Monday, March 16, 2009

Considerations in Elders and Leaders

UPDATE: I updated one of the paragraphs below where I had said that Peter’s business business was failing, not thriving. It now points to what Scripture actually says.

Gene Getz has written a book entitled Elders and Leaders: God’s Plan for Leading the Church. He is a long time pastor, author, seminary professor, and host of a radio program. After many years of wisdom and experience he was compelled by those around him to write a book on the issue of what Scripture says about biblical leadership in the book.

In today’s post I just want to focus on the chapter called “The Need for a Primary Leader.” The central thesis of this chapter is that Scripture teaches that above the plurality of elders, there should be a primary leader who leads the elders and the rest of the church. This is what most of us have experienced in churches with a the Senior or Lead Pastor to varying degrees.

Before reading this chapter I knew what to expect in terms of his conclusions, but I was caught off guard by his method of arriving at his conclusions. Up until this chapter the book had some more or less minor interpretive issues, but this chapter took the cake in eisegesis (reading a meaning into the text). Below are the examples:

#1: A Wrong focus on Peter

The first goal of the chapter is to demonstrate that Peter was the Primary Leader of the apostles after Jesus ascended to heaven. His initial proof is the number of references to Peter in the Gospels and Acts as opposed to the other apostles. In other words, he used statistics of the use of Peter’s name as a proof of Peter’s primacy. What is interesting here is that he does not include Paul in his consideration. If he did, he would find that Paul is mentioned almost twice as much as Peter in the book of Acts. In fact, Paul is mentioned 135 times in Acts, while Peter is mentioned 152 times in the Gospels and Acts. Peter is only mentioned less than 60 times in Acts, which is the story of the beginning of the church! What is even more, Paul wrote most of the New Testament letters to the churches! If Peter were the primary leader in Christiandom (as Getz states on page 149), then we would want to have seen him take some leadership in writing to the churches. Now of course my point is not that Paul was the primary leader, but simply that just Peter appears to be a focus in the Gospels (but not in Acts as Getz would have you think), does not automatically give him primacy.

#2: Many Assumptions

Clearly, Jesus focused on equipping Peter to be the primary leader” (218). Having given only the “proof” from #1, this is clearly an assumption, not a fact.

Furthermore, he focused next on John who was to be his associate (note again the statistics…)” (218). Again with only statistics as his proof, this is an assumption, not a fact.

When Jesus eventually called Peter… [he] was already the primary leader in [his fishing business]” (218). No biblical proof or evidence of any kind to support this. Pure assumption. Getz says that since Peter had partners (Andrew, James, and John), it shows that he was the primary leader. That’s only proves he had co-workers, not that he was the manager.

Peter was “once a tough-minded chief executive officer of a thriving fishing business” (148). This time he offers no support of any kind. This assumption ignores the fact that when Jesus first met Peter, he had worked all night and caught nothing (Luke 5:1-5). I’m no fisherman, but catching nothing is not one of the signs of a thriving fishing business! In fact, the only time we know that Peter’s fishing thrived was when Jesus miraculously intervened!

In reference to the washing of the disciples’ feet, Getz says that Peter resisted out of embarrassment “primarily because he was well aware that this was an oversight when he and John had arranged for this event” (149-150). Oversight? That’s more than an assumption. It is rejecting what the text says and importing a new reason for Peter’s resistance!

When he stood up on the day of Pentecost and [preached], not one of the apostles hesitated to follow him” (220). First, Peter's sermon did nothing to demonstrate his primacy. Second, the apostles didn’t “follow” him, they sat and listened. Getz is trying to get much more meaning out of this than there is.

Again and again, we read that “Peter and John” took the lead and, even though these two men worked closely together, they were not coleaders. Peter was continually the primary spokesman…” (220). Simply because Peter was the primary spokesman, does not automatically mean that he was the primary leader. There is no substantial evidence that Getz has put forward. It’s simply assumption upon assumption which has the appearance of an argument, but it is all a house of cards.

Based on what we see in the total biblical story of leadership, we can only assume that [Timothy and Titus] were also influential in making sure there was a key leader in charge” (223). Again, his “total biblical story” is a mound of assumptions. And he explicitly makes his point of an assumption.

Though we’re not told who lead the elders/overseers on a permanent basis after Timothy, we can assume it happened immediately or shortly thereafter.” The assumption pile is getting higher!

#3: Other Issues

Getz acknowledges that Peter never claimed this leadership for himself, but always considered himself as “a fellow elder” (1 Peter 5:1). Getz points to Peter’s humility in this, I say it is clear that Peter never claimed it because he never had it.

Getz neglects Matthew 16:18 which is what Catholics use to affirm Peter’s primacy. There were a couple times where I wondered if Getz was alluding to this verse, but he never mentioned it. On page 151 Getz states, “As Jesus’ chosen leader, [Peter] began to speak the word of God…” If there were any text that would support Getz claim in this quote or any other section of the book where he affirms the same, Matthew 16:18 would be the text. And yet he never once mentions or references it.


There is more to say about Getz view of the primary leader, but in this post I just wanted to point out his poor use of observation and assumptions which he uses to make a significant point in how God’s church is to be led.

If you would be interested in more biblical treatment on this issue, I highly recommend Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch.

Monday, March 09, 2009

It was miraculous, not natural

John MacArthur’s first message in this year’s Shepherd’s Conference began like this: “Two years ago I started out the conference saying why every self-respecting Calvinist should be a Premillenialist. Last year I started out the conference saying why every self-respecting Calvinist should reject the Church Growth Movement. This year I want to start by saying why every self-respecting Calvinist, Evangelical, and Christian should be a six-day creationist.”

Pretty bold statement! If you would like to listen to the message, you can find it here. Just sign up for a free account and go to the Media Vault. It’s General Session 1 from the 2009 Shepherd’s Conference.

One of the most unique statements in the whole message was this: “Get past the idea that you need to reconcile Scripture with science.” In other words, then it comes to creation, forget science altogether. He even dismissed to a great degree what he termed “so-called creation science.”

Why did he say this? For the simple reason that creation was a miracle. A miracle, by its nature, in unnatural. A miracle can break every natural law in the book. You do not hear of people trying to perform science on Jesus’ walking on water (breaking the law of gravity, perhaps changing the nature of the water). No one tries to figure out how Jesus restored the withered hand of the man in front of the Pharisees. Certainly no one would figure out how a man who had been dead for several days could naturally be raised from the dead.

Yet when it comes to God’s display of miraculous power in creation everyone wants to figure out how it happened naturally. Of course it is unbelievers who primarily reject the biblical creation because they reject God and his power. Why do Christians follow suit and attempt to add biblical authority to the anti-God conclusions of unbelievers whose answer to problems is to add billions of years to allow for more evolution?

There is no need to look at psuedo-science evidence of what unbelievers refer to as a natural event. There is nothing natural about Genesis 1. The questions we ask regarding natural “problems” (e.g. how can plans survive without the sun, how was there light before the sun) stem from forgetting that there was nothing natural in what happened from days one to six.

It really does come down to this. You simply cannot explain a miracle in natural terms. Period.

Global language

Probably for the last time I want to emphasize how much the text of Scripture speaks of a global flood. This week we are covering Genesis 7, and in it there are numerous phrases that indicate a global flood. I’ll point out each one.

Verse 2-3: “Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals… and a pair of the animals that are not clean… seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also… to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.”

These verses point to a global flood simply on the basis that the animals needed protection from being wiped out. Certainly there are unique animals in some regions, but why save every kind of animal unless they would all be wiped out throughout the earth?

Verse 4: “… every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

Here God broadens the scope not just to animals and people in the land, but to everything he created. Surely no one would argue that God only created land animals in the Mesopotamian region. In fact, local flood advocates deny that everything God created died. God does not limit his statement as if to say “everything I have created in this part of the earth.” And with the entire context there it no way to bring such an implication.

Verse 11: “… all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”

One could argue that the “windows of the heavens” that were opened were just over the Mesopotamian region, since that is the perspective of the text. But one could not make the same argument for “all the fountains.”

Verse 14-16: “they and every beast… and all the livestock… and every creeping thing… and every bird… every winged creature. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life…. male and female of all flesh” (emphasis mine).

There is no room in the context to limit the “all” to those which Noah gathered. The two phrases “all flesh” and “breath of life” broaden the “all” to every creature [period].

Verse 19-20: “And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered… covering them fifteen cubits [22.5 feet] deep.”

If one part of the world is completely covered, and another part is not, does that not assume that something stopped the water from going past a certain point? Here such a barrier is removed. It’s not just the low hills that were covered. The text emphasizes the “high” mountains were covered. And not just the “high” mountains, but those “under the whole heaven.” There is absolutely no possible way to restrict that to a local area.

Verse 21-23: “And all flesh died that moved on the earth… Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground… they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.”

If God wanted to communicate total devastation beyond a given locality, I cannot imagine what else he could say. The text repeats its universal nature five times in three verses: four times saying what died and once saying what survived.

If one were to argue that “earth” could be translated “land” which could change the sense of several of these passages, I would simply ask what indication is there in the text that anything on the dry land throughout the globe survived?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence? Part 5

Today I'd like to point out some major deficiencies in Eldredge's view of God. He has a chapter titled "The Wild One Whose Image We Bear." In it, he does his best to portray God as the wild man he (Eldredge) wants to be. I'm thankful that he uses more Bible references here than anywhere else, yet most of those are from paraphrase versions that use the words he likes, or if the passages are appropriately translated, he pulls them from their greater context to give his meaning. Here are some quotes:

"Be honest now--what is your image of Jesus as a man? 'Isn't he sort of meek and mind?' a friend remarked. 'I mean, the pictures I have of him show a gentle guy with children all around...' Yes, those are the pictures I've seen myself in many churches. In fact, those are the only pictures I've seen of Jesus.... they leave me with the impression that he was the world's nicest guy... I'd much rather be told to be like William Wallace" (22). My question is, why do you need a picture at all? I personally think pictures of Jesus are worthless. They encourage finding Jesus' face on an egg, a rock, a wall, or anything that you can sell on eBay. And especially since most [American] depictions of Jesus are ethnically biased, I simply don't see why we need pictures to form our opinions of Jesus. Before you think I'm off my rocker, I know you can't get away from it with story books, stained-glass windows, etc. But I hope you see my point.

"Now--is Jesus more like Mother Teresa or William Wallace?" (24). Eldredge goes on in this paragraph to show both sides of Jesus... depending on the recipient. Gentleness to the sick and broken-hearted, rage to Pharisees. While his point is valid, he now leaves behind the gentle side and focuses heavily on the "wild" side. I haven't done a good comparison, but I'd be willing to bet there are ten times more instances of gentleness, compassions, etc. in the NT than fierceness.

"It then occurred to me that after God made all this, he pronounced it good, for heaven's sake. It's his way of letting us know he rather prefers adventure, danger, risk..." (30). In the context he's talking about going hiking and finding evidence of bears nearby. What is sorely lacking here is the fact that nature is dramatically affected by the fall. What we experience today in the woods is far different than what existed prior to the fall. Here, again, Eldredge neglects the affect of sin on the world.

"In an attempt to secure the sovereignty of God, theologians have overstated their case and left us with a chess-player God... But clearly, this is not so. God is a person who takes immense risks. No doubt the biggest risk of all was when he gave angels and men free will... He did not make Adam and Eve obey him, he took a risk... He let others into his story, and he lets their choices shape it profoundly... Now he lives, almost cheerfully, certainly heroically, in a dynamic relationship with us and with our world. 'Then the Lord intervened' is perhaps the single most common phrase about him in Scripture, in one form or another... Because he loves to come through. He loves to show us that he has what it takes... I am not advocating open theism" (30-32). For anyone who knows what open theism is, if it's not this, I don't know what is. The interesting thing is that I trust his statement that he doesn't believe in open theism. The sovereignty of God is a big topic that must be handled carefully. I don't think it is difficult to understand, but sometimes it is difficult to overcome our objections to the implications. That's where I think Eldredge is. To some extent he believes in God's sovereignty, but to maintain his other views he has to reject complete sovereingty and go over the edge into unbiblical thinking.

"And all his wildness and all his fierceness are insperable from his romantic heart. That theologians have missed this says more about theologians than it does about God." I think Eldredge misjudges theologians. The difference is that theologians, I think, place aspects of God's character that could be called "romantic" in balance with his other character traits. Eldredge, I think, elevates it too high beyond graciousness, justice, mercy, saving love, etc. When Eldredge says God is romantic, his definition is too human, emotional, and shortsighted.

"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." What? Where does it say that in the Bible? There are several reasons that Bible gives for unanswered prayer: spiritual warfare (Dan. 10:10-14), wrong motives (James 4:3), etc. Nowhere does God hold off answers simply as a teaser to keep us praying. I'm sorry but that's just rediculous.

I'd like to say much more on some of these posts, but I don't want to get too long. Is this enough to make my claim? Does it seem clear that there is much lacking from a good understanding of God's character? In working on this post, I can see glimpses of truth in much of what Eldredge is saying. I just think that he is misrepresenting scripture as a whole, and making mountains out of molehills.

This is the end of this series which I wrote almost three years ago. John Eldredge bases his thinking and books on non-Christian psycological understanding which by it's nature has a wrong anthropology. Therefore the only way to bring Scripture into the picture is to twist and morph it into a pagan framework. While I understand this series has its flaws and is certainly not exhaustive, I hope I have demonstrated that Wild at Heart is thoroughly unbiblical and cannot be trusted to supply the answers men need.

In its place, I cannot recommend highly enough a book called The Exemplary Husband by Stewart Scott. It also has a corollary book entitled The Excellent Wife by another author.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence? Part 4b

Yesterday I left off with the question of what change occurs when a person becomes a believer.  Here is what Eldredge has to say:

"What God sees when he sees you is the real you, the true you, the man he had in mind when he made you" (134).

"When we begin to offer not merely our gifts but our true selves, that is when we become powerful" (138).

"You are the hero in your story" (142).

"And your flesh is not you" (144).

"In the core of your being you are a good man" (144).

"We are never, ever told to crucify our heart.  We are never told to kill the true man within us, never told to get rid of those dep desires for battle and adventure and beauty.  We are told to shoot the traitor" (145).

"Has it ever crossed your mind that not every thought that crosses your mind comes from you" (152)?

"If I thought [pride, greed, gluttony] was all me, my heart, I'd be very discouraged.  Knowing that my heart is good allowed me to block it, right then and there" (163).

To sum up Eldredge's theology, when you become a Christian, your heart is instantly and wholly good.  If there is any sin, wrong thinking, or bad, then its not really you.  It's your false self, it's sometimes the devil.  The real you is good.  I have two major problems with his thinking in the above passages: 1) His focus on self rather than Christ, 2) His idea of false self vs. true self.  I'll only discuss the first because otherwise it'll get too long and the second one is quite a muddy discussion.

Here is how Paul talks about his life as a Christian:

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).  Eldredge never once makes reference to living by faith by the power of the Spirit.  No... Eldredge implies, "my false self is crucified, it is no longer it that lives, but my new heart that lives.  And I am free to do whatever my good heart desires."

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21).  To live is Christ, not my new heart.

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Rom. 7:24-25).

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24). This is not a command to crucify our flesh. It assumes that we have already done so.

Notice the distinct differences.  Paul exalts Christ and only references himself to the point where he is dependent on Christ ("the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God...").  Never in the New Testament does Paul or any other writer make any claims of their own goodness.  That's not to say they weren't "good", but simply that when it came to talking about themselves, they could only say "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).  Eldredge is the exact opposite.  He focuses entirely on you, and wants you to do the same.  When Eldredge has a chance to point to Christ, here is what he does:

Here he is writing in his journal after a wearisome conference, "What of me, dear Lord?  Are you pleased?  What did you see? ... I yearn to hear from you--a word, or image, a name... This is what I heard: You are Henry V after Agincourt... the man in the arena, whose fase is covered with blood and sweat and dust, who strove valiantly... a great warrior.. yes, even Maximus. And then You are my friend" (135).

Maximus is the main character of Gladiator.  Where is the did I honor Christ?  Did I exalt Christ in my words and actions?  Did I point others to Christ?  Eldredge is overly concerned with his image as a warrior, as shown here and several other places in the book.  In this book, he makes no great effort to promote holiness, Christ-likeness (except Christ's "wild" side), living a Christ-centered life, etc.  It's about you, being self-satisfied, self-fulfilled, self-exalted and definitely not self-denying.

The next post will be on Eldredge's shallow and wrong views on God.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence? Part 4a

Today I want to show how Eldredge does not seem to recognize the effect of sin on mankind.  Here are a couple quotes:

"I want you to think of the films men love, the things they do with their free time, and especially the aspirations of little boys and see if I am not right on this" (p. 9).

"Capes, swords, camouflage, bandannas and six-shooters--these are the uniforms of boyhood." Same paragraph: "If we believe that man is made in the image of God, then we would do well to remember that 'the Lord is a warrior the Lord is his name' (Ex. 15:3).  Little girls do not invent games where large numbers of people die, where bloodshed is a prerequisite for having fun... Boys want to attack something--and so does a man..." (p. 10).

What Eldredge is attempting to say in these quotes, and in the surrounding context, is that these desires stem from being created in the image of God (which he doesn't see as having been marred by sin).  Here is a mental picture Eldredge gives of the similarities between God and Man:


God Man
Loves action/adventure Loves action/adventure
Crave bloodshed Crave bloodshed
Love to attack for fun Love to attack for fun

Eldredge apparently has no concept of the depravity of man.  Not that man doesn't sin--he certainly talks about it elsewhere--but that the image of God is still intact in men.  Anyone who reads the Bible without using the lenses of Wild at Heart would quickly see that God is not like this.

The interesting thing is that Eldredge would disagree (with the idea that men are unaffected by sin).  Over in chapter seven he says, "Too many Christians today are living back in the old covenant.  They've had Jeremiah 17:9 drilled into them and they walk around believing my heart is deceitfully wicked.  Not anymore it's not... Your heart is good."  We'll come back to this again tomorrow, but for now let's focus on the dichotomy that Eldredge has created.

On the one hand his whole premise of Wild at Heart is that all men are naturally drawn toward danger, bloodshed, action, etc.  Yet on the other hand he acknowledges that once you become a Christian, you get a new heart (which should assume new desires)... meaning that your old heart was sinful.  On the one hand, your old sinful heart had all the right desires, but on the other hand, you get a new heart when you become a Christian. My first question would be, if my old heart had the right desires... what's the need for a new one? This is an irreconcilable issue within the book.  Except from the following perspective:  One can very easily, and truthfully, say that most/many men continue to be drawn to those things even after "becoming" a Christian (but to me, that would be like saying that 95% of Americans believe in God... they may believe in a god, but they certainly don't believe in the God of the Bible.  Those men may be "Christian" in the American sense, but not in the Biblical sense).  Here is what we'll discuss tomorrow:  when you become a Christian, what happens?  Or maybe a slightly different question, which I believe Eldredge answers wrongly, how does God see you?  What is the change that actually occurs?  And furthermore... what is the evidence of being a true Christian?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence, Part 3

Today I want to bring up Eldredge's apparent contempt for Christianity and the church "as it currently exists."  Here's the [longer] quote from page 7:

"And then, alas, there is the church.  Christianity, as it currently exists, has done some terrible things to men.  When all is said and done, I think most men in the church believe that God put them on the earth to be a good boy.  The problem with men, we are told, is that they don't know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children.  But, if they will try real hard they can reach the lofty summit of becoming... a nice guy." (ellipse his) "That's what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Real Nice Guys.  We don't smoke, drink, swear; that's what makes us men."

On page 8 Eldredge quotes Robert Bly, the author of Iron John, "Some women want a passive man if they want a man at all; the church wants a tamed man--they are called priests..."

On page 13: "Compare your experience watching the latest James Bond or Indiana Jones thriller with, say, going to Bible study."

First of all, I am not going to defend the church as though it is perfect without fault.  We all know of churches that fail to be faithful to scripture and are, for the most part, not helping anyone.  There are two main points I'd like to make based on Eldredge's thoughts: 1) Regardless of what the church teaches, it is man's ultimately responsible for what a man learns, and 2) Eldredge attacks character qualities that scripture teaches.

Churches, by and large, have a great effect on individuals.  More often than not, find out what church someone grew up in (or goes to) and you can tell them what they believe.  People get saved in churches all the time.  But.  Who will be judged on Judgment Day?  Will it be the church?  No.  Each individual person will be judged.  If a boy walks down the isle at age 6, spends the rest of his life in the pew on Sundays, and at the end of his life can't spell gospel, you're likely to be looking at someone who was never saved.  That is no the church's fault.  Or, if that same boy grows up having gone to church and thinks that not smoking, drinking, and swearing  are what makes a man, then they very like haven't read the Bible.  That's not the church's fault.  Each person is responsible for their own spiritual growth.  I must be careful in saying this, because I don't remember (and that's kind of the point), but I don't remember a single time in the whole book that Eldredge challenges men to study the Bible.  He may have.  He may have done it multiple times.  But I don't remember.  Why do I not remember?  Because bleeding from every page is the call to get out into the wild, be dangerous, do things your mom wouldn't approve of, watch blood-filled movies.  The blame ought not to be focused on the church (though again, it desperately needs improvement), rather the blame should be on men who only blow the dust off their Bibles on Sundays... and many times not even then.  Oh if men (and women) would only read their Bibles they would see what a high calling God has for them.  And yet, this book and its successors have become the Bible by which many Christians are living (yes, I know some of them).  Much more needs to be said, but I must continue on.

I am shocked by the character qualities that Eldredge chooses to look down upon.  Keeping promises?  Being a spiritual leader?  Talking to your wife?  Raising your children?  Those are bad things? "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." (Eph. 5:25).  There are many ways that Christ loves the church.  But certainly among those are: keeping His promises, being our Spiritual Leader, talking to us (through His word, being the Word Himself), the Father is our example on how to raise children.  If there is anyone who thinks that any of these things are bad things (or unscriptural), please comment on that.

Now, regarding the last quote.  This is one of the most telling sentences in the whole book, which explains where Eldredge is coming from.  I have not done the numbers, but earlier I flipped through the whole book scanning every page (I was actually looking for this last quote which is on p.13, but I had to go through the whole thing and start over to find it).  The number of references to movies and length of time talking about them far outweighs how much he uses scripture like a pickup truck outweighs a motorcycle.  It is clear that Eldredge loves what Hollywood puts out ("while there are some good movies, there are many horrible churches").  Each and every reference to a movie is meant to esteem you (if you're a man) and show you how you ought to be like William Wallace (Braveheart appears to be his favorite).  I don't have time for it here, but many times he says something to the effect of "Jesus is like Wallace" or "Jesus is like so-and-so."  Not a single time does he put Jesus on a higher plane than a fictional, unsaved, blood-spattered, adulteress, sinful man.  If nothing else this should be where the Church rises in rage against the book.  Our perfect Savior who was slain to die for our sins holds a lower pedestal than ficticous characters in this book.  Sure he talks about Jesus somewhat frequently, but he only talks about the instances where Jesus can be seen (or construed using a non-literal translation) to be "wild with rage" or some other such thing.  Not once does he make reference to "Jesus wept" or "Summon the little children to come unto Me" or "He had compassion on them" or "The lamb that was slain" or the multitude of other references to Jesus as something other than wild.

Whoa... I'm off topic.  This is getting long, so I'll be short.  If a man finds more delight in watching a thriller movie than studying the Bible, that does not tell you how God made him, that tells you how sinful he is.  I know that I do not enjoy Bible study enough.  I do not delight in God as I should.  But that does not mean there is something wrong with the Bible.  That means there is something wrong with me. 

Oh reader, I know I am not an experienced writer nor an expert in the Bible.  But I plead with you... my heart is not that you agree with every word that I say.  My desire is that you consider what Eldredge is really saying.  The next post will likely be on Saturday because I'm going to cover a larger concept.  Eldredge teaches in the book that most of your hearts desires are good and need to be set free.  He believes that once you become a Christian you get a new heart (which is true, but he takes it to a whole new level), and you become a new creation (which is also true), but that you still have your "false self" (which is not true).  I hope you will continue to read, not for my sake, but so that you will be challenged to consider what he (and a great many Christians) believe.  Even if you disagree, please continue on this journey with me.