I have recently finished a book study of Captivating at my church with several other women. While reading this book, I have found a few good sections, particularly those concerning healing from God. I have also encountered many issues within the book; a few of which I will address here.
A simple issue with this book is found with the vast amount of book, movie, and poem references. References to these movies and texts are okay to use in small quantities as a way to connect with some people, but there are many people who will not understand the point that the Eldredges are making simply because it is drowned in references the reader may not understand. Not everybody has seen or read every book or movie the authors reference and quote. Bible references should be used more often than books and movies within a Christian book, because the Bible gives all Christians a trusted reference for life and how it should be lived from God not a movie director. Lord of the Rings is not scripture, nor does it have hidden messages from God or about women within it.
The scripture used to support the message the Eldredges are trying to convey can and should be studied and reread within context from the Bible. The Bible, if it supports the message properly, will add power to their message as well. Many times in Captivating the Bible references are taken out of context and do not actually support the message the Eldredges are saying. This is specifically seen in Chapter 7 which is theologically incorrect. Jesus loves you, yes, but NOT as a lover, as his child. You are Gods kid, NOT girlfriend or wife.
Another issue I found within the book is the image of Fallen and Redeemed Eve. The Eldredges tend to speculate on who Eve was as a person and her history; although, when reading all of Genesis very little is written about Eve and her life. On page 26 the Eldredges even go as far as to compare Eve as creations final touch to the beauty of a demonic statue. She is the Masters 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 Well, I am very grateful this book is not illustrated then. Why in a CHRISTIAN book would anyone ever want to illustrate it with an idol of a Greek goddess? A goddess! That is a demon that the Greeks worshiped. In no way ever should that compare to womens beauty.
Anyways the Eldredges run into another problem a few pages later when they try to retranslate Ezer Kenegdo as Lifesaver instead of Helpmate Suitable. Our womens group checked with our associate pastor who is a Greek and Hebrew Scholar, with a degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, for the proper translation of Ezer Kenegdo. He replied with: people need to understand how language works and changes over time and what it meant in the original context at the time it was written. Ezer is a noun and means help or helper (in Hebrew). Kenegdo is either a preposition or conjunction and the K means like, as, in accordance. Negd means the opposite. The o at the end is the interpersonal pronoun He. So translated it means: A helper according to the opposite of him. The other half. Whatever a man is lacking- that is the opposite of what he is. A helper according to his opposite. So God said- I will make for him a helper as or in opposite or in accordance; it describes the kind of helper she is. In other words, all the things he is not- she is what he is lacking. So the solution God made for man not to be alone is a helper who completes him. Helpmate Suitable is a pretty accurate rendering of the text.
One other topic I wish the Eldredges had mentioned and gone more in depth with properly is that YOU and every other human has three enemies. The Eldredges did mention and discuss Satan, but they basically ignored the fact that the World (or society) and your own Flesh (or sinful nature) are also trying to make you stumble and fall away from God. When talking about Satan the authors say he attacks women because of beauty, he does not. Satan attacks all humans of either sex by distracting the non-believers and trying to lead Christians away from Jesus, the one true way to salvation. Satan attacks women who are Christians because he fears your relationship with God not because he fears your beauty.
Overall, I wish I could recommend this book, but I cannot, because of its constant theological errors repeated throughout the book.
Inaccurate view of God/Lots of verses out of context
July 30, 2016
I am a Pastors wife and remember going through Captivating as a young Christian in my 30s. My husband and I read all the womens books we could find at the time (in the mid 2000s) and this was the Best Womens book we could find. The authors goal for writing this book is to show us there is healing available through God for wounds caused by: Our mom, our dad, rape and molestation. And they do a pretty good job helping women find healing.
However, Im a Seasoned believer now, and been happily married for 18 years. I just finished taking my Womens group through this book in a Small Group setting. I was shocked by Many things I didnt see going through the book the 1st time. For the sake of space, Ill share only a handful of things that jumped out at me.
Scripture is always right and it is our Standard for what a woman is according to God Himself. There are Scriptures scattered throughout this book, which is to be expected since it is a Christian Womens book. What shocked me was how often the authors used verses out of context.
In Bible College we were taught the 1st 3 Rules of Bible Study are: Context, Context, Context!! This means reading the verse(s) before and after, often reading the Whole Chapter, and sometimes reading the Whole Book to find the authors intended meaning for the verse quoted. I found the authors had a point to make and it appears they searched Scripture to find a verse that either had theword in it they wanted to emphasis or that seemed to fit their point and quote it.
Here are just a few examples:
(P. 36) - Ps. 27 is quoted and in some translations has the word beauty in it. Beauty is better translated splendor. The author probably looked up the word Beauty in the Concordance and just cited the verse listed there. In context, this verse is about God saving and protecting David from his enemies and how David is fully relying on and trusting in God.
(p. 91-92) - Is. 62:1-5 is quoted and said to apply to women. It is actually talking about Jerusalem, the City, not women. Cities in the Bible are often referred to as she and her.
(p. 100) - Rev. 3:20 is quoted as an invitation to accept Christ and that verse is often quoted out of Context. If you read the verses surrounding this Passage, you will see it is God rebuking the Church of Laodicea (the lukewarm church). The phrase vomit them out of his mouth means God is rejecting them. What we want God to say is that He is here in the midst of us not outside of our church knocking on the door trying to get into a place He should already be. Jesus knocking on the door is like Him saying let me in and repent or Im walking away.
(p. 138) - Ps. 34:8 is not an invitation for us to get to know God, like the author says it is. In context, its actually about how God protects those who are His and encouragement to loyally follow God.
**(NOTE: Eph. 1:17-19 talks about Gods desire for us to know Him and would have fit her point here perfectly!!)
(p. 165) -Jer. 29:13 is talking about seeking God with All your Heart, meaning God wants All of you to follow Him. It is not about how God allures you to come closer and is watching to see if he wants to come closer as the author says.
**God does not play games with us like this and its not good to play games with your husband either if you want your marriage to last, (referring to the story she tells above this verse-p. 165 it was a brilliant trap, well set.)
(p. 220) -Song of Songs 2:10 is not about the relationship between God and women. They are actually love songs written by husbands to their wives.
I was also bothered by the Negative spin she put on the Proverbs 31 woman. On page 6, she says, Were all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, The Proverbs 31 Woman, whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified the shame most women liver under, biblical proof that yet again we dont measure up.
The thing the author is forgetting is that this is the example God gave us to show us what Godly Women are to be like. We are to be virtuous like the woman described in Proverbs 31. V. 10-12 Describe her marriage. V. 13-24 Describe her behavior. V. 25-31 Emphasis her character.
The authors seem to think they have a better understanding of what Women are to be like than the one WHO CREATED WOMAN, that would be God.
The section Good men that dont belong to you describes a dangerous way to live. (p, 167-169) We need to be careful in our relationships with the opposite sex especially if you are married and keep some distance there between them and ourselves.
Even Staci realizes this is dangerous based on her own statements. On p. 168 she says Yes- this exchange of strength and beauty will be a test of character. When something is awakened in us by another man or woman, we do have a choice to make in that moment. We choose to accept the awakening as an invitation to go find that with our man or woman..We will have to face this kind of test as we relate to members of the opposite sex. (Emphasis added)
**My question is, if Staci was at a Womens retreat, why didnt she grab another woman and ask her to pray instead of grabbing a guy?
The authors do not have a good understanding of God evidenced by many things they say about Him in their book. Ill list just a couple examples.
The most glaring example is found in Chapter 7. Our group had a really hard time reading through this chapter, as it incorrectly displays God as our lover and him having a love affair with us. This is wrong on so many levels. And the verses used in the chapter were from Hosea and Song of Songs, which again are used out of Context. Song of Songs has nothing to do with us women and God, it is a song written to a wife by her husband. Hosea is a picture of how God feels towards Israel. Hosea is portraying God and Gomer is portraying Israel. In the same way Gomer, a prostitute, is chasing after other men, Israel is chasing after other gods. And God is going to divorce Israel because of it.
The sexual terminology used throughout chapter 7 of Captivating is also very Disturbing.
And this subject matter is brought up throughout the book. I do not see what they say about God supported in Scripture. On page 205 the author says, Your Lover has written something on your heart. It is a call to find a life of Romance and to protect that love affair as your most precious treasure. The Biblical truths found in Scripture are also true of Men, and if men and God are having this love affair, and that would be inappropriate. Individual people are not the Bride of Christ, you are not the Bride of Christ, I am not the Bride of Christ, every Christian together throughout all of History, collectively are the Bride of Christ. You and I are a part of the Bride of Christ. God is not a polygamist, He has only one Bride.
The authors again show they have an inaccurate understanding of God when they say how
you are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill. He longs for you. (p. 122) This seems to be saying that God needs us and is incomplete without us, and that is completely opposite of what Scripture says. God is complete in Himself and has NO needs. We need God. He does not need us in any way shape or form. God loves us, He chose to die on the cross making the way for us to have a relationship with Him because He wants to, not because He needs to.
In conclusion, even though I gained some healing when I was younger from this book. As I grew in my faith and my understanding of the Bible and my understanding of God, I can now see there are so many theological errors in this book that I would not be able to recommend it to others.
There are many problems with this book, but I'm going to focus on just one. God is not interested in me in any romantic way. The entire chapter seven is devoted to how much God wants to be our lover. Yes, that is the word Stasi used, "He loves me as a lover loves." I know that God loves me and wants a relationship with me as his daughter. He does not want to be my lover. The authors even go so far as to say "the root of all holiness is romance."
They make women out to be primarily sexual, and they don't leave a lot of room for other parts of femininity. They do make some mention of women having a beauty that isn't physical, but when they try to show a contrast between the two, they end up describing two physically beautiful women one of which happens to be less stressed than the other. They also talk about how beautiful the paintings and statues of naked women are in museums. I just don't believe God wants us looking at pornography no matter how old it is.
Now, Song of Songs is a beautiful illustration of love, but it is not a description of our relationship with God. I know many churches have taught that it represents God and his church, but it doesn't. God doesn't want to grab hold of the church's breasts. (Song 7:8) Don't forget that men are part of the church, and God is not gay. God's relationship with his church is meant to show us how a marriage relationship should look. (Ephesians 5:25-27, 2 Corinthians 11:2) The sex is a gift God gave us separate from that.
The authors also claim that women are supposed to represent the beauty of God. I guess that would make ugliness a sin since it misrepresents God. Actually, in the same way that the bridegroom represents God, the bride represents God's church. Should God's church be posing for pictures naked? I don't think so. We as women have an incredible calling. We are part of God's plan right alongside men. Our more emotional tendencies and caring hearts are important in bringing God's love to the world. Why does that have to be about beauty or romance, or being alluring and captivating?
The thing is, how we should be acting is well described in Proverbs 31. Not only does the woman Stasi and John Eldredge want us all to be not match up with this scriptural illustration, but they actually degrade the woman described there in the very first chapter of the book. How can they call this a Christian book when they are teaching against the Bible?
I received this book as a gift. After reading it, it was a life changing book. It explains the feeling that i, as a woman, have, but can't explain why they are there. I bought several more for women at church as we are now doing a study through this book.