Q/A with John Eldredge

In preperation for the January 2006 article, Return to Me, STV interviewed best-selling author, John Eldredge, about his new book, The Way of the Wild Heart. Below is an excerpt from that interview.

STV: Since you wrote Wild at Heart in 2001, what was your goal in writing The Way of the Wild Heart? Were there certain things that you set out to accomplish in this book that you didn’t necessarily do in the first?

JE: Exactly, yeah. You can only say so much in a book. Wild at Heart really was offered, in some ways, just to awaken the hearts of men and to try and bring some healing to their wounded hearts. It was kind of a call, really—an invitation to freedom and to find the life I think God has for us as men. But that is about all you can get done in a book. If Wild at Heart is sort of an invitation, The Way of the Wild Heart is a much more in-depth, practical, step-by-step sort of book.

STV: Some considered Wild at Heart to be a pretty bold book. What criticism did you receive most often from the first book, and how did you respond, both while you were going through the book and while you were preparing to write the second?

JE: The only criticism we have really received, unfortunately has been from the church. A number of men have come to see Christ through the book, and it was only those in the church who felt that I was somehow diminishing the sovereignty of God by saying that He really loves adventure and that He has written adventure into the fabric of the world. That made me sad, because I have a very high view of the sovereignty of God. But I still believe that He loves adventure. Just look at any of the stories of God and particular men in the Bible like Joseph, David, Elijah—all of their lives are one adventure after another.

So that particular criticism, I think, is unsound. God loves adventure, and that doesn’t mean He is not sovereign. It just means that’s the kind of sovereignty He has woven into the world. And it is so crucial that we understand this. It is not just adventure as play, it is because adventure shapes men. It really does, unlike just about anything else, because it calls you out, and it tests you. Something in a man rises up in the face of adventure. To be honest, a classroom doesn’t do that. Sunday school doesn’t do that. You look at Jesus and His disciples and most of their time is spent outdoors. There are a few stories that take place indoors in the synagogue, but most of them are outdoors. And that is important especially when you are trying to work with men.

STV: How do you follow or chase after the heart God gave you if the Bible says that the heart is deceitful?

JE: You may have just asked the two-million-dollar question. Really, it is so important. The human heart is the center of the whole story in the Bible, as it relates to the heart of God. Obviously with God as the hero of the story. But what He is after in the Bible is the heart. The story of the Old Testament is filled with cries of, “Turn to me from the heart,” “Repent from the heart.” David even said, “Create in me a clean heart.” So the whole story is sort of this battle for the redemption of the human heart.

When Christ came in, the story of the New Testament [turned to] God brining redemption to the human heart, so Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitfully wicked,” applies to that man who has not yet experienced the redemption of Christ. I mean, Jesus himself said it. It is not what goes into the man that makes him unclean, it is what comes out of his heart. The heart is a disaster apart from Christ, but the good news that most men have not heard is that the saving work of Jesus Christ reaches the human heart. In fact, He promised it in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah. He said He would give us new hearts. And then Jesus teaches, for example, in the parable of the sower and the seed in Luke chapter 8, that the seed that fell on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart.

The stunning news of Christianity is that God transforms the heart. And the reason that it is so important is because it is from the heart that we have fellowship with God. It is from the heart that we learn to love others. It is from the heart that we find the passions that God has put within us to fulfill our particular role in His story. And so if you dismiss the heart flat-out, all you have left to fall back on is lost. You will just eventually just fall back on some list of rules to try and produce the behavior, but the Scriptures say no, no, no—love God with all your heart. Paul urges us in Romans to love one another sincerely from the heart. The heart is really, really, really important, and so that is why a man can not only recover, but can live from a passionate heart—a heart that Christ has set free.

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.