A Year of Ridiculous Biblical Interpretation
Rachel Held Evans’s new book, published today by Thomas Nelson, is entitled A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master.”
It has received a warm welcome from the mainstream media (including an appearance on “The Today Show” last week).
Evangelicals, like Trillia Newbell, have been less than impressed. “In this book Evans is trying to build a bridge, but I wonder if it is not rather a comfortable bridge for shaky evangelicals to find their way into theological liberalism.” Even one secular-postmodern-feminist writer saw through the gimmicky nature of the project and judged that the whole thing ended up making a “mockery” of the Bible.
Today at the Gospel Coalition, Kathy Keller, wife of Tim Keller and a contributor to his book The Meaning of Marriage, offers a serious review, which also serves as something of an open letter to Rachel. (She explains the reason for the personal address when she writes, “Rachel, I tried twice to get in touch with you when you were in New York City on the talk shows but wasn’t able to connect. So here’s what I would have said if we could have gotten the chance to open that dialogue.”)
Some will conclude that Kathy is being too harsh with Rachel. But in reality, Kathy is being Rachel’s faithful friend (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Prov. 27:6a). I hope she will receive it as such.
I encourage you to read the whole thing. Here are some quotes:
- “you began your project by ignoring (actually, by pretending you did not know about) the most basic rules of hermeneutics and biblical interpretation that have been agreed upon for centuries.”
- “To insist that it would be ‘picking and choosing’ to preclude the Levitical code from your practice of biblical womanhood is disingenuous, if not outright deceptive.”
- “In making the decision to ignore the tectonic shift that occurred when Jesus came, you have led your readers not into a better understanding of biblical interpretation, but into a worse one.”
- “Throughout your book, you have ignored or even hidden from readers the fundamental principles of scriptural interpretation—including the difference between narrative and didactic, as well as the importance of placing commands in their context within redemptive history.”
- “So ‘love’ is the reason you will reject some parts of the Bible and embrace others? But where do you get your definition of love if not from the Bible itself? And if you say, ‘Parts of the Bible express love, and other parts express power interests,’ you’ve clearly gotten your standard and definition of love from outside the Bible—specifically, from contemporary sensibilities—and these are your ultimate authority and norm.”
- “You have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task.”