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.