Review: Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

According to author Rachel Held Evans, “Those who say having a childlike faith means not asking questions haven’t met too many children.”

What I love about that sentiment – and about Rachel in general – is that she embraces questions of all kinds. If you’re familiar with her writing, you know that. It’s something of a theme in her books. Her latest book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, is no different.

Inspired

In Inspired, Rachel explores the Bible. She addresses difficult questions head-on – both her own as well as some of those that are often raised with regard to Scripture. Rachel divides Inspired into the different types of literature found in Scripture. She begins each section with a creative piece inspired by that type of writing. Doing so enables the reader to think about how each type of literature ought to be read – a framework that Rachel argues is imperative for understanding the meaning of the Bible’s original writers. In her words, “I tackle this subject not as a scholar, but as a storyteller and literature lover who believes understanding the genre of a given text is the first step to engaging it in a meaningful way. My focus is on the Bible as a collection of stories, stories best able to teach us when we appreciate their purpose.”

Even though Rachel is not a scholar, don’t be fooled. As with her other books, Rachel’s scholarship is evident here. Inspired is well-researched and draws from a variety of Bible scholars and experts, although not many whom conservative Christians will recognize as legitimate.

Rachel says early on in her book, “When you stop trying to force the Bible to be something it’s not – static, perspicacious, certain, absolute – then you’re free to revel in what it is: living, breathing, confounding, surprising, and yes, perhaps even magic.”

That’s what Inspired did for me: It helped me to revel in what Scripture is. In doing so, it renewed my love of Scripture, all the while helping me to investigate old, familiar passages with new eyes. It’s for this reason that I think Inspired will help readers who are skeptical of the church, Scripture, and Christianity to love the Bible again. After all, according to Rachel, “The Bible is both inspired and inspiring.”

Indeed, it is.

Inspired will help readers see Scripture differently. More importantly, it will inspire readers to read Scripture for themselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly - and to discover within its pages a God who “gathers us up into soft, familiar arms and says, ‘Let me tell you a story.’”

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of Inspired from Nelson Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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