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.