Wild at Heart and Captivating by John Eldredge

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LaurieBluedorn

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm compiling a list of excerpts of reviews of these two books by John Eldredge. Am I leaving anything out?
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Wild at Heart by John Eldredge: A Compilation of Review Excerpts

Ron Foster
Vain Hopes: A Review of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart

…Wild at Heart has been a catalyst for removing the Bible from Bible studies and replacing them with DVD/VCR players. Men’s groups no longer spend time reading and “digging” into the word of God. No, men now watch clips from Braveheart and discuss how William Wallace is what a real Christian should look like - rugged, outdoorsy, adventurous. What this boils down to is a lack of trust in the sufficiency of scripture… I cannot subscribe to the defense given for books like Wild at Heart, that God uses these books in spite of their theological flaws. I find it hard to believe that God would use something that robs Him of His glory and gives it to men, something that diminishes God’s name for the sake of man, something that directly and blatantly contradicts His written word. Books like Wild at Heart might “help” people with their psychological issues, emotional problems and “wounds.” But true spiritual healing comes from God’s prescribed means of grace that are outlined in His word. Anything outside this is highly suspect. …
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Randy Stinson
CBMW » Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

…very significant problems which undermine the entire book…. Eldredge's description of God and his "adventure" leave the reader with a confusing and unbiblical picture of God. For him, men are risk-takers and adventure-seekers at heart because God is a risk-taker and adventure-seeker. He [Eldredge] claims, ‘In an attempt to secure the sovereignty of God, theologians have overstated their case and left us with a chess-player God playing both sides of the board, making all his moves and all ours too.’….For those familiar with the current debate over what is sometimes called open theism, Eldredge explicitly states that he is not advocating this position. But this is even more problematic. If he is familiar with the debate, and he is not an open theist, then why would he use language that is so closely tied to that position? ….
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Tim Challies
Book Review - Wild At Heart | Challies Dot Com

“A few months ago I mentioned on this site that I was reading John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart and intended to write a review of it. After reading the book I elected not to write a review at that time. The book was so full of error and absolutely ridiculous nonsense that I just didn’t have the heart to document it all. ... Though Eldredge denies he is an open theist, the evidence does not support his claim. Time and time again he speaks of God in ways that can only be explained if you hold such views. “God is a person who takes immense risks (p. 30). It’s not the nature of God to limit His risks and cover His bases (p.31). As with every relationship, there’s a certain amount of unpredictability. God’s willingness to risk is just astounding. There is definitely something wild in the heart of God (p. 32). … Eldredge views Satan as the one who is to blame when we sin. He seems to believe that we are little more than victims rather than being fully, 100% responsible for our own sins. … Eldredge says that God talks to him directly. He also speaks to him through movies, books and so on.
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Daryl Wingerd
A Critical Review of John Eldredge's <I>Wild at Heart</I>

Simply stated, the problems are as follows: First, John Eldredge mishandles Scripture badly. Second, the central theme of the book is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible. Third, the book conveys a degrading, humanistic, and even heretical view of God….Not only can I not recommend this book, I feel compelled to warn Christians to keep it away from others, especially from the lost and from the immature believer. Books like Wild at Heart--books that humanize God and glorify man--books that teach a generation of Christian men, already weakened by humanistic philosophy and biblical ignorance, to look anywhere other than the pages of the Bible for guidance--have a seductive appeal to the flesh….
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Jim Harmon
Wild at Heart

Popularity aside, Wild at Heart is a notable example of the integration of secular ideas, theories, and practices with Scripture. As a result, clear Biblical teaching regarding the nature of man, how he should live, and how he changes is compromised, undermined, and obscured…..from the outset he paints the Christian man with a distinctly psychological brush—a victim, one who has been "wounded," most likely by his father, but also by the church, his wife, and others as well. All that follows is an eclectic mix of ideas and assumptions embroidered with Scripture. This mixture (known today as integration) can give the impression that the commentary is Bible-based and therefore misleads all but those discerning readers who insist upon Biblical integrity…. Eldredge describes a needy God, a God with fragile hopes and desires, a God who comes in search of attention and affection….
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Living Water of Washington DC
Wild at Heart by John Eldredge has real problems

1. Eldredge prays that men and women live the life they want (page xii).
2. Wild at Heart says that salvation comes from pursuit of fights, adventure, and beautiful women. (p. 9).
3. Wild at Heart twists the biblical version of The Fall and trashes the doctrine of Original Sin.
4. Wild at Heart says the old heart of man is good and that the central message of the Bible is for man to get back his old heart (p. 129).
5. Eldredge's "bondage" of the heart has nothing to do with sin....
8. Wild at Heart misuses Scripture and changes meanings of words.
9. Wild at Heart says "We don't need accountability groups"(p. 175)...
11. Wild at Heart recommends that you listen for "voices"....
15. Eldredge makes up his own Bible stories, and says that Jesus speaks of "the deep and holy goodness of masculine aggression" (p. 177).
16. Eldredge says that God has given him and his partners a special message.....
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Dennis Gunderson, GraceandTruthBooks.com

I haven't read "Captivating" but I know "Wild at Heart" well. ..They are both emotion-driven books with very little biblical emphasis. "Wild at Heart" was designed to persuade men that they should be adventurous and a little crazy, break loose and get outside, do exciting things, on a theory that God made us for this sort of thing. Kind of dominion theology gone wild. Anything worth saying in the book could be said in one paragraph to a reclusive young man, to get out and try more new and different things. I don't trust the author to show good judgment, so I doubt his wife's book is much better. Reviews of it on amazon.com seem to indicate that critically thinking writers were disappointed and found it more fluff than substance.
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Gary Gilley
Wild at Heart - Part 1
Wild at Heart - Part 2

Wild at Heart is so full of unbiblical content and downright error that even Christianity Today wrote a negative review. When Christianity Today, which embraces everyone from Robert Schuller to Tony Campolo, and seldom has a pejorative word to say about anything, feels compelled to issue warnings, it ought to cause warning signs to pop up in our minds. Christianity Today implied that Wild at Heart is a “syrupy pop book that pleases undiscerning ears” and then stated clearly, “The therapeutic virtues of the book, however, do not outweigh its theological and cultural vices…. Theological error emerges by page three.” Actually a careful analysis of Wild at Heart should be unnecessary. It is so obviously flawed, so full of psychobabble, so blatantly out of line with Scripture, one would assume that it would be rejected out-of-hand by any who have a moderate knowledge of the Word. ...Quite frankly, this is the root of the problem—Eldredge has virtually no understanding of Scripture and zero belief in its sufficiency. His source of truth is consistently outside the Bible. Had he spent even a fraction of the time contemplating the Word as he did watching movies and reading Robert Bly, this would be a very different book. As it is Wild at Heart is a secular book with just enough proof texts and “God-talk” to fool the undiscerning and the biblically illiterate, which ought to scare us silly when we think about the awards it has won and the people who have endorsed it….Eldredge has bought into every form of psychobabble imaginable. For example:

We are all victims (pp. 124-25, 132).
Sinful behavior is explained as psychological disorder.
Page 72 – “Adolescent misbehavior” is but a cry for involvement, engagement.
Pages 88, 89 – Parents, especially fathers, are to blame for our problems.
Pages 91, 92 – p0rnography is addictive because down deep we believe if we can just find and win the beauty we will recover our own lost masculinity.
Pages 94, 95 – “Homosexuality is an attempt to repair the wound by filling it with masculinity.”
Pages 147-149 – “Sexual struggle [is] not so much… sin but… a battle for… strength…. Remember—a man’s addictions are the result of his refusing his strength.”
Pages 148, 149 offer a particularly disturbing example of visualization which is definitely tending toward the occult, along with some dream analysis that would impress Freud.
We all have been wounded in life, most likely by our parents (Eldredge believes it is usually fathers). Until we recognize this wound, grieve over it, enter into it, we will be dysfunctional and troubled people….

… there is no question that [Eldredge] misunderstands the devil. First, he believes the devil fears the courageous Christian man (pp. 87, 166). On the contrary, God warns us of our arrogance in attempting to deal with the devil (Jude 8-10; 2 Peter 2:10-12), and calls for us to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-13) and resist, not attack (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:6)…..Next, rather than recognizing that our sinful flesh is the primary, if not exclusive, source of our evil thoughts, he attempts to blame these on the devil (p. 152). Our sinful emotions can also be blamed on Satan, and dizziness apparently is a symptom of demonic oppression (p. 164-165). Finally, when a man falls into sin it is not really his fault (a common theme as we have seen); it is the devil who has picked him off (pp. 169-170).
…Although he denies it, Eldredge is clearly an open theist. Open theism teaches that God not only does not control all events in the future, He cannot even know them…. This is no light matter. In recent times the Evangelical Theological Society has declared open theism to be a heresy and has attempted to expel several theologians who hold it. Surely Eldredge is not ignorant of the fact that one of the most popular open theism books is The God Who Risks by John Sanders. I do not believe that Eldredge is unfamiliar with the issues here. He is popularizing a view of God that is clearly heretical. …
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C. Pressnell on Amazon

….Eldredge also maintains that God created mankind out of his desire to be loved rather than to love and be glorified. "I am convinced beyond a doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone...the cry of God's heart is `Why won't you choose me?'" Eldredge goes on to ask, "Do you know why [God] often doesn't answer prayer right away? Because he wants to talk to us, and sometimes that's the only way to get us to stay and talk to him." (p.36) This is such a twisted view of the doctrines of God and creation!...... One horrible example Eldredge gives is when he encourages his son to beat up the playground bully (pp. 78-79). After instructing his son to "hit the bully as hard as he can" after being pushed to the ground he goes on to justify this advice in this way, "Yes, I know that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. But we have really misused that verse. You cannot teach a boy to use his strength by stripping him of it. Jesus was able to retaliate, believe me. But he chose not to. And yet we suggest that a boy who is mocked, shamed before his fellows, stripped of all power and dignity should stay in that beaten place because Jesus wants him there? You will emasculate him for life. From that point on all will be passive and fearful. He will grow up never knowing how to stand his ground, never knowing if he is a man indeed. Oh yes, he will be courteous, sweet even, deferential, minding all his manners. It may look moral, it may look like turning the other cheek, but it is merely weakness. You cannot turn a cheek you do not have. Our churches are full of such men." At what point will Eldredge correct this teaching to his son by letting him know that Jesus' response was actually the more powerful one?....
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Steve Olree
Home

…Eldredge has a method for dealing with those who would disagree with him by standing on Biblical Truth – people he calls “Doctrine Police” and “Doctrinal Nazis.” In the Wild at Heart Facilitator’s Guide for “facilitators” of his workshops, Eldredge recommends a psychological technique of manipulation used to control and direct the outcome of small group discussions. By the use of marginalization and isolation, he instructs facilitators on how to “shut down the doctrine cop” (page 4). Again on page 5, he warns the facilitator to watch out for the “…doctrine Nazi – a guy who’s got some theological ax to grind.” Here again Eldredge instructs the facilitator to dismiss and evade any doctrinal issues being made and to marginalize and isolate the man who brings them to the group’s attention. “Doctrinal Nazis” and “doctrine cops,” as Eldredge calls them, must be silenced because Eldredge’s teachings will not stand up to the light of Scriptural Truth…

…His discussion of penis size in the book, and his use of profanity in the lecture series, including the ‘F-word,’ ‘G__ damn,’ and ‘sh__’ should be objectionable to Christian men, and a warning signal that Eldredge is not qualified to impart wisdom about biblical manhood….…John Eldredge has built his "wild at heart" theme on the works of Jungians like Robert Bly, Sam Keen, and others. ...

…as Eldredge writes about the sin in the Garden of Eden, he sets up a very different scenario from what we find in Scripture. All this time we thought rebelling against God’s command not to eat the fruit was the problem, but alas, we were wrong. After quoting Genesis 2:16-17, he writes: "Okay, most of us have heard about that. But notice what God doesn’t tell Adam. There is no warning or instruction over what is about to occur: the Temptation of Eve. This is just staggering. Notably missing from the dialogue between Adam and God is something like this: ‘Adam, one more thing. A week from Tuesday, about four in the afternoon, you and Eve are going to be down in the orchard and something dangerous is going to happen. Adam, are you listening? The eternal destiny of the human race hangs on this moment. Now here’s what I want you to do …’ he doesn’t tell him. He doesn’t even mention it so far as we know. Good grief – why not?! Because God believes in Adam. This is what he is designed to do – to come through in a pinch."

It is far more likely that it isn’t in the text because it isn’t true other than in the mind of John Eldredge. He then tells us that when the serpent tempted Eve, Adam did: "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He says not a word, doesn’t lift a finger. He won’t risk, he won’t fight, and he won’t rescue Eve. Our first father—the first real man—gave in to paralysis. He denied his very nature and went passive. And every man after him repeats the sin of Adam, every day." This is certainly a creative new definition for original sin and the sin nature. Rather than being rebellion against God, it is not being ready to fight. We must really concur with Byron Borger, in his essay on Wild at Heart, when he says this book "is so laden with wrong-headed biases that the book is unsound."…
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Charles Sell, Professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

…He demeans women by suggesting they are not risk takers, but beauties who wait on men to rescue them. Based on his warrior model of a man, he contrasts William Wallace, Scottish liberator, portrayed in the film Braveheart, with Mother Teresa, as her roaming the streets of Calcutta as a single woman to care for the deceased and dying involved no danger, risk or adventure….As Christians, we need not turn to Rambo or Rocky for our model of masculinity. We should take Pilate's advice and "Behold, the man." Jesus provides the most perfect authentic model we can find. And, if we were making a movie of his life, we would probably not think of casting the likes of John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone or Cling Eastwood to play His role….
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Thinker on Amazon

… some obvious observations:

1. He uses Hollywood movies (in excess) to illustrate spiritual points.
2. He rarely uses Scripture and when he does, it's weak and/or out of context.
3. His views are incredibly shallow - all men (and women) appear the same in his universe.
4. His theology is incredibly weak as a result.

A large number of 5-star reviewers admit that this is the very first book they've read in a long time, and sometimes it's their first book period. With little else to compare, it's easy to see why there is so much high praise and so little criticism. …
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Julie on Amazon

I think the other negative reviews cover the gamut of this book's faults, but I shall summarize some of the glaring ones here. 1. Oversimplifies the desires of "all boys" and "all girls." According to the author, all boys, and therefore all men, need a battle to fight, a maiden to rescue, and an adventure to go on. All girls, want to be fought for/ wanted/ pursued, adventure to share, and a beauty to unveil. I'm not saying there's no truth to these but they're stereotypes that don't always hold true. It's about as true as saying all people seek love and appreciation. Does it make me any less of a woman for not playing "dress up" as a child? Some boys do play "dress up" - what do you think putting on a batman costume is called? … …6. Every man (and woman) carries a wound inflicted by their father. We live in a fallen world. Even orphans are "wounded" emotionally by somebody. …
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T. L. Pagaard on Amazon

It's frightening how many thugs I know who have used this book as an excuse to return to their mindlessly violent approach to life, freed at last from normal Christian restraints at least to imitate civilized behavior. The function of religion throughout human history has been, in part, to mitigate this sort of barbarian thuggery. Now John Eldredge has turned the thuggery loose once again on the world. He should be ashamed!
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A customer on Amazon

If you are a just-born Christian, or a husband, do not read this book, as it will give you misinformation that will confuse you and hurt your relationship with your wife.
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JackMcNeal on Amazon

If you want to advertise that you're an insecure, gullible guy, carry around a copy of this book. It's like wearing a billboard that says "I'm Weak and Easily Fooled" -- at least everybody who sees you will know what to expect. It's the same as seeing a 35-year-old guy carrying a bunch of comic books under his arm -- you get a sneaking suspicion that he might not be quite grownup yet. Every man I've ever met who unthinkingly fell for this book was the kind of guy that embarrasses me as a man. The adolescents who never grew up. The macho bullies who think swaggering and carrying guns is a sign of masculinity. The guys who marry weak doormatty women in order to make themselves feel big. These guys are an easy target for hucksters like Eldredge because he understands them and speaks their language. Instead of pulling their weight around the house, these guys think that it's the women's job to do all the grunt work of raising kids, while he gets to do the camping trips and run off into the woods whenever he gets the urge. Of course, Eldredge justifies his views by -- get this -- breathlessly quoting from movies and songs and legends that appeal to his little-boy viewpoint. It's like listening to a 14-year-old quote the lyrics of Brittany Spears. Or watching a 16-year-old boy tell you how 'kewl' it would be to jump out of a window onto a flaming mattress (he saw it on TV) -- because, like Eldredge, he's not quite smart enough to figure out that dangerous is what stupid people do. Sure, lots of guys will be suckered in by a title like Wild at Heart. Unless you're no smarter than the boys on Jackass, do yourself a favor. Take a long hard look at John Eldredge and his philosophy. Do a google on him. What you'll find out is that, far from being a man of stature and substance… he plays dress-up, taking on all the superficial trappings that he thinks manly men do and selling his potion to other guys. Somebody oughta tell him he's not showing us what men should be like -- he's merely giving us a caricature that exposes his own insecurities and father-issues.
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A customer on Amazon

Eldredge takes Robert Bly's "Iron John" and attempts to Christianize it. He does this without discernment, keeping the disparagement for order and commitment, and celebrating "wildness" and "adventure." One can almost hear Bly's sneering dismissal of office workers.
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Ryan George on Amazon

….Teaches that the beginning of the Christian walk is when an individual admits that the sin in his life is caused by a wound that they have received from another. This stands in stark contrast to the Word of God, which teaches that the Christian life begins with repentance, which is when a man admits that he is solely to blame for the sin in his life. … Adds to and arguably supplants the doctrine of original sin with another universally applicable cause of sin, the "wound" or the "soul wound." According to Eldredge, the "wound" is caused by the denial of a boy by others, most often the boy's father, in word or deed, of the boy's true powerful nature and the good, inborn desires that flow from such nature. …Finally and worst of all, the book tends to liberate men from guilt for their own sin without one reference to the cross of Christ
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jc4life on Amazon

Eldredge’s message through this book is that all the men today are afraid to follow their hearts because they have been trained by civilization to be nice guys. The whole book is opposed to the core beliefs of Christianity. According to this book, we should not be afraid to give-in to the sinful desires of our heart, men were created in the wild and therefore they have a wild heart. I WOULD PREACH EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THIS BOOK PREACHES: do NOT trust your heart. Use your brains to carefully meditate upon the words of the Lord. Turn away from fulfilling your innermost selfish desires and look towards God and praise the Lord!!
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T. Slater on Amazon

This has got to be the worse book ever written. The author states that everyone has a wound and the wound is nearly always given by his father. What a bunch of BS. My Father loved me. Neither I nor my siblings have any stupid wound from our Father. Neither does my wife nor my friends. I thought we were to respect our parents, not lay the responsibility for my screwed up life on them. My wound is the result of the sinful nature into which I was born. Also, I don't need to be Grizzly Adams to have a relationship with God. I don't need to go out into nature to find God. I find God sitting in front of my urban office in the wee hours in the morning, praying to the God of my salvation. …
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Screwtape on Amazon

I must congratulate you on your fine work.... people rightly say that the devil is in the details....your work is a fine example of that. Man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his heart. On one hand, man has a wild heart, a sinful heart, a daring heart, a dangerous heart, an unsettling heart, always telling him to pursue one dangerous thing or the other...to chase a beautiful woman, to eat the forbidden fruit. On the other hand is that voice of conscience telling him to give up his own pleasure, to seek holiness... to obey and follow God, to follow the path of repentance and salvation? This book that you have written is a fine example of putting a seal of biblical legitimacy on encouraging men to follow the wild side of their hearts. I am so impressed by how effectively you use knowledge and examples from today's R-rated movies (e.g. Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall) to create a role model for how a man should be (Jesus Christ is the past, Brad Pitt is the man of today). Let us mock the humbleness and meekness of men in church today, by telling them that they are bored, and themselves boring as well. Then let us draw the men away from that boredom by inviting them to become men after their own hearts. By doing this, we will be in effect encouraging them to follow the heart of our father below (not the heart of our enemy above). Keep up the good work. Affectionately, Your uncle, Screwtape
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Randy Brandt
C4TF: Wild at Heart

…There's bound to be some controversy over Eldredge's approach to the story of Ruth. On page 191 he writes, This is seduction pure and simple--and God holds it up for all women to follow. I envision leaders of church singles groups panicking as they learn that a single woman is at her best when she can arouse a man (page 192)….
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Bob Struck
Ancient Paths Blog: Walking With God, by John Eldredge

The first time I heard of John Eldredge it was for Wild at Heart his book about manhood. Though I am interested in biblical manhood I didn't read it. Why? Unfortunately it came out just after the theological controversy over Open Theism had rankled our denomination in the late 1990s. It was pointed out to me at this time that the author - though denying he was doing so - entertained many of the concepts of this heresy in his book and I just couldn't see putting up with it. So when this book, Walking with God, by the same author was handed to me I was reluctant to spend any time on it. However, on a personal note, I am now dealing with cancer and am being driven to draw nearer to God in the process. The subtitle to the book: "Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really" was what I wanted - so I began reading.

… I'm convinced the author has failed to make his case. His thesis is that "an intimate, conversational walk with God is available, and is meant to be normal...[and] if you don't find that kind of relationship with God, your spiritual life will be stunted." By conversational the author means that God speaks to His people, beyond the scriptures; that God's people can hear His voice in their heads (in their minds? in their conscious awareness?) on any topic they care to pose to Him; and God wants us to speak to Him on all manner of things. To prove this he cites numerous examples from the scriptures where God in the Old Testament and the incarnate Son in the New Testament interacts verbally with people. He says once you accept this it then takes time to learn, but this view of the Christian life is vastly superior to that life that believes God's speaking is confined to scripture. What follows in the rest of the book is a narrative of his conversational intimacy with God. Unfortunately, the examples do not paint the picture of a conversational God. His first examples are basically Yes and No questions. "Is it yes, you want us to go? Pause. In my heart I'm trying it on, letting it be as though this is God's answer. We should go? Pause and listen. Or is it no, you want us to stay home? Pause and let this be his answer. We should stay home? Pause and listen again..." I'm sorry - but the first picture that comes to mind is of kids hovering over one of those Magic 8-Balls waiting for the little answer thingy to pop up. Not to worry however, more in-depth conversation follows with the author asking about his personal Bible reading. "What would you have me read today?" And God's answer? "At first I simply heard John. So I open my Bible to the gospel of John, and as I turn there I ask, Where in John? And God says, Ten." Umm... ok. Finally, he says "Often... I'll turn my heart and thoughts toward God simply to ask him, What are you saying Lord? ... For the past two months at least, what God has been saying in return is My Love." Extraordinary! Not only was I underwhelmed by this example of conversational intimacy but the author seems to betray the same reaction saying, "Every time I've stopped to listen I've heard, My Love. And I've wondered why... I haven't really known what to do with this." I'm sorry but God doesn't seem any more chatty with the author than He is with me.

Here's my take on John Eldredge: he seems of a Pentecostal persuasion but is typical of today's evangelical who's opted for a non-doctrinal, subjective form of Christianity based on emotion, intuition and self-expression. Where the Bible says, "In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son..." Hebrews 1:2, Pentecostals historically and evangelicals recently, by setting aside the great truths of the gospel and reflection on them, have lost the ability to "hear" God. To this crowd God's intimacy is not His great work of drawing near and making His dwelling among us in Christ but about my personal, private conversation with God as I go about my happy life. Historically, believers' conversation has been in terms of worship. God has spoken in His Son; and as believers have heard this Word with greater understanding they have responded in various forms of praise. Eldredge reduces the conversation to a crude game of charades with us guessing at whether God would have us wear the red socks or the blue ones today.
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Captivating by John and Stacie Eldredge: A Compilation of Review Excerpts
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Susan Verstraete
Review of Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

…Captivating is much more woman-centered than God-centered. The theology taught in the book is full of error. Most of the biblical passages addressed directly to women are not discussed in the book. Jesus is presented as a suitor instead of as a sovereign. My conclusion is that Captivating is a slightly sanctified—though somewhat misleading—romance novel about God, with little biblical substance.
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Re4mdmom on Amazon

1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other "Proverbs 31" quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the "Proverbs 31" woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful… and whether or not she is being properly "romanced." ….
2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: "Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God" (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the "Crown of Creation." In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the "bridegroom" of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a "Lover." …
3. They take so much of the Bible out of context that it’s hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her "first love". They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.
4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we "open the door of our hearts" where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.
5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians…. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I'm afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just "blame Satan" instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!). …
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C. L. Blakey on Amazon

…In the first chapter the Eldredges state that "every woman in her heart longs for three things: to be romanced, to play and irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty." In the rest of the book they attribute why women don't get these three things to the fact that their "Question" hasn't been answered. They say that every woman is asking the question "Am I lovely?" Stasi seems to take her personal experience and personal desires and attribute them to every woman. She comes from a troubled past of depression, eating disorders, abuse and sexual promiscuity--this helps the reader understand some of where she is coming from, but for her to make her own experience out to be the problems with all women is not accurate by any stretch.

…Several times this book voices a problem with Proverbs 31. Speculating about "church women" and their model for femininity, they say,

"We're all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, 'The Proverbs 31
Woman,' whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for
friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Somehow she
has sanctified the shame most women live under, biblical proof that
yet again we don't measure up. Is that supposed to be godly--the
sense that you are a failure as a woman?" (p.6)

The truth is that we are failures, all of us, men and women alike. That's why we need Christ to save us and make us new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), set apart to do His good works (Eph. 2:10). We don't need to feel good about ourselves or our efforts to measure up, that is the whole reason we need Christ--we don't measure up. As believers our time on this earth is a life-long pursuit for Christ likeness. If we think the Proverbs 31 woman makes us feel bad to compare ourselves to, how do we feel when we look at ourselves compared to Jesus, who is perfect? We shouldn't be resentful toward God's Word, but should humbly accept what God calls us to and strive wholeheartedly to that end.

…in the introduction of chapter seven Stasi tells of a walk she took one night in which she admired creation and complimented God saying, "It's beautiful, Lord! The stars are amazing!" Apparently she "heard" a response, "I'm glad you like it, my Darling." Stasi continues with her narrative, "I stopped dead in my tracks. I blushed. Did the God of the universe just call me 'Darling'?" She tells how later she was reading Song of Songs and was amazed to have some sort of confirmation in chapter one verse fifteen, "How beautiful you are, my darling."

Many other times the Eldredges make big statements without any Scriptural foundation at all. Two of the more troubling ones are:

"For the root of all holiness is Romance" (p. 113)

"You. You are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill. Woah. He longs for you." (p. 120)

…Confusing Biblical love with romance. Biblical love is defined as: patient, kind, not having envy, not proud, rude or selfish, doesn't get upset easily, doesn't think evil but rejoicing in truth, love bears all things, hopes and endures. Romance can be defined as: an emotional attraction, excitement, adventure and seeking to gain one's favor with flattery.

…Assuming our desires are good. Throughout this book, the Eldredges seek to address women's desires, may they be for acceptance, beauty, adventure or romance...they assume that all desires we have are God-given. They talk much about the core of a woman's heart and the longings and desires that are there, but they never address the reality that our hearts are wicked and terribly deceived. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" At one point Proverbs 4:23 is quoted which says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." The conclusion they make from this verse is that,

"Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible
dignities--as a reflection of God's own heart. You are a woman to your
soul, to the very core of your being...When he created you as his woman
--that journey begins with your heart. Another way of saying this is that
the journey begins with desire." (p.8)

I can have lots of desires that are self induced longings for things that God may not want there. Proverbs 3:5 gives a similar exhortation on this matter of the heart and desires: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding..." We should never assume that we have anything good in us and especially not that our own desires for things are somehow right simply because they exist. That is why I'm exhorted to guard my heart with diligence; it isn't right or good, but deceitful and wicked.

…Vague on sin and salvation. The Eldredges do talk about God and mention salvation, but fail to do so in a clearly defined or Biblical light. In chapters three and four we are given an account of the creation and the fall where sin or salvation are referred to as "fallen Eve" or "redeemed Eve". Sin is often referred to vaguely as having "fallen from grace", "goes bad", "fails" or is not "not measuring up". The distinction of a woman being spiritually alive or spiritually dead is unclear. The Eldredges state that Satan hates women, because of her "beauty and power" (p. 85) making it seem as though the spiritual battles we face are between Satan and his evil forces and specifically women rather than believers.

Another particularly troubling part claims that Christ has saved us so we can be ourselves.

"Now the Son of God has come to ransom you, and to heal your
broken, wounded, bleeding heart, and to set you free from bondage.
He came to restore the glorious creation that you are. And then set
you free...to be yourself." (p. 95)

I'm very concerned about this claim, because Biblically the whole reason we've been set free from sin and death specifically is so that we can not be ourselves, but instead be like Christ. That's why in 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says that "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

There are so many other issues in this book that I could address--assaulting spirits, taking medication for depression, Christian psychology, and the chapter called "Arousing Adam." But the fundamental problem with this book is that it is woman-centered rather than God-centered. The Eldredges try to exalt women to a position that is nowhere found in Scripture.

"She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman.
In one last flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam,
but with Eve... Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to
ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that
Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice
addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God's final touch, his
piece de resistance... Look out across the earth and say to yourselves,
'The whole, vast world is incomplete without me.
Creation reached its zenith in me.'" (p. 25)

"There is something uniquely magnificent and powerful about a woman.
We tried to reveal the immeasurable dignity, the holiness of your
feminine heart by showing that it is God who longs for Romance...
it is God who reveals beauty as essential to life. You are the image
bearer of this God. That is why you long for those things too. There
is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs." (p. 42)

"But most especially, he [Satan] hates Eve. Because she is captivating,
uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the
Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation,
she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world to God. (p. 84)

"You see, ultimately, a woman invites us to know God." (p. 137)

This book tries to make God out to be a "lover" and our "Romancer" rather than teaching us to love Him with all our heart…. I would encourage you … stay away from Captivating. The heresy the Eldredges are teaching in this book is not edifying for anyone to read…
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J. Painter on Amazon

I think a lot of the reviews that gave this book five stars never opened their Bible. If they did they would notice how often she twists or quotes scriptures out of context. This book is based far more on movies than on scriptures. For instance in the Bible, Jesus says he is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride. This is a continued metaphor that God uses in the Old Testament to represent his relationship with the Unfaithful Israel. The main basis for this book is to lead you to believe that you are the Bride and Jesus wants to be your lover. She goes way past biblical when she says "Jack with Rose on the bow of the Titanic, his arms around her waist, their first kiss... Now, put yourself in the scene as the Beauty, and Jesus as the Lover." Stasi is trying to tell us that we are supposed to fantasize about kissing and holding Jesus. I think she didn't watch the movie because Rose was engaged when she had an affair and she had sex before marriage. But according to Stasi this is what we desire... to be a Beauty like Rose.
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K. Sprinkler on Amazon

False teaching always has 2 fundamental elements that make it a successful false teaching. 1) It contains a biblical truth that your heart can identify with; 2) It appeals to our sin nature...usually "self" is involved. This book is all about "self" as a woman. There is a continual admonition to think extremely highly of yourself as a woman. To actually look at yourself as the "crown of creation." So many of the things Stasi appeals to us to think and feel about ourself, is nothing more that an appeal to exalt ourself above others. She even condemns the idea of being a servant.....which is characteristic of all of the teachings of Jesus. Jesus says if we want to be great that we must be a servant…
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lovemyson! on Amazon

…The premise of chapter five is this: "most of the bad things that happen to you in life are because you're beautiful. Satan is jealous of your beauty and does bad things to you because of his jealousy." Of course, what woman doesn't want to hear they are beautiful? But this idea is found NOWHERE in Scripture.

We learn in the Bible that God allows trials in the lives of Christians for His good purposes. One reason we suffer is in 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." One reason God allows suffering is so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies! It has everything to do with the glory of God and nothing to do with our beauty or Satan.

Another reason we suffer is to give God glory in our suffering: " - 1Peter 4:16 - Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." If you suffer, glorify God. Don't look at yourself and think, "I must be REALLY beautiful, for Satan to want me to suffer like this."

But chapter five of Captivating tells us we need to give glory to ourselves, for our beauty, when we suffer. Captivating says the reason women have suffered throughout history is because they are beautiful. (We know as Christians that one of the main reason there is suffering in the world is because of sin--not beauty.) Here are some quotes from the chapter: "I was terrified of men and terrified of my beauty. Beauty was dangerous." "What is to account for the systemic, often brutal, nearly universal assault on femininity? Where does this come from?" "Who does Satan single out for his move against the human race? ...Satan went after Eve.... Have you ever wondered why? It might have been that he, like any predator, chose what he believed to be the weaker of the two. There is some truth to that. He is utterly ruthless. But we believe there is more."

(We KNOW why he went after Eve. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." 1 Timothy 2:13-14 "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ" 2 Corinthians 11:3. Satan went after Eve because she was easier to deceive. We have the answer to the question: "Why did Satan go after Eve?" The answer is found in the New Testament. Eve was easier to deceive than Adam.)

Captivating goes on to say, "Satan fell because of his beauty. Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty... But most especially, he hates Eve... She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God." WHAT??!!?? Where is that verse???

We know the declaration of God's glory is made by the heavens which He stretched out: "The heavens declare the glory of God." Psalm 19:1 And then in Isaiah 40 God compares people with the heavens He made: "Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust... All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?... It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;...To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One." (Isaiah 40:15,17-18,22,25)

It looks like God Himself has answered this horrible comparison. God Himself has said, "to whom will you compare me?" Why do the Eldredges compare a woman, who is part of the human race--who is less than the dust on the scales--to God? And especially, how can anyone dare to say "she embodies the glory of God"?

To quote again from Captivating: "Put those two things together--that Eve incarnates the Beauty of God and she gives life to the world. Satan's bitter heart cannot bear it. He assaults her with a special hatred." "It changes things to realize that, no, it is because you are glorious that these things happened." "You are hated because of your beauty and power."

Yes, women often feel alone. The Eldredges are VERY GOOD at speaking to a woman's heart and describing exactly how they feel. They certainly have this going for them. They describe a person's pain and problems and suffering brilliantly. The problem is their solutions. The solution to the abuse women suffer is not found in recognizing your glory and beauty. But I think people are so "captivated" by finding someone who understands them, who writes exactly how they feel, that they accept any answer the Eldredges give.

Now, some of the authors' answers are right on. And I think this is another place people get confused. Readers can become so emotionally entangled with what the authors are saying, they can't separate the heresy when it comes. So, if you read this book, and if it ministers to you emotionally, PLEASE realize that not all the Eldredges' say is true.

…One message this book communicates is: don't worry, you've already attained, you're already doing good. Let us show you how you are perfect, ideal, captivating; let's dig up and discover who you really are so we can see how wonderful that person inside you really is.

Paul said the opposite: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Phil. 3:12). And Romans 7:24, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

(Notice: the word wretched was used, not fascinating, not enchanting, not captivating, but WRETCHED! I feel like the book might say to me: "Don't say that about yourself. No, you're not wretched. Don't put yourself down like that." But if Paul was wretched, and he was a supreme example of someone who followed Christ, we are certainly wretched.)

…The authors also say we have to conclude that a godly woman is tired and guilty. How dare they! A godly woman has entered into the rest God provides, and she has no condemnation in Christ Jesus. A godly woman isn't even that focused on herself--she's focused on the worthiness of Jesus. If a woman feels guilty, it's no sign of her godliness.

…I understand that some women who have read this book feel like they understand God more. But if what you're understanding isn't biblically based, it's not worth understanding. Overall, I cannot even in the slightest bit recommend it.
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Hannah Hagarty on Amazon

I really disliked the portrayal of women as a whole in this book as being broken, hurting, incomplete individuals. This is a common mindset afflicting women in Christian culture. I may not have had a great childhood and neither may have you, but twenty years later I do not need to wallow in the injustices of my life. I believe it is much, much better to fill ones heart and mind with what God says about us as women, as his creation and children. I believe we are all "more than conquerors in Christ Jesus". The authors play up women's broken needs and incompleteness as needing men. I wish they had played up more the fact that wholeness and completeness will only ever be found in Christ, whether you are a single woman or happily married.
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R. Dennison on Amazon

In a nut shell- don't waste your time or money on this book. I thought the first chapter was a joke. … Poor, incorrect unbiblical theology. The author seems to imply that all women have had some deep, dark secret (sexual abuse, etc) that they need to sob over. In one part of the book it told me that I needed to heal from my abusive past and just let the 'flood gates' open and cry it out. Also, making it out that God NEEDS women. That somehow He (God) was incomplete without women. That's right -- the author reflects that God needed Eve. It also becomes disturbing how the author reflects that Jesus should be our 'lover'. I don't know about you -- but if I said 'lover' in any context whatsoever it would imply 'someone with whom you have sexual relations with'. Creepy, inaccurate take on demon possession and even going so far as to imply that sickness is a type of demon-possession.
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Tim Challies
Book Review - Captivating | Challies Dot Com

…As with Eldredge's previous books, this one relies heavily on stories and, in particular, movies to express teaching. I counted the movies and arrived at a list of thirty-eight ….

I was surprised to see that the book paid scant attention to those passages of the Bible that particularly address women. I do not recall any attempt to interact with Paul's epistles; Proverbs 31 received only one mention, and it was only in the context of sneering at the church's fixation with that traditional role model. In fact, the only passages that received any significant attention were Genesis 2 and 3. The authors rewrote Genesis 2:18, which most translations render similar to "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." They turned to a commentary and translation written by Robert Alter and suggested a better translation of the verse is "I will make a sustainer beside him" (page 27). …

Eldredge's emphasis on extra-biblical revelation has carried over from his other books. In this one, for example, he writes about a time when the Holy Spirit told him to buy an Emmylou Harris CD for his wife (page 120). He also indicates that the Spirit will tell us when we need a bubble bath, a movie or a run (page 145), if only we listen to Him. …

…Ironically, while God is presented as a wild Romancer, He is also presented in an emasculated form. We are told that God has been wooing you. We are told that "you are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill. He longs for you" (page 120). This almost seems to indicate that God needs us to make His joy and satisfaction complete. There are often several references to our need to minister to the heart of Jesus through our worship. All of this portrays an inaccurate understanding of God.

There is a strange emphasis on spiritual warfare. Stasi writes about dizzy spells which she felt were caused by Satan. There are multiple references to binding Satan and casting him and his minions away. …
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
sorry but that was too much for me to read. All you really need to know is that Eldredge believes in open-theism and as such does not hold to an orthodox view of God.
 

Jim-Bob

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for putting this all in one place

I've read Wild at Heart and Captivating. Neither is on my bookshelf any more.

I have friends who've been to Eldredge's conferences and feel he has been a great blessing. Eldredge has taught me much about DVD's, not much else.
 
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