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A Critique of Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (Part 2)

By David Sheldon
Part 1 Part 2
Velvet Elvis After reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell I was quite saddened because I know that many in a younger generation probably buy into his thought. I was angry because once again the devil has said, "Did God say?" and people listen and jump onto the band-wagon of delusion.

Below are a few quotes by Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis followed by Scripture and my comments.

"The Christian faith tradition is filled with change and growth and transformation. Jesus took part in this process by calling people to rethink faith and the Bible and hope and love and everything else, and by inviting them into the endless process of working out how to live as God created us to live." p. 11

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 14 ESV

"Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures."Luke 24:27 NASB

Comment: Jesus had people "rethink" because they didn't think correctly to begin with! Why? Because they didn't understand the scriptures. He had to open their eyes for that to happen. Studying the Scripture was not meant to be an endless process for the actual purpose of not finding the truth but still somehow enjoying the journey. Scripture was for the purpose of knowing and obeying the truth that was discovered. We continue to "learn" because there is so much to learn, not because truth is elusive or changing! In an attempt to come to personal and experiential truth, Bell bypasses that important point. Truth in Jesus Christ is both propositional and incarnational. They didn't kill Jesus because His way was "different" or "cool" or "non-conformist" (i.e. how he lived, who he hung out with, how he just accepted everything and everyone - which He didn't by the way, etc) They killed Him because He claimed to be THE ONLY WAY as the Messiah who would die for our sins. His Kingdom (although not of this world but a "reign and rule" none-the-less) was seen in direct defiance of the established authority in this world. His was a propositional "blasphemy" to the rulers of this age because of a real incarnation and a competing "truth" kingdom.

"Times change. God doesn't, but times do. We learn and grow, and the world around us shifts, and the Christian faith is alive only when it is listening, morphing, innovating, letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of Jesus and embracing whatever will help us be more and more the people God wants us to be." p. 11

"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." Jude 3, 4 NASB

Comment: Bell says the "Christian faith" is to change if it is to continue being alive! But, the "Christian faith" has been ONCE AND FOR ALL delivered to the saints and is in Holy Scripture. We are changing. It is not. We are being conformed to Him because we are embracing that which speaks of Him - the Word ministered by the Holy Spirit of God. Then, he once again says, "Let go of what has gotten in the way of Jesus." Since when does the Christian faith as revealed through the Word of God get in the way of Jesus? How do you know what is the way of Jesus except by the clear teachings of Scripture? The only way the "Christian faith" could get in the way of Jesus is if we actually bought into his little "spring-world" that he talks about on p. 27. In a nut shell, he compares two "ways" of looking at truth. One is brick-world and the other is spring-world. The bricks are as in a wall and the springs are as in a trampoline. He takes things like virgin birth and trinity and inspiration and would rather live with these in his spring-world. That way they are flexible: they can be set aside or break or bend or whatever. How really solid are these "truths" anyhow if we consider rethinking one of them and they might change. No problem according to Bell. We can still keep jumping in spring-world because these springs are flexible and there are still plenty left for the purpose of our jumping. Since God is bigger than any wall these truths should not be like bricks which are fixed and rigid but like the springs on a trampoline that flex. So we shouldn't expect our faith or God to change just because we rethink one of these springs because all is kosher in spring-world. (Evidently this is because "God" is the jumping and not the springs or the bricks in the wall.) If a few springs fail, change, flex, or are replaced - what is that - there are a lot of them and as long as we're having a good time in spring-world all is okay. But don't dare let these truths be found in brick-world which is loved by those nasty brick-people because bricks are nonflexible. But don't you brick-world people dare make us spring-world people feel judged by your non-flexible brick-God. (I am extrapolating his thought).

"But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." Luke 8:15 NASB

"And as a part of this tradition, I embrace the need to keep painting, to keep reforming. By this I do not mean cosmetic, superficial changes like better lights and music, sharper graphics, and new methods with easy-to-follow steps. I mean theology; the beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, the future. We must keep reforming the way the Christian faith is DEFINED (emphasis), lived, and explained." p. 12

"Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." Psalm 86:11 ESV

"The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever." Psalm 119:160 ESV

"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31, 32 ESV

Comment: The above texts of Scripture speak quite plainly don't you agree? The Bible defines the Christian faith, not us. The object of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ Himself. His work in His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension defines us in our identity with Him. He is the center. We are not.

"And the Bible keeps insisting that Jesus is how God put things together. The writer Paul said that Jesus is how God holds all things together. The Bible points us to a Jesus who is in some mysterious way behind it all. Jesus is the arrangement. Jesus is the design. Jesus is the intelligence." p. 83

About a couple being married:

"The same force that brought them together holds the whole world together. I then asked, 'So today, your wedding is about something far more significant than just the two of you becoming husband and wife, isn't it?' They then said they would call this glue, this force, God." p. 76-77

Panentheism: The view that the world is contained in and is a manifestation of the divine. Although the divine is immanent in and to the world, it still transcends the universe to some degree. As the human body is to the soul or mind, so the universe is to the divine. (Quoted from: www.apologeticsindex.com)

Comment: Velvet Elvis has little outright panentheistic speech as sighted, but panentheistic thought is interwoven deeply within the framework of the book.

The only conclusion a Christian can come to after reading Velvet Elvis is that it is a repainting of Christianity itself. It redefines Christ and His cross as articulated in the Holy Scriptures and and turns Him into a "smiling-jumping" Christ of a self-worshiping generation.

Copyright ©, 2006, David Sheldon. Edited by Kerri Sheldon
Can be copied in its entirety for personal use or to be distributed, but not for profit.

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Deception in the Visible Church