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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

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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 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 to keep looking. Faith doesn't end with this book. But it just might begin...


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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 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 to keep looking. Faith doesn't end with this book. But it just might begin...

30 review for Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 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 think that the way we respond to testing and probing is what can separate believers from non-believers, but unfortunately it doesn't. As you'll see below, there are some very big disagreements I have with Bell, but some of the things I've seen written and done in protest of his teachings is unbelievable. Protesting outside Bell's fellowship telling people they're going to hades isn't much of a disagreement, it borders on hatred. 4) All that being said, I have some very significant problems with some of Bell's theology. The first is his use of the trampoline analogy. Now obviously no analogy can be perfect, but the statement that all tenets of faith outside of Jesus are springs, and therefore we must be willing to allow them to flex, is very unBiblical. Now I agree with him regarding the man who said that if you don't believe in a 24-hour day creation, you don't believe in the cross. If by springs he means that we need to be open to various interpretation, I am all for that. It is when he wants my foundation to flex that I have a problem. Speaking of the virgin birth he says, "What if that spring was seriously questioned? Could a person still keep jumping?" My personal answer is that if I found that the virgin birth was untrue, the gospel writers knowingly putting a myth into their writings and thus compromising the inspiration of the Word, yes I would have some serious questions. But my personal answer doesn't carry as much weight as Paul's in regard to the resurrection saying, "...if [the Son] is not risen...then your faith is also vain." (I Cor 15:14). That doesn't sounds like a spring to me. I believe there are certain things which are bricks, or if I may add to Bell's analogy, maybe the stands on which the trampoline is raised. You take that away and you'll find that jumping on the trampoline is no different than jumping on the regular ground. 5) There was something that bothered me all through the first half of the book which I couldn't put my finger on until he basically wrote it out. Although I admire Bell's passion, I'm wary of his focus. Although he's not fully a "saved by works" preacher, he gets far too close in my mind by not emphasizing the power of the cross. Like I said, I couldn't put my finger on it until he got to his theory about Peter walking on water. That just blew my mind. Bell states, "Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; Jesus is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself." The idea that the Son willingly gave up His life so that people like me could realize how great I already am and all of the things I am capable of borders on blasphemy. In response to that I want to ask Bell what happened when Peter got back into the boat. Did he apologize for not meeting his potential? Did he promise that next time he would be more confident in himself? Of course not. He worships the Son. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". I think those two words were missing in too much of Bell's ideology. 6) Bell far too often portrays the Word as full of metaphors. Yes, we desperately need to find the relevance for today, to apply it to our lives. I agree that this might be why so much of our "system" seems dead. However, what gives me hope in the life to come is not a personal, very subjective "...experience of [the Son] that transcends place and time" as Bell says, but rather the fact that the Son died and rose again on my behalf. I think the writers themselves make it clear that their purpose wasn't to provide metaphors, but to give us the story of our existence. Luke says, " Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Lk 1:3-4). To conclude my thoughts, I think that Bell is very well-intentioned and should serve as a wake-up call for many people, including myself, to see how much of what I consider to be my faith is in actuality just my system or culture. While I think that I should stand against what I believe to be foundational errors in Bell's theology, I think that the best reaction I or any person can have to objections is to expend my energy not on combative arguments but on being just as passionate for what I hold to be true. I hold that in Him, and not of myself or anything that I can do, grace is given as a gift through the sacrifice of the Son for our justification - but more importantly for His glory.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Phil Ward

    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 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 places. Moreover, the challenge to live authentically is prevalent within the writing of Rob Bell. One can truly appreciate his candid way of expressing his ideas and concerns. The danger lies from the consistent use of argumentation that Christianity must let go of Doctrine and the need to fight for Orthodox doctrine and instead the fight should be to love Jesus and to love others as Jesus loved others. This on the surface sounds great. But if we are to implement the very things that Rob Bell writes about, such as asking questions, then we find ourselves in a place where we are forming ideas about God, these are often called doctrines. For example Bell says that we ought not fight for correct doctrine but instead we ought to live like Jesus lived, authentically and passionately obeying God's will in serving and loving others. Here are the questions: who was Jesus? what was Jesus like? who did Jesus think he was? who did his disciples think he is? was he morally correct? why should one follow this guy Jesus? By answering these questions we begin to formulate a belief and an understanding about who Jesus is. This is called Christology. The need to define who Jesus was in the New Testament is a doctrine with significant importance because it alone can differentiate correct and incorrect ideas of Jesus of the New Testament. Mormons believe in the Jesus of the New Testament and so do the Evangelicals. Who is right? Can both be right? No, because that is a logical fallacy. Then which is right? Only a set of beliefs about Jesus, a doctrine of Jesus, can sufficiently answer that question. Doctrine is important, but it is not the end, it is the means; the means to the end of thinking and worshiping God correctly and avoiding intellectual idolatry.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve Trainor

    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, 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, I think you'll love it!" He was right! Sometimes, especially living in the conservative midwest, I become convinced that my views on the state of modern Christianity and on faith and belief in general are "out there," "wacky," or downright sacreligious. It's very nice to be reassured that, all of a sudden, I appear to be part of a "movement." There really are people out there reading their Bibles and NOT falling into the psycho-fundie trap! There really are people out there who think that Jesus' message and mission are a damn sight more important than traditions that end up driving more people away from God than drawing them in. There really are other folks who realize that the bottom line isn't how many rules you follow correctly, but (oh what was it that crazy kook called Christ said??) "Love the Lord your God" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." At the core of Rob Bell's teachings is the historically-focused practice of humble questioning. He points out that in the Judaic tradition of Jesus, learning was more than just rote memorization - you were *supposed* to answer a question with a question. Furthermore, the faith tradition of Jesus was always intended to grow and change with the times... and it always has! It's an easy trap to fall into, to accept the revolutionary teachings of a wise predecessor, and forget that they *weren't tradition* when they were first suggested. This book had me almost constantly smiling, and not just because Bell was simply eloquently stating my own thoughts. His writing style is casual, conversational and accessible. His history was in-depth enough to engender trust, yet interesting enough to make me want to actually read up on ancient Judaic practices myself! It would be a great book for anyone who is new to Christianity, and CERTAINLY for anyone who finds themself put off by the current public face of the faith. Just be forewarned - his end-notes will have you running to the library to increase your personal Mt. To-Be-Read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    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 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 virgin would it discredit all that Jesus Christ taught and did? This idea BLEW my mind. The idea that all of the Christian faith is built up like a wall, some of us are in and some of us are out and some us us think "evangelism" simply means pulling people to our side of the wall and "saving" them. Furthermore the idea that if a brick were to be removed from the wall (i.e. Mary NOT being a virgin as we understand it) would cause the whole thing to shake and eventually crumble. This idea is so powerful to me that it redeems any shortcomings this book may or may not posses. If you think yourself a Christian than I challange you to consider the idea of "repainting" the faith with Rob Bell. If you aren't a Christian than maybe you can take solace in reading this piece and realizing that not all Christians fit the socially conservative, politically motivated, and biblically selective mold that the last 1500 years of bad church decisions has put us in.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    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. 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    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 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 to do a low, forward roll (is that a somersault?). I’m 6’2,” and I’m just not that flexible. So, I knew when to sit on the edge and watch him flip. I knew when to jump with him, the two of us feeding off a unified rhythm. It was great fun. Until, one of our friends fell off and broke her leg. She healed, but the trampoline wasn’t as thrilling anymore. It was still fun, but not as fun. I didn’t turn into a complete coward and never jump again. But, I was certainly more careful when I did. I also learned trampolines aren’t for everyone. I have three boys. My oldest—who is naturally cautious—and my youngest—who jumps with or without a trampoline—would probably be just fine. But, if my middle son—who has balance issues even when walking—got on one, we might as well file an insurance claim in advance! So, I think this metaphor is a good one for this book. I’m thankful to Rob Bell for the opportunity to jump with him on his spiritual trampoline awhile. He certainly knows how to flip forward and backward better than I ever could. So, I’ll remember those moments of unified rhythm, but I also know I’m not as flexible as he is. And spiritual trampolines aren’t for everyone. For those cautious and more experienced jumpers? Maybe. For those who struggle with simply walking? No. My recommendation is just choose carefully when inviting someone to this spiritual trampoline.

  7. 5 out of 5

    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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I took issue with enough in this book that I stopped reading it in the middle of chapter 3.

  9. 4 out of 5

    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 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 the Bible, and gives a skewed description of human nature [particularly in the passage about Peter walking on water... that it was losing faith in himself that made him sink...why then did Peter worship God when Jesus rescued him and took him back to the boat? It was Jesus's enabling that Peter was able to walk at all!] Rob Bell dilutes the offensiveness of the Gospel in order to make it seem more applicable and palatable to post-moderns. Faith is never easy but it cannot be written off. On the other hand, I agree with Bell full-heartedly that God meets us and loves us as individuals. And it is important that we recognize the lenses we bring- our cultures, our generation, our own personal stories- as we enter into relationship with God, as we read Scripture, pray, attend church, or whatever. I also appreciated the way Bell speaks about the mission of the church, bringing Heaven to earth. I do think that God invites us to participate in the renewal of the earth and I do really hope that we are living in a generation that will move beyond our church walls. Bell's running statement: "God has spoken, and the rest is commentary" highlights his theme of questioning everything. This is why the book has so much appeal. And this is why you should read it for yourself.

  10. 5 out of 5

    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 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 good points, but none of them are new or original and are based more on emotion or ego than on scripture. I'm not some old, uncool, bible thumper who is mad that 'emerging' thought is taking over...I'm a younger 'hip' Christian who is tired of all the 'new thinking' being just another 'movement' that will be discredited as soon as the next generation 'emerges'. Blah.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    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 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 Claiborne and McLaren have become household names), my thinking has stretched a bit. And I can't remember the last time I wore a tie to church. This time through I found nothing very new anymore. It seems as if the concepts in this book have either become the new standard from which everyone else springs off and just assumes to be true, or else it was written when these things were already assumed to be true and was simply a basic primer for those (like me) who were unfamiliar with these concepts and perhaps hostile to anything which may have been seen as "liberal." I was especially touched this time through by Bell's reminder that all truth is God's truth, and so we should claim and embrace truth wherever we find it. If something appears to be true but doesn't necessarily fit our belief system, then we need to change our belief system. Our "belief system" should be flexible enough to allow that. I was also encouraged by the author's recommendation to dig into my soul and deal with all the junk I find there. He states that very few people actually live from their heart, but those who do are the ones who make a difference. I'm not sure how to begin that process, but I know it needs to happen. Other than the content, the book itself is beautiful in its design. More books need to be intentional about being a piece of art instead of just paper in binding.

  12. 5 out of 5

    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 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 emphasises those aspects of Christianity which have currency in our culture at present -- love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace etc. But he's very light on those elements of the gospel which are counter cultural -- e.g. Jesus death and resurrection to remove our sins and reunite us to God, a gospel that is distinctive, confronting and offensive to the world. It is easy to misunderstand Rob Bell, to fill the gaps with your own assumptions. Christian readers may assume the gospel message, and thus be quite encouraged. Non-Christian readers might assume a postmodern relativity and pluralism, and also be encouraged in their existing beliefs. Rob Bell builds great bridges to non-Christians, but does he ask people to walk over them, or does he stay on the other side and chat? I will say there was quite a lot of encouraging stuff in this book, mixed in with stuff I can't agree with. Chapter 1 was about the need to update Christian doctrine to make it relevant to contemporary society, so he lost me there. I think he overstates (significantly) the unknowableness of God and the open ended nature of the Bible. I quite appreciated the emphasis on the Jewish context of the New Testament in Chapters 2, 3 & 5. Chapter 4 was a great chapter on being real, letting Jesus heal your soul, seeking restoration (shalom) not just forgiveness -- I was encouraged by this chapter. I appreciated some of the content on our new identity and hope in Chapters 6 & 7, but that may have been because I was bringing a lot of underlying gospel assumptions to those chapters which were not explicitly present. I noticed the seeds of his rejection of Hell (fully developed in Love Wins) in a few places. Whenever I read these books (emerging church books, for want of a better label), I have the same frustration. What version of Christianity are they reacting against? It's just not a version I'm familiar with. Maybe it's because I'm Australian, so I haven't really encountered the worst examples of U.S. evangelicalism. But my response is always the same: addressing these (very significant) issues doesn't require an updated gospel, doesn't require the relegation of the Bible to a place of lesser authority. Careful reading of the Bible ("good exegesis") provides all the correction needed. We need to call people back to wholeheartedly living for Jesus, based on the historic, orthodox Christian understanding of the Bible, not invite them to move on to a 'new way of being Christian'.

  13. 5 out of 5

    I-LOVE-JESUS

    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 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 says, "I can't picture God letting me go to Hell," the Rob Bell answer would be to not hurt his feelings at all cost, even if means compromising BASIC christian beliefs. He has taken well known Bible passages and twisted them to such an unrecognizable product, that the combined imagination of M.C. Escher and Pablo Picasso couldn't have dreamed up such a distorted creation. I realize this will offend all of his followers but consider this. If God is so BIG and POWERFUL, why does he need one of His creations making excuses for Him. He doesnt. He gave His holy word to Paul, Luke, David..ect to pen down for the benefit of humanity as a guideline to compare to how we conduct ourselves. If you're looking for a great christian book full of intrigue, mystery, romance and pages and pages of names that you could never in your wildest dreams, be able to pronounce, then get the Bible. Its a book that will never let you down and will bring you up close and personal to the God of the universe that LOVES you with an everlasting LOVE. Do'nt trust false prophets. GOD IS GOD WITH YOU, BUT HE IS STILL GOD WITHOUT YOU. HE DOES'NT NEED OUR HELP GETTING HIS POINT ACROSS. I'm 21 and I do'nt know much, but I do know that God didnt create Hell for us, but we will go there if we lead people astray. TRUST IN GOD, NOT THE WORDS OF MEN. ok im done ranting ;) y

  14. 4 out of 5

    Akash Ahuja

    This was my first time reading anything by Rob Bell- a pastor whose videos I watched a lot in youth group before the evangelical community blacklisted him for his opinions on universalism. I’m really happy to have read this book and I wish that people would be more open minded about learning from those that they disagree with. Rob writes beautifully throughout the book, reminding me of the basics of Christianity that make me love following Jesus- God’s love, transforming your community, Jesus’ r This was my first time reading anything by Rob Bell- a pastor whose videos I watched a lot in youth group before the evangelical community blacklisted him for his opinions on universalism. I’m really happy to have read this book and I wish that people would be more open minded about learning from those that they disagree with. Rob writes beautifully throughout the book, reminding me of the basics of Christianity that make me love following Jesus- God’s love, transforming your community, Jesus’ radical teachings, and so on. It’s super approachable and easy to understand, that even someone with no church context could pick this up and start to have an idea of what it means to follow Christ, and what God’s character means for our lives

  15. 4 out of 5

    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 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 must read for EVERY ONE!!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Manuel

    Sometimes when I read reviews to a book that I just read, I wonder if we read the same book. This doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile a book will have a number of reviews that just don't really line up all that well with the content of the book I just read. Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith is one of those books. Where many seemed to find only a book of heresy and bad theology, I found a book that was pushing people to believe and live like Jesus and pointing out Sometimes when I read reviews to a book that I just read, I wonder if we read the same book. This doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile a book will have a number of reviews that just don't really line up all that well with the content of the book I just read. Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith is one of those books. Where many seemed to find only a book of heresy and bad theology, I found a book that was pushing people to believe and live like Jesus and pointing out some ways that the church doesn't do a very good job in that category. Bell's book is like an intro to Christianity in some ways, but for those who are familiar with certain ways the church operates. As the subtitle says this is more of a repainting than a starting from scratch kind of book. If I were to give what I would consider Bell's three main focuses it would be: allowing for mystery; understanding that Jesus is returning, we're not going somewhere else; and for Christians to actually display the love of Christ in this world. To me these aren't difficult emphasis to swallow. I may not always agree with Bell in all places on all points, but I think at bare minimum they stand. I want to look at them all a bit closer though. A big focus for Bell is the idea of allowing for mystery in the faith. This is probably best represented by his trampoline analogy that he gives at the beginning of the book. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the trampoline analogy, I thought it wasn't fleshed out enough and due to that it didn't really work as well as it could have. Bell focuses a bit too much on the springs of the trampoline without also focusing on the frame that allows the trampoline to function properly. I agree with the point he is trying to make and don't think that he believes that all aspects of the Christian faith are springs, but he leaves himself open for people believing that and interpretations run wild. So while the trampoline analogy doesn't work the best, his focus on allowing for mystery and questions is something that I heartily agree with. I think the church spends so much time trying to get every inch of doctrine right that they miss much more than they're gaining in the process. When I was having an interview in the process to become a pastor in a certain denomination, over half of my interview was focused on my interpretation of the end times. I'm one who doesn't really think we can know fully or are entirely meant to know fully, but there was an insistence upon this particular view (which while I had been attending churches of this denomination for years this was not a common topic of preaching). At the end of this interview the attitude was pretty much that they believed I was called by God, but not with them. When we put a system into place that allows for these kind of things, then we've gone off the wrong end. I'm not against doctrine, but we have to make sure we're clear about what is solid and what is more open to interpretation, or as Bell would put it are the springs. Another focus for Bell is the rejection of the idea that the Christian faith is primarily about going to heaven. This has also been something that has bothered me since I was a fairly young Christian. The Bible talks about Jesus returning and God and Jesus renewing heaven and earth. Some heavenly spiritual existence that we're whisked away to is not the end goal of the story. It is a recreated heaven and earth where God is in our midst. Bell argues that this should have an impact on how we view the world around us. This physical world is God's creation and God called it good and even very good, so we shouldn't be so quick to jettison it due to our faulty understanding of going to heaven. The last focus of Bell that I'll mention was that we are called to love those around us as Jesus loved. I feel that for Bell this is connected to the idea that Christianity is not just a about getting a ticket to heaven. If Christianity is more than that, what does it look like? Bell looks to Jesus' own words and says that it is about loving God and loving our neighbors. We are called to the difficult work of loving and living with other people. To some this may seem like works righteousness, but sometimes I wonder if the claim of works righteousness isn't just to excuse our lack of acting like Jesus. I feel like Bell doesn't really pull any punches here. He demonstrates the joy that can happen when we act in love as the church, the hard situations of life that can make loving others hard, and the times that the church just fails completely at doing this. These three themes were ones I found all over the book. I wouldn't say that I agreed with every aspect of what Rob Bell said, but that's true of everyone I read. There was also a good amount that I did agree with, or that challenged me in a good but difficult kind of way. I think what intrigues me so much about Rob Bell is that he presents a faith of nuance and tension. A faith that embraces truth, but understands human limitations. A faith that relishes the beauty and the joy of life and creation, but also laments the hard parts of life. A faith that is alive and a little messy, rather than a faith that has been sterilized and pristine. This is what makes a book like this so enjoyable to me, even if I may disagree with Rob Bell on some points.

  17. 5 out of 5

    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 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 more and more the people God wants us to be.” He speaks of having “as many questions as answers” about his faith, and about “contributing to the discussion” rather than trying to provide definitive answers. So far I am wholeheartedly with him; I am with him in many of his questions, and with him in many of his answers. For instance in questioning of a simplistic, literalist approach to scripture, which takes isolated texts lifted out of context and uses them to justify condemnations and exclusions of whole groups of people, he is clear and helpful: “To take statements out of context and apply them today without first understanding their original context sucks the life right out of them. They aren’t isolated statements that float unattached, out in space. They aren’t first and foremost timeless truths.” Rather he suggests that we should: “…embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of people experiencing the living God. Doubting the one true God Wrestling with, arguing with, getting angry with, reconciling with, loving, worshipping, thanking, following the one who gives us everything.” In a similar manner he discusses quite a wide-ranging selection of other issues. He has an ability to sum up constructive views of scripture in succinct and challenging little sentences. E.g.: “For Jesus, the question wasn’t ‘How do I get into heaven? But how do I bring heaven here?” Or “Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective.” So far, so good. The style and content is not that of a theologian or scriptural scholar, it is the work of a preacher and each section is written like the transcript of an extended sermon. In many places this is effective and helpful. However, there are considerable short-comings to the book. At a less important level there is a jarring quality in the tone, in the sense that he adopts a ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ way (or whatever the current phrase is for such speak – afraid I show my age here). Such assumed tones always leave me with some suspicion, maybe unjustly so, that at least some of the content is assumed and manipulated to target an imagined audience. There are also a number of passages in the book that could have been more effective if he had been far more succinct. For instance he writes about a meal with friends and writes a rather rambling long paragraph regarding his response to his friends; “I was looking around the table at my wife, whom I just adore; our friend Shauna, who may be one of the best story-tellers on the planet; Tom whom I could take a bullet for … etc, etc.” He does have the grace to admit it sounds like something out of a greetings card (one that would rapidly get put back on the shelf by most people, I think), but what is the point? He then leads to this reasonable suggestion: “Ordinary moments in ordinary settings that all of a sudden become infused with something else. With meaning. Significance. Hope.” But why the lengthy baloney first? More seriously his style of argument often lacks precision and solid basis. Many of his statements appear to be plucked out of the air with no supportive evidence provided. On occasions when he does provide ‘evidence’ the reasoning behind it can be suspect to say the least. One bizarre little example of this: “A city is more advanced, more complicated than a garden. If a garden is developed and managed and cared for, it is eventually going to turn into a city.” What?! In Biblical imagery we may find near the beginning of Genesis a garden & at the end Revelation an eternal city, but this isn’t related to symbolic imagery of the bible, nor is it related to any aspect of history. What is the man on about? He was prone to making some generalised statements which flew in the face of basic evidence. Discussing the early Christian communities he suggests: “These Christians made sure everybody in their midst had enough to eat. They made sure everybody was able to pay their bills. They made sure there was enough to go around” This may be the ideal, but Paul’s letters sent to these very same communities are constantly stressing those qualities alongside the failure of those communities to live up to them. Overall I enjoyed the book. Like his “Love Wins” it very positive and encouraging in its approach to faith. At its best it put forward very constructive ideas about what a live Christian faith and community should be like. However, the flaws in style and content reduced the effectiveness of his message.

  18. 5 out of 5

    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 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 it goes. First milk, then solid food. I like that he talks about the need of understanding the setting, the cultural values of the time, and so on to be able to understand the Bible better. I like that he encourages people to think critically and discern what they take in. He even exhorts the reader to do this with his book! I don't like that his idea of a fluid faith (the whole spring analogy) that is growing and adapting seems pretty flimsy. It's hard to get an idea of just how far he might "Repaint" the Christian faith. I don't like that his writing seems to speak of an idea that the Bible is almost unreadable without the full context of history and a full knowledge of the bible. Yea, the Bible is a difficult book, and there is a lot of nuances, treasures in scripture to be gleaned, and even things to stumble over. But, the bible is also pretty straight forward in a lot of areas. On this note I do like that he does talk about studying the Bible in community. That's a good idea no matter the other things. Lastly, I'm not sure I understand Rob Bell's eschatology (the stuff that happens at the end of the world). He talks a lot about either bringing heaven here now or bringing hell here now. It seems a bit... odd. It just doesn't sit right. Rob Bell has enormous influence and this book enjoys enormous popularity. Unfortunately, I think the truths that are in this book to claim are surrounded by a lot of mis-truth or at the very least unclear truth. Feel free to pass this one up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    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 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 really be a good read for someone who is on the fence about Christianity, someone who is tired of the Church as it exists today with it's outdated legalities, or someone who just wants to gain a refreshing perspective on their faith to come! Ok, have finished the book and I'm a huge fan of the fresh ideas presented by Rob Bell. He is a pastor, so he's not anti-church, but rather updated church. He sheds light on the cliches used by Christians everyday that never appear in scripture, but most importantly, he gives the history of the life of Jesus and why the things he said and did were so radical in his time. So worth the read!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    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 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 successfully disproving it, he says that he still believes it. What the freak? Either believe it or don't. That would be like Al Gore going around striving to DISPROVE Global Warming and then wrapping up the lecture by saying "However, I believe that it is happening". One of the many memorable quotes of the book is when he is quoting "one of the great 'theologians' of our time", Sean Penn, when he said "The mystery is the truth". WTF? I would best sum up Bell's literary (piece of)work with the quote "Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep". Or how about my own quote "What have you been smoking?" or "Get a real job!" (I better stop there)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    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 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 his general ideas. With that said, I fear like he decieves himself into believing that his church is incredibly different and safer than other megachurches. My main gripe with the book isn't the arguments Bell brings up, but that he doesn't apply his arguments to his ministry and the church that he leads.

  22. 5 out of 5

    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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I was saddened by this book. The Christian faith does not need to be repainted, it just needs to be lived.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wade

    Questionable theology abounds in a most cringe-worthy of reads. And I really wanted to like this. But no, Rob Bell, just no!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wheeler

    One of my favorite books :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    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 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 "paintings" that have been done. But for those that need a fresh view of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, Bell offers his story and his vision in this book (pp. 013-014). Jump "Everybody has faith. Everybody is following somebody." When Jesus said he was "the way, the truth and the life" he was saying that his way of life is the best possible way for a person to live." It is "the way to the depth of reality." The doctrines of the Christian faith are like the springs of a trampoline. Jumping on the trampoline is analogous to how we live our life. The doctrines help give words to the depth of our experience of following Jesus. Our words about the faith are not absolute. Only God is absolute. "Doctrine is a wonderful servant and a horrible master." Christianity must allow room for questioning and doubt in order to truly pursue the living God. The Christian faith isn't like a wall of bricks that might topple over if one or two bricks (doctrines) are pulled out and questioned. He's not talking about "belligerent, arrogant questions that have no respect for our maker, but naked, honest, vulnerable, raw questions, arising out of the awe that comes from engaging the living God" (p. 018-31). Yoke In this chapter, Bell discusses the nature of interpreting the Bible. The idea that there is some objective, unbiased interpretation of what the Bible means is a problem for Bell. For example, what does the command to love your neighbor as yourself in Leviticus 19:18 mean for us today? We have to know what is meant by "love", who is our neighbor and what it means to love ourselves. The meaning of all these things depends on the context in which they are done. That is the point of Jesus saying that he did not come to abolish he law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). He came to live it out in the context of the time in which he lived. The Bible has to be interpreted in order to apply it to the context in which we live. The Bible is alive; it is open-ended (p. 046). It is not just about things that happened a long time ago, but about things which also happen today. The Bible gives us a picture of what it is like when he works through actual people (p. 065). When we come under Jesus' "yoke," we are living out his teachings in our own context. We interpret the Bible with our lives and for our life. True Bell's approach to truth follows that of philosopher Arthur Holmes; "All Truth is God's Truth". Real truth is to be found everywhere, even among those who are not Christians, and it is God's truth. As Christians, we are free to claim truth of God wherever and whenever we find it. Jesus' saying that he is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6) is not the exclusive statement that many Christians take it to be. He is saying that all truth, wherever it is found, originates in him (pp. 080-2). When Jesus says that, "No one comes to the Father except through me", he is saying that he is the basis of all reality. "His life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence" (p. 083). From this it follows that "'Christian' is a great noun but a poor adjective", "It is impossible for a Christian to have a secular job", and the business of Christians is not to bring the world to the church but to be agents of transformation in the world because "the whole world is filled with the kavod [glory:] of God." (pp. 084-5). Tassels When Bell and others started Mars Hill Bible Church, he insisted that they not put a sign out in front. People had to want to find them. The church grew tremendously by word-of-mouth only. Bell recounts how, at one point, he was ready to run away from it all. His responsibilities at Mars Hill had completely overwhelmed him and he found himself sitting in a storage room between church services, wanting to get into his car and get as far away as possible. He had been trying to be "superpastor" and it was ruining him. A counselor told him that his problem was sin; he needed to repent of anything he was trying to do that was beyond what God made him to be. And he needed to be healed of his tendency to overextend himself. He needed to touch the fringe (tassels) of Jesus garments, so to speak (Matt. 9:20, 14:36) and be healed. He learned the importance of only trying to be what God was calling him to be and communicating that to others. This freed others up to find their place in the ministry of the church and serve in areas where they knew Bell could not (p. 116). Dust Following Jesus means more than trying to know his teaching. It means trying to be just like him; to follow his way of life just as any rabbi's disciples did in the time that Jesus lived. Disciples often could be seen following their rabbi on the dusty roads and the dust kicked up by the rabbi's feet would cover them. When Jesus chooses us to follow him, as he chose his disciples, he is expressing confidence in us that we have what it takes (because he is giving it to us) to do the things that he does; to be like him. Jesus believes in us (p. 134). We need to be covered with the dust from his feet. New God intends to make us into the new persons he originally intended for us to be. Bell wants us to avoid the trap of "sin management." Instead of focusing all our energy on avoiding sin, we try to understand what kind of person Jesus says we are. Sin is serious, but we need to repent of it and move on in the process of becoming the kind of persons who would naturally do and say the things that Jesus would do and say if he were living our life (p. 144). "For Jesus the question wasn't, how do I get to heaven? but how do I bring heaven here?" This should be our question as well. Hell is "a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be." Aside from whether hell has an eternal existence, it certainly has its place here on earth. Our goal as Christians is not to escape this world but to help make it the kind of place God intends it to be (pp. 147-150). Good God made the world good and "Jesus is God's way of refusing to give up on his dream for the world" (p. 157). He "isn't just interested in reclaiming his original dream for creation; he wants to take it further" (p. 161). The blessings God gives his people are always "instrumental." They are meant to be used to bless others in fulfillment of Abraham's calling in Genesis 12 (blessed to be a blessing). "The church doesn't exist for itself; it exists to serve the world." When Christians picket and boycott and complain about how bad the world is, it is toxic to the gospel. Serving the world is the only way its perception of the church will change (pp. 165-6). Christianity is not about making life easier. On the contrary, it will involve difficulty and suffering because we are not to give up on this broken world but are to become "more generous and disciplined and loving and free." We are to become the kind of people who can "[stare:] pain and suffering right in the eyes and refuse to believe that this is all there is" (pp. 169-70). It's a tall order; one that we must completely rely on God to fulfill. This is a great book. There are many important ideas in here that modern Christians need to think about. My only serious reservation with the book is its experiential approach to the value of scripture. For Bell, "the Bible is open-ended. It has to be interpreted" (Bell 2005, 046). This is true enough, but more traditional evangelicals would say that it has to be interpreted carefully and according to sound hermeneutical principles. This is something Bell certainly does in his sermons, but in his book he seems to present two false alternatives: "Is the greatest truth about Adam and Eve and the fruit that it happened, or that it happens?" Bell's answer is that it happens (p. 058-9). In this case, many could easily go along with him. Even some of the most conservative Bible scholars have no trouble seeing this story as an allegory rather than a historical event, but Bell's readers might easily assume that his point applies to everything in the Bible. Earlier in the book, Bell illustrates faith as a wall of bricks or a trampoline. If our beliefs are like the springs of a trampoline, they are flexible, open to question, and faith still functions if a few of the springs are removed. The problem pointed out by the brick wall analogy is that if our beliefs are like bricks in a wall, they are inflexible; the wall begins to weaken and crumble if a few bricks are removed (p. 022-8). The problem that Bell doesn't address is that some beliefs really are like springs (e.g., creation in six literal 24-hour days) and some are like bricks (e.g. the resurrection of Jesus). How do we tell the difference?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Coon

    Bell says: "Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions" (pg. 21) Response: Jesus said that the Pharisees (a religous sect) "make their converts twice as much a child of Hell as [they] are." (Matthew 23:15) Bell says: "What are some of Jesus' final words? 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Jesus. On the Cross. Questioning God." (pg. 31) Response: Jesus is not questioning God; he is quoting the first line of Psalm 22, which is a prophecy about Himsel Bell says: "Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions" (pg. 21) Response: Jesus said that the Pharisees (a religous sect) "make their converts twice as much a child of Hell as [they] are." (Matthew 23:15) Bell says: "What are some of Jesus' final words? 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' Jesus. On the Cross. Questioning God." (pg. 31) Response: Jesus is not questioning God; he is quoting the first line of Psalm 22, which is a prophecy about Himself ("They pierced my hands and feet … they cast lots for my clothing") Bell says: "Jesus expects his followers to be engaged in the endless process of deciding what it meant to actually live the Scriptures" (pg. 50) Response: Jesus told the Apostles: "Go and make disciples ... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Bell says: "It is our turn to redefine and reshape and dream [Christianity] all up again" (pg. 50) Response 1: Jesus told the Apostles: "Go and make disciples ... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Response 2: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a curse! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be under a divine curse!" (Galatians 1:8-10)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nikki F Baartman

    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 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 nothing on earth. A group of people committed to serving and loving people around them. Great. But when it’s bad, all that potential gets turned the other way. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Sometimes in the same week. Sometimes in the same day.” Bell encourages every believer to return with eyes of innocence, meaning to always look for good and to not choose bitterness, resentment, and anger when things go bad. Yes, address it, call it out but don’t stay there. Jesus is making all things new, not just once but everyday. Rob encourages people to love with no agenda. Stop using word like saved or referring to those who don’t believe like others, non, in, or outsiders, it’s offensive, you know what he’s right. Stop putting people into categories, it’s rude. God shows no favoritism. See all people as God sees them, made in His image, not the image systems and people have decided they should be. In the gospels Jesus doesn’t chase anybody, He engages, listens, dines with, tells stories, and lets arguments happen. He helps, He loves, He forgives, He laughs, He weeps, He heals. In short, people like Him, be like Him. “If there was anybody who didn’t have a Messiah complex, it was Jesus. “If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.” The gospel is simple, people make it complex. My favorite line in the book... “Jesus lives, here’s a toaster.”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    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 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 that his book is not about "dressing up" church or faith, but challenging it and rethinking it. I would challenge all believers to test their faith and strive to challenge themselves, but Rob Bell talks about rethinking and reformatting theology. . . .and there are some points of theology that can't be changed! They just are. I'm not talking about thinking over the things you once believed about God and have now discovered are totally inaccurate descriptions of His character, unbiblical, or simply your projections onto Him. I'm talking about the points of the gospel message, truths about God's character, Jesus' role in salvation, and so forth. Also Bell seems to be positing that heaven will be on earth. I agree with him that the kingdom of God begins in the lives of believers at salvation. The kingdom of God is here and now and later, but Scripture says that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. According to the Bible, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. . . . Bell's voice is an interesting one in all the thinkers calling out from the emerging church in today's world. But it's also proof that taking the emerging church's pick-and-choose theology to its natural end leaves you on shaky theological ground a lot of the time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    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 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 intended for people like me include the following: [...] I don’t think that my direction in life should be determined by a quest for self-actualization. I most definitely think that ‘being true to oneself’ is a terrible reason to plant a church. I don’t think God chose me because He believed in me, or because He knew I ‘had it in me’. I do not believe God saw my unrealized potential and drafted me to His team. Nor do I believe that my sins are the result of my failure to believe in myself. So yeah, I’m not really Bell’s kind of reader.Full review available here. [The original review appeared here in its entirety, and is now available at the above blog.]

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