Before opening John Eldredge’s updated edition of Wild at Heart I thought about the changes that have occurred in the lives of men since I read the first edition back in 2001. The landscape of the world has changed. We confront enemies that threaten our families in new and devious ways, we stare at meltdowns in our finances and worklives that are often beyond our control, and our increasingly fragmented relationships have left us more alone than ever. The definition of what it means to be a man, especially a man who is a servant of God, has become more difficult to grasp than ever before. It is an ideal time for the rediscovery of this book.
Eldredge has generated a fair amount of controversy over the years from those who find either his battle against the weakening of men or his theological underpinnings to be questionable. I won’t delve into his theology here except to say that he is not the heretic that some would like to make him out to be. John can occasionally pull a verse out of context in support of his point but he does not do violence to the Scriptures in doing so. Likewise, when Eldredge is bound for burning by those who see him defying Sola Scriptura by saying that God may speak through a movie or song or even the adventure of a climb, he is innocent as was Paul who wrote of all creation being revelation in his letter to the Romans.
Wild at Heart is Eldredge’s call for men to be men rather than the little boys that the culture encourages us to remain through its stereotypes. This man is a man of responsibility, one who takes seriously the call of God on his life. The Wild man is a man who fights for the heart of his King (to borrow a McManus illustration) and remains loyal despite the setbacks that he encounters. Perhaps due to a deficit of modern archetypes, the author leans on bigger than life imagery to incite and arouse the hearts of men to this loyalty. What man is not stirred by the Shakespearean words of Henry V at Agincourt about his band of brothers far more than a Tweet reporting a new coffee flavor at Starbucks?
I enjoyed this book much more as I read this new edition. I don’t attribute this the new or edited content as much as the decade of scars I have accumulated since its first perusal. As we have watched the fading influence of the Promise Keepers, men’s ministry has likewise fallen from favor in the Church at large. Perhaps this new volume can ignite a new movement of men; grown men with their hats on forward, grown men with a deep love and respect for their families, and a growing reverence for their King.
I am grateful to Thomas Nelson Publishers who provided this complimentary copy for review.