I was talking with my father this morning, and the conversation turned to John Eldredge. I told dad about Eldredge’s newest book (it has, after all, recently hit store shelves and I had just copied my rather negative review to Amazon.), The Way of the Wild Heart and how Eldredge seems to be heading to new heights in his strange theologies. I mentioned that Eldredge is now convinced that God is sending him love notes in the shape of hearts. God apparently woos him by sending him heart-shaped stones and heart-shaped clouds. These are God’s expressions of love given specifically to him.
“How has God been wooing you? What has stirred your heart over the years? God has been bringing hearts to me for a long, long time. It’s one of our intimacies. He gave me a rock in the shape of a heart again yesterday, as a reminder. And as I was praying early this morning, I looked out my window and the cloud before me was in the shape of a heart. God has many such gifts for you, particular to you, and now that you have this stage of the Lover to watch for, eyes to look for the Romance, you’ll begin to see them, too.”
That quote turns my stomach just a little bit. I don’t want God to romance me. I don’t want God to be my lover. I don’t need a boyfriend. I want God to be a Father–to be my Father. And after all, isn’t this exactly how He reveals Himself in the Bible? Like many an ancient mystical nun, Eldredge seems to find strange, romantic, pseudo-sexual qualities in God’s love. But when I look at the Bible, I just don’t see this. I see God as a Father or as a shepherd. I see God as one who loves gently and patiently, but not romantically. God loves me as my father loves me (though certainly more completely and more perfectly), but I don’t expect either one of them to send me little love notes. If either one did, I don’t quite know how I’d react, but I can only imagine that I’d be distinctly uncomfortable.
What I just cannot figure out is who reads and enjoys this aspect of Eldredge’s books. I’ll admit that there is a lot in his books that appeal to men. There is even a quality to his books that really challenge me to be a better father to my children. He tells his readers to head outdoors and to act like real men, going fly fishing, climbing mountains, shooting things, and so on. He gives hope to those of us who sit endlessly in the city, tapping away at little keyboards. But then when he gets to the wilderness he looks for heart-shaped love notes from God and wants to talk to other men about his feelings. It’s just downright weird. He really seems to want God to be his boyfriend. Or girlfriend. Or something. I don’t understand. And I don’t want anything to do with it.
As I learn more about God from studying the Scripture, I see in greater clarity the paternal qualities of God. And I love to find these. I love to learn more about God as Father, about God as one who loves and who loves completely. And I see little to convince me that God wants to woo me, to romance me, or to act the part of a lover. And I like it this way.