Kristen's Reviews > Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
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Feb 18, 09

bookshelves: religion, non-fiction, theology, borrowed
Read in December, 2006

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith is the first book by Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and featured speaker in the NOOMA videos. I read straight through it and was genuinely surprised at how much I liked the book. It is an excellent call for Christians to think outside the box of cafeteria evangelicalism and to live a life that fully embraces God in all its aspects.

My prejudice against the book was based on my limited exposure to Bell. I saw one NOOMA and I wasn’t that impressed and I recall hearing faint rumors about his “bad theology.” Honestly, I didn’t find his theology to be bad upon reading. Arminian at points, but certainly within the bounds of orthodoxy and also more precise than most emerging writers.

Velvet Elvis is not a memoir. It does include a lot of personal stories and has a personal tone, but it has a flow and purpose. It’s a book that wonders about the vastness of God, how little we can understand. It’s a book that encourages readers to reflect about their own faith. It discusses the main points of the Christian faith in a way engaging to a postmodern generation, particularly those who grew up in the church, both the accepting and the cynical.

Rob Bell is not a messianic Jew, but he has a healthy obsession with setting the Bible in its original context. I think many readers will glean interesting insights from what he writes about Jesus’ world. Bell certainly wants to be relevant, but he also demonstrates a commitment to the truth. Personally, I enjoyed his endnotes because I love seeing what books authors like enough to cite, Bell certainly passed my test in that department.

I wouldn’t say Velvet Elvis was life-changing for me, I’ve read enough from the emerging church that I am over that bubble in some respects, but I certainly think it is helpful and would recommend it to people who are curious about the emergent church, suddenly aware of their obsession with systematics and apologetics and also young people who are wondering about the faith they grew up with and the culture they are discovering in the rest of the world.
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