Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul

by John Eldredge
Reviewed date: 2004 Jan 1
224 pages
cover art

I do not recommend this book. Eldredge does have a few good things to say, but his writing does more to hamper than to help his message. He should have found a co-author to do the writing for him.

The basic message of the book is that Christian men shouldn't be wimps. It's good to be a man, to go hunting, smoke a cigar, have a beer, and get into an occasional fistfight. (He didn't say that exactly, but that's the idea.) The problem is that there is no problem. See, maybe in Mr. Eldredge's circles Christian men are expected to be sissy nice-guy wimps, but not so in my world. So I guess he's not writing to me. (I can see that he might have a point--I stopped listening to "Christian" music because it was so insipid. So perhaps this nice-guy culture permeates more of American Christianity than I realize.)

I am concerned that Mr. Eldredge's main examples in his book are drawn from movies. Illustrations from secular movies may cut it in a secular self-help book, but I can't help but think that Mr. Eldredge's research is lacking if the best he can come up with is movie references. Sure, he includes a few scripture passages too (taken from The Message, but that's a whole other issue I won't get into), but his interpretation of those passages is a stretch. And that's not all: other than from movies, Mr. Eldredge's examples are drawn mostly from dreams (maybe they are visions, I don't know) and from real-life examples. Unfortunately, he glosses over the real-life examples, expecting us to already know all the details from having read the newspapers. So he often leaves out the important bits of the story. Not good. Not good at all.

In summary

  • The good: Christian men shouldn't be wimps
  • The bad: Poorly written, confusing Christian self-help book based on secular movies. Yeah right.

Here are some more thoughts about the book.

It's OK if an author's book doesn't appeal to everyone, but Wild at Heart is more problematic than that. Wild at Heart is unscriptural and is more dangerous than helpful. Some of what the author says sounds good, and he quotes a lot of scripture, but he misquotes and misuses the Bible. There are some good parts to the book, but not enough to overcome the unbiblical principles the book is based upon.

I direct your attention to reviews at CBMW [at the Wayback Machine archive] and at CCW [at the Wayback Machine archive].

And yes, I have read Wild at Heart in its entirety, and came to the same conclusions before having read any other reviews of it.

Also, there is a nice review at Penny Arcade

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