Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  13,946 ratings  ·  896 reviews
We have to test everything.I thank God for anybody anywhere who is pointing people to the mysteries of God. But those people would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating.Test it. Probe it.Do that to this book.Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it.Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulat...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published July 31st 2005 by Zondervan Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2005)
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Josh & Tiffany
1) I really like Bell's enthusiasm and passion for helping people break out of a religious system that many times can be boring and basically anything but alive. Sometimes I think that I myself am far too intertwined with this system which, although good in many ways, is still man-made.

2) Bell's call to "test it. Probe it." is good advice. I have the awful tendency to read books, accepting most everything that I read as long as I trust the author or person who recommended the book to me.

3) I thi...more
Phil Ward
Aug 27, 2007 Phil Ward rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with the ability to think clearly
I think this book has tremendously helpful applications. There are so many challenges that are expressed through the genuine reflection of the current state of Christianity. The challenge to think deeply and to ask questions about what Christianity is and what it means. These are helpful bits of advice. There are great nuggets of wisdom that challenge people to read the Bible with the understanding that the events themselves really did happen. They are real stories about real people in real plac...more
Genevieve Heinrich
Sep 27, 2007 Genevieve Heinrich rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone disillusioned w/ Christianity; anyone with an interest in faith in the modern world
Shelves: favorites
Recently, I've been doing a lot of writing concerning my own beliefs and faith practices. It tends to come up occasionally amongst my group of friends, as I'm one of only a few (if any?) practicing Christians, and I tend to think a lot about faith issues generally because my church tends to be very thought-provoking and inspiring.

About a month ago, I emailed one of my writings to my pastor, almost half-expecting him to call me a nutter and suggest I not return. Instead, he said "Read this book,...more
Matt Moment
Keeping in mind that this is the first "Christian" book I've ever finished and that I loath going into "Christian" stores and purchasing things produced by "Christian" companies my review of this book will consist only of a single idea portrayed in the piece that is worth all four of the stars I gave it.

I can't find the exact quote but here's the idea (and it's geared toward proclaimed "Christians");
If you woke up tomorrow and there were irrefutable evidence that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was NOT a...more
Penny
After reading Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis and a few ranting and raving reviews, I’m not going to comment on the fine points of Bell’s theology. Some are fine, and some are brittle. But, I would like to comment on the spiritual trampoline metaphor from my own experience.
I had a friend who owned a trampoline. We neighbor kids spent many hours at his house. It was amazing to watch him do flips. He could go forward and backward as high or as low as he wanted. He tried to teach me. I could only manage t...more
Mark
Trendy to be trendy. I felt like Rob Bell was trying to be different, when there was no other reason than to fool people to think he is trendy. Maybe it was his way of hiding is wishy washy Christianity. Allowing people to question the virgin birth and divinity of Christ is a grievous error. I am sad that so many people have been deceived by some "trendy", but not truthful writing. Beyond the theological errors, I felt like I was just trying to finish the book the whole time.
Rebecca
I am watching the Nooma video series that Rob Bell does so I decided to read this book to understand his theology. I was concerned. For one, I found often that his analogies or explanations were so vague that I often wondered "and what does that mean!"

Unfortunately as I read Velvet Elvis, I actually found myself getting bored with Christianity...taking out the element of faith in God feels like taking out the adventure. Bell's theology diminishes the sovereignty of God, the historical reality of...more
Jennifer
I took issue with enough in this book that I stopped reading it in the middle of chapter 3.
Bob
This book was everything I feared it would be. I trust "emerging" Christianity about as much as previous iterations (boomers, mega churches, the religious right, etc)...which is to say, not much.

Bell sounds just like every other emerging guy out there...interpreting the bible for himself based on personal experience, passion, and liberal use of unsubstantiated metaphor, rather than solid education, classical study, and reverence for the seriousness of the topic. I think on many issues, he has go...more
Michael
I read it/studied it 5 times (underlined, highlighted, scribbled 6 pages of interesting quotes) trying to understand what my friends find so intriguing about this disillusioned "post-Christian" and what he is trying to propagate. I finally came to the conclusion that he spends the pages playing devil's advocate, both discrediting and disproving the foundations of Christendom, (i.e. Virgin birth, resurrection of Christ, authority of Scripture, etc.) Fine by me...believe what you want...but after...more
Brian Robbins
Having already read and thoroughly enjoyed Bell’s “Love Wins” I approached this one with high expectations. In some respects he didn’t disappoint. On the plus side he begins from a perspective of Christian faith as a dynamic process lived through the whole of life, rather than a static set of truths to be accepted and held onto:

“The Christian faith is alive only when it is listening … innovating, letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of Jesus and embracing whatever will help us to be mor...more
Bill
I liked this book more than I expected. If I had read it years ago before knowing the direction Rob Bell has taken since he wrote this, I might have liked it a lot more. But because I have read some of his recent books, I couldn't help but 'fill in' some of his characteristic silences, pauses and rhetorical questions with the answers he has more recently provided.

Overall: Rob Bell asks helpful, uncomfortable questions of the church establishment. It's his answers that aren't that helpful. He emp...more
Leah
I have been rather reluctant to start this book, but last night I could barely put it down. The book really does attempt to "repaint the Christian faith" by asking questions and exploring different interpretations of scripture in such a way that would probably offend many traditional churchgoers today. In my own search to find some reality in the church and my own relationship with God, this book comes at a perfect time, reassuring me that it's ok to ask questions, it's ok to doubt. This would r...more
Mandy
Jun 01, 2007 Mandy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mindy, Brandy, religious thinkers
I was surprised at how much of the time I found myself agreeing with Rob Bell. His central theme—that we can't continue to talk to people about faith and do things the same old way—is true. The way my parents talked about faith, entered into worship, and told others about God really just don't work in today's world. That said, I think Rob Bell starts out with a truth, but in taking his repainting of the Christian faith to the upmost extreme, he gets on some theological shaky ground. He suggests...more
Eric Sundquist
This was my first theology book by a "modern" author. I suppose I shouldn't say modern, as that word is now associated with the thinking patterns from 1800-2000ish. But some people are getting tired of "post-modern," and even "emerging" has its connotations.

This was my first theology book not written by a super-conservative Christian who wants you to wear a tie to church.

My first reading (3 years ago) really stretched my thinking about all the issues addressed. Since that time (in which Claiborn...more
Jonathan
Rob Bell is an interesting Christian leader. I hold some negative opinions toward the "Emerging/Emergent" church--I don't particularly care for the way they obsess about marketing Jesus. In general, the movement treats Jesus as a product and although they advertise Him in a very attractive way, I don't think that's the point.

Bell brings up a lot of good points in this book. He challenges readers to think and use their minds and "test everything." I think a lot of Christians could benefit from hi...more
Michelle
Pretty much the same line of thought as "Mere Christianity" addressing some crucial issues of our faith, but it fixed a fatal flaw of C.S. Lewis' work: It was written in a contemporary format that invites younger, less academic, but sold-out-for-Jesus readers to carry on with verver to the end in a way that Rob Bell has perfected over time with his Nooma clips. The book is written in the exact way that he speaks, making it a true trade mark accomplishment and a different style all together. A mu...more
Tyler
This book was very challenging, and enlightening.

Rob Bell details many aspects about Jewish life, such as their beliefs and practices and how they relate to Jesus' interaction with the Jews, about which I was previously unaware.

This book helped me better understand Jesus' teaching and what his words and actions truly meant to those who were present for his teaching 2000 years ago.

it's a great book, and it reads very quickly.

You, whoever you are, should check it out.
Amber
Honestly, I would give this book zero stars if it was an option. Bell's book is helplessly flawed with all sorts of half-truths and poor logic. Bell's writing style is hip and cool and pulls you in right away, but don't be decieved. If you read this with an alert mind you will find his errors. Or just ask me and I'll show them to you.
Dustin
Don't waste your time. The content of this book is just WRONG!
Paul Dubuc
The title of this book is drawn from an illustration that Rob Bell uses to explain the purpose of his book. In his basement he has a velvet painting of Elvis Presley. Bell uses the painting as an illustration for the book's subtitle: "Repainting the Christian Faith." What if the artist who created that painting had said it was the ultimate painting and no more paintings could be done by anyone? Art is not meant to be "frozen"; neither is the Christian faith. There is nothing wrong with the "pain...more
Tim
Did I enjoy this book? Yes and no. Do I think this book makes a valuable contribution to Christian literature? Yes and no.

Firstly, there is nothing exorbitantly wrong in this book. I think there are ideas in it which are over emphasized and exalted maybe a little too much.

I like Rob Bell's vision of reaching out to people where they are and giving them the opportunity to experience a relationship with Christ ad then gradually come into a full knowledge of Christianity. It makes sense. That's how...more
Reed
Oct 01, 2007 Reed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Frustrated Christians
Shelves: jesus-books
The book is highly poetic, which increases its resonance but it is still very much a book for Christians. I wish I could recommend it to non-believers as an example of unique and intelligent progressive Christian thinking, but so much of his language depends on at least a cursory knowledge of the faith for the impact to fully set in.

That having been said, I am a believer and it resonated tremendously with me (I only killed that fifth star because of the crossover difficulty for non-Christians)....more
Stephen Hebert
Rob Bell has a unique way of looking at the world.

As I was reading Velvet Elvis, I felt almost like I was reading a 21st century, not-so-academic, C. S. Lewis. Bell has a knack for creating effective illustrations out of quite mundane items (bricks and walls, trampolines, for example).

I say "unacademic" not to imply that Rob Bell is dumb, but only because he lacks that higher style of a C. S. Lewis.

I admit that I read Velvet Elvis rather quickly, but I do not recall being struck by anything tha...more
Matt
I will say after first reading this book I was excited. But after I chewed on it a bit I became uneasy about a lot of Rob Bell's theology or lack there of. Theres just too much wishy-washy here. I can tell that there is a desire to know and come to an understanding of God and I can even relate to some truth in some of his observations. He talks about discussing and argueing and coming to an understanding of God and Christ. However, Rob Bell really does try to not just repaint the Christian faith...more
Tim Beck
this is the 2nd time i've read this book.

it's been five years. funny - how much i had remembered and how much i had forgotten. i have a friend who claims this book changed his whole life and literally rescued him from walking away from his faith.

Bell paints a beautiful picture of what faith in Jesus could and should be. He has a keen eye for detail... details most of us may have missed.

i like the way Bell describes a life of faith. simple, yet difficult. he doesn't seem to pull any punches, cal...more
Kristy
"Somewhere in my basement sits a Velvet Elvis - a painting of the King himself, air-brushed onto black velvet in a wooden frame.
What if the painter of my Velvet Elvis announced there was no more need to paint, that he had painted the ultimate painting? We would think he had lost his mind because of our instinctive understanding that art is never done - it's the endless process of learning, exploring, shaping and forming.
And it's no different with faith. The Christian faith will never be complete...more
Alexis Neal
An excerpt of a review posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
Allow me to start by saying that I have a low tolerance for vaguely deep-sounding statements that don’t actually mean anything. The word ‘journey’ gives me hives. I get queasy when I read sentences like ‘Somewhere in you is the you whom you were meant to be.’ (And not just because I can’t help feeling like it should be ‘who’, not ‘whom.’)

I suspect this means I am not Rob Bell’s ideal audience.
Other indications that this book was perhaps not in
...more
Sean
In the first chapter, Bell gives an analogy that Christianity is like a trampoline and each of the springs on that trampoline are doctrines of the Christian faith. He goes on to say that each spring (doctrine) should be able to flex, essentially meaning that they can be tested, re-discussed, and re-evaluated. If one spring were to break, the trampoline would still function - just like if one of the doctrines of his faith were to be proven wrong, his faith would be able to continue.

Bell explains...more
Frank
Book Reviews: Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and Sex God by Rob Bell

Today's book review will be two for the price of one. I'm going to discuss two different books by the same contemporary Christian author, Rob Bell. He was a musician before he was a minister and brings a fresh approach to the Bible and Christianity.

In the first book, Velvet Elvis, Bell says the Christian church needs to be dynamic, continually growing and changing based on how God leads it though the Holy Spirit. The title refers to s...more
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Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of the bestselling Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars. A graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, Bell speaks to large crowds around the world and has appeared in a pioneering series of short...more
More about Rob Bell...
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile What We Talk about When We Talk about God Drops Like Stars

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“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” 498 likes
“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.” 126 likes
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