LifeWay Christian Resources has issued a statement explaining its decision to not stock in its stores Christian blogger and author Rachel Held Evans' new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which has received mixed reviews regarding its theological message.
"LifeWay Christian Resources is not able to comment regarding why specific products are not selected from the thousands we review," LifeWay said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post.
"However, we select resources consistent with the expectations of our customers based on several issues including alignment with evangelical beliefs, past sales by an author, and how they fit within LifeWay's values and vision," the statement added.
Martin King, director of communications at LifeWay, also told CP over phone that in Evans' case, sales on her previous book, Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, played a role in the company's choice not to carry her new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master".
"One that's applicable here is previous sales of books by the same author. We carried Evans' first book for two years, and it sold less than one book per store, significantly less than one book per store, and we had 160 stores," King told CP.
Evans recently announced on her personal blog that LifeWay had decided not to sell A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which was published by Thomas Nelson and is available starting Oct. 30.
Although Evans clarified that she was not sure why LifeWay chose not to carry the new book, she suggests, presumably, that the decision had something to do with the "vagina controversy" that occurred over the summer.
As Evans recalls in her blog, her editor initially suggested that she remove the word "vagina" from A Year of Biblical Womahood so as to appease the Christian bookstore market.
Although she initially agreed, Evans said she soon received a widespread amount of support for her to keep the anatomical term in her manuscript.
Evans ultimately agreed with supporters, and wrote another blog post speaking of the "chokehold" she believes Christian bookstores have on the Christian publishing industry.
Trillia Newbell, managing editor of Women of God magazine and a self-described "Christian woman who adheres to Reformed doctrine," wrote a review of Biblical Womanhood on minister John Piper's Desiring God Ministries blog, saying that she fears Evans' book "will reinforce the views of non-Christian men and women who seek validation for thinking Christians are foolish for following the Bible closely."
"Evans claims to be caught between conservative and liberal theology. She believes in the physical resurrection of Christ, and she believes in evolution. But in seeking to bridge conservative and liberal theology in this book, she invests so much time explaining what she does not believe, that readers will be left wondering exactly what she does believe," Newbell writes.
Additionally, Devon Burk, an associate professor at Boyce College, the undergraduate affiliate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on his personal blog that although Evans describes herself as an "evangelical," he believes that her definition of evangelical is "radically revisionist."
In A Year of Biblical Womanhood Evans attempts to live one year as a woman according to teachings of the Bible, which meant growing out her hair, making her own clothes, and remaining silent in church.
"Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn't sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment -- a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible's instructions for women as literally as possible for a year," reads a description of the book on Amazon.