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Friday, August 05, 2005

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Last weekend I picked up a new book by Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church called Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. His premise for the book is that no one artist has mastered painting. No one has ever called out "Hey stop painting everyone because I just painted the perfect painting. He contrasts this to the church's tradition of claiming to have correctly interpreted the Bible.

First let me say that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the book, but I absolutely loved reading it. This is going to sound really shallow, but I loved the physical aspects of the book as much as the words in it. The plain white cover, the font and color accents. Even the paper seemed to have some sort of magical feel to it.

Okay, beyond that, here's what really threw me for a loop the first 15 or so times I read it.

"I'm part of this global, historic stream of people who believe that God has not left us alone but has been involved in human history from the beginning. People who believe that in Jesus, God came among us in a unique and powerful way, showing us a new kind of life. Giving each of us a new vision for our life together, for the world we live in.

And as 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, lived, and explained."

I really struggled with this statement and still do struggle with it. I've always heard the "We don't change the message, we just change the way the message is presented" cliche on modern churches, and I agree with that cliche. I don't think I can agree with the idea of changing the message though.

Honestly, if I had skipped over those 3 paragraphs, or they had been left out I'd tell you how perfect this book is, but for some reason, I just can't because of that one passage.