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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  21,321 ratings  ·  1,062 reviews
In Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell frees us to consider God beyond the picture someone else painted for us in order to find an authentic understanding of the Christian faith. God doesn't have boundaries, and faith doesn't have to be limited to what someone else has told us. God is alive. Faith is alive. Velvet Elvis helps us find our faith. And even if it doesn't, it encourages us ...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published July 31st 2005 by Zondervan Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2005)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,321 ratings  ·  1,062 reviews

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Josh Summers
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
Phil Ward
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 Trainor
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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,
Matt Moment
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jul 20, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
I took issue with enough in this book that I stopped reading it in the middle of chapter 3.
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
On the shelf next to Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality and Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God.

Makes you think about religion in a whole new way, challenging.

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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Rob Bell has fashioned a "kool-aid" that would make Jim Jones blush in "Velvet Elvis". While the ideas of Bell sounds wonderful, are they Biblically based? The answer? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! The strict guidelines of God's word is not the easiest thing to hear, much less abide by. If we are CHRISTIAN leaders we can not afford to teach anything less than the WHOLE truth. Why is it, that the mind set of the church today is, "change the truth to fit the sinners lifestyle?" If a man go's to a pastor and s ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Brian Robbins
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
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
Oct 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
May 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Frustrated Christians
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).
Stephen Hebert
Jul 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
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
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 Cowley
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Bell really made waves in his more recent release, "Love Wins", written several years after 'Velvet Elvis". Many now consider him universalist in his theology, though he denies being so. 'Velvet Elvis" isn't heavy on theology by any means but does cause the reader to consider things in a bit of a different light. Some could say it opens the doors for a Christian to lose his faith, or at least become more muddled, but that doesn't mean that Christians should steer clear or Bell's ponderings. They ...more
Nikki F Baartman
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rob Bell is undoubtably a controversial figure in the Christian world... he’s a voice that angers and terrifies the strongest hardliners of the faith. I have heard it said that church employees love Rob Bell books but are afraid to display them on their shelves at work.. wow, really?!?! I really enjoyed this book. One thing is clear Bell loves the church, despite how he’s been treated by it.

“The church is like a double edged sword, when it is good, when it’s on, when it’s right, it’s like nothi
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars because there's no denying this book is written in an engaging way. The metaphors and punchy language keep the pages turning.

But for me the content of the book is illustrated by this little snippet: a couple has asked Bell to officiate their marriage and Bell writes, "They said they didn't want any Jesus or God or Bible or religion to be talked about. But they did want me to make it really spiritual. The bride said it in her own great way, 'Rob, do that thing you do. Make it really pro
Jonathan Schut
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book can help a person to make better sense of the Rob Bell phenomenon. It was written before there was any controversy around his name, and in this book readers encounter a writer who wants to see Christianity existing in its best possible form.
This book in particular presents some powerful thoughts about our need to re-think. Rob is not calling for Christians to reinvent the wheel, but he does want to see us spending time critically evaluating whether or not the Christianity we a
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Rob Bell is a bestselling author, international teacher, and highly sought after public speaker. His books include The New York Times bestsellers What Is the Bible?, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Love Wins, as well as The Zimzum of Love, Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars.

At age 28, Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, and under hi
“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” 642 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.” 140 likes
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