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Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a…

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul (original 2001; edition 2001)

by John Eldredge

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3,517401,506 (3.62)19
Title:Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul
Authors:John Eldredge
Info:Thomas Nelson (2001), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, Nature, Religious, Rotten Reads
Tags:anecdotes, bullshit, christianity, masculinity, men, non-fiction, books

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Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge (2001)


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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A friend of mine gave me Wild at Heart to read, and the book was so darn good I ended up buying my own copy before I'd even finished it the first time. This is one of those proofs that "many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church" (CCC 819). John Eldredge himself is a Christian, but he seems to have a bit of an anti-religious vibe to him, as gleaned from his website. He is the director of Ransomed Heart Ministries, a "fellowship devoted to helping people discover the heart of God" (from the back of the book).

If you had to categorize the book, it's a book about masculine spirituality, but really it's so much more than that. Much of contemporary Christian material geared towards men is designed to neuter and emasculate them. Modern Christianity tells men that their passion, their drive, and their ambition is bad, and so in order to be a good Christian you need to get rid of those things and pursue virtues like meekness, gentleness, and passivity (Indeed, they are virtues and Jesus used them when he needed to, but they're never an excuse not to act when action is called for). This message is subtly backed up by by emotive music and weak homilies found at most Christian gatherings. In the same vein, we've feminized Jesus himself.

So with contemporary Christianity having feminized our understanding of Christ and our understanding of a good Christian, John Eldredge realized we have a problem. Even in the Catholic Church, which is commonly accused of being male-dominated and hierarchical, the problem is the same. So Eldredge proposes something new, he proposes that how God made men is good, because the natural values and inclinations of men correspond to the values of God himself. Early on in Wild at Heart, Eldredge says, "We need permission. Permission to be what we are-men made in God's image. Permission to live from the heart and not from the list of 'should' and 'ought to' that has left so many of us tired and bored" (emphasis original).

Speaking directly to men, every one of us has a question that needs to be answered. "Am I really a man? Do I have what it takes?" Because of Adam's original failure and the wounds we receive throughout our lives, this question often goes unanswered or is answered in the negative. The sort of masculinity I'm talking about here isn't the kind of manliness that drinks beer, watches football, and hunts. That overly-macho man is usually just compensating for the wounds he's received elsewhere in his life. No, I'm talking about the manliness that knows what makes him come alive, that is driven to pursue a goal, whether that goal is to be star quarterback or first chair in the orchestra. Either one is true masculinity because it's what makes you come alive.

But through the trials of life, we often pick up the message that we're not really a man. We don't have what it takes. You're not good enough to be the QB. Playing an instrument is for wimps. Or to Christianize the failure: The desire to succeed, the desire to excel, those are bad. Meekness and passivity are what you should pursue.

But something about this doesn't sit right, because men were made to fight. Look at little boys on the playground, they'll turn anything into a pretend weapon. We are made to compete, to conquer, to vanquish the enemy. It's what Jesus did. He fought the enemy and he won. For us, the enemy is often our own weakness. We have to recognize the battle that is at hand, and we have to recognize what is at stake. The leader is Jesus Christ, the battle is against the Devil himself, who has infiltrated even to our own hearts, and what is at stake is all the souls entrusted to our care as fathers of families, in whatever form.

God didn't give us men wild hearts to be stumbling blocks for us. He didn't give us wild hearts so that we could suppress them. He gave us wild hearts so that we could fight for him and live like Him.
  wyohess | Oct 28, 2015 |
John Eldredge invites Men to recover their dreams and to recover their masculine heart, define in the image of a passionate God. Men don't know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives or raise their children because they have been taught from childhood to be a good boy. Deep in his heart every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. Eldredge gives us many examples of how men have come to lose their heart and to lose their way on the things that count. He says we must take risks to climb out of these restless lives and take back your heart. Get to know God and know what God wants you to do. If you listen to him you can throw away that early little boy training you were given and be a man. The man your wife wants you to be. The man your children want you to be. To do this you must pray to Christ and listen to him and to make the hard decisions you need to make to follow Christ and to teach others how to follow Christ. ( )
  mrkurtz | Apr 15, 2015 |
OK the last chapter saved this. Only just though.

1 0f 23 books all for $10. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
A must read for all males. When the female comes to the point that she is at a loss as to why God created man the way He did - read immediately. It really isn't our fault entirely that we are the way we are. This book reveals some amazing insights into the male psyche. This book shows the marvelous purpose for the differences between the male and female. After God formed man from the dust and his mate from his rib, "Wild at Heart " helps fill the gap of misunderstanding about the function of each gender with common sense truth. ( )
  thomashwalker2 | Dec 30, 2011 |
This is is a fantastic relationship book. It gets back to who men should be and who woman want men to be. At it's heart it gives permission to men to be men, not the emasculated man that society wants men to be today. The cool part of this book is it adds to the relationship you have with women. ( )
  RonShore | Oct 28, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
…Eldredge has a method for dealing with those who would disagree with him by standing on Biblical Truth – people he calls “Doctrine Police” and “Doctrinal Nazis.” In the Wild at Heart Facilitator’s Guide for “facilitators” of his workshops, Eldredge recommends a psychological technique of manipulation used to control and direct the outcome of small group discussions. By the use of marginalization and isolation, he instructs facilitators on how to “shut down the doctrine cop” (page 4). Again on page 5, he warns the facilitator to watch out for the “…doctrine Nazi – a guy who’s got some theological ax to grind.” Here again Eldredge instructs the facilitator to dismiss and evade any doctrinal issues being made and to marginalize and isolate the man who brings them to the group’s attention. “Doctrinal Nazis” and “doctrine cops,” as Eldredge calls them, must be silenced because Eldredge’s teachings will not stand up to the light of Scriptural Truth…

…His discussion of penis size in the book, and his use of profanity in the lecture series, including the ‘F-word,’ ‘G__ damn,’ and ‘sh__’ should be objectionable to Christian men, and a warning signal that Eldredge is not qualified to impart wisdom about biblical manhood….…John Eldredge has built his “wild at heart” theme on the works of Jungians like Robert Bly, Sam Keen, and others. … We must really concur with Byron Borger, in his essay on Wild at Heart, when he says this book “is so laden with wrong-headed biases that the book is unsound.”
Wild at Heart is insightful in noting that men live unfulfilled lives, searching to satisfy a vaguely unsettling malaise. So it is understandable that Eldredge searches to discover that certain "something" that we're all longing for. The Irish musical group U2 articulated this longing well when they crafted the song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Unfortunately, although Eldredge has asked the right questions, he offers solutions that are sometimes misguided and at other times patently wrong.
Eldredge clearly knows how to write to men and by the testimonies of many, he has achieved one of his objectives, which is to give men permission to be men. With all of the good insights Eldredge offers in this book, it is actually a little painful to mention two of what should be considered very significant problems which undermine the entire book.
Wild at Heart is so full of unbiblical content and downright error that even Christianity Today wrote a negative review. When Christianity Today, which embraces everyone from Robert Schuller to Tony Campolo, and seldom has a pejorative word to say about anything, feels compelled to issue warnings, it ought to cause warning signs to pop up in our minds. Christianity Today implied that Wild at Heart is a “syrupy pop book that pleases undiscerning ears” and then stated clearly, “The therapeutic virtues of the book, however, do not outweigh its theological and cultural vices…. Theological error emerges by page three.” …Eldredge has bought into every form of psychobabble imaginable.
…There’s bound to be some controversy over Eldredge’s approach to the story of Ruth. On page 191 he writes, ‘This is seduction pure and simple–and God holds it up for all women to follow. I envision leaders of church singles groups panicking as they learn that a single woman is at her best when she can arouse a man (page 192)’….
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For Samuel, Blaine, and Luke. I love your warrior hearts. You definitely have what it takes.
First words
At last, I am surrounded by wilderness.

"I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections. And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill. I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help and patience, and a certain difficult repentance, long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.” – D.H. Lawrence
Life is a hypocrite if I can't live the way it moves me! Stephen Fry
How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified? What government would execute Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo?                                      Philip Yancey- The Jesus I Never Knew 
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0785268839, Hardcover)

If Christian men are going to change from a pitiful, wimpy bunch of "really nice guys" to men who are made in the image of God, they must reexamine their preconceptions about who God is and recover their true "wild" hearts, writes bestselling author John Eldredge in Wild at Heart: Discovering a Life of Passion, Freedom, and Adventure. Eldredge throws down the gauntlet--men are bored; they fear risk, they refuse to pay attention to their deepest desires. He challenges Christian men to return to authentic masculinity without resorting to a "macho man" mentality. Men often seek validation in venues such as work, or in the conquest of women, Eldredge observes. He urges men to take time out and come to grips with the "secret longings" of their hearts. Although the book succeeds best in its slant toward a male audience, it also strives to help women understand the implications of authentic masculinity in their relationships with men. Eldredge frames the book around his outdoor experiences and appealing anecdotes about his family, sprinkling the text with touches of humor and overlying everything with heartfelt passion. Even as he mixes eclectic ideas about masculinity from popular movies such as Braveheart with classic words from Oswald Chambers, and lyrics from the Dixie Chicks with stories from the Bible, he points to only one answer for men searching for their true wildness of heart. Writes Eldredge, "The only way to live in this adventure ... with all its danger and unpredictability and immensely high stakes ... is in an ongoing, intimate relationship with God." --Cindy Crosby

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In all your boyhood dreams of growing up, did you dream of being a "nice guy"? Eldredge believes that every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. That is how he bears the image of God; that is what God made him to be.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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