Since the release of "Wild At Heart" John Eldridge has become somewhat of a superstar among Evangelicals. I would know; I work at a Christian Bookstore. Eldridge has sold millions of copies of his books, and is look at as a great spiritual leader. No doubt he has many good things to say, but I am not quick to join the bandwagon.
I have read "Wild At Heart." It was a gift given to me by one of my youth, and I enjoyed it. Althought there were a few things that I didn't care for, overall, it was a good read. But this isn't a review on "Wild At Heart."
Recently, I read his book, "Epic." It was a simple read, and a book one could read in a matter of minutes. It was only over 90 pages, with some pages, and the line spacing was fairly large. it was simple, easy, and straightforward (all good things). Eldridge has the natural ability to keep the readers attention, and that is what makes him so popular.
The book is simple; our life is like a story; including our spiritual life. Each chapter is the next act in our story. And so the book is broken down into several acts. Each act discusses the next plot of the story; we sin, the devil reigns, Christ dies, we are saved, etc. For the most part, his treatment of these type of issues were decent (although he should have been a little more thorough with his treatment of hell).
But there are several things in which I am disappointed with.
First, his doctrine of free will. Free will is essentially I reject. Let me explain. First, we do have "free will" (depending on how you define it), but it is in bondage of sin. This is what Paul calls "slaves of sin." If you are a slave, then your free will is removed. Before Christ, we can only freely choose to sin and every "good" deed we manage to perform is done with some sinful motive or action behind it.
Eldridge essentially ties God's hands behind His back, and treats God as if He's rooting for us but has no power over us. What kind of God is that? I want the God of Scriptures who is Sovereign, in control, on top of things, and leading us toward something. God does not simply roll the dice. We must not limit God to simply a rooting cheerleader or parent. God will do whatever He wills to do, for His own glory, and for His own purpose. Who are we to question God (Rom. 9)?
Secondly, his treatment of alcohol was unneeded and simply wrong. Most evangelicals, like Eldridge, find that drinking alcohol isn't a good idea, but it isn't wrong. They do this by saying that Jesus drank wine, and we are exhorted to drink wine in the Bible. The problem, though is what is meant by the word "wine."
First, this "wine," that was exhorted to drink was very deluded. Paul tells Timothy to add wine to his water because in that time, it was unsafe to drink plane water. Therefore, wine cleaned the water of it's impurities. Paul, nor Jesus, is exhorting us to drink straight wine like modern beers, wines, wiskeys, or liquirs.
Secondly, we are exhorted not to get drunk. This is obvious, and Eldridge would agree with me here.
Thirdly, there is a clear difference between "wine," and "strong drink." I believe that wine is simply diluded wine used for the purposes mentioned in the first point. Strong drink, then, is alcohol that isn't delude and leads to drunkeness. This is an important distinction. If this is true, and I think it is, then modern alcoholic beverages are categorized as "strong drink," and therefore we are not to drink it!
Another thing I disliked about the book is his overuse of movies and books. Now, grant it, the book is about the story of our spiritual lives. So, naturally, references to great epics (like the Lord of the Rings, or Chronicles of Narnia), love stories (like Titanic), and other stories are appropriate. But I think he goes way over the line.
I have a problem with referencing movies ten times more than the Bible. In one page, Eldrigde fills half the page with movie and book quotes. While no single page is filled with as many Scripture verses. If I want to know what this great Epic is about concerning my spiritual life, I don't want the Lord of the Rings (though I love the books and the movies), but I want to know what God says. Peter Jackson is great, but Jesus Christ is better!
Well, there you have it. I hope I don't sound too negative, but rather sound discerning. There are too many authors today who get away with things that are simply wrong. Why don't we discern between propor and unbiblical theology in the books we read? Why do we give people passes? Eldridge is a great author and speaker, but is simply wrong. Why do we need to lesson Scripture to make our point? As believers, we realize that no book is written unless it reflects the truth of the gospel! And I fear, that Eldridge just comes shy to that standard.