New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has penned a fairly hard-hitting review of Rachel Held Evans’ new book Searching for Sunday., which landed on The New York Times bestseller list last week. Witherington likes Evans personally and even affirms her as a “genuine Christian person.” He is generally sympathetic with some of her complaints about evangelicalism. Nevertheless, he comes down pretty hard on her affirmation sex outside of marriage. He writes:
I wish Rachel had continued her studies in a formal way and been better trained in Biblical interpretation and how to deal with difficult ethical and theological issues. I have seen what happens when Christian college kids come to seminary and realize in their first year of seminary that college has given them just enough reading and training to make them dangerous and half-baked when it comes to understanding the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
Rachel with her keen mind has overcome not only some of her context but some of her education, but it would have been so much better if she had continued that education, not merely by continuing to read, but by having good dialogue partners who are not just pastors, or peers. But alas, this apparently has not happened, and as result, she uses her blog and her books to promulgate her heartfelt convictions, even when, had she run them by some older and wiser professors of faith, she might have thought better of some of the things she has said and is saying. And of course, there are thousands out there in the blogosphere prepared to give the Amen to her pronouncements, thousands who resonate with and feel like her. That sort of affirmation is intoxicating, but it is not the approval of the one person who really needs to pass judgment on what we say— the Lord Jesus Christ.
That Jesus tells us plainly enough that there are only two options for Christians— chastity in singleness, and fidelity in marriage, with the latter clearly enough defined as the relationship between a man and woman (Mt. 19/Mk. 10), who alone have the possibility of sharing a one flesh union in Christ, because of course the image of God is male and female, not male and male, or female and female… There are two callings Jesus offers, and Paul affirms. Not three, four or ten…
… If we don’t believe the grace of God is greater than the power of our sinful inclinations, then we have given up on the power of the Gospel.
Read the rest here.