Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart.Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001, 222 pp.
Some time ago I read Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. I was excited about reading the book because so many copies have been sold and many evangelical leaders have spoken so highly of the book. Charles Swindoll said that it was the best book he had read in five years.
The book reminded me of a song I heard at a church Christmas program called All the World Was Waiting. There was a line in the song that said, “Truth was in His [Jesus'] teaching.” To say that truth was in his teaching implies that there was non-truth in his teaching as well. Wild at Heart was kind of like that. There was some truth in the book but there was a lot of other material in the book that was simply not biblically accurate. Here is one example.
“The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man.” (144)
Are we good beings at the core? I don’t know what Bible he has been reading but that does not square up with the Holy Scriptures. I am not going to attempt to write a critical book review here but Randy Stinson, Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has reviewed the book. If you would like to read it, the review can be found here. Stinson basically concludes that the problem with Wild at Heart is that it presents an unbiblical view of God and of the believer. Let me just say that there were threads of biblically inaccurate statements throughout the book.
I do not want to be completely negative about the book, although that would be very easy to do. There was a paragraph in the book that I thought was very insightful and shed light on a fundamental problem of evangelical thinking today. It has to do with how “we” try to duplicate success of certain ministries by copying their methodology. Here it is.
“There’s Gideon and his army reduced from thirty-two thousand to three-hundred. What’s their plan of attack? Torches and water pots. It also works splendidly and it also never happens again. You recall Jesus healing the blind – he never does it the same way twice. I hope you’re getting the idea because the church has really been taken in by the world on this one. The Modern Era hated mystery; we desperately wanted a means of controlling our own lives and we seemed to find the ultimateTowerofBabelin the scientific method. Don’t get me wrong – science has given us many wonderful advances in sanitation, medicine, transportation. But we’ve tried to use those methods to tame the wildness of the spiritual frontier. We take the latest marketing methods, the newest business management fad, and we apply it to ministry. The problem with modern Christianity’s obsession with principles is that it removed any real conversation with God. Find the principle, apply the principle – what do you need God for? So Oswald Chambers warns us, “Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as he is with you.” (210)
Why do so many evangelical ministers want to copy the methods of Saddleback and Willow Creek? Why do we want to copy methods used by the latest fast growing church or ministry hoping to duplicate their success? I don’t think we should be trying to copy methods of others but rather be obedient to God and do what He commands. As Eldredge says, “it [has] removed any real conversation with God.” However, this is really just a footnote and is not the emphasis of the book.
If you want to know what evangelical men are filling their minds with, I highly recommend this book. I suspect that many evangelicals love what Eldredge says. This is confirmed by the number of copies this book has sold and by ringing endorsements by leaders such as Swindoll and Dobson. However, if you are looking for a book that will feed you spiritually or help you to grow this is not the book for you to read. Let me save you about $20. Don’t buy the book. You can have my copy.