Captivating

June 26, 2006 Categories: Books , Faith , Rants | 6 Comments  

Jodi and Karen both asked me to elaborate on the problems I had with Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge.

The authors hold to an over-riding belief that permeates this book. I first noticed it in Chapter Two: What Eve Alone Can Tell.

“It is nearing the end of the sixth day, the end of the Creator’s great labor, as Adam steps forth, the image of God, the triumph of his work. He alone is pronounced the son of God. Nothing in creation even comes close. Picture Michelangelo’s David. He is…magnificent. Truly, the masterpiece seems complete. And yet, the Master says that something is not good, not right. Something is missing…and that something is Eve….”
page 25

So far, so good, right? But then, after quoting Gen. 2:21-23, the passage continues:

“She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam, but with Eve. She is the Master’s finishing touch. How we wish this were an illustrated book, and we could show you now some painting or sculpture that captures this, like the stunning Greek sculpture of the goddess Nike of Samothrace, the winged beauty, just alighting on the prow of a great ship, her beautiful form revealed through the thin veils that sweep around her. Eve is…breathtaking.

Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God’s final touch, his piece de resistance. She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find some place with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves, “The whole, vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me.”
page 25, emphasis mine

I agree that creation was not complete without woman. I agree that woman is unique and fulfills a unique role in the world. What I do not agree with is the idea that Eve was the climax of creation, that creation kept building to “higher and higher works of art” and that Eve crowns it all. Yes, the creation week built to a climax, but that climax was the creation of mankind. Man and woman together are made in the image of God. Both are necessary, but woman is not a higher or better model. I believe that God waited to create woman so that Adam would see his need of her.

Lest you think this is an isolated passage, or that I’m reading too much in, here is another section in a later chapter:

“Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God – a life-offering, life-saving lover, a relational specialist, full of tender mercy and hope.”
page 44

No! Eve was not given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God – Jesus, His Son was.

Is there a need for books that affirm a woman’s femininity and unique place in creation? Yes. But why does it seem like the church always swings from one extreme to another instead of finding the biblical middle?

For years, women were subjugated and abused and their talents neglected, all in the name of submission. But now the church has gone to the other extreme and denied that men and women were created to fulfill different roles. And that’s not even good enough, now some declare that Eve was a higher created being than Adam.

I did find some good material in this book, passages that encourage women to let God heal their woundedness and to embrace their femininity. But in my opinion, this doctrinal error is large enough that I would not recommend this book. Yes, many women who are grounded in the Word and mature in Christ could “take out the good stuff”. But when a book is written from a biblical perspective, why should we have to weed through it?

Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

6 Comments

  1. Karen

    Well yeah… I think I would have said the same thing. Let’s have some moderation in thought!

    I read something interesting last week in Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. When you read Genesis 2, it sounds like Adam actually spent some time alone before Eve was created… that perhaps she was not made on the 6th day (he had to name all the animals, and none of them were “suitable” helpers). He pointed out how much more appreciative Adam might have been of Eve, having been without her for a time, rather than having had her from the beginning. I find that to be a bit refreshing, and certainly less of a paradigm shift than elevating Eve to near goddess-like status.

  2. Jodi

    Thanks for elaborating. This confirms my initial decision not to place this book on my reading list. I read Eldredge’s book Wild At Heart a few years ago and thought that he went to extremes with the masculine side of things. It sounds like he and his wife haven’t stumbled upon a happy medium with the feminine aspect of humanity either.

    Reminds me of that theologically puny saying I love to hate: “God could not be everywhere at once and so He created mothers.” Noble sentiment, flawed premise.

  3. Mrs. House Mouse

    Wouldn’t want to read this one. ;o)

  4. Leah

    Remember–They are fictional books.

    However, it would be a great idea if the church focussed on say….Proverbs 31, or ever Song of Solomon to bring out the importance of women. But, we should not so exalt ourselves as to think we have no need of man. Seems like this book is trying to get women to realize their importance. While that is true, more emphasis needed to be placed on the fact that Eve would be the mother of all. That through woman, the Son of God would come. That through woman ever child would come.
    There is a special place in God’s heart for women, I believe. That femininity has been lost. But how complete the feminine and the masculine. That is why God created Eve–for completion.

  5. Carrie K.

    Actually, Leah – Captivating is not a fictional book. If it was, I wouldn’t have had such a problem with it. It is considered a Christian Living book – described as a book to deepen a woman’s relationship with the Lord.

  6. Carol in Oregon

    Thanks for the summary. It’s not a book on my list, either.