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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith Paperback – July 9, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 535 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., offers an innovative and intriguing, if uneven, first book. This introduction to the Christian faith is definitely outside the usual evangelical box. Bell wants to offer "a fresh take on Jesus"—a riff that begins with the assertion that Jesus wanted to "call people to live in tune with reality" and that he "had no use for religion." Bell invites seekers into a Christianity that has room for doubts (his church recently hosted an evening where doubters were invited to ask their hardest, most challenging questions). He mocks literalists whose faith seems to depend on a six-day creation, and one of his favorite people is a woman who turned up repeatedly at his church, only to tell him that she totally disagreed with his teachings. He cites his church as a place of forgiveness, mystery, community and transformation. Bell is well-versed in Jewish teachings and draws from rabbinic wisdom and stories freely. His casual, hip tone can grate at times, and his footnotes, instructing readers to drop everything and read the books that have influenced him, grow old. Still, this is faithful, creative Christianity, and Gen-Xers especially will find Bell a welcome guide to the Christian faith. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'God doesn't change, but times do, and Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, believes new times call for us to remain open and flexible, living with passion and conviction....An advocate of a postmodern approach to faith, Bell is vulnerable about his own struggles with doubt and understanding Scripture. Joy, awe, raw honesty, and an appreciation for the mystery of faith permeate the pages.' -- Christianity Today <br><br> (Christianity Today)

'Rob Bell is able to draw more depth out of the New Testament than I thought possible....I would have finished this book in record time if I didn't have to put it down so often just so I could sit back and process what I was learning. Buy two copies, one for you and one to pass around.' -- YouthWorker Journal <br><br> (YouthWorker Journal)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; New edition edition (July 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310273080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310273080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (535 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First off, I am somewhere between a 4 and a 5 (call it 9 of 10) on Velvet Elvis, though my tilt moved it up to a 5.

From reading this book, I see that Rob is really trying to "jump-start" the conversation about what faith is and is not, and to help those of us in Gens Y&X - inheritors of the post-modern worldview which incubated in the 60's - see how the Jesus is just as relevant today as he was in His own time.

My favorite quote: Christian is a great noun but a poor adjective.Too often, the church of the previous generation has been too accepting of mediocrity in a plethora of areas because the label "Christian" has been slapped on the package (whether it's music, media, or day-to-day programs/initiatives).

While I do not agree with him on everything (I think he could have expanded on many of his ideas to give them clarity and to cut down on misunderstanding. Granted, from reading many of the other reviews, it seems some people deliberately misunderstand and take Mr. Bell's positions to illogical extremes), I believe that he is on the mark with what is required for the church to remain relevant and resonant with today's Western culture.

From reading VE, I don't think he was saying that the Bible isn't 100% true - I think he was suggesting that it is pretty arrogant of any one person to assume that they know what "100% true" is. Western thinkers, who see things in literal definitions and bullet points, have a difficult time reconciling this concept - particularly when it deals with a book (actually a collection of books) written primarily to an Eastern audience, whose world-view is shaped by experiential learning, based on what can be seen, heard and touched.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading this book - in a day - I knew that if I read the Amazon.com reviews, they would be either 5 stars or 1 stars. R.Bell really goes out on a limb, and will probably be hearing from both reviewers personally. Some will think he is spreading terrible ideas, while others will think he really gets at their heart.

If you read the book, and I do recommend it, you have to be prepared to be challenged. I have sat under Rob's teaching for 4 years, and every chapter's main point I have wrestled with myself already. And I do mean wrestled with. Rob seems to like to walk to the edge of the cliff (metaphorically speaking), look over, and return to safe ground. It's somewhat scary for a dogmatic like myself, but can be freeing.

If you want to knee jerk react, you will have a lot to react to, but if you seek to understand the points, you will be challenged. Just because Rob takes it to the edge, does not mean he does not hold as strongly to True doctrine as Calvin, Luther, or St. Paul himself.

The idea of the book is not to re-prove theological points (that's been done in thousands of other books) but to walk the reader through a movement....the whole Christian movement as well as your own personal movement as lived out in Christ (he uses his own life experiences through out.)

In the end, if you are looking for a strong systematic theology, your looking in the wrong place. If you are looking for how theology lives itself out in every day life, you may have the right book.

You will have to respond, however, and my guess is you will be either a 1 star reader, or a 5....

Personal note:

Rob Bell has challenge me personally to seek answers to some very tough questions.
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Format: Hardcover
I grew up in the church, going on mission trips, serving faithfully, and somehow thinking I had to be anti-intellectual if I really wanted to follow Jesus. Then I attended an evengelical Christian college that taught me how to think and have faith at the same time. But after college some of the teachings and practices of the church just didn't seem to add up anymore. I faced this cognitive disonance between what I was practicing and what I was thinking. I knew I loved Jesus and wanted to follow Him at all costs, but I wasn't sure any more what that meant exactly. I had questions, I was struggling, and (except for a small group of very trusted friends), didn't feel I was "allowed" to raise those questions or voice my doubts in the context of the church.

Thank goodness for Christian thinkers like Rob Bell (and a growing list of others) who are changing that. And thank goodness for a book like Velvet Elvis that raises more questions than it gives answers. I want a God that I'm allowed to question (like Job did). I want a God that I'm allowed to wrestle with (like Jacob did, earning the name "Israel" - literally "wrestles with God"). If the God I follow could be summed up in a 400 page book on systematic theology, I'd be a little disappointed by the lack of "greatness" of that God. Velvet Elvis is an invitation to explore a God that is bigger than systematic theology, an invitation to "rediscover wonder and awe" (177).

The author does a superb job at the beginning explaining that his is not the last word on God - any more than a velvet Elvis painting is the last word on art.
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