John Eldredge's book, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of A Man's Soul, is one of those reads that inspires and concerns. The author should be complimented on his willingness to talk so candidly about defining issues facing men. His willingness to share the details of his personal life permits the reader to embrace the book, even if he cannot embrace the author's theology.
Eldredge spends a careful amount of time describing what many people carry: "a wound." This allows him to venture into some areas that normally do not tolerate real examination, such as a man's relationship (or lack of) with his father, mother, and wife. He asks a sufficient number of rhetorical questions about manliness, followed by truly pithy suggestions. He succeeds in opening the issue of what is wrong in churches where men are not expected to be men. Do not expect the clergy to pick this book up easily.
The devastating curse of women ruling over men is getting the press it deserves today from Eldredge, Douglas Wilson, and others. What this book did not say (there wasn't the space to do it well) is that our nation is under judgment. "As the home goes, so goes the nation." But, this point was made, if you were prepared to hear it.
Another unpopular, but sorely needed warning included in the book was that of Satan's presence on this earth. Put this in the category of things we don't like to think about, so they are ignored. Satan is not the object of our fascination, but he is real. Satan has been trivialized, but he plays no trivial role in God's plan. Encouragement in this battle is welcome.
The author, a real life adventurer himself, complements men of action. Here we find an effective advocate for risky business, hard play - and even - conquest (gasp!). Action as a virtue is not taught very often. Perhaps, it is because dastardly men are equated with "acts" or "action." Perhaps, the church has abdicated its own liberty to act…
As with every work, particularly those dealing with ultimate things, this one has some shortcomings. One, in particular, is dangerous. Eldrege displays a popular, but far too simple view of God's sovereignty over His creation. His suggestion that God takes "risks" is absurd by definition. It is the Arminian view. No, God does not abrogate His power, even when it appears to us that He might. I characterize Eldredge's view here as dangerous, because it suggests that God reflects man's image in a kind of reciprocal arrangement. Perhaps his next book could be dedicated to closing this door and directing us toward Christ's self-defining Lordship over "all things."
With the noted exception (which cannot be diminished), Wild at Heart is an admirable effort. Anyone who sincerely attempts to provide comfort and encouragement in a Biblical and substantive way deserves our respect. The author specifically admonishes us to obey God. His willingness to tackle real issues, in a real way should be valued. It is easy to find imperfection in someone who makes little attempt to hide it. This book probably accomplished what it set out to, which is a rare thing.
- Dan Leahy