I was very excited to receive a copy of the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. The title and subject really drew my attention, and I was very interested in what the Eldredges had to say. My excitement soon turned to dismay as I read. In order to keep this a review and not another book I will not go into great detail the problems I had with the book. There were some good aspects which I will list first, and then I will briefly describe some of the problems.
Before I even started reading I liked the idea of both John and Stasi authoring the book. I thought it would be very beneficial to get a man and womans point of view. A lot of times I just didn't know who was writing so that got a little confusing. They made several interesting observations about Scripture that I had never thought about and thus made me search those Scriptures to see for myself. For example, on pages 48 and 49 they are describing the scene in the Garden of Eden where Eve is being tempted by the serpent. On page 49 they write, "Now, to be fair, Adam doesn't exactly ride to her rescue." Definitely food for thought.
I appreciated the fact that Stasi was willing to open her heart and share a lot from her personal life. I'm sure it took a lot of courage to actually write her struggles, fears, and past sins in a book for all to read. I could tell she has a genuine concern for women and wants to do all she can to help.
The best part of the book was found on page 126. I believe this is precisely what the authors are trying to help us understand is the heart of the issue. They write, "Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Matt. 22:37)... It is from hearts filled with love for him that all good works and acts of love flow." I believe the authors are trying to help us understand that for a woman to be truly captivating and beautiful she will love God with all that she is. I absolutely agree, but this brings me to the problems I have with the book.
Instead of introducing this passage of Scripture and taking us to an understanding of how that looks for a woman today, they start the book by generalizing how all women think or what they want. Little girl dreams of princesses and fairy tales, dress-up clothes, and tea parties are expounded upon. Too many movies are quoted. (I have never even seen half of the movies they mentioned.) The first part of the book seemed totally unnecessary. Why do I need to be reminded of how I felt or acted as a child. All of that is right and good in its proper place, but how do princesses and tea parties help me to love God with all that I am?
The biggest issues I have with this book are over God's Word. I had hardly starting reading when on page 6 Stasi criticizes the Proverbs 31 woman! Then on page 45 Stasi (I think) writes, "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." WHAT?!?!?!? The incarnation? Someone please tell me I read that wrong! Song of Solomon was quoted occasionally and there again liberties were taken that I do not believe were accurate. On page 197 the author again writes, "Ladies, you are the Bride of Christ." Now I understand that this is a book written to women so the author could have just been using the word ladies, because as Christian ladies we are part of the church. However, since there are other theological issues with this book I'm not quite sure how to read that statement. Then on paage 220 the author again writes, "He [Jesus] is captivated by your beauty." I'm sorry, but I can't agree with that statement either. There is a lot I could say just on these few quotes, but this is a review not another book. These quotes are just a few examples of why I have problems with this book.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book to anyone. There are too many theological issues. If you do choose to read it, be very careful. The authors make there ideas sound very good and Biblical. That is the problem! They are THEIR ideas! Have a copy of the Bible beside you if you do read Captivating and compare what you are reading with what God's Word says. You will find that Captivating does not line up with the Scriptures. Follow God's Word (not me or the author of any book) and you will find the truth.
I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for review purposes.