Jesus Calling – a Polemical Review
Jesus Calling is a devotional book put out by Thomas Nelson Publishing, published in 2004 and gaining much popularity in recent years. With over 15 million copies in print, it is one of the most recognizable devotional books in recent history, and has spawned a multitude of spin-offs, from children’s books to phone apps and beyond. It is sold in a myriad of Christian Book Stores, including Southern Baptist-owned Lifeway Christian Resources, in spite of various heresies and even a heretical premise from which the book is written.
HERESIES PRESENT IN THE BOOK
Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling may be the most explicitly mystical book sold on the Christian market. Young claims in the introduction, “I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.”
The book claims, “After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Savior’s voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her—and many others around the world.”
The method by which Young received the words to write is mystic, claiming to be still and practice the presence of God (code words for the mystical practice of Contemplative Prayer), in a means of meditative automation, which is yet another mystical practice.
Young writes, “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. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace.”
Young also writes, “I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believe He was saying. I felt awkward the first time I tried this, but I received a message.”
Christian mystics “listen” through various mystical practices (like Contemplative Prayer, endorsed by Young throughout the book), whereas Christians look to Scripture alone to know God’s words. In Young’s case, she credits as her example the early 20th Century book, “God Calling,” which was written by two mystics who similarly “listened” and wrote the supposed words of God.
The claims of Young, however, are of the Montanist heresy, claiming to deliver new direct and divine revelation from God.
Again from the introduction, Young writes,“I began to wonder if I … could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.”
Of course, the Scripture never indicates that we should be hearing from God in prayer, rather, we are to hear God through Scripture because God no longer speaks through prophets (Hebrews 1:1). In no uncertain terms, in as explicitly as possible, the words of Jesus Calling claim to be words of God.
Young repeatedly writes the book with the personal pronouns, “I” or “Me” when referencing Christ, as though Jesus is writing in the first person. Young provides no discernible way to tell the difference between the inspiration or authority of Jesus Calling and the inspiration or authority of Scripture.
As Tim Challies points out, “Nowhere in Scripture do we find Jesus (or his Father) speaking like this: “When your Joy in Me meets My Joy in you, there are fireworks of heavenly ecstasy.” There are clear indications of theoerotic thoughts, and God spoken of in an almost romantic fashion throughout the book.
Book Review, CARM
Book Review, Tim Challies
Book Review, Kathy Keller
Critique, Justin Peters
Critique, Christine Pack
By the way, please take the time to watch this video so that you can understand the Gospel