Waking the Dead,

The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive

John Eldredge

Book cover: Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
Books written by John Eldredge are very fiery and captivating. Clearly, he is a gifted writer. Waking the Dead is an appealing and emotional book. 

His goal is to impart knowledge that he feels will make Christians come alive. Christians, he says, once had hope and life but let it become eroded. Where is the abundant life Christ promised? He hopes what he writes about will change us.

The problem I have with this book is that people can be caught up in his writing and swept along without critically analyzing whether what he is advocating is really true. I feel this book has subtleties about it that may overthrow the basic premise he is advocating. Yet some of what he says is true. The problem is that it omits other biblical teachings that seem to say the opposite.

I don’t like it when I have to sort between truth and error presented in a subtle way with an emotional push to buy into what is being said. I wonder what I am missing and I wonder who else is reading and buying into everything being said.

69 pages into the book the author comes to his point. “Our hearts have been circumcised to God. We have new hearts. Do you know what that means? Your heart is good. Let that sink in for a moment. Your heart is good.”

“What would happen if you believed it, if you came to the place where you knew it were true? Your life would never be the same….This is the last thing the Enemy wants the world to know….It’s freedom. It’s life.” (p.69-70)

The author then comes back to that point again and again for it’s his basic foundation. It is his “specific purpose statement.” But is it true?

The author vividly describes how we are at war whether we want to be or not. He shows that we are at war with Satan and plainly describes how some of those battles go. But is that our only enemy? We--and I mean Christians--have three enemies.

  • The Devil (I Peter 5:8) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
  • The Flesh (Galatians 5:16-17) “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
  • The World (I John 2:15-16) “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.
John Eldredge omits these battles. He omits how the apostle Paul after having a circumcised heart still struggled with the flesh in Romans 7 and how Christ delivers us in Romans 8. There is more to it than just believing “I am free” for Christ has made my heart good and any thoughts otherwise are put there by the devil. 
When I first began reading Waking The Dead I found it inspiring and captivating. But as he got to his main message all these red flags started coming up. I wonder how many people will see them?

He also quotes extensively from movies, books, and fairy tales we all know about. While that can be helpful in illustrating a point that is only valid if the points are true. Quoting from “Lord of the Rings’” is not the same as quoting from scripture.

His writing is lively, but his premise has not been compared to all the scriptures on the subject--just ones that seem to fit what he is advocating.
Book Review
By Bill Stough
Title: Waking the Dead, The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive
Author: John Eldredge copyright 2003
Publisher: Nelson Books
ISBN: 0-7852-6553-8