I like books that force you to rethink and reconsider your presuppositions. If you do not like books like that, then Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis is not for you. Wondering where the title comes from? Velvet Elvis gets its title from the framed velvet painting that hides behind other knick-knacks and memories in Bell’s basement.

It is a book about theology … in fact some new ideas about theology. I feel a certain amount of tension when I read a book that proposes new ideas on theology. On one hand, our understanding of the Bible should always be evolving and growing and expanding. In fact, Rob Bell makes some good points along those lines. Early in the book, he proposes that our understanding of the Bible should never cease from “reforming”. He talks about “binding and loosing” that we must continue to do as followers of Jesus. I agree and I believe that too but I also know that not every idea that comes from interpretation is a good one. I can think of hundreds of interpretations that I consider to be off base.

I did find many of his discussions refreshing. It was encouraging to hear his defense of a holistic gospel. He is obviously committed to helping the poor, the homeless and yet never relents on a commitment to the spiritual dimension of the gospel. It seemed like a well stated and wonderful balance that is often lacking in theological books.

During a few brief moments in his book I found his writing condescending. He considers many other pastors to be shallow because the pastors have not dealt with their “junk.” Yet, he seems to indicate that in a storage closet he came face to face with his own “junk” and dealt with it. He does acknowledge that Jesus is in the process of healing him (ongoing process). But Jesus is in the process of healing everyone, even the people he considers shallow. They might not be at the same spot but they are still in process. I did not enjoy that part of the book.

As I said at the beginning, this is a book that will force you to reconsider some of your theological presuppositions. That is a good thing and the book serves that purpose very well.

Have you read this book?

What did you think of it?

What did you think was valid or invalid in his positions?