On Tuesday I participated in a radio interview with popular Christian author John Eldredge (widely known for his best-selling 2001 book Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul). Eldredge came on the program to talk about his new book Walking with God: Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really. In this book, Eldredge tells his readers that they should have a “conversational intimacy” with God that includes hearing Him speak just like people in the Bible heard God speak.
The regular host of the radio program couldn’t be there, so I was brought in at the last minute to give some biblical and theological cross-examination during the course of my co-host’s interview. All of that to say, my co-host Penna Dexter was prepped for the interview, and I was not. I came into it cold. I only got to peruse his book very briefly as I walked into the studio.
In any case, the conversation turned out to be pretty interesting. My co-host and I pressed him on whether or not he heard audible voices from God. Eldridge responded that he does not. When I asked him how he could equate his “hearing” God’s voice to the experience of Old Testament characters who heard an audible voice, I thought his answer was rather unsatisfactory. I don’t think he answered well when we challenged the biblical basis of his proposal.
Anyway, after the show one of my colleagues pointed me to Tim Challies‘ review of Eldridge’s book. After reading Challies’ review, I was glad to find that someone who had given the book a more careful reading concurred with my evaluation of Eldredge’s proposal. Eldridge’s prescription for “conversational intimacy” with God is loaded with biblical and theological problems. Challies writes:
“As a glimpse into the life of John Eldredge this book may have some appeal. But as a guide to hearing from God, it has little value. What the author teaches is fraught with peril. Feeling that we need to hear direct and fresh revelation from God in every matter is a prescription for paralysis. . . Walking with God offers confusion rather than clarity. Take a pass on this one.”
[You can listen to the interview above or find it on my podcast here: Launch iTunes Music Store.]