I found, Velvet Elvis : repainting the Christian faith by Rob Bell (Zondervan, 2005) to be a refreshing look at the Christian faith. Rob Bell provides a lot of background information for the context of Jesus’ teaching which gives a deeper understanding to why Jesus said some of the things he did. As well as giving insights into the Pharisees’ and the Jewish crowds’ understanding of what Jesus was saying. It also helps us to understand why the disciples were sometimes slow to catch on. I particularly like his explanation of the Rabbinical system and how this applies to us today. Since Jesus chose us, he expects us to learn to be like him. Peter’s desire to walk on the water was because he wanted to like Jesus, his rabbi. Likewise we too should be eager to be like Jesus.

Rob Bell writing style is honest and down to earth. He doesn’t present theological truth in a dogmatic way but rather he tells stories and gives examples from his own life. He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers but understands he too is on a journey. He discusses parts of our faith that have either been neglected or over emphasized to bring some balance to our understanding.

Rob Bell is likely to be misunderstood because of his casual, almost flippant, sometimes touch in cheek approach. Yet I enjoyed his style. We take ourselves way too seriously some days and it is energizing to read a perspective that is more radical. After all Jesus was radical in his day.