women; Rachel had let hers grow for 368 days. Time for a haircut; and so the Year of Biblical Womanhood concludes in a hydraulic chair in a hair salon.

This book is entertaining, at times flippant, and without a doubt, highly marketable. It also fails to revere the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God. In her conclusion she reiterates the culturally conditioned character of the Bible. However, Rachel says she’s not finished with the Bible, and let’s hope the future brings her a blessing from God’s Word.


FN1: Editorial note: link is provided for information, not endorsement of everything the Kellers teach.


(This is a guest post.)


June/July of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 27, 2013

The following is part six of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


We feel that we’ve gotten to the crux of the matter this month with a topic of “Submission.” Early on Evans suggests that passages on this topic in both Peter’s and Paul’s writings (1 Peter 3:1-2, and Colossians 3:18 and Ephesians 5:22-23) are in fact not normative and that conservative evangelicals are wrong to assume so. Again, this is another slam on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. Narratives do not necessarily describe normative behavior, but certainly exhortations and commands do. The way out of this conundrum for Ms. Evans is to suggest — like liberal commentators before her — that these passages on wifely submission are either preceded by or followed by instructions on slaves submitting to their masters, and, as she says, “the implications are astounding.”

Again she draws a wrong conclusion: that anyone who believes in wifely submission therefore must also agree with slavery, and slavery of a first-century type. These verses, she tells us, are just the Christian spin on Greco-Roman household codes which gave men unilateral authority over wives, slaves and children. Perhaps without realizing it here she denies the Holy Spirit-inspired character of the Word of God. She then goes on to quote verses that talk about living as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves (1 Peter 2:16) and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) and calls these words “subversive” ones, lying “beneath the seemingly acquiescent text” as if the Bible carries with it a hidden code. This is just nonsense. According to Timothy G. Gombis of Cedarville University (link):

After his harsh critique of pagan culture throughout the present section of the letter, it is hardly credible to claim that Paul is attempting to find common ground between Christian communities and the surrounding culture. Far from minimizing the differences between what he calls the Old Humanity (Ephesians 4:22) and the New Humanity (Ephesians 2:15; 4:24), Paul is stressing the absolute incompatibility of the two spheres.

His entire article, published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society makes worthwhile reading.

Next, if Ms. Evans’ quotations are correct, I agree with her that Raymond Ortlund and John Piper in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, seem to do a bit of stretching Scripture to arrive at their conclusions. Piper talks about the impropriety of female city planners or female officials at sporting events, a venture into left field in my opinion [Fn1]. The Bible is clear enough with what it says, without speculating where it is silent.

Another of Evans’ targets is Debi Pearl and her book, Created to be His Helpmeet. Even if Debi Pearl represents an extreme (as she is presented), that doesn’t mean that we have to agree with Rachel Evans. There’s good stuff outside of the two.


“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) God’s justice is an attribute that He expects His followers to personally appropriate. Clearly justice is required by our Lord: justice in witness bearing, in commerce, and in personal relationships. This chapter of Evans’ book is devoted to this concept. With that there is no problem. But note the following: after citing several Old Testament passages, she begins to talk about Jesus who is “committed…to these central Jewish teachings…” as if Jesus Himself is not God, the Word of God incarnate! She paints Him as a Jewish rabbi of the first century who continues the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, rather — I suppose — the way the Islamic religion pictures Him.[FN2]

She indicts a shallow evangelicalism, one which will even listen to unbelievers, even cultists, to tell them what to do religiously: she refers to Glenn Beck (Mormon) telling Christians to leave churches that advocate social justice. This is bizarre. Never having read or listened to Glenn Beck I can only take her word for it and shake my head in amazement. I think Christians may be spending more time with talk radio than the Bible. This is a shame — even if the “social justice” churches are bad, the reason for leaving them has to be Scripture, not Political Activists.

But a little religious history may be in order. Early in the 20th century the liberal churches became centers that did barely anything but advocate social agendas. The Gospel was nearly gone from their churches. The words were the same but the meanings were different. They saw no need for redemption, for propitiation, for substitution for they were not in touch with the concept and reality of sin against a holy God. For further reading, The Presbyterian Controversy by Bradley J. Longfield is recommended (link to Amazon).

Churches and Christians that are true to the Bible need not fear to advocate social justice, properly defined [FN3]. In fact, most conservative churches I know of do just that. They are on the frontlines speaking for the unborn, the most helpless segment of our society, seeking to save those lives. Francis Schaeffer laid the groundwork for a resurgence of Biblical action with A Christian Manifesto (Amazon link). Many have heeded his call. He asserted that Christianity is not conservative; it is revolutionary. Speaking of two camps, the New Left and the Establishment elite, he suggested that at times we will be “co-belligerents” with one or the other, but not true allies with either of them. Schaeffer spoke of “a growing Establishment totalitarianism” and warned that “evangelicals will slide without thought into accepting the Establishment elite.” If this generation does not know Schaeffer, it needs to get in touch with his writings.

The Biblical woman for the month of July is “Junia, the Apostle” whom Rachel calls “perhaps the most silenced woman in the Bible.” Following Scott McKnight of The Blue Parakeet fame, she trashes the idea that “of note among the apostles” means “well known among the apostles.” She repeats McKnight’s argument that Junia (female) was changed to Junias (male) because the copyist deemed it unacceptable for a woman to be an apostle! But James R. White notes:

How does McKnight know the intentions and beliefs of ancient scribes? While it is common enough for modern textual scholars to engage in time-traveling mind-reading today, neither McKnight, nor anyone else, can tell us with any certainty what any particular unknown and unnamed scribe believed in the ancient world. In fact, both sources cited in McKnight’s notes indicate that the situation is significantly more complex and nuanced than his discussion indicates. The reality is that nobody changed any spelling at all. The difference between Junia and Junias is a matter of accenting, and the earliest manuscripts do not have accent marks. Hence, McKnight’s assertion that this text was changed “because women aren’t supposed to be ‘apostles’” evaporates on examination, as does much of his larger argument.

I don’t think there was any conspiracy to keep the apostles all male. After all, the word “apostle” can mean messenger, without any connotation of ordination. There are others in the New Testament called “apostles” yet were not numbered with the 12 (or thirteen), such as Silas, Apollos and Barnabas. Yet the solution may be just as White explains above—a matter of accent marks in the earliest manuscripts.


FN1: Editorial note — although the pun is excellent, T-Fan would generally concur with folks like Piper.

FN2: Editorial note — please bear in mind that “justice” is one thing and “social justice” is another thing.

FN3: Editorial note — i.e. not Marxism, or other hijacked meanings of the term, which are rampant today.

(This is a guest post.)


April/May of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 20, 2013

The following is part five of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


There is not a lot to say about this month and its topic of Purity. The author misses the point of the Old Testament ceremonial regulations found in the following passages: Leviticus 15:19, Exodus 13:6-10, and Exodus 12:17. She consults with an Orthodox Jewish woman who gives her the Jewish scoop on these things, but the point of these laws is missed because their typical nature is not seen. The antidote to this chapter is to read and study 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, as well as to thoroughly study the book of Hebrews. An excellent commentary to study on this subject is Andrew Bonar’s commentary on Leviticus (or click here for the free Google book version).


Fertility is the focus of this chapter and Evans’ take on topics like parenting, motherhood, large families, and babyhood comes into focus pretty clearly. First, Rachel reads a stack of parenting books, from William Sears and his view of attachment parenting to Ezzo’s oddly detached view of parenting in On Becoming Baby Wise. Strangely, Rachel does not come down on either side. For a woman who purports to value discernment of biblical things I was surprised that she did not do more research on the nature of the Ezzo’s teachings. “Baby Wise” has been associated with ill health in babies (by mainstream pediatrics) and divided at least one church. I would have liked to have seen some real interaction with the Ezzo movement.

Next, she describes the “Quiverfull lifestyle” and contrasts her poverty-stricken friend from a large family with the Duggar family, now with 19 children and doing very well financially and apparently in every other way. But the quote from Jim Bob Duggar, “People think we are overpopulating the world. We are just following our convictions” seems fair enough. It doesn’t sound like a plot to make every family embrace their ultimate fertility to me. Do some people like to impose their “lifestyle” on others? I can think of lots of people who do, but I know of nobody who has tried to impose the large family lifestyle on others. I think that the Quiverfull movement is wrong on several counts, but no one is forcing me to join it.

This is the month Rachel and Dan receive via UPS their vinyl “baby,” a creepy marketing toy/ploy intended to get people to pay money experience what it’s like to have a baby around the house before they take the leap and become pregnant. It makes for a lot of creepy jokes about “Chip” (aka “Chucky”) before he’s mailed back to the rental company.


(This is a guest post.)


February/March of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 14, 2013

The following is part four of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


Beauty is the topic of the month and here I think Rachel Evans makes some good points. She notes the odd, yet apparently not uncommon teaching of some evangelical pastors (among them Mark Driscoll) who seem to lay the blame for a husband’s fornication exclusively on the wife’s “letting herself go” (getting fat, etc.). Dr. Laura Schlesinger has said the same thing, so it’s not an exclusively Christian idea. Anecdotal evidence tells us that men stray from even the most amazing and beautiful wives in favor of less amazing and beautiful ones, e.g., Prince Charles’s wandering from Princess Diana for Camilla, a move which caused many men and women to scratch their heads in wonder. But Christians should know better than to blame the wife for the husband’s sin (or vice versa, for that matter). After all, James 1: 14-15 says,

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Men, women, and children are indeed responsible for their own sins which spring from their own sinful desires.[FN1] This is the clear teaching of Scripture and a Berean Christian, one who searches the Word of God to be sure that the teaching heard from preachers matches the teaching of the Bible, knows that.

Next, Ms. Evans talks about the foolishness of the “abstinence pledge” that she and countless others in evangelical churches have signed. According to her statistics, only 12% keep that promise. First of all, the whole idea of an abstinence pledge sounds a little odd—why just promise to abstain from sexual sin, but not lying, theft, etc. as well? In fact, when a person is converted, he is to confess Christ as Savior and Lord, i.e., King and Ruler of his life. He is not his own person, for he has been bought with a price, the price of Christ’s blood. So perhaps the answer to the 12% success rate is that churches contain many members or attenders who are not truly born again and therefore have not been radically transformed, or at least are not in the process of being radically transformed by the Word of God. A good read on this topic would be Finally Alive by John Piper (2009)(link to pdfother versions).

Another resource that provides good counsel in the area of sexual purity is a chapter in Kevin deYoung’s book, The Hole in Our Holiness, pp. 107-122 which talks about the Bible’s “radically different sexual ethic” than the world’s Here is godly advice. A book quoted by deYoung that sounds very promising is Sex, Dating and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay S. Thomas (2012).

Again, I agree with Ms. Evans’ statement that physical beauty is more an Old Testament thing than a New Testament one, a fact that has been noted by several traditional and conservative commentators.[FN2]

The woman of the month who gets several pages of coverage is Ruth the Moabitess. Here Evans takes a feminist view on the book of Ruth. No mention is made of Ruth calling Boaz “lord” which she does in 2:13, perhaps a mere slip on the part of Rachel. She claims that although Naomi advised Ruth that Boaz would “tell you what to do” (Ruth 3:2-4), in reality Ruth told Boaz what to do: she asked him to spread his cloak over her. But Boaz goes on and does tell Ruth what to do: “Stay here for the night and it shall be in the morning if [the kinsman-redeemer) will perform the part of a kinsman…” She refers to Naomi’s plan as “brazen” and mentions that “to uncover the feet” means to “uncover the genitals.”[FN3] A less dramatic understanding of the text might be to “lift up the clothes that are on,” which need not imply immodesty. Thus ends February.


March is for Modesty! The “To Do” list includes: dressing modestly, wearing a head covering, wearing only skirts and dresses—no slacks or jeans; abstaining from wearing jewelry; and hanging out with the Amish.

Ms. Evans admits to being discouraged at several points during this year, in curling up in a fetal position, but her complaints are met with her husband’s reminder that she undertook all this as a result of a contract she willingly signed with the publisher, so she has only herself to blame. So after bit of icy coldness between the Dan and her, or a few episodes of The Twilight Zone, she continues.

This chapter owes a lot to Orthodox Jewish scholars and Evans’s Orthodox Jewish advisor/friend, Ahava. This is a mistake because Orthodox Judaism misses the point of much of the Old Testament. If they did not, they would be orthodox Christians. Again, there is a failure on the part of the author to distinguish between the Old and New economy and the differences between the ceremonial, the civil, and the moral law of God.

It was interesting to read of a 1944 “Marylike Modesty Crusade” an effort “to codify Pope Pius XI’s instructions regarding immodest dress,” an effort I had never heard of (perhaps not so surprising since I am a Protestant).[FN4] But much of the chapter is devoted to the Amish and their peculiarities.

I think that Evans could really not find too much fault with the call of the Bible to modesty, especially because that call is interpreted in a different light by different women. This is not surprising. As each believer studies the Word of God, he must arrive at a decision on how to live. Whatever is not of faith is sin. If a woman wears a covering on her head in church we believe she does so out of a desire to please God.[FN5] The same goes for women who wear dresses and not slacks, or who abstain from drinking alcohol or who do not believe in dancing. It may be that the Bible allows for more freedom than a particular person thinks, but still here in this world we see through a glass darkly. Not all our decisions will line up perfectly with the perfect Word of God, but God sees our motivation. Thankfully, the ground of our salvation is not our adherence to a certain set of rules, yet we have been saved in order to live holy lives (Ephesians 1:4), and may God enable us all to do so more and more.


[FN1] Editor’s note: Indeed, a proper balance is necessary. Scripture teaches both that people have personal responsibility for sin and that people have responsibility for tempting others to sin (recall the harsh penalty for proselytizers for other gods in the law of Moses). Blaming everything on the tempter was the error of Adam and Eve and one that Christians should have the wisdom to avoid. Nevertheless, the tempter was also punished for tempting and Christians should avoid placing stumbling blocks before one another.

[FN2] Editor’s note: The hermeneutic we should apply is one of continuity. Notice carefully that 1 Peter 3:3-5 states: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands ….” Thus, while outward beauty is mentioned in the Old Testament (and while it is a good thing), the principle focus should be on inward spiritual beauty. The most obvious reference Peter is making is to the situation where, “when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed” (Esther 2:15).

[FN3] Editor’s note: While, of course, there may be some basis for suggesting that “uncover … feet” is an idiomatic euphemism, it might seem kinder to give Ruth and Naomi the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that literal feet are what are intended.

[FN4] Editor’s note: Interestingly, The 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1262, stated, “…women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.” The 1983 Code of Canon Law (which abrogated the 1917 Code) did not repromulgate this provision. Cardinal Burke states:

The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads, as was the practice at the time that the 1962 Missale Romanum was in force. It is not, however, a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.


[FN5] Editor’s note: And more particularly a desire to obey the rules set forth in 1 Corinthians 11.

(My apologies to the reader for so many editorial notes. Perhaps at a later date the editor should simply put forth his own article.)

(Recall, this is a guest post).


December/January of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 11, 2013

The following is part three of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


Rachel hit the ground running in this, her third month of the “Year of Biblical Womanhood,” referring to the Bible as “a collection of ancient texts that routinely describe women as property,” specifically referring to the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant…” Yet Rachel herself refers to Dan Evans, to whom she is married, as “my husband, Dan” and I don’t know how different that is from the language of the commandment. [FN1]

Again, to make her case against the Bible as a book that you would not want to live by, she cringes at the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, which were abrogated in the New, as well as the civil law of the Old Testament, which is no longer binding except so far as general equity requires. She shows a bit of arrogance in asserting that people who claim the Bible never troubles them can never “actually (have) read it.”

Ms. Evans takes Doug Philips of Vision Forum to task for his version of Biblical patriarchy because although he wants women to work in the home and doesn’t recommend girls go to college, nevertheless he does not recommend stoning adulterers. “Selective literalism,” she says.

She continues to fail to note distinctions in Scripture, between the old and new economy, between that which was fulfilled in Christ and enduring truths. She applauds Jesus in John 8:3-11 for (supposedly) breaking God’s laws Himself in the case of the woman taken in adultery [FN2]. She refers to Jesus’ doing this as a thing she alternately rebukes or praises—that of “selective literalism.” When it suits her cause, she likes it, when it does not she hurls accusations.

Also, this month she calls Dan her “Master,” much to his chagrin, but does so in an “I Dream of Jeanie” sort of way, which makes the enterprise more laughable and thus more marketable. And if you thought 1 Peter 3:5 & 6 was true, you need to listen to Rachel as qualifies Sarah’s obedience to her husband, by pointing out that Sarah encouraged Abraham to marry Hagar his slave.

Next she visits a “Christian” polygamous family and from this chapter you would think that this is no mere aberration but a regular feature of those who strive to live biblically. She tells us that polygamy was “common in biblical times” yet one very noted marriage and family scholar (and not a conservative one, either) will tell you that in Israelite culture, polygamy clearly was not common. (David R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage).

The month of December ends with a ceremony commemorating “the dark stories of biblical women” like Jephthah, Hagar, Tamar and so on, women who were “exploited, neglected, ravaged and crushed at the hand of patriarchy.” One would hope that she would glean from the sad stories of all people in Bible history that deliverance from sin was needed, and then thank God for deliverance and redemption found in Jesus Christ, but, no, the problem is not sin in general, but patriarchy in particular. Rid the world of that and we will be saved.

Finally, the “woman of the month” feature for December is, appropriately enough, Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Savior. Mary’s song, The Magnificat, was “bold and subversive,” she says, despite the fact that much of it reflects the teaching of the Psalms (Ms. Evans appears blissfully unaware of the song’s sourcing.) Ms. Evans seems to enjoy trying to shock her mostly Protestant readership by calling Mary “The Mother of God” and then clarifying what this means. Most of her jibes are only effective against a kind of shallow evangelicalism, which I suppose is a big enough target.


Now Rachel attempts to display “valor” for Proverbs 31:10 extols the “woman of valor.”[FN3] Although Rachel states that “most scholars seem to think that the best translation is “valorous woman” (instead of “an excellent wife”, “a worthy woman”, “a wife of noble character” and so on), she merely asserts this without any proof. Who are these majority of scholars? A “woman of valor” seems to be the translation most favored by Judaism, and in fact one of her advisers is an Orthodox Jewish woman, so this may be where Ms. Evans gleaned her information. There is no doubt that Bruce Waltke uses the term “woman of valor” but he is hardly “most scholars.” Yet that is a minor quibble.

Again, the author goes through another Amelia Bedelia routine, taking things literally by making a purple dress, a knitted red hat, and a pillow for her bed. She attempts to be an early riser who works hard until dark, avoids Facebook and Twitter so as not to “eat the bread of idleness” and strengthens her arms by—you guessed it, lifting weights. She decries the mini-empire of conferences, books and products which have sprung up about the Proverbs 31 woman, and we could join her in this if she did so for the clear consumerism of the whole thing, but her problem is that women out there are seeking to be like the Proverbs 31 woman, something that “most scholars” I imagine would endorse, even Bruce Waltke who says, “Wise daughters aspire to be like her, wise men seek to marry her, and all wise people aim to incarnate the wisdom she embodies, each in his own sphere of activity.”

She uses verse 30, “A woman who fears the LORD should be praised” as a prompt to “contemplative prayer” but it is unclear why, except that Jan Reiss, of Part Two of this trilogy did some contemplative praying. The climax of the month of valor actually took place halfway into February when she stood at the “Welcome to Dayton” sign with a small sign of her own making “DAN IS AWESOME,” thus praising Dan at the city gate, so to speak, and then she and Dan “laughed victoriously all the way home.”


FN1: Indeed, “her husband” is also found in the Authorized Version at Genesis 3:6 and 16:3, Numbers 5:13, 27, and 29, 30:7-8 and 10-14; Deuteronomy 21:13, and numerous other places. Whether or not the wife’s possessive interest in her husband is perfectly symmetrical to his in her is a separate point, but see – for one example – “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:4).

FN2: Ms. Evans does not appear to be aware that the text of the pericope of the Woman Taken in Adultery is not in the earliest manuscripts of John’s gospel.

FN3: It is surely unsurprising that Ms. Evans doesn’t consider the exegesis of Proverbs 31 as referring to an anthropomorphic representation of Wisdom, one of the major characters of Proverbs.


The above is a guest post.


October/November of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 7, 2013

The following is part two of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans’s book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans’s order.


Ms. Evans is at her best when she describes tackling the dead Thanksgiving turkey, baking an atrocious apple pie, or taking her first etiquette lesson with a Southern protocol diva. This is her forte and she should stick to it. The beautiful ex-con Martha Stewart can be the butt of any number of jokes. (I’ve made a lot of them myself). These interludes keep the book moving. Without them this diary would be too short to publish as a book and too boring for anyone to bother reading. The feminist stuff has all been said before, and much more succinctly, if she doesn’t mind my saying so.

October was the month for Rachel to attain the gentle and quiet spirit the Apostle Peter talks about in 1 Peter 3:3-4. As she rightly points out, gentleness is something to which everyone should aspire. She says this as if most Christians have never heard of the list of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:23), but she doesn’t seem to like having gentleness and quietness pointed out to women in particular. Her description of the book of Proverbs as a collection of wisdom sayings that “gives us some of the most colorful quips, cracks, praises and poetry about women found in Scripture” again shows her low regard for Scripture. She tells us that while her book was in progress, her blog readers informed her that she was making a mockery of the Bible, but it is evident such criticism did not faze her. She appears not to care that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible — either that or she feels qualified to take Him to task for what He wrote.

It was good to note her self-description as “hyperbolically-inclined”. She’s absolutely right and her hyperbole shows all through the book. She overstates things all the time. (I am hyperbolic as well). She describes Deborah the judge as exercising “complete religious, political, judicial, and militaristic authority over the people of Israel.” If that’s not over the top I don’t know what is.

She says that the book of Proverbs shows a “preoccupation with the feminine” (you be the judge of that) and attributes this to Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines. But she can’t blame the wives and concubines for Proverbs 31 which King Lemuel’s mother taught him. Yet she takes issue with his mother’s teaching (and that of the Holy Spirit) as well. With Ms. Evans, a Biblical writer just can’t win.

In order to hone her gentle spirit skills Rachel Evans decided to make a “Jar of Contention” to hold a cent for every infraction in this area. While a little self-imposed operant conditioning never hurt anybody, it didn’t really appear to help her. She quotes a Bible verse from Proverbs as her justification to roof-sit, as if that is a “biblical” idea. Technically, if she wanted to be literal, her husband should have been the roof-sitter. She knows that the language in that verse is figurative, but she can’t help but take it literally. Her decision to go sit on the roof for a while to do penance for her many infractions didn’t do much for her soul, but it did provide a good cover picture for her book. Remember, publishers will pay for this kind of stuff if it’s marketable.

Her next venture is her etiquette lesson, which provides a few more laughs. I was disappointed not to find any pictures of Rachel in a pig costume with a gold ring in her snout. Instead all I got was a picture of the domestic diva’s beautiful dining room. (So much for literalism).

Rachel still needed a calm spirit and turned to a bout of contemplative prayer. (As did Mormon Jan Riess in what I refer to as Chapter Two of this “trilogy.” It’s a small world). With some help from Lectio Divina and St. Teresa of Avila she makes a little headway.


It seems like Rachel really enjoyed the Martha Stewart approach to cooking and housekeeping. In addition to her good looks and ambition, Martha has the savvy to know that nobody really wants to live in squalor (as Rachel’s mother put it) and eat crummy food. And I note that most of Martha’s TV audience is female, no matter what Rachel thinks about feminism. With Martha Stewart’s cooking course Thanksgiving was a success, as was the dinner cooked for the Falzone family. High fives all around.

Ms. Evans felt more in control after reading Brother Lawrence’s classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, which led to thoughts about the other Martha (not Stewart). Rachel didn’t like the Precious Moments NKJV she had as a young girl, because it made the sisters into cartoon characters. (What’s worse, it probably did the same with Jesus, although I’ve never seen a Precious Moments Bible so I can’t be sure). Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, felt that Mary did not fit the mold. Rachel adds that neither did Jesus who healed an invalid on the Sabbath, nor did Rachel’s friend, Jackie, who became the first woman to preach a sermon from the pulpit of a megachurch in Dallas. If you like Mary the sister of Lazarus, you’ll love Jackie the preacher. Do I note a non sequitur here?

Each of the chapters of the book ends with a three or four page feature of a female Bible character. November’s feature is “Tamar, The Trickster.” As noted in the Introduction to this book review, Ms. Evans operates under the naturalistic fallacy: what “is” means what “ought” to be. So, the story of Tamar is summed up by the author suggesting that “Tamar joins a storied troupe of crafty and courageous biblical women who used trickery, sexuality, and manipulation to work the patriarchal system to which they were born and to survive to change the course of Israel’s history.” And “God prefers chutzpah to status.”


This is a guest post, edited by TurretinFan.

Introduction to Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

February 6, 2013

The following is part one of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review).

This book may be seen as the third chapter of a publishing trilogy attacking the authority of Scripture. Viewed in this light, Part One is The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (2008) by Dr. Scott McKnight, and Part Two, Jan Reiss’s Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor (2011)[Fn1]. In fact, whether she admits it or not (although she does have a chapter of acknowledgements, she does not mention these books, although her acknowledgements do include thanks to “teachers” among whom is Scott McKnight), Ms. Evans owes a lot to each of these books. Though Reiss is a Mormon and Evans is a self-styled evangelical, the similarity in the book titles is remarkable. Evans’s whole bizarre one year experiment inescapably echoes Reiss’s. Then, although Evans only quotes Scott McKnight in her eleventh chapter entitled, “August”, in reality the thesis of her entire book appears to be an outgrowth of McKnight’s suggestion that we try to put ourselves back into the world of the Bible and try to literally do all it commands. Even the covers of McKnight’s and Evans’s books are similar: both have bright yellow backgrounds, McKnight’s features a blue parakeet perched atop a pair of binoculars, and Evans’s features, well, Evans perched atop the roof of a house. These books, then, provide the steady drip, drip of anti-Biblical authoritarianism, for if the Bible does not provide authority, then these authors offer the reader some of their own: the Bible is not what it claims to be and it is only your blinkered eyes that makes you think it is–take it from us.[Fn2]


Evans’s pet peeve is the use of the word “biblical” as an adjective preceding “other loaded words, like economics, sexuality, politics, and marriage” [p. xx] (Why she calls these kinds of nouns “loaded” is an unanswered question). She wants to make doubly, triply and quadruply sure that we never, ever presume to use the word “biblical” selectively, since the Bible mentions many things that Evans finds patently “unbiblical.” You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, so you can’t believe that a woman should be silent in the church unless you also believe that woman can be one of multiple wives, as if the latter were a command of God. In fact, overall the book suffers from a common logical problem, that of the naturalistic fallacy: arguing from an “is” to an “ought.” For example, if Solomon had multiple wives and concubines, and God used him, then God approved of those wives and concubines, which is a lot like saying that God approved of Noah’s drunkenness because the Bible never condemns it and Noah is listed in Hebrews 11 as a person of faith.

Evans honestly admits that her experiment was supported by her publishers—“there are publisher out there who will actually pay for” this sort of thing, as long “as they believe it’s marketable”. She calls her year one of “true biblical womanhood.” [italics hers] Who is throwing around the adjectives now?

The underlying assumption of the liberated Evans is that the Bible is “an ancient collection of sacred texts, spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own” (p. xx), and thus lacks authority. It is not the inerrant, infallible source of truth. Its author is someone other than God, and its message is not clear, but is mostly a cacophony of sounding brass, tinkling cymbals, with a shofar horn thrown in for good measure. There’s no unity, no real message, no sound hermeneutic by which to interpret the book. Because she misses the overarching theme of the Bible, the redemption of man through the death of Christ, she fails to interpret Scripture by Scripture. Evans admits to “isolating every verse” about women of every sort–a sure path to misinterpretation.

In order to spice up her chronicle she chooses to observe ceremonial laws which are no part of Christianity, such as observing laws of female purity from the Levitical code which are clearly abrogated in the New Testament. She relies on an orthodox Jewish woman to assist her in her observance of various Jewish festivals which have no part in the Christian faith, and throws in an invented “Jar of Contention” (more on that later).

Sadly, the whole book mocks the holy Bible. When the third commandment forbids taking the name of the Lord in vain, it includes his “titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works” as the Westminster Shorter Catechism points out. When the Bible is referred to as less than God’s message to us, as less than inspired and inerrant, as “someone else’s conversation” we see Evans taking God’s name in vain.


FN1: We must not forget, of course, A.J. Jacobs’ best-selling, “Year of Living Biblically.” But Jacobs was clearly an open unbeliever primarily focused on getting a laugh. He explains:

Why? Well, I grew up in a very secular home (I’m officially Jewish but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant). I’d always assumed religion would just wither away and we’d live in a neo-Enlightenment world. I was, of course, spectacularly wrong. So was I missing something essential to being a human? Or was half the world deluded?

I decided to dive in headfirst. To try to experience the Bible myself and find out what’s good in it, and what’s maybe not so relevant to the 21st century.

The resulting year was fascinating, entertaining and informative. It was equal parts irreverent and reverent. It was filled with surprising insights almost every day. (I know it’s not biblical to boast, so apologies for that).


FN2: On a related note, consider the reviews of The Blue Parakeet by Dr. James White (link) and Dr. Thomas Schreiner (link).


This is a guest post, edited by TurretinFan.

A Woman’s Response to Rachel Held Evans’ "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" – Index

February 6, 2013

Obviously, my dear readers know perfectly well that I’m not a woman. Nevertheless, a woman who will remain anonymous (at least, that’s the plan) to my dear readers kindly volunteered to write a response to Rachel Held Evans’ “A Year in Biblical Womanhood.” I edited this response and posted it to this blog in installments. The following serves as an index to those responses.

Introduction Section


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