• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Wholehearted Faith by Rachel Held Evans

The book's pace felt halting at times and its substance somewhat light at points. The strongest aspect for me was Evans's ongoing exploration of her doubts and hard-fought realizations.

Rachel Held Evans was the author of multiple books about Christian faith, and she spoke across the country about her conservative upbringing, her ongoing search for answers, and her striving toward openhearted love when she died suddenly at age 37 in 2019.

Wholehearted Faith is a posthumously published collection of some of Evans's essays, talks, and anecdotes, including some previously unpublished. The book centers around Evans's reflections related to seeking spiritual wholeness and living as a genuine, faulted, wonderfully imperfect child of God.

Evans's friend and fellow author Jeff Chu compiled the pieces of Evans's work, shaping them into this collection, which asks questions about belief, belonging, doubts and questions, scripture, and the exploration of faith.

Evans considers her conservative evangelical faith beginnings and her evolution into the liberal Episcopalian author and speaker she became as an adult. She reflects upon exhortations to observe the Sabbath and what doing so means to her; she considers alternative interpretations regarding some of the women in the Bible; and she rejects some evangelical views that go against the idea that we are enough and we are loved just as we are.

The pace of the book is sometimes halting and its sections about scripture at times felt a little light or too quickly wrapped up, which I imagine is a result of the circumstances of its completion.

But Evans was an open, loving, inclusive, curious faith leader, and it was a pleasure spending time with some of her last written thoughts about--and some of her lingering hopes for realizing--a fully realized, well-rounded faith. Wholehearted Faith was most powerful to me when it centered around Evans's personal anecdotes and experiences.

I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of HarperOne and NetGalley.

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Rachel Held Evans was the author of Jesus Feminist, Faith Unraveled, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Searching for Sunday. and Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions.