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Archive for July 28th, 2008

Captivating: A Review

Here is my Amazon.com review of the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge:

1.0 out of 5 stars Sappy, Sentimental, Poorly Written Drivel, March 29, 2007
I picked up this book in the hopes that I would find something original, something challenging, something other than the evangelical drivel that passes for “Christian Living” books these days. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.
What I Liked:

1. There really were some challenging ideas in this book. So often, “biblical womanhood” is portrayed as being all about homemaking, mothering, and hospitality. It’s all about being “against feminism.” While I don’t see anything wrong with a balanced view of a woman’s role, I do think that it’s easy to take these ideas to the extreme. Stasi Eldredge’s book definitely does not fit the mold, at least not in the circles I tend to frequent. Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas are concerned more with the heart. To her, “godly womanhood” means getting back to our roots as women, to embrace our femininity and use it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas about femininity are wrought with their own problems. (See below). Additionally, Mrs. Eldredge’s idea that womanhood and femininity doesn’t always look the same between women is very refreshing and something of which I need to be reminded every day.

2. The authors are clear about the God-ordained distinction between the sexes. In other words, men and women are not the same.

3. The chapters, while lengthy, were quick and easy to read. Yes, that is a plus when you’re running after two children under the age of three.

4. This book was easy to read in pieces.

What I Did NOT Like:
1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other “Proverbs 31” quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the “Proverbs 31” woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful (and while they spend an entire chapter developing this idea, I never understood what they meant- beauty on the outside? Inner beauty? What beauty are they talking about? Oh, the beauty that is completely corrupted by sin, but made alive and beautiful again by the saving work of Christ? That beauty?), and whether or not she is being properly “romanced.” In fact, I’m actually nervous about writing a bad review of this book in fear that Stasi will read it and spiral into a depression again. What if I hit a nerve, dig a deeper wound, remind her of her difficult childhood? Why not generalize this fear to all women because according to the authors, women are weak, wounded, and helpless.

2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God” (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the “Crown of Creation.” In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the “bridegroom” of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a “Lover.” Well, were I a man, I would either laugh at this or be very turned off. Jesus isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my God. He’s my Savior. He’s my Lord. He is the Bridegroom of the Church Universal, but not of individuals. I could go on, but its late and I’m tired…

3. Frequent and blatant misuse of Scripture. They take so much of the Bible out of context that its hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her “first love”. They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.

4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we “open the door of our hearts” where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.

5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians. I believe this issue stems from their use of the Neil T. Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker, a book that has been widely rebutted due to its unbiblical views of Satan and his relationship to believers. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I’m afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just “blame Satan” instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!).

6. Enough with the movie metaphors already! I don’t want to hear about how I’m like “Cora” in “Last of the Mohicans” or “Rose” in “Titanic.” Tell me about Rachel, Rebekah, Mary, Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe, Dorcas, Mary Magdelene, the nameless women throughout the Bible who acted in faith when God called them out of their normal lives into greatness. Tell me about those women FIRST and leave the movie metaphors out of it! Instead of looking to God to learn about us, they point us to our culture and ourselves in order to learn about God. That’s completely backwards!

This book is nothing more than really bad pop psychology trying to be passed off as “biblical” truth. It is sappy, overly sentimental, erroneous, and, in most parts unbiblical. I had a hard time following any of the points put forward by the authors. The meat in this book would’ve made for an interesting article in “Christianity Today” or “Focus on the Family” magazine. They didn’t need a whole book to detail this dribble. Please don’t bother with it. There are much better books out there about biblical womanhood than this one.

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