Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reader Beware, Handle with Care: Thoughts on "Jesus Calling"

Around two years ago, a friend at work gave me a copy of the devotional book "Jesus Calling" by Sara Young. I had neither heard of Mrs. Young nor the book before that, and after reading a little, I did not like what I saw. I put the book in a drawer and never looked at it again until I was cleaning out my desk to move desks at work. I carried the book upstairs to another friend and gave it to her -- I still regret that decision. I've seen several other people I know mention this book, and it drove me to write this.

First, all Christians should be suspect of any book outside of the Bible that claims to have been received directly from God. Young, although claiming to affirm the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, is in effect claiming that the Bible alone is insufficient. Young writes: "I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more." This is contradictory to Sola Scriptura and by saying that she is "yearning for more" she is saying that Scripture is insufficient. For, as Paul tells us:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 [ESV])
By my definition, a devotional book should present a passage of Scripture as well as a paragraph or two of application. Instead, this book claims that each devotional message is a message that Young has received from the Lord. She says:
I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believe He was saying...This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received.
This is where red flags should go off for the Christian reader. Young is claiming that Jesus is speaking through her. She is claiming to have received a new revelation from God. Paul also tells us "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21) And, again in 2 Timothy he says:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
My plea for you, dear friends is if you are reading this book, please proceed with caution, pray for guidance and understand the teaching of the writer of Hebrews:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
I could not, and would not ever recommend this book personally. I feel it is a very dangerous book that teaches that hearing words directly from Jesus and then sharing these words with others is an important, normal and acceptable Christian practice. Please handle this book prayerfully and cautiously.

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