I thought this was worth sharing since it opens up a common question/concern regarding Wild at Heart. The original writer is responding to the first session of the Wild at Heart DVD series that I recently started.
I came from Monday very enthused, especially to search the Word to see what is true. My school with the Assemblies was appropriately enough called the Berean School of the Bible. I went home to search the Word with the specific masculine aspects of God in mind.
I have come away, once again, in awe of Him. I am unable to find anything regarding masculinity or maleness in regards to God, with the notable exception of God the Father. (He also created them in His image, male and female he created them. That is an interesting but singular verse.) I am currently involved in a study to learn more about that, in fact that journey has been ongoing throughout my life and recently has come to the front burner again. I find it very comforting that the various names of God in the Hebrew, Jehovah Nissi, Adoni, etc, the one He refers to Himself by the most is.....Father.
I am keenly aware of the boundaries set at the outset of the group, and do not wish to push them specifically concerning the teaching of doctrine. If it would prove useful and seem appropriate as well as Spirit led, perhaps we could explore for a time the Fatherhood of God, since that seems to be closest to His heart in describing Himself and His masculinity. I am with Matt, if manhood is galloping around on horses in Colorado, shooting live bears (or desert rats) hoo-ra Navy Seal stuff that does not resonate with me. As you said, one of your friends is an engineer and he likes to go around and measuring things. I have friends as well who feel this same way.
The Fatherhood of God, or God the Father, is something that does resonate. The Hebrew father had a lot to do with his sons, particularly the oldest one. The oldest one inherited everything, or most of it, not because of some archaic custom but because there was no social security and the eldest son had the responsibility to care for the aging parents. What if mom and dad did not have much stuff? Tough luck, still had to take care of them. So the father was very concerned with coping skills, survival skills, business skills, marriage partner, etc. You simply had to be successful or everything fell apart in the patriarchal times. I have much more to say, hence the preacher in me, but will leave it alone.
Thank you also for your warm encouragement for me to attend. I know I can at times be a handful, not everyone is comfortable with me when I show up, and you have made it very easy to wish to come. I do know how to submit myself to authority, so any decision on the direction of the group will be solely at your discretion.
I appreciate the homework – way to go Berean!
For the purpose of the Monday night thing, I think I’ll just be sticking with the series for now. Not with the expectation that everyone will or should buy Eldredge's position lock, stock, and barrel, but rather just to let him finish his thought. The folks who come can either take it or leave it, but I’ve made a commitment to facilitate this material faithfully and I reckon I ought to let the DVDs run their course.
That said, I’d love to continue the conversation with you on these topics – perhaps between sessions. My own story is one where I was intrigued by the W@H material when I first encountered it, but had my own reservations. But over time, as I’ve grappled with the topics and brought my concerns before God and other men who’ve been working with W@H, I’ve basically come to believe it more and more as opposed to less and less.
I would point out that Eldredge doesn’t really say that God is particularly ‘male’ or ‘masculine’, but rather that human men embody certain aspects of God and by definition those aspects are identified as ‘masculine.’ He’s not making a point about God nearly as much as he’s making a point about us. And it’s meant specifically as an answer to the message of the sexual revolution and radical feminism which wants to claim that human men and women are essentially identical except for their jiggly parts.
The purpose of drawing attention to some of God’s ‘masculine’ attributes isn’t to suggest that God is a man, but rather to give men the opportunity to see some of their deepest heart-desires reflected in God. In essence, the help men recognize God’s image in themselves. Again, it’s meant as an answer to an image of Jesus that has been profoundly feminized. We tend to focus almost exclusively on Christ’s compassion and never his wrath. We always see the guy with a lamb on his shoulders but never the guy with a sword in his hand.
And it’s important to point out that Eldredge never suggests that women aren’t equally image bearers of God – but AS women. The more characteristically ‘feminine’ qualities of God are just as real, just as deep, just as important. If you’re interested in Eldredge's vision of women, read Captivating.
Anyway – let’s talk more. This is a rich topic. I’m a fan of Aldridge's material but I’m not a groupie. :) I’m happy to discuss this stuff and listen to contrary points.