Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, is a creative communicator and offers an intriguing “reintroduction” to the Christian faith. He sees the church desperately needing to be a haven of community and forgiveness . . . even doubts! His church hosted an evening where doubters were invited to ask their most challenging questions (that don’t have the easy answers) like “Either God is in control of everything and so all the crap we see today is part of His plan, (which I don’t want to accept), or it’s all out of control,(which sucks too). What’s up?” Bell follows this up with “Questions bring freedom. Freedom that I don’t have be God and I don’t have to pretend that I have it all figured out. I can let God be God.”
I’m all for asking questions and participating in healthy dialogue, but I’m not as quick,(as some would be), to toss out my childlike faith just because our culture is continually changing! Biblical absolutes are still needed in this day and age.
Although his words are strong at times and his approach straightforward, I’m somewhat surprised by this whirlwind of controversy over Velvet Elvis. As a reader, I believe you’ll either love it or hate it . . . both with great passion. Like players lined up on opposing sidelines waiting to do battle on the field, the tension between “cultural” Christianity and “biblical” Christianity is causing great confusion for many believers.
There is a definite danger in being cutting edge if we become nonchalant with the authority of God’s Word—the Holy Bible.
Bell often uses Jewish teachings, rabbinic wisdom and stories as illustrations in Velvet Elvis. This inside look at the times and culture of Jesus is fascinating and worth the price of the book.
I don't agree with all of it, but it certainly made me think and ask questions like “What it means to live as a Christian here and now, in this place, at this time?” in contrast to Bell’s suggestion of asking “What it means to be a Christian here and now, in this place, at this time?”——because what it means to be a Christian, i.e. how one becomes a Christian as taught in the Bible, hasn’t changed because God’s Word has not changed!
The challenge, for most of us, is to read it with an open mind and humble spirit seeking biblical truth. Each one of us, as a Christ-follower, is involved in the endless process of working out how to live as God created us to live. It is just not enough to live in the past of the "good old days" if we want to make a difference today!
Within the company of contemporary peers, (Spencer Burke, Brian McClaren, Erwin McManus), Rob Bell speaks as a voice in today’s culture.
You can buy this book at NextStep Resources for 20% off.
This review was submitted by Dale Lewis who works at the EFCA & attends Hope Church in Oakdale, MN.