On Saturday, it was announced that Christian author Rachel Held Evans had passed away, leaving her thousands of friends and followers utterly devastated. Evans, a well-known leader in progressive faith circles, had experienced multiple seizures stemming from an allergic reaction and suffered brain swelling that was “not survivable.”
Having entered hospital in mid- April with a “flu + UTI combo,” Held Evans started experiencing concerning symptoms shortly after being administered antibiotics, and was quickly placed into an induced coma while doctors went about trying to figure out why she had become so sick.
As medics attempted to wean her off the coma medication, Rachel’s vitals dropped and, after every effort was made to save her, she died aged 37.
“This entire experience is surreal,” her husband, Dan, wrote in a tragic update on Rachel’s blog. “I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake.”
Condolences from across the Christian world
Held Evans grew up in a fundamentalist home located in the heart of the Bible belt, before shedding much of her conservative upbringing in favor of distinctly liberal theology. It was the masterful articulation of her beliefs that gained her a vast audience and, by all accounts, many people returned to the faith as a result of her huge body of work — just search #becauseofRHE on Twitter and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
She was, however, controversial and unafraid to enter tussles with conservative theologians who often firmly believed she was wildly off the mark, and vice versa. That’s why it is so encouraging to see men and women from right across the broad spectrum of the Christian faith paying the heartfelt tributes to this uniquely talented writer, wife and mother.
“I am shocked and broken-hearted to hear of the death of Rachel Held Evans,” tweeted ERLC President Russell Moore, a man who would vehemently disagree with many of Held Evans’ theological assertions.
“Please stop right now and pray for this young family,” he added.
Moore told the New York Times that he “was on the other side of her Twitter indignation many times,” but that he “respected her because she was never a phony.”
“Even in her dissent, she made all of us think, and helped those of us who are theological conservatives to be better because of the way she would challenge us,” he noted.
Held Evans’ close friend and fellow author, Sarah Bessey, has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help her husband and two young children at this devastating time. So far, just under $200,000 has been raised.
Do continue to pray for Rachel’s family at this heartbreaking time.