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Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  256 ratings  ·  54 reviews
An inside look at the young, diverse, progressive Christians who are transforming the evangelical movement

Deborah Jian Lee left the evangelical world because she was frustrated by its conservative politics. But over the years she stayed close to those in the movement, and she has come to realize that evangelical culture and politics are changing, and changing fast. Friends
Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Beacon Press (first published November 10th 2015)
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John Weldy
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read for every cisgender white male Christian

As a cisgender white male Christian, this book opened my eyes in many ways. As I have left Evangelicalism, I have only begun to scratch the surface of the damage I have participated in. We need to acknowledge that there is such a thing as systemic sin, and need to work toward reconciliation.

Thank you, Deborah Jian Lee, for your faithful retailing of all these stories that we all need to hear. Thank you for opening our eyes.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: An account of how three marginalized groups within American evangelicalism are finding increasing acceptance, and the struggles they have faced along the way.

Deborah Jian Lee writes as a journalist who has been on the inside of much of what she is covering. Raised in an Asian American family, she came to an evangelical Christian faith as a teenager, became involved as a participant and leader of a collegiate fellowship during her college years, experiencing painful encounters around
I will add a quotation when this book is published in November.

My family has roots in mainline Christianity. However, my two brothers and sister all moved away from Lutheranism and two of them ended up in more non-denominational, fundamentalist churches. I have never quite figured out why this happened. So books about that part of Christianity have fascinated me. I don’t want to be an evangelical fundamentalist, but I want to understand them.

In this book, Lee is not writing about most
Kat Coffin
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly illuminating and inspiring look at the history of Evangelicalism, social justice, and how we're to move forward with both. I no longer identify as an Evangelical, but boy, did this book light a fire in my bones and remind me why I'm still a Christian and how I want to live my life. Lee is methodical and thorough, she divides her book into three sections exploring racism and the Evangelical church, women and the Evangelical church, and LGBTQ Christians and the Evangelical church. ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredible, there were sections of this book that encouraged me as a woman of faith, but there were also sections that challenged me as a white woman to ensure that my practice of faith and feminism is inclusive to all people, not just other white women. I encourage anyone who considers themselves an evangelical (also those who don't consider themselves an evangelical because of the connotation it often comes along with) to read this and think deeply about the institutions of ...more
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the stories in this book and it's a good combination of history, research and narrative based on interviews. However, I think the author struggles a bit with the book format and connecting the different pieces in a long narrative arc. I also was a bit troubled by the assumption that women, queers and POC were by definition progressive and that that lined up with Democratic politics. I wish there was more theology in the book and more unpacking of what it means to have the identity listed ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a generation, what it means to be a Christian in this country has been defined mainly by a small group of conservative evangelicals--but that is finally starting to change. This book is the story of that change, and it's fascinating, infuriating, moving (I cried), and inspiring. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how movements are built, how the political landscape in America is changing--or how a person's identity affects and is affected by their faith.
Cara Meredith
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot say enough good things about this book. A journalistic memoir, it's a fascinating read especially in light of this week's election.
Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
It's hard to explain why I didn't enjoy this book like I thought I would. It's a decent book. And I would probably have given it 2.5 or 3 stars except that I was so darn disappointed with it.

As a church worker, I'm always on the lookout for books like this one-- which seem to be proclaiming a way forward, a path toward unity. I want to find books I can give my liberal congregation members AND my conservative congregation members, so they can read together, talk together, and move forward
Joel Wentz
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at how much I loved reading this book. Deborah Lee blends, with a journalistic economy of language, deeply personal stories with well-researched historical summaries. The end result is a book that draws you in with powerful accounts of how individuals have been harmed by conservative American evangelical Christianity, and also educates you on how the history of the movement has shaped it to marginalize certain people groups. While a lot of the historical information won't be ...more
While the overall structure of the book left something to be desired, the personal narratives presented in this book are extremely instructive and insightful to what it means to be a minority in pre-Trump evangelicalism.

Not a book for the yet sceptical of all things social justice, I feel like this book is most useful for persons who are already onside for one or more of these progressive topics but are still not wholly convinced of all of them. Or if you're like me, someone who left
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Stereotyped as single subculture in American Christianity, Evangelicals show many faces. They are often characterized by their belief in four main tenets of the faith: the authority of the Bible, salvation through Jesus Christ, the importance of a personal relationship with God, and the imperative to share the Gospel. Upon this foundation different spiritual buildings were made. Looking at denominations and their policies, church order or official standpoints don't tell the whole story. Many ...more
Despite the off-putting title this was an interesting, enlightening read - that said, it feels like a "first book" and has some issues with structure/content.

The good:
- a historical look at the formation of the "Religious Right" as political voting bloc.
- an overview of present-day progressive evangelical groups and activism efforts.

The bad:
- meanders; rather than presenting each set of interviews in its own section (evangelical racial justice advocates, feminists, and LGBT advocates), the
Bryan D.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me, the key to this book is the verb tense in the title. By using the Present Progressive (or Present Continuous), the title indicates an on-going effort, not something that has been achieved. Certainly the efforts of those heroes in the book fighting against the homophobia, racism and misogyny in the evangelical church are waging an uphill battle, albeit one that may be won through attrition as the elder, straight, white men currently leading the evangelical church die off. In this report ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deborah Jian Lee is a journalist and a former Evangelical. As a college student, she struggled with the way her InterVarsity chapter failed to address the issues of race, gender, and sexuality. By the time she graduated from college, she graduated from Evangelicalism, moving theologically in a different direction. But Rescuing Jesus is not primarily her story but the story people of color, women and queer Christians reclaiming Evangelicalism and changing it from the inside. She weaves together ...more
J. Ewbank
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by Jian Lee shook up my thinking. It was not a pleasant read but one that should be read by Christians to help them understand issues that we may very well have not faced or thought deeply about. The question is, if all people are created by God, if all people are children of God, if all people are made in the image of God - these people (LGBTQ), which I could not have told you what the letters stood for before, are also created by God, are children of God, and are made in the image of ...more
Danni Green
I appreciated learning more about the political and cultural experiences of people from underprivileged groups and identities within evangelical Christianity. However, what I was really hoping for from this book was more theological and spiritual perspectives. I felt like the book mostly confirmed things that I already knew or suspected about what it’s like to be marginalized within evangelical Christianity, and it wasn’t clear to me who exactly was the intended audience of this book. I’m glad I ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-nonfiction
I would say this is required reading for all straight white Christians. As someone who has been hurt by evangelicalism, I can think of a few people who need to read this book. Whether or not they'll actually read it, absorb it, and actually change is debatable.

Some stories are hard to read, especially since many deal with racism, homophobia, misogyny, and victim blaming, but it's worth it.
Sunjay Hauntingston
Does a great job providing historical context alongside individual stories. Great piece of journalism. I learned a lot. Had a lot of feels as a QPOC who grew up Southern Baptist.
Tessa Elyse
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is incredibly moving. For Christians who are a part of marginalized groups, this book brings healing and hope for the future of Christianity. For individuals who have not been affected by the racism, sexism, and queerphobia that runs deep within the church, this book brings a startling and honest awakening. The author documents her personal interactions with faith alongside many stories from women, people of color, and queer individuals. The stories shared are both heartbreaking and ...more
Victoria Phelps
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, favorites
For me, this was a fairly healing book. I've been searching for a way to reckon my identity as a politically progressive individual with my past as a former Evangelical and member of the Religious Right.

Deborah Jian Lee follows three main stories, pulling from research and interviews to deepen our understanding of the bubbling progressive underground in the evangelical church. The format is easy-to-follow, stories are compelling, and the statistics appear to be from reliable sources. I was most
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not appreciate more the work that Deborah Jian Lee did in this book. As a Latinx Christian, I identify with the intersectionality of all of these issues - ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and faith. I love how she uses more than just textbook research. She pulls from her life experience and truly embeds herself in the subject matter she’s studying through relationship and action. From interviews with powerful people of color, to attending conferences for women’s rights, to passing ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn’t what I hoped it would be, I thought it would be more theological. As I move beyond the chains of evangelicalism, and try to figure out just where I stand theologically, I thought perhaps this book would help.

It did, but not in that way. Like the author, I’m ready to move beyond evangelical’s hold on what it means to be Christian, even as I’ve never considered myself evangelical. The stories of the people she interviewed for the book were compelling and heartening. I felt I had a
Annie Chen
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very well researched, super informative book--I learned a lot. Related to many parts of the personal stories as well. If you're interested in a primer on progressive movements in evangelicalism, learning about key players in these movements, and hearing personal stories, then check out this book. This isn't a book on queer/feminist/postcolonial/etc theology, nor does it talk too much about other denominations (save for their relation to evangelicalism), but I'd still recommend it to anyone for ...more
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
I've never considered myself Evangelical, but this book was a breath of hope for me after watching my own church vote against its LGBT+ members recently. It's been a hard two weeks since the United Methodist Church General Conference voted against its LGBT+ members, and this along with the pastors I grew up with always affirming love and openness to everyone made me feel a bit better.

I would strongly suggest this book for anyone who is white, male, straight, or cisgender. There are ways we can
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I read this book, I thought it would be circa-2015 wishful thinking, but after reading it, it seemed like a pretty well-researched account. This book follows the stories of several evangelicals who, for reasons of race, gender, or sexual orientation, did not feel like their experiences fully matched what they were told to believe. Rather than leave, they have decided to work to change beliefs and practices that had harmed them. The stories were engaging and thought-provoking. While I’m ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'...we have all been handed something that we call Christianity, or evangelicalism, that is very much a brand. The rules that people in charge set, we call that biblicalism'... by anointing Christian beliefs based on Western individualism as universal, orthodox theology while shelving beliefs that call for corporate responsibility..."

This was a good read. Not without it's flaws, but challenging in an excellent and informed way. As a (quite) liberal Christian, I often feel caught between two
Angela Armold
I read this as part of a book club just at the time that I was discovering and connecting with non-Evangelical Christians, especially those who identify as EXvangelical. At the time, I absolutely loved the book. It helped a ton with my understanding of a wider world, other viewpoints and interpretations of the Christian faith, and of how open and caring some people can be.

Even at the time, though, I though the writing was a bit heavy handed, not subtle, and predictable. I recommend the book,
Adam Simmons
I was assigned this book for a Religious Studies course, and it seemed promising. Upon finishing it, however, I was left disappointed. The style is sickly-sweet yet tediously journalistic, bloated with extraneous detail and relying invariably on trite parlance. It's a messy patchwork of diluted history, redundant stories, fastidious portrayals, and political minutiae. If Lee had trimmed the enormity of fat and added just a shade of depth, I might have found it more worthwhile.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up in the Christian church and felt many of the same sentiments Deborah did towards the church's treatment of POC, women, and the queer community. This book was fantastic. It helped explain my roots and justified my feelings of anger and resentment towards what I had been taught. It also provided hope. The book was so well written, it felt more like a discussion I'd have with a friend over coffee
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“Evangelicals on the defensive seem to have forgotten their history. They’ve lobbied to criminalize gay sex; they support the right of businesses to deny services to same-sex couples; they fight for exemptions from employment nondiscrimination policies; they uphold church policies that exclude LGBTQ members from communion, marriage, and the pulpit—all while perpetuating the grand myth of Christian persecution.” 1 likes
“They argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is a deeply held religious belief, and withdrawing support, whether it’s by declining to photograph a gay wedding or refusing to hire a married lesbian woman, is a rightful expression of their faith. But the logic doesn’t extend beyond the LGBTQ issue: evangelicals aren’t out pushing for the right to discriminate against divorced couples, unrepentant gossips, or gluttons, all people in blatant violation of Christian tenets.” 1 likes
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