A few weeks ago I started writing some thoughts about John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead. Well, I’ve finally finished the book, and while I still think my criticisms are valid, my overall conclusion is that this is a very important book that many, many people should read, in spite of its faults.
This is why I think the book is so important:
- His emphasis on the goodness of the Christian’s heart. While there are thousands of people out there who will tell you that the heart of man is evil, polluted by original sin and only good for the trash heap (that old “total depravity” thing), there are very few who dare to tell the truth: that we have been made righteous, that we are “whiter than snow” and that our heart is good, and that it matters to God.
Everyone needs to hear this. Not just hear it, but know it, deep down in our hearts, so we can tell the enemy and those who bought in to the lie to “go [fill in the blank as you see fit].”
- The truth that the real battle is simply the one for your heart. It’s that important.
- His emphasis on the need for real community, not just going to church and/or going to a leader-focused Bible study/home group. Eldredge lays out a good overview of what the church should be like, but usually isn’t. I get a little tired of his “band of brothers” analogies, but bottom line is that it’s true – church should be about people supporting each other and fighting for each other, not just a leader-led relationship.
This is very important stuff, and Eldredge has the kind of voice that can be heard in nearly all types of churches.
Now, there are still a couple of things that are not perfect with this book, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them:
- He needs to hook up with a good theologian. This book could have been so much better, had he done so. An example is his “Daily Prayer for Freedom:” His 2nd paragraph starts out, “I cover myself with your blood…” and he proceeds to ask the Holy Spirit to restore his union with God. How is this Biblical? How can I cover myself in Jesus’ blood? or do it again? And just why do I need to have my relationship with God restored daily? Did God leave overnight? I know, I know … Psalm 51, right? But, remember, that was Old Testament, pre-Jeremiah 31, pre Pentecost, etc., etc.
You see, he’s missed a major truth about our position in Christ. Our faith is in one act of Jesus shedding his blood, and we need to remember that. It’s probably good to pray that we be reminded of that daily, but there’s nothing more for us to do, except to acknowledge what already exists. Okay, enough of that. If you have doubts, read Romans.
- I am still unsure about his sense of urgency. Certainly there is a battle, certainly the devil is doing his lionish prowling, and so on. And, like I agreed with earlier, I know that there is a battle raging for my heart, and for your heart. That very fact makes me think, “don’t go messing with my heart!” This sense of urgency and peril and impending doom can really mess some (not all) people up.
I have a little plaque hanging above my desk, that I’ve had for close to 30 years, that simply says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..” Let’s not lose our heads, or our hearts.
So, with these caveats, I heartily recommend this book. The issues I have mentioned are not faith-threatening, and certainly aren’t any worse than the many of the other things you’ve probably been taught. The good things in this book are valuable enough to overlook a few theological shortcomings.
Thank you for mentioning this “sense of urgency” stuff here. You have a crazy way of putting words to the argument in my spirit on these matters. I love the freedom John fights to be heard for us, versus the burden the church has laid on me and I haven’t yet read this book. But it will be my next after Captivating. Thanks bro.
I thought after I posted this that I could acknowledge that this could become a superstition, it would be terrible if someone went through the day depressed or afraid because they forgot to pray through Eldredge’s prayer word for word. But I don’t think Eldredge takes it that way.
I should add too, I really enjoyed browsing through your site yesterday. Pastor Chuck’s last sermon is great, maybe even potentially life-changing. I also liked the redemptive analogy view of Pride and Prejudice.
Steve, thanks for the comment. In that context, I would have to agree. I am probably responding to the hundreds of people I’ve heard say this in a different – almost superstitious – context.
On “I cover myself with the blood of Jesus”
Alden, I agree with the other comment that it makes sense to say this, just as Paul says we are to take up the armor of Christ (I’m assuming he means to take it up regularly, not just do it once and say its done).
In general, I think this fits the whole mystery of how our status in Christ is complete but not yet. Just as in the Old Covenant, God promised the Land but there were still enemies living on it, and warfare was needed to get them off, so today we can and ought to daily seek to appropriate the fullness of the New Covenant blessings.