Thomas Freeman's Reviews > Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
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Jul 15, 2009

it was ok
Read in July, 2009

ok. This was a love hate book for me.

I found several things as really good insights. Especially when it came to culture and analogies from Jewish Rabi. I would love to know how credible and dependable his research is. He says a lot as if it is a settled cultural insight that he knows beyond any doubts. But I have never known biblical culture to be as "provable" as he seems to consider it. Verging on building doctrine off of cultural insights.

I found he is very unbalanced. Everything is seen through postmodern glasses. He does a good job of showing the need to allow our fellowship with God to impact our actual living experience. I believe the emergent movement has a good point in bringing attention to living issues that we tend to have ignored (humanitarian, local political, etc.) However, he will often elevate these above doctrinal concerns.

My biggest critique that makes this a hate book for me is the "RAW" nature of it. There are several things he says that show he does believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. But he will bring up a whole list of reasons to doubt it and then talk about how it impacts us so much anyway. The result is he feels he can confidently say it is the greatest book of all ancient lit. So he takes the reader down a road to doubt God's Word and then only leaves them with the belief that it will impact their lives. He also:
* says that God's primary goal is for us to bring heaven to earth.
* says that Hell is basically what we make it on earth
* says our primary goal should be transforming earth
* thinks we should have no favoritism
* believes the above means we should not see people as saved or not
* doesn't focus on evangelism but on being a blessing to people

A case can be made for all of these if you look at Christ's words to Israel when He was offering them the kingdom. However, at no point was Christ meaning that they did not need to be justified by faith. Paul clearly said to do good to all men (no favoritism) and especially to those of the household of faith (FAVORITISM).

As a critical read, I did find good stuff in the book. I also found it to be an easy read. But ultimately, I could never recommend this to anyone. Especially if I thought they might be susceptible to doubts. I don't think he is fair with scripture and would not help them if they were truly searching.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Allen (new)

Allen Hicks Well written and thought out! I have always taken Bell with a grain of salt:)
He says some really good things, only to be followed up by some really stupid ones. I would say though...Rob Bell really doesn't represent the emergent movement. Rob Has some serious doctrinal problems, so I would put him in a category by himself. When I think of the "emergent church", I think of Craig Groeschel, Erwin McManus, or even Francis Chan.

Great review...


message 2: by Doug (new)

Doug the ever elusive question "who is the voice of the emergent church"...it only matters because reference back to that movement but each of these guys needs to be evaluated on the merits of his own doctrinal teaching. thanks for the great review.


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