Velvet Elvis

One of the best religious books I have read in a while is Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis." "Velvet Elvis" was written in order to challenge people to know why they believe what they believe. Christianity has become bogged down by people who don't know why they think the way they do and thus blindly accept what they are told by pastors and other religious leaders. On the "Ultra Conservative Christian Coalition Scale of Books to Read" 1 being "don't read because it might make you think about things we've said and come to the conclusion we might be wrong" and 10 being "this is what we've been saying all along," this book gets a -4.

Bell, the lead pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is not exactly the least controversial person in Christian leadership circles, raises some seriously stirring questions about why we believe what we believe and where those beliefs came from. He challenges convention and those who establish it as well as calling for Christ followers to study their Bibles and critically think about what they are taught and hear from the pulpit.

In my opinion, as a church leader, this doesn't bother me. Hold on to your seats people, but even I, on occasion, have been wrong. Other pastors have committed this sin of being wrong as well. The only people who would be threatened by this are people who preach things outside of the Bible or emphasize things that the Bible doesn't.

If you're going to read this book, you have to read the whole thing. If you stop in the middle of a chapter you may become angry with the author. He asks some questions that leave you thinking, "can he ask that?" Well, I don't think God gets upset when we ask tough questions as long as we come to Him for the answers. I hope you read this book and I hope it spurs you on to a new level of spriritual maturity.



barnag said...

Be sure to bring it to the beach with you. Glad you posted something new and you were just kidding about being wrong, right?

Sarah McCrory said...

I had to re-read what you said and I am still not sure I read it right. Did you say you have been wrong, because I am pretty sure that is the first time you have EVER said that! I, too, am glad that you posted something new, I felt a little silly checking your blog all the time and it being the same dern thing every stinkin' time. I love you!

Jared McCrory said...

Maybe I will have time to read it this summer and can give you an honest "conservative evangelical" opinion on it (or whatever label would be applied to me by the Emerging Church:) I couldn't agree more that the church is plagued by a lack of theological and biblical understanding, as well as no concept of the history of the church, and often a general inability to even articulate the gospel message and what we believe(I know that I am one of the ones lacking in these things and have been burdened by a need to learn and think and grow). I'm not sure how Bell says we do this but I have found that in addition to personally and prayerfully studying the Bible, that reading and critically thinking about the thoughts of theologians from the early days of the church through today (and particularly those around the time of the Reformation) can also be a great help. Of course this is done with their works in one hand and the Bible in the other, as it is the ultimate authority as the Word of God revealed to us. In my opinion we are not being good stewards of what God has given us if we neglect the works of the great Christian minds (most of which new Greek and/or Hebrew, understood Hermeneutics, etc.) that have gone before us, whether we agree entirely with them or not, as we study the Bible and seek to know the absolute truth it contains. I think this helps us move beyond "what this passage means to me" to seek out the true meaning of the text as intended by God through the divinely-inspired authors as we realize that people have been wrestling with these issues for 2000 years and we can learn from both where they are right and where they have gone wrong (it seems the church has more often than not been wrong on a lot of things). To know Christ as revealed in the Scripture and to see His glory should be our goal as we study the Word, and all else should be a means to that end. (This might not have anything to do with this book, but just some things on my mind!)

Jared McCrory said...

I meant to say "particularly the Puritan writers" with regards to what I have found most helpful lately in my readings.