10/07/2016

Should Christians Read 'Jesus Calling'?

I only recently even heard of the book (and received as a gift!), Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It came out in 2004. So I'm a little late to the bus, obviously. But apparently, there's some controversy on whether or not Christians should read this book because Young is "speaking for Christ."

Now, as I'm not a theologian and don't have time to go to school for theology quick before I write this, I hope you'll take what I say with the understanding that I'm just a girl lady woman who loves to learn and reads a lot and has an opinion. These are just my thoughts. :)


Should Christians read Jesus Calling? My answer is, it depends on your perspective.

When I read a passage from her book, I don't approach it the same way I approach the Word of God. I read it like any other devotional. I read it with the understanding that a human wrote it and God may or may not use it to speak to me. I read it in hopes that I might learn more (from someone who has taken the time to study a certain topic more than I have) about God's character and what it means to be a Jesus Follower.

If you're reading Jesus Calling with the same mindset that you read Scripture, then it's not Sarah Young's fault--it's yours. I don't believe (and I think she makes this clear in her intro) that she expects her readers to approach her book in the way that we approach God's Word. In my understanding, she has taken what she feels God spoke to her and shared it with others. We can take what we want from it and let God use it (just as He uses other devotional writers) or not.

Here is what she said in an article from CBN:
 Let me begin with some cautions. It's essential to remember that the Bible is the only infallible record of God's speaking. Always subordinate your personal listening to absolute biblical truth. If something you "hear" is inconsistent with biblical teaching, don't write it down–it's not from God. New Christians, especially, need to be cautious about listening to God in this way. I had been a Christian for 20 years before I began this practice. On the other hand, believers are instructed to "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). I believe there is immense value in learning to wait quietly in God's Presence. For me, the main benefit has been coming to know God intimately, rather than simply knowing about Him. This has increased my love for Him, my trust in Him and His unfailing love (Psalm 13:5), and my awareness of His Presence with me always (Matthew 28:20). (emphasis mine)

As with any "Christian" book, blog, church, etc. we need to ask ourselves, does this line up with Scripture? Now in full disclosure, I've not read the whole book yet, but so far, what I've read does not contradict Scripture in the least. I'll keep you posted.

As an example, here is one of the entries for September 19th:
There is a mighty battle going on for control of your mind. Heaven and earth intersect in your mind; the tugs of both spheres influence your thinking. I created you with the capacity to experience foretastes of heaven. When you shut out the world and focus on My Presence, you can enjoy sitting with Me in heavenly realms...
I don't think anything in this contradicts Scripture? (correct me if I'm wrong, please!) To me, it's just an encouraging passage to remind me that I can experience the presence of God. That's how I read it.

It seems to me that her critics are assuming that most Christians aren't smart enough to discern between something that is actually from God and something that is what someone else has heard from God and wants to bless others with. It's rather insulting. We should do with this what we do with everything, as the Bereans: (I know everyone knows this verse, but here it is anyway...)

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

Can any of us say that God has not spoken to each of us in certain situations without quoting Himself from the Bible? I remember clearly when I felt like God spoke to me on several occasions, but His 'words' weren't Scripture verbatim. I still believe it was God that I heard.

I come from a very legalistic background where the wrath of God was taught very heavily and church doctrine was considered Truth. I usually tend towards the "tough" stuff. I love a good, convicting, tell it like it is author, pastor and teacher. So this book is a breath of fresh air to me. I don't consider myself to be in a group of people who are at risk of misunderstanding Young's point.


If you come from a grace-heavy (read: it doesn't matter how you live) background or a lukewarm Christianity, this may not be the book for you. You might want something a little more...serious or strict.

I think the critics should give Sarah another chance or at least let those of us who are blessed by the book and don't think it's akin to Scripture be ok with reading it. :)

What do you think? Have you read it? Do you think Young is actually speaking for God?

5 comments:

  1. Great review, girl! :) Just curious, have you got some negative feedback about reading this title? I can totally see what you are saying. This title totally fits my "personality" or just how I look at life. I read so many non-Christian titles or other things, that if you are discerning and careful, you can pull good things from. For example, Katrina Kenison etc. Kwim?

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    1. I haven't personally, but I came across a review on a prominent blog and started poking around and found a bunch of negative reviews from other Christians.

      Personally, I love the book! Like I said, since I grew up with a harsher view of God, I think the book is a breath of fresh air! :) I completely agree with you, woman!

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  2. I love it. I've seen the negative reviews. It's a tool. Nothing more. Obviously scripture is our measuring tool. Well written

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  3. I ordered a copy after an older woman who keeps a book blog highly recommended it. I read it for a bit and then decided I didn't like it. I gave it away to a thrift store.
    I cannot type up my understanding without it sounding dumb, so please know I don't mean to sound superior or arrogant. My husband and I have had these talks many times about these ideas as we talk to our kids and others.
    I have no way of knowing when God speaks to me and when He doesn't. I just don't. Maybe He does sometimes and I don't recognize Him or maybe it's just my own thoughts guided and taught by the Holy Spirit as promised in the Bible. So I don't use the language of "God told me or spoke to me" because I cannot tell the difference in my mind. And since I don't need my words to carry that kind of authority or assurance, I don't talk about it like that.
    So I didn't find the book helpful like I thought I would. I decided I would rather read the Bible for this type of emotional reading. Psalms gets me every time.
    I'm glad you brought this up, even if we don't all agree on the usefulness of these types of books. Love to you, Catie.

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    1. Hey Heather! Thank you for your thoughts! I love me a good discussion! :)

      I COMPLETLEY know what you mean about not knowing when God speaks to you--I mentioned in my post that God has spoken to me, and I believe He had, but sometimes I realize it AFTER the fact and there have only been a COUPLE of times when I've felt He specifically said something to me. Bottom line--it prob doesn't happen as often as we think. I also agree with the idea that the Holy Spirit guides us.

      Have you ever kept a Bible reading journal? One where you read a passage, then write down what it means to you? That's kind of how I think about this book when I'm reading it. These are just what *she's* gotten from God (or from reading His Word) and has shared her thoughts. I *think* that was her intention?

      I think a lot of how we approach this book depends greatly on our background, as well. :) Mine was kind of harsh, so this book feels inspiring to me. :)

      Thanks so much for your comment, lady!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's encouraging!