Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book Review

Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell (Zondervan, 2006). This book recounts the spiritual journey of Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. His take is that a post-modern world requires a post-modern approach to faith, perhaps more open and flexible than we were taught was appropriate.

Bell is an advocate of taking faith seriously nd saking difficult questions. The book explains his desire for this church to live with passion and conviction, and he seems to have cobbled together of life of awe, honesty, passion, and an appreciation for the mystery of the Christian faith.

Bell and Mars Hill are similar to (and may choose to identify with) the Emerging Church movement, as described in many books, including Barna's Revolution. I have Barna on my bookshelf, and plan to get to it within the month, so my comments are based not on actually reading that book, but by reading a lot about it.

Back to Velvet Elvis. I appreciate Bell's vulnerability, and his struggles with doubt and understanding Scripture -- I resonate with anyone who has "worked out their salvation with fear and trembling." The weakness in the book is in taking what he has found valuable in his own and his church's walk, and assuming that all (American, at least) beleivers and churches need to make the same changes he has. It is a very American Christian attitude to believe that works for you and your church have to be applied to everyone and every church -- and I have found that that just isn't the case.


Cami said...

I agree with your summation. So hard for us as human beings to put into practice, though; not judge others for how God orders things in their lives. In essence, to avoid saying that God is leading them wrongly, we imagine they don't hear God correctly. When will we ever learn to let the Holy Spirit do His job?

Debbie C. said...

Your closing statement brought to mind the "Purpose Driven" church movement. How many churches are following this program without having sought God first? They just think if it worked for them it will work for us.

I.I. said...

It is a very American approach to look for a "one size fits all" solution to every problem . . . just check out the diet, parenting, and exercise sections of the bookstore. There are a million books that tell you that THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO . . . {lose weight, raise kids, lower your blood pressure, whatever}, and I think our churches buy into that too easily, as well.

I am sure there are many programs and ideas that can be helpful in many situations, but just because "it worked" at the church down the street means God wants another church to "do it," too.

Rita L. Betti said...

Isn't so arrogant of us to assume we have the corner on the Christian truth market. Thanks for your honest opinion and summation of the book. I have a hard time with the "emergent church" philosophy. I think we need to converge back to the oneness of the early church.