About God

Recently someone told me I should read Velvet Elvis, so I ordered it from the library.  I got it yesterday, so I’ve been dipping into it this afternoon.

Rob Bell is all about discussion and debate, so perhaps it’s intentional that I love parts of it and hate other parts.

A few ideas that I really enjoyed thinking about:

1.  We hear a lot about being open-minded, and generally Christians are depicted as NOT open minded.  But think about this:  To a Christian, there is more to life than what we can see, and an eternity after we die.  To an atheist, there is nothing beyond the life that we experience here.  Now, which of those viewpoints is more open

2.  God cannot be put into words.  “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.  We are dealing with somebody we made up.”  God can’t be figured out–he has no edges or boundaries or defined limits.  “God has no THING-NESS because there’s no end to God.”  He is beyond and bigger and more.

3.  It’s scary when people don’t have questions.  A question acknowledges that you don’t have all the answers–it humbles you.

Does anyone else have comments on this?  I’m finding that it needs talking about.  Of course, I seem to find that with a lot of books…  



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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17 Responses to About God

  1. I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts….I have heard mixed reports on the bookx

  2. I’ve read it!  I like Rob Bell.  Surprised?    I’d love to discuss it with you.  What do you want to discuss specifically?

  3. “… And so these first Christians passed on the faith to the next generation who passed it on to the next generation who passed it on to the next generation until it got to… us.  Here.  Today.  Those who follow Jesus and belong to his church.  And now it is our turn.  It is our turn to step up and take responsibility for who the church is going to be for a new generation.  It is our turn to redefine and reshape and dream it all up again.  It is our turn to rediscover the beautiful, dangerous, compelling idea that a group of people, surrendered to God and to each other, really can change the world.”Page 164.

  4. What parts did you “hate”?  Just curious.

  5. BooksForMe says:

    I have not read the book, because I am not a big advocate of the Emergent Church movement.  I appreciate whatever glory to God comes from his ministry, and the movement he’s a part of, but I think it will eventually prove itself to be another church fad that is trying to reshape the gospel into something it thinks will make it more acceptable—just like the Seeker Sensitive movement—another man-made method that essentially tries to take the place of the leading of the Holy Spirit.  In this case, injecting a lot of Eastern mysticism. Truth will always be true, and the gospel will never return void, which is why I don’t reject him completely.  He is ultimately preaching the gospel.  However, his approach includes too much of man’s wisdom, which we know is foolishness to God.  For instance, his assertion in #2.  God is very well defined in the Bible.  We will never truly understand or know all that is our God, but we can know so much about Him by reading His Word.  The idea of God being a nothingness is weird.  He is very much many things.  And, God came in the person of Jesus to be very much something, someone, we could touch and understand with our little minds.  Just my two pennies.

  6. BooksForMe says:

    DavidPendelton just quoted a passage that confirms what I was saying:“It is our turn to step up and take responsibility for who the church is going to be for a new generation. It is our turn to redefine and reshape and dream it all up again.  It is our turn to rediscover the beautiful, dangerous, compelling idea that a group of people, surrendered to God and to each other, really can change the world.”1) Where does it say in the Bible that who the church is going to be is our responsibility?2) Why do we need to redefine, reshape, and dream it all up again?  It almost implies that this is what our Christian forefathers did.  3) We cannot change the world.  Only God can change the world.  We can obey Him, and He can use us, but it’s His work.  His world.  His purpose.  His everything. 4) Rediscovering implies it became undiscovered. It really leaves me cold and uninspired.  If some are charged up by it, cool.  I think it’s a lot of empty words, and even untrue words, from a man who is a very effective communicator and leader, with awesome marketing resources.  The truly hungry and thirsty who are sincerely seeking Christ will find Him, no matter what church they attend.

  7. Velvet Elvis?  Sounds like something I’m not interested in reading.#4 in BooksForMe above made me think of this, EACH one of us need to discover the truth ourselves.  That would be like the truth being rediscovered again and again.  One can fall away from God.  When we repent, we rediscovered the truth.  Truth is always there.  But we human don’t always see it.  Am I off base in this thinking?

  8. homefire says:

    @davidpendleton – Well, one thing I hated was mentioned by @mjh905 – I hate the title.  It’s fake, and implies that Christianity is fake.  I do think there is a lot of Christianity that is misguided, but not fake.  I really haven’t gotten that far in the book, but I am liking the metaphor of Christianity as a trampoline less and less.  Maybe I’ll post more specifically about that later, because it might take too long to explain why here.@BooksForMe – I agree that it is not up to us to define the church.  For one thing, the church is amorphous in the same sense that God is–not that we cannot know its character, at least in part, but that we cannot know its extent.  Jesus said he would build his church, and somehow the idea of mere mortals “reshaping” it sounds a bit warped to me.  I think WE are the ones who are to be reshaped into His image.I hadn’t taken this to mean God as “nothingness” at all, but just as someone who transcends the limits of our thinking.  I see why you are getting that from what I wrote, though.  Odd…I just was teaching my children about Hinduism today, and trying to explain Brahman and Nirvana–is that how you’re seeing that quote?  The part I bolded was because I was thinking of something fwren wrote the other day about Things, and God surpasses all “things.”I actually began this book prepared to dislike it, because I had read some rather critical reviews.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how many good things I am gleaning from it, but I do think there are some very questionable things as well. 

  9. @BooksForMe – I have not read the book, because I am not a big advocate of the Emergent Church movement.”All the more reason for you to read the book, IMHO.  Most folks around these here parts (like Homefire for example) know that I’m not a big advocate of the “Anabaptist Church movement” but that doesn’t mean that I don’t read their material and at least try to understand them.  I believe the Anabaptist Church movement is also “another man-made method that essentially tries to take the place of the leading of the Holy Spirit” just like you claim the “Seeker Sensitive Movement” and the “Emergent Church Movement” is.If I’m not mistaken, though, I think Homefire asked for some discussion among those who have in fact read the book.

  10. BooksForMe says:

    @davidpendleton – Well, I think it’s awesome you have the time to do that. And, you’re right, I should have kept my thoughts on the book, etc. to myself.  Thanks for clueing me in to my oversight. My apologies to Homefire.

  11. bwebbjr says:

    Read the book some time ago and really enjoyed it.  I also enjoy reading some of Brian McClaren’s books as well.  But like you said I too find stuff that makes me uncomfortable because I sense it crosses some Scriptural and Spiritual line that is within.  And in all fairness to these guys and the emergent movement, the same can be said about folks like the more popular MacArthur, Piper and especially Warren.  So somehow we all must learn to glean out of what we read what is aligned with Scripture and the Spirit and simply discard the rest of what we read … and not necessarily the authors who write them.  I’m afraid we all must come to the conclusion that none of us have it all right and correct.  And that a lot of folks have been enlightened to bits and pieces of the truth that we have yet found. But if we will test as the Bereans did, then maybe one day …

  12. @homefire – The title of the book doesn’t strike me like it apparently strikes you.  Furthermore, I thought Bell did a good job explaining the meaning of the title on page 10.  Frankly I simply don’t see how you think the title “Velvet Elvis” implies that Christianity is fake.  It is an odd title, I will grant you that.  But it doesn’t really bother me.  I think he’s just trying to be interesting– creative.I think the trampoline metaphor has more to do with the idea of faith.  Basically everyone has faith.  The question is what is our faith in?  Anyway, I’m trying to understand your point of view here, but maybe later when you elaborate on what you mean I’ll understand more.

  13. homefire says:

    @davidpendleton – Okay, I understand what his declared purpose was with that title, but frankly, Velvet Elvis sounds nothing but cheap and tawdry to me.  Not like a neglected masterpiece, but like a carnival prize that is deservedly consigned to the basement.  And frankly, I think he only used it as a title because it was catchy and was likely to grab attention on the shelves of a Christian bookstore by its very oddity and shock appeal.  “Repainting the Christian faith” sounds very much like we get to start from scratch, and of course we don’t.  Nah, I don’t like the title because it has nothing to do with what he’s really writing about.  Not that titles are all-important, but it was an immediate turn-off.  As for the trampoline thought, maybe later today…

  14. homefire says:

    @BooksForMe – No apology necessary.  You are always welcome to comment on my site, and I think your insight, actually, is right on.  I have something on the subject of man-made churches to share from this book, too.

  15. strype53 says:

    I am a little late to join in this conversation, but I have read this book twice.  It is a good read.  It gets me thinking about some things.  I am not a big fan of Rob Bell.  I work with college students and this is where I have a problem with some of these emergent church writers.  College students will read books like ROb Bell’s and take it as the gospel.  Sometimes these writers seem to be just letting their thoughts spill out of their mind and throw it down in book form. Their ramblings are taken and quoted as the Gospel more than scripture is.  I felt the same way about Donald Miller’s Blue like Jazz.  I just wish they were a little more responsible in thinking about the impact of the words they are putting down on paper.

  16. homefire says:

    @strype53 – That is a really good way to put it.  I agree that people take books way too seriously sometimes, and the problem with books like this is that the author seems to invite it.  I’m planning to write more on Velvet Elvis very soon.

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