An Open Letter to Scot McKnight


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

So y’all know I’m not a big fan of open letters. I’ve even written an open letter to the open letter, bidding it farewell. 

I don’t like open letters because, in the blogging world, they’re typically employed to issue one-way rants against people we don’t like, all while maintaining the appearance of a conversation.That’s not really my style, so I try to avoid reading and writing them.

But yesterday I got to thinking that, just because open letters are usually critical, doesn’t mean they always have to be.  I’d just spent two hours researching something that Scot McKnight managed to summarize succinctly in one sentence in The Blue Parakeet, and when I came upon that sentence, I thought to myself,  I should tell Scot how much I appreciate him. Hey, what if I wrote an open letter? 

So here is what I hope will be the start of a new trend here on the blog—an open letter of thanks:

Dear Scot McKnight, 

We’ve had a few casual exchanges in the past, and they’ve always been pleasant, but I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in properly thanking you for the ways you have enriched and strengthened my faith through the years.  

Yours was one of the first blogs I found back in 2007 when I started searching the blogosphere for others who might be asking the same questions about faith that I was asking. I found on your site a treasure chest of resources—new books to read, new blogs to check out, new perspectives to consider, new connections to make. Once, I left a comment that you liked, and you took the time to email me personally to say that it was a “brilliant perspective.” I printed it up, stuck it on my bulletin board, and called my husband at work to tell him that Scot McKnight thought I was brilliant. 

You inspired me to start a blog of my own, and once it finally got going, you linked to it a few times. My stats reflected the “Scot McKnight bump.” When I got a book deal, I took advantage of having your email address to ask a few questions about publishing, and you always responded quickly and graciously. 

I’ve returned to your books—especially The Jesus CreedThe Blue Parakeet, and The King Jesus Gospel—many times because they speak so well to the concerns of evangelicals, even disenfranchised, black-sheep evangelicals like me. You were the first to introduce me to Junia, the woman praised by Paul as an outstanding apostle in Romans 1, and the first to point me to N.T. Wright. You helped me better articulate a Christ-centered gospel and make peace with what I always saw as a tension between Jesus and Paul.

Your footnotes have cost me a lot of money, but they’ve led me to other books that have led me to other books that have led me to other books that have  helped me make sense of my faith.  I don’t always agree with you, but I always learn something from you, and for that I am so grateful.

Thank you for starting so many great online conversations. 

Thank you for endorsing my book. 

Thank you, especially, for being such an outspoken champion for women in church leadership. 

Thank you for writing books that I can recommend to my friends without seminary degrees. 

Thank you for always teaching with your students in mind. 

Thank you allowing me to be one of them. 

Next up I think I’ll write an open letter to Brian McLaren or maybe Catherine Hamlin or maybe Tina Fey or maybe the makers of Marie Callender’s razzleberry pie. Turns out, there are a lot of people I want to thank. 

What about you? To whom would you like to write an open letter of thanks?

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