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Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans
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“Dignified or not, believable or not, ours is a God perpetually on bended knee, doing everything it takes to convince stubborn and petulant children that they are seen and loved. It is no more beneath God to speak to us using poetry, proverb, letters, and legend than it is for a mother to read storybooks to her daughter at bedtime. This is who God is. This is what God does.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“A lot of people think the hardest part about religious doubt is feeling isolated from God. It’s not. At least in my experience, the hardest part about doubt is feeling isolated from your community.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“I'm in no rush to patch up these questions. God save me from the day when stories of violence, rape, and ethnic cleansing inspire within me anything other than revulsion. I don't want to become a person who is unbothered by these texts, and if Jesus is who he says he is, then I don't think he wants me to either. There are parts of the Bible that inspire, parts that perplex, and parts that leave you with an open wound. I'm still wrestling, and like Jacob, I will wrestle until I am blessed. God hasn't let go of me yet.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget—that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the center.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“There’s a great episode of The Office in which this strategy lands Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute in a lake during a sales trip, Michael shouting, “The machine knows!” as he follows the GPS instructions and drives his SUV off the road into the water. I’ve watched a lot of good people drive their lives, their families, their churches, their communities, even their countries into a lake, shouting, “The Bible knows!” all the way down.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Of course, the fact that a single biblical text can mean many things doesn’t mean it can mean anything. Slave traders justified the exploitation of black people by claiming the curse on Noah’s son Ham rendered all Africans subhuman. Many Puritans and pioneers appealed to the stories of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan to support attacks on indigenous populations. More recently, I’ve heard Christians shrug off sins committed by American politicians because King David assaulted women too. Anytime the Bible is used to justify the oppression and exploitation of others, we have strayed far from the God who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, “out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“We’ve been instructed to reject any trace of poetry, myth, hyperbole, or symbolism even when those literary forms are virtually shouting at us from the page via talking snakes and enchanted trees.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“I am a Christian,” I concluded, “because the story of Jesus is still the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“While Christians tend to turn to Scripture to end a conversation, Jews turn to Scripture to start a conversation.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Jesus did not simply die to save us from our sins; Jesus lived to save us from our sins. His life and teachings show us the way to liberation. But you can't fit all that on a bumper sticker. So we try to boil it down to a formula. Four steps. The "Romans Road." John 3:16. And yet the gospel itself, in its eternal scope and scandalous particularity, defies reduction.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The Psalms are, in a sense, God’s way of holding space for us. They invite us to rejoice, wrestle, cry, complain, offer thanks, and shout obscenities before our Maker without self-consciousness and without fear.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“I’ve often said that those who say having a childlike faith means not asking questions haven’t met too many children.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“What I love about the Bible is that the story isn't over. There are still prophets in our midst. There are still dragons and beasts. It might not look like it, but the Resistance is winning. The light is breaking through.
So listen to the weirdos. Listen to the voices crying from the wilderness. They are pointing us to a new King and a better kingdom.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The kingdom, Jesus taught, is right here--present yet hidden, immanent yet transcendent. It is at hand--among us and beyond us, now and not-yet. The kingdom of heaven, he said, belongs to the poor, the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, and those who hunger and thirst for God. It advances not through power and might, but through missions of mercy, kindness, and humility. In this kingdom, many who are last will be first and many who are first will be last. The rich don't usually get it, Jesus said, but children always do. This is a kingdom whose savior arrives not on a warhorse, but a donkey, not through triumph and conquest, but through death and resurrection. This kingdom is the only kingdom that will last.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“I like how Dallas Willard put it: “We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it,” he said, “or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“How could I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength while disengaging those very faculties every time I read the Bible?”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The truth is, you can bend Scripture to say just about anything you want it to say. You can bend it until it breaks. For those who count the Bible as sacred, interpretation is not a matter of whether to pick and choose, but how to pick and choose. We’re all selective. We all wrestle with how to interpret and apply the Bible to our lives. We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: are we reading with the prejudice of love, with Christ as our model, or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed? Are we seeking to enslave or liberate, burden or set free?”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Bible stories don’t have to mean just one thing. Despite what you may have heard from a pastor or Sunday school teacher along the way, faithful engagement with Scripture isn’t about uncovering a singular, moralistic point to every text and then sticking to it. Rather, the very nature of the biblical text invites us to consider the possibilities.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“The point is, if you pay attention to the women, a more complex history of Israel's conquests emerges. Their stories invite the reader to consider the human cost of violence and patriarchy, and in that sense prove instructive to all who wish to work for a better world.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“It should come as no surprise to any writer that all this emotional suffering produced some quality literature. Jewish scribes got to work, pulling together centuries of oral and written material and adding reflections of their own as they wrestled through this national crisis of faith. If the people of Israel no longer had their own land, their own king, or their own temple, what did they have? They had their stories. They had their songs. They had their traditions and laws.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“wisdom isn’t about sticking to a set of rules or hitting some imaginary bull’s-eye representing “God’s will.” Wisdom is a way of life, a journey of humility and faithfulness we take together, one step at a time.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Questions regarding which community borrowed from which are less important than simply acknowledging the fact that Israel shared a conceptual world with its neighbors and used similar literary genres and stories to address issues of identity and purpose.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“This understanding of themselves as a people who wrestle with God and emerge from that wrestling with both a limp and a blessing informs how Jews engage with Scripture, and it ought to inform how Christians engage Scripture too, for we share a common family of origin, the same spiritual DNA. The biblical scholars I love to read don’t go to the holy text looking for ammunition with which to win an argument or trite truisms with which to escape the day’s sorrows, they go looking for a blessing, a better way of engaging life and the world, and they don’t expect to escape that search unscathed.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“What sparked my imagination as a little girl stirs my faith today, reminding me that a misogynistic king running a dangerously dysfunctional superpower is nothing new and nothing God can’t handle. Maybe a little biblically inspired dark comedy is just what we need “for such a time as this.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“So in considering the writings of Paul, the question is not, Are head coverings good or bad? The question is, in that context, Did head coverings help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? The question is not, Should Christians eat meat? but rather, in that context, Did eating meat help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? And as we consider the application of Paul’s teachings in our various contexts today, the question is not, Should women be allowed to preach? but Do women preachers help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? Paul was smart enough to know the answers to these questions would vary from church to church and person to person, so surely he was smart enough to also know they would vary from culture to culture and century to century. Was Paul a man of his time? Of course. But that’s exactly the point. God meets us where we are, as we are. The Spirit shows up in the thick of it.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Contrary to what many of us are told, Israel’s origin stories weren’t designed to answer scientific, twenty-first-century questions about the beginning of the universe or the biological evolution of human beings, but rather were meant to answer then-pressing, ancient questions about the nature of God and God’s relationship to creation.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“Midrash, which initially struck me as something of a cross between biblical commentary and fan fiction, introduced me to a whole new posture toward Scripture, a sort of delighted reverence for the text unencumbered by the expectation that it must behave itself to be true. For Jewish readers, the tensions and questions produced by Scripture aren’t obstacles to be avoided, but rather opportunities for engagement, invitations to join in the Great Conversation between God and God’s people that has been going on for centuries and to which everyone is invited.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“In other words, the prophets are weirdos. More than anyone else in Scripture, they remind us that those odd ducks shouting from the margins of society may see things more clearly than the political and religious leaders with the inside track. We ignore them at our own peril.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
“If the Bible’s texts of terror compel us to face with fresh horror and resolve the ongoing oppression and exploitation of women, then perhaps these stories do not trouble us in vain. Perhaps we can use them for some good.”
Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

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