Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Jesus Calling"?

Michael Horton and Tim Challies have written helpful, critical reviews of Sarah Young's book, "Jesus Calling."   I share their concerns, especially about the underlying premise of the book.  Here are some thoughts of my own:

"The central concern that people that I have with this book relates to a crucial contrast that is profoundly disregarded in "Jesus Calling", namely, at a particular point in time, and in a particular place Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6) and at another time, and in another place he said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35) and at still another time and place he said, “…Do not be afraid. I am the First and Last.” (Rev. 1:27)

In each of these Biblical examples the Lord Jesus said/spoke those words at a particular place in a particular time in history. However Jesus has never “said” (giving that word the very same meaning), “Many people are so preoccupied with future plans and decisions that they fail to see choices they need to make today.” (from the book “Jesus Calling”, reading for Oct. 27) nor did he ever say “I am pleased each time you initiate communication with Me” (“Jesus Calling”, reading for Nov. 1) nor has he said, “A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven” (“Jesus Calling” reading for Nov. 22).

If all that Ms. Young is intending to say is that her devotional writings are personal, experiential interpretations and applications of God’s inscripturated Words/truth that would be very different. But in what she actually writes in the preface to her book, I, along with the reviewers I’ve cited, think that she’s saying much more. She writes of receiving messages from God, which she presents in the book, and then says these messages are “written in first person, with ‘I’ designating God.” And so, according to her, in the daily devotional messages contained in her book, God is speaking, which is essentially the same claim made by the writer to the Hebrews about the Word of God received in Scripture through prophets and the Son (and his apostles) – Heb. 1:1-2; 2:3.

It is also very sad and troubling to read in the preface, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.” In other words, the Bible is simply not enough. The Bible is insufficient for being the catalyst for real and experiential and life-changing encounter with God. In that perspective, Ms. Young seems to be very much at odds with the psalmist (Ps. 19:7-14 and Ps. 119).

I’m sure that the book has been helpful to many because much of what she says is, in fact, Scripturally true, and therefore beneficial and encouraging. But for these two reasons: that her book is confused and mistaken in its claims to be God’s words, and that the book is based on the premise that the inspired Word of God contained in Holy Scripture is insufficient and inadequate to produce the divine result of real communion with God, I think it is certainly fair to characterize it as ‘dangerous.’

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