John Eldredge: Intention and Effect

One of the things I talk about in Numen, Old Men is the difference between intention and effect in Christian men’s ministries: they may be well-meaning, but often do not seem to realize the logical conclusion of their position. In particular I discuss John Eldredge and his popular book Wild at Heart who seems fascinated by violence. I write that he ‘is keen on repeatedly showing the wrathful side of not only the Old Testament scriptures, but also Jesus, and devotes a full chapter (ch. 9) to strategies for spiritual warfare with “the Evil One”. Eldredge also has more contemporary sources for his warrior masculinity, including extensive visions of Omaha Beach on D-Day (pp. 84-6) and numerous references to battle movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator and Braveheart. Eldredge takes his movies seriously: at one point God informs him that he is a great warrior akin to Maximus, the gladiator played by Russell Crowe (p. 135), and to fuel his Braveheart fantasies, for Christmas his wife buys him “a full-size claymore, a Scottish broadsword exactly like the one used by William Wallace” (p. 195).’

Harmless fantasy, some might say? However, if this recent report from Mexican publication Milenio is to be believed, this is far from the case. The report speaks of a faith-based drugs cartel who mark their executions with the phrase “justicia divina” and who use Eldredge’s writings as part of their apologetics.

In his book, Eldredge describes a drawing of his young son’s: ‘of an angel with broad shoulders and long hair; his wings are sweeping around him as if just unfurled to reveal that he is holding a large two-handed sword like a Scottish claymore. He holds the blade upright, ready for action; his gaze is steady and fierce. Beneath the drawing are the words, written in the hand of a nine-year-old boy, “Every man is a warrior inside. But the choice to fight is his own”’ (p. 140).

That Eldredge does not anticipate gruesome outcomes from this kind of writing beggars belief.

3 thoughts on “John Eldredge: Intention and Effect

  1. Wow, thanks for posting this resource on my blog. I’m really interested in where you’ve gone with this. I added your book to my amazon wishlist for the moment, so hopefully I’ll get to it soon. I’m reading William Loader’s The Septuagint, Sexuality, and the New Testament: Case Studies on the Impact of the LXX in Philo and the New Testament at the moment (my undergrad was classics, and I still wish I’d done a masters in Greek most days).

    1. No problem: I was glad to see the direction you were taking. 99 out of 100 references to Eldredge repeat the same uncritical stuff.

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