JOHN ELDREDGE has definitely struck a chord that resonates with men. But is this broad-ranging chord like a syrupy pop hook that pleases undiscerning ears, or a more substantive combination of notes?

Part of Eldredge's resonance stems from writing like "one of the fellas" in the midst of the spiritual battlefield of life, especially in 2001's Wild at Heart. There he aims to remedy a masculine crisis in today's church: Christian men have no vision of manhood apart from being nice and dutiful. They are unable to live deeply from within. Eldredge describes this crisis and other male "issues" masterfully, and points toward greater spiritual wholeness. The therapeutic virtues of the book, however, do not outweigh its theological and cultural vices.

For example, he says the solution for the crisis lies in men discovering the true universal desires that make their hearts come alive: to have a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. Really? Can Eldredge mean that all men in every culture have these three core desires? This notion has little scriptural support and inadequately reflects the diverse kinds of men God has made.

Theological error emerges by page three, which asserts that man was made in the outback and then brought to Eden, and "ever since then boys have never been at home indoors, and men have had an insatiable longing to explore." He implies that God was trying to domesticate a wild Adam, as if Eden were designed primarily for women.

Greater virtue abounds in Waking the Dead, released this summer. This book further develops the battle theme found in Wild at Heart and expands the audience to include both sexes. Eldredge strikes the chord by asking, "Where is the abundant life Christ supposedly promised?" ...

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November 2003

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