Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

by Rob Bell
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Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell

Velvet Elvis is the first book from Rob Bell, the New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins.  Selected as one of 2011’s most influential people by Time Magazine, pastor Bell offers original and refreshingly personal perspectives on what Christianity is truly all about in Velvet Elvis.  A vibrant voice for a new generation of Christians—the most recognizable Christian leader among young adults—Rob Bell inspires readers to take a fresh look at traditional questions of faith.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062197221
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/24/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 500,141
File size: 513 KB

About the Author

Rob Bell is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and spiritual teacher. His books include Love Wins, How to Be Here, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Velvet Elvis, The Zimzum of Love, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars. He hosts the weekly podcast The Robcast, which was named by iTunes as one of the best of 2015. He was profiled in The New Yorker and in TIME Magazine as one of 2011’s hundred most influential people. He and his wife, Kristen, have three children and live in Los Angeles.


Grand Rapids, Michigan

Date of Birth:

August 23, 1970

Place of Birth:

Lansing, Michigan


B.S., Wheaton College, 1992; M. Div., Fuller Seminary, 1995

Read an Excerpt

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.
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.

Table of Contents


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

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.) — Publisher's Weekly

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Velvet Elvis 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
bookin-it More than 1 year ago
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."
girlygrrll More than 1 year ago
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!
JSchooler More than 1 year ago
Prepare to see Jesus for the first time. Get ready to hear the gospel and not what you think all that means, to discover something wonderful without a lot of baggage and preconceptions weighing it down. Following Bell  through these chapters is like wiping a heavy coat of dust off a painting, revealing colors and content you had  not seen before. Velvet Elvis is like a revelation in that it takes the modern reader to place where he can see  Jesus. Really. As he is. Right now. 
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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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Nulife More than 1 year ago
fresh look
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