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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (2005)

di Rob Bell

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2,878543,775 (3.9)29
We have to test everything. I thank God for anybody anywhere who is pointing people to the mysteries of God. But those people would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating. Test it. Probe it. Do that to this book. Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it. Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed. I'm contributing to the discussion. God has spoken, and the rest is commentary, right?… (altro)
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What do you when your faith is falling apart?

I can't help but feel that the the many who condemn Rob Bell for his "dangerous theology" haven't walked to the edge of their faith. (That is probably an over-generalization.) In Velvet Elvis Rob Bell is not offering apologetics, rather he's trying to reframe the conversation - or "repainting the Christian faith." He offers 7 movements for how to go forward, and he's writing to those who are dis-satisfied (or who just can't go forward) with the status quo.

The second reason for this type of book goes beyond personal struggle and points to the dramatic global changes occurring in thought and ethics, particularly in the West. Leonard Sweet argues "The Dick-and Jane world of my '50's childhood is over, washed away by a tsunami of change....While the world is rethinking its entire cultural formation, it is time to find new ways of being the church that are true to our postmodern context. It is time for a Postmodern Reformation." Many believe that in order to reach the post-modern world, we need a new kind of Christianity. And despite the myriad of questions such an argument brings, not to mention whether or not it's the right question to be asking about church, it seems to me that Rob Bell is offering a lay-person's response. The Christian faith is changing - throw out the old velvet Elvis and start fresh with a new painting.

As always, his stories are fun, his arguments are (mostly) compelling, and he is authentic and genuine and full-of-zest and joy. You can nit-pick if you want, but there's plenty of wisdom to glean from Bell if you're open to it.

For the theology nerds… Many associate Bell with being a “liberal,” which is partly true – some of what he’s doing is merely re-branding a liberal interpretation of scripture and faith (which started back in 1799 with Friedrich Schleiermacher). However, it’s an unfair (or perhaps an inaccurate) label because Bell also incorporates pre-modern and post-conservative interpretations. But that’s getting into the weeds.

My biggest gripe with the book are the chapter titles. He calls them movements, but each chapter is just one stinkin’ word. And when you try to google a summary of said movements, all I could get were a whole bunch of people upset with Rob Bell for being an evangelical, who converted into a “liberal.” So I listened to it (quickly) by audiobook, and couldn’t tell you the movements if I had to. He could have done much better at communicating straightforwardly.

That being said, it was quite good. (And short!)

Recommended as an introduction for those struggling to stay going to church. Or for those feeling like they can’t keep their faith but want to. Or perhaps as an introduction to Jesus. Definitely a great introduction to Rob Bell, more than his others.
( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
The book definitely provided different perspectives on the Christian faith - however, I found it somewhat disjointed. ( )
  highlander6022 | Mar 16, 2016 |
A classic! ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, having been rather mixed in my reactions to Rob Bell's other books. But I found it very appealing, right from the start. The concept of God being concerned with all goodness and truth is one that I've been hearing and reading in many places recently, along with the importance of testing everything, going back to Scripture and (most importantly) our relationship with God.

There's an excellent chapter explaining some of the basics of Jewish thought, such as the meaning of a 'yoke', the method whereby rabbis took disciples, and what was meant by 'binding and loosing' in the first century. Jesus was, after all, thoroughly Jewish, as were his biographers; yet it's quite rare to hear a sermon letting us know that even the best-read Orthodox Jewish rabbis believed that the Scriptures needed constant re-evaluation and interpretation.

The rest of the book encourages us to look for God where we are, to understand that the church is a community intended to bless those outside it, not a holy huddle to meet on Sundays. It describes eternal life in terms of where we are now, as a continuum, and how Jesus talked about a new earth rather than an abstract heaven.

I don't know that I agreed with every word, but that's okay: as the author said, we should test everything, including the words he writes. We're all on different paths, with our unique temperaments and gifts, and the Holy Spirit gives us different insights. If something doesn't apply, or I think his interpretation is wrong, that's fine. While unity of heart is important, there's nothing in the Bible to say that we should all agree on every fine point of doctrine or Scriptural interpretation.

Helpful, inspiring and thought-provoking. Definitely recommended. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
I started this book kind of expecting to be underwhelmed. Rob Bell was an unknown author in my little world, except that I had heard some small whispers in my ear about him and the whispers were a little negative.

While the book wasn't incredible, it was all right by me.

It came across as similar to something I might have read 30 years ago written by a younger Bill Hybels.

The beginning was quite good. The middle was so, so. The ending was good.

Enjoy! ( )
  Tower_Bob | Nov 13, 2015 |
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We have to test everything. I thank God for anybody anywhere who is pointing people to the mysteries of God. But those people would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating. Test it. Probe it. Do that to this book. Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it. Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed. I'm contributing to the discussion. God has spoken, and the rest is commentary, right?

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