Man in God's image and "Wild at heart"

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cris

Puritan Board Freshman
I talked to some friends and one of them was reading "Wild at heart". I told her that for me this is the "Heresy alert" kind of book. She kept telling me about some points John Eldredge was making in his book.

The main thesis in the book is the feminization of the men/boys in our society. He makes a good point and I guess we all agree on this.

But then he goes further and says that the reason men and women should be different is because God has both "masculine" characteristics (like just) and "feminine" (like loving, patient, etc). He got that from Gen 1:27, the man was created in God's image. Namely, since the man was created in God's image, God must have these masculine/feminine attributes.

I couldn't explain what "in God's image" means, since it's a difficult topic, but this "masculine/feminine" stuff is speculation at best. At this point I didn't care about men/women any more. I think Eldredge should be very careful with these "attributes" of God.

Could someone explain to me what this Bible verse means?

Thank you very much
Cristian
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
One of the best definitions I have ever heard for what it means to be in God's image is that we are in covenant with him. Aside from the silliness your friend mentioned, one of the biggest problems with Eldrege is he espouses open theism.
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
I'd stay away from the masculine/feminine traits. These are things which we, as a society, have determined are 'masculine' and 'feminine' traits. Men can be loving and patient, women can be brave (Esther) and just.

The easiest way of describing the imago dei is that we are made in God's moral and spiritual image. We determine right from wrong, we are creative, intelligent, etc.... run down the whole list of communicable attributes of God. Animals' have intelligence and even some creativity, but unlike animals, our creativity and intelligence take us forward, not leave us in the same place (i.e. you don't see dogs organizing and fighting for the betterment of all dog-kind).
 

Jared

Puritan Board Freshman
Personally, I liked the book. But, it's been about six years since I read it. I wasn't reformed back then so I might look at it differently. John Eldredge comes off sounding very complementarian in the book, although I don't know whether he is or not. I do know that the book helped me discover what it means to me a man. I wasn't very close to my dad when I was growing up and it was good to have a resource like that.

As for the text that you're talking about, I'm not sure about that. I have always assumed that God had "masculine" and "feminine" traits, although He is always described in male terms as far as personal pronouns, aside from the few instances where neuter pronouns are used.

Jesus was a man, and you have God the Father, then the Holy Spirit is usually referred to in masculine terms. So, the primary concept that we have of God in the Bible is very masculine.

But, then you have the name of God, El Shaddai, which literally means "many-breasted one". This simply means that God is our provider, but it does have more of a nurturing connotation.

I studied this quite a bit last year because I was having some conversations with some evangelical feminists about it. (shudders)

Anyway, I hope that helps. I could be wrong about some of this, but it's what I seem to have discovered so far.
 

MRC

Puritan Board Freshman
I found this article to be an excellent biblical critique of Wild at Heart. I would suggest that one engage with this article before accusing Eldridge of things we cannot know with certainty. This article is indeed critical of Eldridge's theology in the book but, I think wisely, stops short of the "heretic" label.

View attachment 1853
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I found this article to be an excellent biblical critique of Wild at Heart. I would suggest that one engage with this article before accusing Eldridge of things we cannot know with certainty. This article is indeed critical of Eldridge's theology in the book but, I think wisely, stops short of the "heretic" label.

View attachment 1853

The second paragraph of that review says:
…many of the views expressed in Wild at Heart are, beyond issues of denominational preference, irreconcilable with biblical Christianity.

That sounds pretty heretical to me.
 

cris

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you very much, everyone.
Mike, the pdf is very informative. And accurate. Thank you so much
It looks like my friend dropped the whole story (or, she will read it very, very cautiously).
 

MRC

Puritan Board Freshman
Publishing the notion that "God takes risks" is enough for me to deem heretical. It's certainly a lie and not characteristic at all of the God of Scripture.

While I do agree that open theism is indeed heterodoxy, I find it too easy for my own heart to judge a man without fully understanding what he says. As Etheridge points out it would seem from Wild at Heart that Eldridge does have an open theistic view of God, whether he realizes it or not. However, I have contacted Eldridge's organization directly regarding concerning views in his book Wild at Heart. Even though his official response was even weaker than his book in general, on the specific issue of open theism he is clear that he does not espouse that unorthodox view of God. Obviously, from his book, one can see he is confused in his teaching, but I do see that he understands that open theism is not biblical regardless of his confusing teaching in Wild at Heart.

Should people look to Elderidge's teaching in places like Wild at Heart? Absolutely not. Does Elderidge espouse a clear, biblical understanding of God? I do not believe so. However, the label heretic is thrown around with ease at times regarding Eldridge when for all we know, in our finite view, he could very well be a brother in Christ. Yes, Eldridge desires to be a teacher (false at times I think), however we must admit that we cannot know for sure what his motives are. Even though I agree his theology is disgusting at times, I simply do not know the man well enough to use the label heretic. The church is called to hold false teachers accountable, but those tasked to do so must know them personally and the rest of us should strive to reserve judgment.

---------- Post added at 09:40 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:36 AM ----------

I found this article to be an excellent biblical critique of Wild at Heart. I would suggest that one engage with this article before accusing Eldridge of things we cannot know with certainty. This article is indeed critical of Eldridge's theology in the book but, I think wisely, stops short of the "heretic" label.

View attachment 1853

The second paragraph of that review says:
…many of the views expressed in Wild at Heart are, beyond issues of denominational preference, irreconcilable with biblical Christianity.

That sounds pretty heretical to me.

Definately his view are not biblical. The question is, do these view comes from poor/false teaching in his own life or a desire to teach false doctrine to hurt Christ's Church?
 

MRC

Puritan Board Freshman
Publishing the notion that "God takes risks" is enough for me to deem heretical. It's certainly a lie and not characteristic at all of the God of Scripture.

While I do agree that open theism is indeed heterodoxy, I find it too easy for my own heart to judge a man without fully understanding what he says.
Notice I called his publishing of said notion (not his heart) that "God takes risks" as heretical. It is, in fact, a heretical notion, no matter how qualified. God doesn't take risks, in *any* sense. Also, I've never said that John Eldridge is of the devil are not a brother in Christ. I have no idea if he is or is not. I know that the nonsense he's peddling is not of the God of Scripture. Can men fail? Can Christians fail? Sure. With today's ecclesiastical anarchy it's hard to call anyone heretical proper unless they're in a Reformed denomination and have been brought up on charges, found guilty, etc.

My appologies, I miss-read your comment. When combined with your previous comment that "John Eldridge's nonsense is of the devil" I assumed, incorrectly, that you were labeling Eldridge as a heretic rather than distinguishing him from his ideas as heretical ideas.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I talked to some friends and one of them was reading "Wild at heart". I told her that for me this is the "Heresy alert" kind of book. She kept telling me about some points John Eldredge was making in his book.

The main thesis in the book is the feminization of the men/boys in our society. He makes a good point and I guess we all agree on this.

But then he goes further and says that the reason men and women should be different is because God has both "masculine" characteristics (like just) and "feminine" (like loving, patient, etc). He got that from Gen 1:27, the man was created in God's image. Namely, since the man was created in God's image, God must have these masculine/feminine attributes.

I couldn't explain what "in God's image" means, since it's a difficult topic, but this "masculine/feminine" stuff is speculation at best. At this point I didn't care about men/women any more. I think Eldredge should be very careful with these "attributes" of God.

Could someone explain to me what this Bible verse means?

Thank you very much
Cristian

Main problem with his thesis is that he assumes some traits are masculine and others feminine. Those characterizations are cultural, not Biblical. I'd challenge your friend to produce Biblical justifications for classifying traits among gender lines.
 

MRC

Puritan Board Freshman
Regardless, what he's publishing is in fact heretical, regardless if it's attached to his intent or not.

Agreed. I know that he has publically stated that he does not espouse Open Theism when asked point blank, but his writings are filled with, as you point out, the idea that God is a risk taker.

I emphasize, Joshua, that we are in agreement that Elderidge is indeed departing from the historic Christian understanding of who God is and therefore does seem to be teaching a heretical view of God. For me, though, I am less convinced than you to say he is actively teaching heretical views, as I think he simply has bad theology to work from and therefore does not understand the theological implications of a risk-taking god. I suggest that the issue here has more to do with weak theological training in evangelicalism rather than non-existant court systems. As Eldridge has a much larger readership than most sound, reformed teachers this is a wonderful opportunity for the Church to engage with him positively, trusting God to re-form his theological framework.
 

Jared

Puritan Board Freshman
Here is a review of the book by Sam Storms. I think it is an even-handed review. Sam has featured positive quotes from Eldredge in the past in his writings. But, he wasn't a big fan of the book "Wild At Heart". Here's what he had to say about it:

Enjoying God Ministries
 
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