Responding to Wild at Heart

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Inactive User
I need some help responding to some issues in Wild at Heart. I briefly presented a few objections to my pastor and actually received a response! :shocked: Here are the issues, some of which I think I can respond to, but I would like some input. I don't have a lot of reformed people around to talk this out with. I'm kind of a newbie flying solo.
Any further issue with this book that you can think of would be helpful additions to this discussion as well.

[b:446ab7a488]1. God has a sense of adventure, and He put this into man at creation.[/b:446ab7a488]
[DC] - This said in the context of the idea that God takes risks. Man has a sense of adventure (to explore, discover, learn), but does God? What does that imply?

[b:446ab7a488]2. That God wanted Adam to be wild and undomesticated is not an idea that can be supported from the Scriptures; but neither can it be disproved.[/b:446ab7a488]
[DC] - God made Adam a gardener. Gardener ... wild ... gardener ... wild ... ???

[b:446ab7a488]3. Christ's temptation was a risk and could have resulted in failure.[/b:446ab7a488]
[quote:446ab7a488]The problem here is, I think the tension between predestination and free will. Does the fact that God knows the outcome of everything take away the freedom that man has to choose between good and evil? If man truly has a choice, then notwithstanding the fact that God knew the outcome, he was taking a risk in creating man with the ability to choose. A little farther down there is a concern raised that God takes risks and enjoys danger and that this thought raises the danger of failure.

I think that I can clearly demonstrate that God does take a risk by pointing to the incarnation. Scriptures tell us that Christ was tempted in all things. By definition, temptation requires the individual an ability to choose among a variety of different options, all of which are valid ad real. If it wasn't possible for Jesus to make a choice contrary to the will of God, then he wasn't really tempted. I think the Gethsemane account is a powerful demonstration of the reality of the temptation. Further, if Christ wasn't really tempted, with the ability to contrary to the Father's will, then you have a problem with the humanity of Christ.[/quote:446ab7a488]
[DC] - There seems to be a confusion between omniscience and predestination occuring here, but the real concern is over the second paragraph. Does predestining the success of Christ's temptation make it less tempting? Christ had no sin nature, so by what lusts was Christ "being drawn away and enticed"? Was this temptation completely identical to our own, or was it just the same tactics used to no effect because Christ had no sin nature to appeal to?

[b:446ab7a488]4. Christians' hearts are good.[/b:446ab7a488]
[quote:446ab7a488] I don't teach that everybody's heart can be good. I teach that Christians' hearts are good, made good by the work of Christ. . . . We still battle a sin nature. We fight sin, and in Wild at Heart and in Waking the Dead I say you must crucify it daily. But the Scriptures never say to crucify your heart. What [my critics] need to be reassured of is, by referring to "heart," I do not mean "emotion." I mean "our deepest thinking." . . . Because our real convictions lie in our hearts. It's not cognitive processing, it's conviction, real belief. I'm not just saying "feelings"; I am talking about real thinking, which is actually done in your heart, according to the Scriptures[/quote:446ab7a488]
[DC] - Given that our sanctification/glorification is not perfected, can we really say that the Christian's heart is good? Also, how do you tell the difference between your heart and your sin nature?

[b:446ab7a488]5. this book is not a theological treatise, it's a devotional book.[/b:446ab7a488]
[DC] - Is this an excuse for loose treatment of theology?

Thanks for your help.

[Edited on 2-13-2004 by DexCisco]


Puritan Board Freshman
You have some good ideas. I would talk about the idea of God taking risks and how it relates to open theism.

Several friends of mine have started reading it, and I found this link, which might help you out:

It's shocking to me that he goes over the fact that Eldredge blatantly split a verse in two...


Inactive User
Funny you should mention that article. That was the best one that I have read too and I sent a link to it as part of my original concerns. I didn't mention the surgery he does to Prov 20:5. I thought I would let the article do that. I also provided these links about Open Theism: [b:50af2a04ae] 1 2 3 4 [/b:50af2a04ae]

My brief list of concerns included:
[list:50af2a04ae][*:50af2a04ae]The polemic view of manhood. i.e. you are either a passive whimp or Grizzly Adams on steroids.
[*:50af2a04ae]Confusion over Genesis regarding God's purpose for man and that God called creation "very good" [u:50af2a04ae]before[/u:50af2a04ae] the Fall. Danger is not
[*:50af2a04ae]God "taking risks" and enjoying "adventure" and "danger".
[*:50af2a04ae]Man's heart being "good".
[*:50af2a04ae]The classic pleading, weak God of the Arminian.
[*:50af2a04ae]Excessive use of "quotes" :)

Despite the article and these concerns, they still came back saying "but he says he isn't an Open Theist, and his doctrinal statement is OK."

[Edited on 2-13-2004 by DexCisco]


Puritan Board Graduate
A critique of Wild at Heart:
C:Documents and Settingssg0600471Local SettingsTemporary Internet FilesOLKC3THIS WEEK Online.htm

I know nothing about it and have not read the critique, but I know it is from a Reformed perspective.

Timothy William

Puritan Board Junior
1. God has a sense of adventure, and He put this into man at creation.
[DC] - This said in the context of the idea that God takes risks. Man has a sense of adventure (to explore, discover, learn), but does God? What does that imply?

Does God really learn anything? The only example I can think of is Jesus learning obedience through suffering (? the particular verse escapes me). Man's learning and need for adventure (to the extent that we have it) is necessitated by our incomplete knowledge and scope; to imply that God suffers from the same is to support Open Theism or to place some other limits on God.


Inactive User

Good article, though I had to get it from Google's cache. Edit: Found a better link I will post bits here.

It made some interesting points:

[b:fee6e6bfe5]Why are we trying to escape from Eden?[/b:fee6e6bfe5]
[quote:fee6e6bfe5]The entirety of Wild at Heart flows from this faulty understanding of Eden. A proper reading of Genesis 2 turns Eldredge's thesis on its head by revealing the true nature and purpose of Eden-thus helping to ensure a biblical view of manhood. Eden not only pictures the perfect fellowship between God and man before sin entered the world, it is also typological throughout redemptive history. The rest and fulfillment depicted by Eden are seen in three stages: a) the land of Canaan divinely promised to Abram (Gen. 12:1-3); b) the abundant land promised to the Israelites (Ex. 3:7-8, Eze. 36:24-28); and c) the rest in the New Heaven and New Earth promised to all believers (Heb. 4:1-10). In other words, Eden is not merely a fruitful garden for Adam and Eve, but a sign of the fulfillment of the Gospel, when all the people of God will finally receive the crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4). Contrary to Wild at Heart, Eden is absolutely where we want to be and where we are heading. Until that end arrives, the Bible makes clear that all believers are "sojourners and exiles" (1 Pet. 2:11) who are never at home in any part of this world, including the outdoors, because their "citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20). [/quote:fee6e6bfe5]
OK. So perhaps we do have a natural urge to get out of Eden, but far from being the solution, it is the very basis of the problem; a propensity to wander from where God has placed us.

[b:fee6e6bfe5]What does the wilderness represent?[/b:fee6e6bfe5]
[quote:fee6e6bfe5]Eldredge's statement that a man's heart "can only be found through the help of wilderness" (p.3) is confusing at best and unbiblical at worst. While the outdoors can be enjoyed by many, the "wilderness" praised by Eldredge is certainly not where man is truly free according to the Bible. To the contrary, the Bible explicitly refers to the wilderness as a place of sin, darkness, and chaos. The wilderness is a forsaken (Is. 27:10) and perilous (Lam. 4:19) place where the Israelites feared death (Ex. 14:12, 16:3), where the sacrificial goat bearing the sins of the people was cast (Lev. 16:20-22), where Elijah begged to die (1 Kings 19:4), and where Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1). [/quote:fee6e6bfe5]
Anybody up for a trip to the wilderness?

[Edited on 2-14-2004 by DexCisco]


Inactive User
Yet another extensive and very on target review.
[quote:906bfeb41f]Eldredge's explication of this thesis reveals his alarmingly unbiblical view of four fundamental aspects of Christianity: 1.) God's sovereignty and authority 2.) the person and work of Jesus Christ 3.) the purpose and substance of the gospel 4.) the nature and content of God's direct revelation to man.[/quote:906bfeb41f]
[quote:906bfeb41f] earlier editions of Wild At Heart, Eldredge cited for support of his views on God's sovereignty professor John Sanders, an avowed Open Theist. That quote is missing from newer editions.
"Yet as John Sanders says, God's own character ' keeps him in the game despite the risk'. " This is from page 32 of a copyright 2001 edition of Wild At Heart, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[quote:906bfeb41f]If God is a risk taker, then faith in such a god would also be a risk, and this is what we find in Wild At Heart.[/quote:906bfeb41f]
[quote:906bfeb41f]Eldredge has employed the reverse of John the Baptist's axiom: in order for men to increase, God must decrease.[/quote:906bfeb41f]

Tons more bang-on points to be found in this [u:906bfeb41f]17 page PDF file[/u:906bfeb41f]

[Edited on 2-14-2004 by DexCisco]


Puritan Board Freshman
"Despite the article and these concerns, they still came back saying "but he says he isn't an Open Theist, and his doctrinal statement is OK."

I may say I'm tolerant of people but not ideas, and yet I kill someone for a slight difference in beliefs, am I tolerant?


Puritan Board Freshman

I have fought against this for six months in my church. If you ever have the video tapes foisted upon you as I have in my "reformed" Wild at Heart Sunday School class, you will see that his view of manliness is really pansyness. Bunches of "men" hang out on some ranch and "bond" ala Promiskeepers. Lotsa of weeping and whining about the "wound" inflicted upon them by their fathers.

One thing: Where does God require us to "find our heart." God gave us our heart and He can choose to leave it sick unto damnation or make it well through sanctification. Our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked even while being sanctified. I beg God to change my heart. I don't need to find my heart, I know exactly where to look. Whereever sin abounds that is where my heart will be unless God by grace rescues me through the gift of repentance.

The whole program would be laughable if so many did not get suckered in. "Wild at Heart" is why so many Christian men are neutered. We need to look at what God requires of us and stop looking for some emotional high whether Rocky Mountain or otherwise. Each time I see the guy on the video I am reminded that he needs his face bounced off something immovable. He is a whining wannabe who admits that he went into Grizzly country without a gun; and this is who would teach us to be "Wild at heart?"

The Ransomed Heart website; keep your hand on your wallet and ensure that you view it on an empty stomach.

DC, I have been able to show the many errors in this book each Sunday that I am able to attend class. You seem to be well on your way already. I recommend that you go to the class and fight against the book in class if the pastor does not pull the plug on it. Each falsity can be smoked really easily with just a little study (I have been able to do it and I am both lazy and pea brained).



Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member

I'm curious; what has been the reaction of the teacher and the other students?

By the way - good work!


Inactive User

Actually, the chuch is planning a Wild at Heart weekend retreat for all the men in the church. This right on the heels of 40 days of purpose. :rolleyes: I can't afford to go due to not having a job for the last 5 months. :( I don't think they would appreciate me asking to be sponsored to go just to flame half of what they are teaching. :flaming: Besides, I just got torn into by my mother for quietly bowing out of the 40 days. Apparently it isn't Christian to criticize what a man of God teaches, especially if it gets results. After all, who can argue with results? I am trying to head this one off at the pass(tors), but they don't seem too keen on criticizing anything either (except the Sovereignty of God material I brought to them). Sorry if I sound bitter. Just really frustrated. :mad:


Puritan Board Freshman

I'm curious; what has been the reaction of the teacher and the other students?

Let me preface this by saying that I also tried to get the book tossed out before the SS class started. The church that I attend on Sunday mornings and go to sunday school at is a RPCUS church. They hold to exclusive psalmody, are non-instrumental and ordain women deacons; so they are a bit schizophrenic theologically. I am not a member as we are trying to plant a PCA church nearby but only have sunday evening service there. I had a long conversation with the pastor about the book and its theological errors. The pastor agreed that there were errors, but felt that the book should be used for Sunday School anyway because he thought the issue of Christian masculinity needed to be addressed. He invited me to attend anyway and encouraged me to bring up all my criticisms.

The teacher, who is also the elder in charge of adult Sunday school, probably thinks that I am somewhat contentious and a little too dependent on my Bible and the WCF, however, he hasn't discussed the book with me outside of class at all. The pastor, who is a member of the class, agrees with most of my disagreements with the book but not as emphatically as I do. To greater or lesser extent students are swayed or not by my arguments and many seem predisposed to aggree with me. I don't think that they will do this study again. There have been too many members that have significant disaggreement with it.



Inactive User
I continue to add things here that have helped me.

There is something in [u:fdbdddfe8c][b:fdbdddfe8c]this sermon by Spurgeon[/b:fdbdddfe8c][/u:fdbdddfe8c] on Hab 3:2 that reminded me of "Wild at Heart".
God had clothed Whitefield with power: he was preaching with a majesty and a might of which one could scarcely think mortals could ever be capable; not because he was anything in himself, but because his Master girded him with might. After Whitefield there was a succession of great and holy men. But now, sirs, we have fallen upon the dregs of time. Men are the rarest things in all this world; we have not many left now.


Have you ever read one of his sermons? You will not think him eloquent; you cannot think him so. His expressions were rough, frequently very coarse and unconnected; there was very much declamation about him; it was a great part, indeed, of his speech. But where lay his eloquence? Not in the words you read, but in the tone in which he delivered them, and in the earnestness with which he felt them, and in the tears which ran down his cheeks, and in the pouring out of his soul. The reason why he was eloquent was just what the word means. He was eloquent, because he spoke right out from his heart-from the innermost depths of the man.
Spurgeon holds Whitefield up as an example of a good preacher because he preached "from the innermost depths". Is this perhaps what Eldredge is trying to encourage in men? If so, he should take lessons from Spurgeon, because Spurgeon spends the first 2/3 of his sermon addressing issues of personal holiness, prayer and groaning after God. Only then and on those grounds does he continue to exhort men to live with passion. Spurgeon does not make the mistake of being vague about what it is deep in Whitefield's heart that fires his preaching. It was because God had "clothed (him) with power", "his Master girded him with might." It is, as his text states, "God's work", not my "true self".
I exhort you, instead of trying to revive yourself, to offer prayers. Say not, "I will revive myself," but cry, "O Lord, revive thy work!"[/quote:fdbdddfe8c]
Secondly, the passion that he seeks to encourage is a passion for preaching the gospel, a passion of belief, not a general endorsement of living from your own "deep heart", whatever that means to you.

In general, this is a killer sermon, worth reading over again. I wish I could transport Spurgeon to our church so he could preach this message. Most of all I wish I could fully heed it myself.

[Edited on 2-20-2004 by DexCisco]


Inactive User
Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart, GO TO AMAZON>COM, read the posted readers comments !!!!! This is the best discussion board I have seen, powerful replies.
I have been raised as I believe in sound teachings for 15 years, love the word, Wild at heart was the book my homegroup wanted to read, so I did, from the first chpt, I kept saying please show me scripture, it was very vague, he is great author but wasn't being sound with what scripture he ref. to his thoughts. Went to, wow, seen that those who didn't like it knew the word those that said this book changed my life. never ref his teachings being sound, WAH as I believe uses what's called object relationship psychobabble, attach an object ex what your father did to you as the focal pt to why you feel the way you do, skip sin or forgiveness as the father forgave us? I am finally glad people are starting to see that these book isn't innocent but very dangerous. Here is a test for all those who love this book, ask them after friends have been changed from this book are they now deeply serving the lord in a ministry? I haven't seen 1 person a year later saying WAH lead me to a ministry that I have so much joy, usually I hear the me me me syndrome, I feel so freed, free from what, its Christ that truly frees and that doesn't last 1, 2 8 months its permanent. John might not realize he is being used by the enemy to start a counselors movement where we no longer point to sound teachings but counselors that are here to rescue us with psychology vs. doctrine, watch your doctrine closely emmm how many including myself do? well when books like this come out it pushes me to realize how important sound doctrine is to me. Look at all the books in your local Christian book stores flyer. they are now not sound authors but counselors writing the best sellers. I have spun round and round with this book and am waiting for smarter people then myself to expose the error's. Its a shame, he is a good author jus as I feel not sound in regards to doctrine. People keep bringing to light what isn't right !!!!
Iron sharpens IRON
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