Rachel Held Evans Had a Story

“Greg the Apologist” remembers his former student and interlocutor.

If Twitter were an Olympic sport, Rachel Held Evans would’ve been a gold medalist. Maybe in the Hall of Fame, if there were one. She bested me in the exchange of short bursts more than once, most recently just a few months ago. Those of us who saw in Governor Northam’s comments an implicit, if not explicit, endorsement of infanticide were, she believed, guilty of misrepresentation, if not outright lies.

In the back and forth, I became personally offended and unwisely reacted to something she wrote. I felt it was unfair. She immediately (and strategically) stepped out of the debate.

On the bright side, during the next 48 hours, I received more mentions on Twitter than I’ve ever received. (I’m no Twitter guru.) On the not-so-bright side, the mentions, courtesy of the faithful following she’d built over the last decade or so, were excoriating. The whole episode underscored the passion, influence, and cleverness that propelled Rachel into one of the most formidable progressive thinkers and writers of this generation.

Everyone, including those we think of as our opponents, has a story. Since Good Friday, when I learned Rachel had been placed in a medically induced coma, I’ve wrestled with why God chose for her story, at least for a time, to be intertwined with mine. Today, I’m among the thousands undone by her untimely death and grieving for her family, especially her husband, her two young children, her parents, and her sister.

Rachel sent me a signed copy of her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town. On the title page, she wrote, “for John, one of my best teachers.” The world quickly discovered what a talented writer she was. I already knew that. I quickly discovered I was the …

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