Book Review: Velvet Elvis

Velvet Elvis is a treatise on modern Christianity written by Rob Bell, a well-known pastor in "emerging" circles. Bell is obviously a brilliant thinker and talented writer. (I suspect he is a dynamic speaker as well.) It is easy to see why his church plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan became a mega-church practically overnight.

Velvet Elvis' quirky, non-traditional sentence structure is a perfect match for the content of the book, as these adjectives could also be used to describe Bell's viewpoint of present-day Christianity. Velvet Elvis is one of the most creative and easy-to-read books I've read in a long time.

Having said that, the reader should beware. Bell sometimes takes Scripture out of context to make his points. And most dangerously, he has a bizarre take on "binding and loosing" (Mat 18) which he says allows Christians to interpret the Bible for their time, even going so far as to say that 'Scripture alone' sounds nice, but isn't true. (Big, red flag.)

Now before you dismiss Bell as a total heretic, there is much good in this book as well. For example, unlike many in the emerging movement, Bell has a high (and Biblical) view of the Church. The last quote of the book is the best, and I have printed it below...

"One of the central metaphors for God and his people throughout the Bible is that of a groom and his bride. God is the groom; his people are the bride. I like this because it makes the church a 'she.' We need to reclaim this image. The church is a she. She's a mystery isn't she? Still going after all this time. After the Crusades and the Inquisition and Christian cable television. Still going. And there continue to be people like me who believe she is one of the best ideas ever. In spite of all the ways she has veered off track. In spite of all the people who have actually turned away from God because of what they experienced in church... But she will live on. She's indestructable. When she dies in one part of the world, she explodes in another. She's global. She's universal. She's everywhere. And while she's fragile, she's going to endure. In every generation there will be those who see her beauty and give their lives to see her shine. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail aginst her. That's strong language. And it's true. She will continue to roll across the ages, serving and giving and connecting people with God and each other. And people will abuse her and manipulate her and try to control her, but they'll pass on. And she will keep going."