Wild at Heart (book)
Wild at Heart is a book by John Eldredge published in 2001, on the subject of the role of masculinity in contemporary evangelical Christian culture and doctrine. Its subtitle is: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul. From the back cover: "In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge invites men to recover their masculine heart, defined in the image of a passionate God."
The book had a very favorable reception by many, including Chuck Swindoll, who called it "the best, most insightful book I have read in at least the last five years." It also received harsh criticism, with some claiming that the book misuses scriptural references, and that Eldredge has projected his own personality traits onto God in order to support his viewpoint. Despite this criticism, it remains a favorite in many evangelical circles, and a top seller.
"If Christian men are going to change from a pitiful, wimpy bunch of "really nice guys" to men who are made in the image of God, they must reexamine their preconceptions about who God is and recover their true "wild" hearts, writes bestselling author John Eldredge in Wild at Heart: Discovering a Life of Passion, Freedom, and Adventure. Eldredge claims that men are bored; they fear risk, they refuse to pay attention to their deepest desires. He challenges Christian men to return to what he characterizes as authentic masculinity without resorting to a "macho man" mentality. Men often seek validation in venues such as work, or in the conquest of women, Eldredge observes. He urges men to take time out and come to grips with the "secret longings" of their hearts.
Although the book is primarily intended for a male audience, it also strives to help women understand the implications of authentic masculinity in their relationships with men. Eldredge frames the book around his outdoor experiences and anecdotes about his family, sprinkling the text with touches of humor and overlying everything with heartfelt passion. Even as he mixes eclectic ideas about masculinity from popular movies such as Braveheart with classic words from Oswald Chambers, and lyrics from the Dixie Chicks with stories from the Bible, he points to only one answer for men searching for their true wildness of heart. Writes Eldredge, "The only way to live in this adventure ... with all its danger and unpredictability and immensely high stakes ... is in an ongoing, intimate relationship with God." Amazon Review
"Eldredge quotes from Isaiah 63, which describes God wearing blood-stained clothes, spattered as though he had been treading a wine press. Then he writes: 'Talk about Braveheart. This is one fierce, wild, and passionate guy. I have never heard Mister Rogers talk like that. Come to think of it, I never heard anyone in church talk like that, either. But this is the God of heaven and Earth.' "
Eldredge's work has its detractors. Some have pointed out that the "pseudo-evangelical" cult and criminal organization La Familia cartel in Mexico, refer to their assassinations and beheadings as '"divine justice"; its leader has made Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart required reading for La Familia gang members and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education members to circulate Eldredge's writings throughout the Michoacán countryside.
In 2005 Eldredge with his wife Stasi wrote Captivating, a companion to Wild at Heart, which explores femininity.
- Leblanc, Douglas (August 2004). Christianity Today http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/august/14.30.html. Missing or empty
- "Focus on the Family’ outreach: Mexican drug decapitation cartel La Familia demand and preach James Eldredge’s ‘Muscular Christianity’". June 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- Grayson, George W. (August 2009). "La Familia Michoacána: A Deadly Mexican Cartel Revisited". Foreign Policy Research Institute. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- Isikoff, Michael (October 22, 2009). "Feds Crack Down on 'Robin Hood' Drug Cartel". Newsweek 'Declassified'. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- Wild at Heart at publisher Thomas Nelson's website
- Amazon's review of Wild at Heart
- Byron Borger's critique at Hearts & Minds Books
- Rut Etheridge's Critique of Wild at Heart
- Is God Wild at Heart? Critical Review of Wild at Heart from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- An article at Christianity Today documenting some criticism of the book