One of the many books I received this Christmas was the thought provoking Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, pastor of the large emerging church, Mars Hill of Grand Rapids. (not to be confused with the Mars Hill Church in Seattle.) The author uses the term ‘velvet elvis’ as a metaphor for the outdated and irrelevant painting of the Christian faith by today’s evangelicalism. In its place, he presents a ‘fresh’ repainting of the Christian faith. While I appreciated many of his ideas, there were others that reminded me of classic neo-orthodox theology. Among the ideas that I enjoyed were his emphasis on the ‘nowness’ of eternal life and the utilization of Jewish Mishnah for an understanding of Jesus’ teachings. However, his approach to the nature of the bible and its interpretation troubled me. The historicity and factuality of the bible don’t seem to be as important as its existential impact on the individual. Two examples are a questioning the virgin birth and a spurious homily on the ‘stench’ of Lazarus’ body as representative of our sinfulness. The book is a fast read and very provocative, but must be read critically, even as Rob suggests on the back cover.
I also like the way he used the Mishnah to better understand Jesus. I'm reading it right now (again).
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