My first thought of Velvet Elvis was “Oh dear God don’t let him compare Jesus with a painting of Elvis, or his shoes!” Luckily he didn’t, or else I’d be popping him with the Love of Jesus behind it.
There were definitely places in the book where I could see why some might call him a heretic; however, I think Rob’s just a normal guy, like me, who sometimes has a hard time with the initial explanation of his thoughts. Whereas for some of the more pompous sounding theologians might explain a thought with big words right out of the box, Bell tends to take a few swings before hitting it. I actually like this. It makes you chew on the thought more, maybe because you can actually fit it into your mouth.
After reading Velvet Elvis I would say that I still have the same opinion on the emergent movement as I did before I read it. Take caution. Take caution on going the route of the traditionally excepted movements too though. Because if something has been done long enough, then eventually you just do it because that’s how it’s “always” been done. Jesus himself warned against this in Matthew 15:6 “he is not to ‘honor his father ‘ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” We should alway be questioning why we do what we do, church life is no different. Honestly, I fall into the emerging movement, the missional portion anyway. Take caution in a religion/movement, but follow Jesus fervently!
I like some of the aspects of the emergent movement, and I adore some of the aspects of the current typical church. However, there are parts of both that absolutely appall me. For instance, I would say that (typically) the emergent church either ignores or puts too little emphasis on what Jesus is coming back as, the King of Kings, the Judge, left Clark Kent will return Super Man! I love that they look more closely to the historical context than the average church, but I don’t like that they almost solely look at that for their teachings. The past and the present are most of what they are concerned with.
Most contemporary churches today focus on today and the future. They look forward to the coming King! The opposite of the emergent church, which is why I think most people feel that the emergent church is so heretical. However, I think that to just look at today and the future is just as heretical as looking just at the past and today. The furthest back the contemporary church looks is back to when their congregation was larger. They might look at Acts and say “that’s what we need to be” but they don’t necessarily look at it in context.
I think that a merging of the two thoughts is necessary for true biblical success. We must understand the context of the writings in the Bible. We must remember that the disciples are who we get most of our (inspired) information from (on Jesus’ teachings) and that they relied on relationships, and that really hasn’t changed for today, no matter how much we think it has. A firm distinction of who Jesus was on this Earth on His first visit and who He is coming back as is a necessity! And a longing for the time when we can fully live as God designed is what we should long for. Now is the time that we start looking at the past, present, and future.