Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

( 110 )

Overview

"This book is for those who need a fresh take on Jesus and what it means to live the kind of life he teaches us to live. This pursuit of Jesus is leading us backward as much as forward. . . . I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that's been there all along—it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed."

—from Velvet Elvis

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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

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Overview

"This book is for those who need a fresh take on Jesus and what it means to live the kind of life he teaches us to live. This pursuit of Jesus is leading us backward as much as forward. . . . I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that's been there all along—it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed."

—from Velvet Elvis

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In his author's note to this book, Rob Bell asks rhetorically, "The Jesus story is the best story ever, isn't it?" Then he continues: "Velvet Elvis is about being caught up in this story so much that you're willing to give everything to it and orient your entire life around it, because you can't imagine anything better." This unconventional book is a call to faith for people who, in the words of the author, "are fascinated with Jesus, but can't do the standard Christian package."
Time Magazine
"Bell is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America."
Christianity Today
“Joy, awe, raw honesty, and an appreciation for the mystery of faith permeate the pages.”
Time magazine
“Bell is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America.”
New York Times
“One of the country’s most influential evangelical pastors.”
USA Today
“One of the nation’s rock-star-popular young pastors.”
Boston Globe
“Rob Bell is one of the hottest names in contemporary evangelical life.”
Kansas City Star
“Bell presents a fresh picture of Jesus for those who have trouble with the traditional portrait.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“A sensitive yet radical plea for simple Christian living.”
Publishers Weekly
Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., offers an innovative and intriguing, if uneven, first book. This introduction to the Christian faith is definitely outside the usual evangelical box. Bell wants to offer "a fresh take on Jesus"-a riff that begins with the assertion that Jesus wanted to "call people to live in tune with reality" and that he "had no use for religion." Bell invites seekers into a Christianity that has room for doubts (his church recently hosted an evening where doubters were invited to ask their hardest, most challenging questions). He mocks literalists whose faith seems to depend on a six-day creation, and one of his favorite people is a woman who turned up repeatedly at his church, only to tell him that she totally disagreed with his teachings. He cites his church as a place of forgiveness, mystery, community and transformation. Bell is well-versed in Jewish teachings and draws from rabbinic wisdom and stories freely. His casual, hip tone can grate at times, and his footnotes, instructing readers to drop everything and read the books that have influenced him, grow old. Still, this is faithful, creative Christianity, and Gen-Xers especially will find Bell a welcome guide to the Christian faith. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Youth Worker Journal
'Rob Bell is able to draw more depth out of the New Testament than I thought possible....I would have finished this book in record time if I didn't have to put it down so often just so I could sit back and process what I was learning. Buy two copies, one for you and one to pass around.' — Youth Worker Journal
YouthWorker Journal
'Rob Bell is able to draw more depth out of the New Testament than I thought possible....I would have finished this book in record time if I didn't have to put it down so often just so I could sit back and process what I was learning. Buy two copies, one for you and one to pass around.' -- YouthWorker Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062197214
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 152,369
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Bell

Rob Bell is a bestselling author and international teacher and speaker. His books include Love Wins, Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars, and he was profiled in The New Yorker and TIME magazine as one of 2011’s hundred most influential people.

Biography

Reverend Rob Bell is a bestselling Christian author and the founding pastor of Mars Hill, a rapidly growing mega-church located in Grandville, Michigan. He is the featured speaker in the first sequence of NOOMA, a series of spiritual short films that investigate questions of faith and explore the world from the perspective of Jesus. In 2005, he published his first book, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, a fresh take on Christianity that emphasizes inclusiveness, flexibility, love, and forgiveness. His 2007 follow-up, Sex God, explores the connections between sexuality and spirituality and was described by Publishers Weekly as a book that "joyfully ties, and then tightens, the knot between God and humankind."

Bell and his wife, Kristin, live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with their two sons.

Good To Know

A few interesting outtakes from our interview with Bell:

"I've never had a cup of coffee."

"A couple years ago, I hit my head doing a flip on a wakeboard and for three days I had to be told who I was and that I was married and had kids."

"The first time I shared the ideas for Velvet Elvis with a publisher, they were convinced that it was actually six books. I remember thinking, Six books? I don't know if I can even write one!"

"My boys and I are into any sort of board you can ride. Wakeboard, skateboard, snowboard, surf board, etc."

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    1. Hometown:
      Grand Rapids, Michigan
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 23, 1970
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lansing, Michigan
    1. Education:
      B.S., Wheaton College, 1992; M. Div., Fuller Seminary, 1995

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
WELCOME TO MY VELVET ELVIS 009
MOVEMENT ONE JUMP 017
MOVEMENT TWO YOKE 039
MOVEMENT THREE TRUE 071
MOVEMENT FOUR TASSELS 095
MOVEMENT FIVE DUST 123
MOVEMENT SIX NEW 137
MOVEMENT SEVEN GOOD 155
EPILOGUE 175
ENDNOTES 179

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First Chapter

jump
Several years ago my parents and in-laws gave our boys a trampoline. A fifteenfooter with netting around the outside so kids don't end up headfirst in the flowers.
Since then my boys and I have logged more hours on that trampoline than I
could begin to count. When we first got it, my older son, who was five at the time, discovered that if he timed his bounce with mine, he could launch higher than if he was jumping on his own.
I remember the first time he called my wife, Kristen, out into the backyard to watch him jump off of my bounce. Now mind you, up until this point he was maybe getting a foot higher because of his new technique. But this one particular time, when my wife was watching for the first time, something freakish happened in the space-time continuum. When he jumped, there was this perfect convergence of his weight and my weight and his jump and my jump, and
I'm sure barometric pressure and air temperature had something to do with it too, because he went really high.
I don't mean a few feet off the mat. I mean he went over my head. Forty pounds of boy, clawing the air like a cat thrown from a second-story window,
and a man making eye contact with his wife and thinking, This is not good.
She told us she didn't think our new trick was very safe and we should be careful.
Which we were.
Until she went inside the house.
It is on this trampoline that God has started to make more sense to me.
Because when it comes to faith, everybody has it. People often tell me they could never have faith, that it is just too hard. The idea that some people have faith and others don't is a popular one. But it is not a true one. Everybody has faith. Everybody is following somebody. What often happens is that people with specific beliefs about God end up backed into a corner, defending their faith against the calm, cool rationality of others. As if they have faith and beliefs and others don't.
But that is not true. Let's take an example: Some people believe we were made by a creator who has plans and purposes for his creation, while others believe there is no greater meaning to life, no grand design, and we exist not because of some divine intention but because of random chance. This is not a discussion between people of faith and people who don't have faith. Both perspectives are faith perspectives, built on systems of belief. The person who says we are here by chance and there is no greater meaning has just as many beliefs as the person who says there's a creator. Maybe even more.
Think about some of the words that are used in these kinds of discussions, one of the most common being the phrase 'open-minded'. Often the person with spiritual convictions is seen as close-minded and others are seen as openminded.
What is fascinating to me is that at the center of the Christian faith is the assumption that this life isn't all there is. That there is more to life than the material. That existence is not limited to what we can see, touch, measure,
taste, hear, and observe. One of the central assertions of the Christian worldview is that there is 'more'. Those who oppose this insist that this is all there is, that only what we can measure and observe and see with our eyes is real.
There is nothing else. Which perspective is more 'closed-minded'? Which perspective is more 'open'?
An atheist is a person of tremendous faith. In our discussions about the things that matter most then, we aren't talking about faith or no faith. Belief or no belief. We are talking about faith in what? Belief in what? The real question isn't whether we have it or not, but what we have put it in.
Everybody follows somebody. All of us make decisions every day about what is important, how to treat people, and what to do with our lives. These decisions come from what we believe about every aspect of our existence. And we got our beliefs from somewhere. We have been formed, every one of us, by this complicated mix of people and places and things. Parents and teachers and artists and scientists and mentors — we are each taking all of these influences and living our lives according to which teachings we have made our own. Some insist that they aren't influenced by any person or any religion, that they think for themselves. And that's an honorable perspective. The problem is they got that perspective from . . . somebody. They're following somebody even if they insist it is themselves they are following.
Everybody is following somebody. Everybody has faith in something and somebody.
We are all believers.
way
As a Christian, I am simply trying to orient myself around living a particular kind of way, the kind of way that Jesus taught is possible. And I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live.
This isn't irrational or primitive or blind faith. It is merely being honest that we all are living a 'way'.
I'm convinced being generous is a better way to live.
I'm convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.
I'm convinced having compassion is a better way to live.
I'm convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.
I'm convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.
I'm convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 110 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(68)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 111 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "Test it. Probe it. Do that to this book." Seriously.

    It's no secret that this book has been the topic of much controversy. I no longer wanted to defend or criticize someone's book without having read it, so I picked this up. (Quick background: I thought I shared this guy's views on the church and Christianity, but reading this book was like looking into a mirror and not liking what I saw. I now know I need to take my beleifs and faith more seriously.)

    After careful reading and note taking, I have generated many thoughts and have taken a stand amongst the argument circulating around this book. There is the side that Rob Bell is a heritic and then there's the side that claims he is right on target. I choose neither side. Simply put: I beleive he is a true believer in Christ, however he is speaking prematurly and unkowingly leading others astray. Let me explain:

    Let's address the big issue first. It's been said that Rob Bell claims that the virgin birth didn't take place. This rumor is not accurate. There is a bigger picture that is more dangerous. His argument is that Christian theology/doctrine can be removed, stretched, manipulated and interpreted in any way you would like for it to be and Christianity would still exist as unfaultering and solid. Basically he does not beleive that sound doctrine is essential to Christian growth.

    He then goes on to say that Scripture is not inspired by God. Instead it is just a bunch of random writings from a bunch of random people who happened to live in certain points of time.

    I could write about this book nitpicking almost every other statement he makes in this book. There are stark contradictions at every turn, and unless you are hopelessly gullable, you will see them jump right out. It would be funny if it weren't so sad that many people are buying into this guy's theology. He might deny that he has a theology.

    Anything factual and not soley his opinions on the world are complete plagerism from Ray Vander Laan (and possibly others). An entire chapter in fact is basically copied word for word from the very words of Mr. Vander Laan himself. The only credit he gives is found in the endnotes which I'm sure Rob Bell assumes no one would think to look there, so they'll assume these great revelations are from him.

    He preaches a works-based faith. He discourages people from taking Jesus' words literally. He condemns preaching from the Bible. The list goes on and on and on (beleive me, I have one). I will not tell you not to read it. That is your choice. But read it with discernment and be on guard. Hold on tight to what you know to be true. I will say that Rob Bell did get one thing right and I will leave you with his very words: "Something can be labeled 'Christian' and not be true or good."

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    Church Leaders Perspective

    This was probably the best book I have read on christianity, not a list of do's and don'ts, but a genuine questioning of God's reality, expectations, & presence. The best way to describe the book, 'Raw.'

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Horrible

    This book from Rob Bell is very dangerous to the Christian faith. Many similar authors/pastors in the "Emerging Church" are tearing down the need for doctrine in the Church. These new teachings are full of humanism and post-modern thinking. This was the first book I received as a Christian and it caused me to stumble a lot. After putting it down for about 6 months, I tried to read it again but could not even finish it. This "emerging" movement is going to destroy the faith of many young people's faith. God have mercy.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2008

    Pure Blasphemy

    This book, in its attempt to be 'culturally relevant,' undermines the truth of the Bible. The author questions essential doctrines including but not limited to the Virgin Birth, etc. Rather than trying to conform the Gospel to the culture, the book should conform the world to the Gospel 'see Romans 12:2'. Thus, this book is apostasy and should either be avoided entirely or read with extreme discernment. Before reading Velvet Elvis, read the Truth War by John MacArthur

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    Outside the box: a different view of Jesus

    The book is very thought provoking and challenging especially for those of us brought up within the traditional, rigid, religiosity-ridden, church (choose your denomination!), and that's a good thing! I think we all need to follow Jacob's example and wrestle with our views of who (and/or what) we think God is. He's big enough to take us on. All truth is God's truth, and so long as our true motive is seeking the Truth (as opposed to proving one another wrong) He'll guide us there.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2005

    The Velvet Elvis Controversey

    If for nothing else, this book is worth the read simply for the controversey it is stirring up in evangelical circles. What? Jesus the best possible way? Jesus the way to ultimate reality? I find this book to be exciting, intriguing, and regenerating. Whether you have claimed to be a follower of Jesus, or don't buy into it at all.....you will enjoy this book. Rob's sense of humor,heart, compassion, and drive for people to live in tune with ultimate reality is the best gospel yet! (Gospel: Good News )

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Horrible

    If you want to read a mockery of christianity this book is for you! Rob bell believes that christians should be like trampoline springs. Basically we must be openminded to everything. We must change with the changing times. And for people who are narrowminded rob bell says they are living in brickworld. I don't think I could take that as an insult. I see lots of stones in the Bible but nothing on trampoline springs. My issue is this, christians must not try to make the Bible fit in, but they must be narrowminded. We must never ever try to fit in with the current times. We must base all our beliefs on what the Bible and nothing else. If you find something that contradicts Scripture discard it as heresy. I don't mean to be judgmental but I hate false teaching. Thank you for reading my review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    Velvet Elvis: A Pleasant Suprise!

    Velvet Elvis was the first book I read on the Nook. A random download, based only on the title, this book provided a fresh perspective on the many questions my faith and personality continuously raise.
    Nothing in life is chance. This is a book anyone will enjoy reading!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2008

    I'm not alone!

    What a relief that Christianity doesn't have to be dead. Too often we get stuck in a system bent on brainwashing for salvation. Rob brings the gospel out of the dark ages and reveals it as the fresh cup of water that it is. He writes as if the gospel were a living, breathing message of hope open to a living, breathing world. It will change your life.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    Amazing!

    Rob Bell provides an intriguing and thoughtful look at the Christian faith that some might find difficult to read. I thought it was amazing, and felt God peeling away years of innuendo and tradition, and leaving behind revelation that was true and sweet, and scary. I recommend this for anyone with the courage to examine years of tradition, and who wants to dig deeper into the whys - and hows - of a believer's faith in Jesus Christ.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    Inspiring

    I have honestly never read something that had so much depth. It helped me understand the whole of God a little better. Questioning God is what God wants because it draws us. It helped me understand the reason why college students fall away. and forgiveness... I had heard what had been written before, but he shines an entirely new light on... EVERYTHING...

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2006

    CHANGED MY LIFE

    This book is absolutely inspired. Rob Bell gives us a refreshingly honest and raw perspective on what it means to be a Christian. There is no pretense and no rote answers in this book. It is a book for people seeking God--the living, active and powerfully vibrant God.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2005

    Triple take!

    I'm not a big reader but this is a very interesting read. I also needed about three attempts to cover and understand everything that Rob had to say. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2005

    Provocative!!

    Provocative!! Bell does a great job of breaking old concepts and putting the cultural responsibility of believers in perspective. So often authors seem to somehow rise above the fray and never experience real ministry challenges. Not so with Rob Bell. He has face the same questions and challenges I have and I appreciate his courage in sharing.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2005

    must read for everyone

    An amazing book. Well written. Humorous. Does not attempt to give answers but allows the reader to ask the questions that are already pressing on their minds. Simply awesome. Sure to rock the world of many!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2005

    Rob Gets it Right

    I won't bore you with a long, drawn out commentary...I will simply say that, whether you are a life-long Christian or someone who doubts the existence of God altogether, you will enjoy this book. If nothing else, Rob will challenge you to think about Jesus and this whole Christianity thing in a way that you may not have thought before, and you may be surprised. Having experienced Rob's church, and his messages, I can tell you that he is as real and as honest as you will find. If you've got questions, doubts, or a stale faith, grab yourself a copy of Velvet Elvis and sit down somewhere quiet. You will be happy you did.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2013

    .

    .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Velvet Elvis

    Encourages openess of mind in a time where we need it most, while I don't agree with everything said its still a great read that causes you to stop and reflect on things you havent ever even thought about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    A lot to think about

    Rob Bell manages to guide the way through the traditional Christian faith and asks you to take his words, that are challenging the traditions, and pick at them to try to find your own way through Christianity. Fantastic book. Even if you don't like it, it will lead to very interesting discussion. However, as a side note, he writes how he speaks not in perfect paragraph order. Just be aware, however I find that to be powerful in itself because it allows him to emphasize his key points.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Holy Bazzoly

    fresh look

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