Showing posts with label jesus calling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jesus calling. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2015

Problems With Bestselling Book "Jesus Calling"

Posted by Christine Pack


 Did Author Sarah Young Write Jesus Calling Using Occultic Practice of Automatic Writing? 

The bestselling book Jesus Calling was almost surely written through the occultic practice of "Automatic Writing." A shocking claim? All right, then, I will grant that some of the book could have come from the author's own imagination. However, I also believe it is entirely possible that the book is truly from the spiritual realm; only, it is not the Jesus of the Bible with whom the author got in touch, but rather a demon. And I'm saying this not as just a Christian researcher, but as a former New Ager who practiced Automatic Writing. I should also point out that Christians don't get to flip some switch somewhere and turn occultic practices into biblical practices just by adding biblical terminology to what they are doing.

Automatic Writing is an occultic practice that is a form of divination, a practice that is expressly forbidden by God (see Deut 18). Author Sarah Young recounts how she decided to write the book Jesus Calling:
"My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they 'listened.' About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. . . . So I decided to 'listen' to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying." (from a Question and Answer session with Sarah Young, CBN)
Now compare Young's description about how she decided to write Jesus Calling to the practice of Automatic Writing as written about in Wikipedia*
"Automatic writing or psychography is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source." (source)
* NOTE: Don't be hating on me for using Wikipedia. I didn't want to link to a New Age source, and sometimes Wiki actually does get things right, as they do in this instance.
Nowhere in Scripture are Christians told to do as Sarah Young did when writing her book, and that is to sit with pen in hand waiting for a form of channeled dictation from "Jesus." We are to read the Bible, seek to understand it in its proper context, believe it, accept it by faith as truth, and and pray for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience where we are commanded to take action. But no zoned-out trance states seeking a "fresh" word from God, no. A thousand times no.

For more on the practice of Automatic Writing in Jesus Calling, please read this article by Marcia Montenegro. Like me, Marcia is a former New Ager (she was a professional astrologer). Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, is now a born again believer in full time apologetics ministry.

You can also read more about this in our article here - Sarah Young's Bestseller Jesus Calling: An Overactive Imagination or a Demon?
“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.” (Deut 18:9-14)
 "Another Jesus" 
"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers...... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:3-5, 27, my emphasis)
The "voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling does not match the "voice" of the Jesus of the Bible. It just doesn't. And Christians who are very familiar with Scripture know this. If you're not sure about this, just pick up the Bible and read through any one of the gospel accounts. If you do so, you will realize that the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling is not the Jesus of the Bible.......he is "another Jesus," one that the Apostle Paul warned us about receiving and accepting in the second book of Corinthians:
"For if someone comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or should you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you are all too willing to listen." (2 Corinthians 11:4)
In fact, not only is the "voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling not the "voice" of the Bible's Jesus, but it speaks in a way that is remarkably similar to the demonic spirits I was in touch with while in the New Age. Satan is the father of lies, and has been from the beginning, which means that he, and his demonic legion, have no moral constraints about lying and deceiving those playing around in the supernatural realm, as I was. What this means is that when I was communicating with demons as a New Ager, they didn't identify themselves as demons. Spooky music didn't start playing, and green smoke didn't ooze under the door when they showed up, like we see in the movies. They had beautiful names, and they professed to me to care for me, and to desire to help me grow spiritually. They had a very smooth, soothing way of communicating. (The more Bibley term for that would be 'ear tickling.')

When these demons communicated to me, they would often say 'Trust me' or 'Trust us,' a phrase ('Trust me') that is also often used by the false 'Jesus' in Jesus Calling. If you read through the book, you will see that phrase used repeatedly, yet that is not something that Jesus uttered on a regular basis during his earthly ministry or elsewhere in the Bible, even though we are to trust in the Lord. I think the repetition of this phrase is used by demons to lull humans into, well, trusting them, since their obvious aim is to deceive us and confuse us as they are in the process of communicating to us things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches us about Jesus and God. Their ultimate goal, obviously, is to turn us away from the Jesus of the Bible. And to do this, they often masquerade, as we are told they would, as 'angels of light' (2 Cor 11:14)."

 What's Missing From Jesus Calling? 

Jesus's mission was not social justice, nor was it primarily to model to us how to live a good life (i.e., the social justice "Jesus," the emergent "Jesus," the liberal "Jesus," the Jen Hatmaker "Jesus").

Jesus's mission was not to give us our best life now, or to give us practical life skills in order to enhance and enrich our lives (i.e., the Word of Faith "Jesus," the seeker sensitive "Jesus").

Jesus's mission was not to give us ooey-gooey feelings about Him or about ourselves (the Ann Voskamp "Jesus," the Beth Moore "Jesus," the pop-psychology "Jesus").

Jesus's mission was not to lend his name to the vague New Age term "Christ consciousness," which in the New Age, is the term used to describe a person who is evolving spiritually on their own, through various New Age practices. (i.e., "Robert developed his 'Christ consciousness' through meditation, vegetarianism and learning to avoid bad relationships.")

The Jesus of the Bible is the eternally existent God-man who chose to leave his glory above and be born of a virgin into this sin-sick world in order to undertake a very particular mission, a mission for which "He set his face like flint" (Luke 9:51) in order to accomplish it. His mission was to fulfill all righteousness on the behalf of sinners, and then to offer up his perfect life, by dying on a Roman cross, as a sacrifice for sin. This was his mission, and it is anchored in history both by the historical accounts in the Bible and by extra-biblical accounts form historians living at the time of Jesus. Jesus was a real person, and he incarnated for a very specific purpose, and that was to save sinners.

Proclaiming God's holy, righteous wrath against sin and sinners, and calling sinners to repentance and saving faith in his finished work on the cross was the primary focus of Jesus's earthly ministry.

All of these things are important to bear in mind when evaluating any ministry, any website, any book or any teacher. How is Jesus talked about? What about the cross? What about the gospel message, of how it is that sinful man is reconciled to a high and holy God? Is this front and center in the ministry? Or is it barely mentioned, a sidenote, a cameo?

All that to say this: God's righteous wrath against sinners and the cross do have a cameo appearance here and there in the book Jesus Calling, but only in the way that, say, a movie studio might heavily advertise a well-known actor who has a cameo in a movie. Did you blink? You might have missed his screen time. Well, that's how much screen time sin, God's righteous wrath against sinners, the cross and the atonement get in Jesus Calling. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.

 Final Thoughts 
"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Cor 11:14)
We've written before about the fact that deception is, well, deceptive. Isn't that the whole point of deception? Deception doesn't announce itself, and give warning that something is afoot. Spooky music won't be playing in the background. Deception can take place anytime and anywhere. It can happen:
......while you are sitting in the cozy nook of your favorite Bible study area in your own home; 
.....through a book recommended by your best friend or Bible study teacher;
...... in Christian bookstores, because the same bookstores that carry Bibles and wonderfully edifying Bible commentaries and study guides also carry books by false teachers who preach "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4) and "another gospel" (Gal 1:8, 2 Cor 11:4).
Deception is tricky......cagey......clever.....beguiling: deceptive. We must remember that we are in a spiritual battle, and that Satan is a roaring lion, prowling the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must therefore study the Bible diligently in order to present ourselves approved unto God as those who are able to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). This means that we must be prepared to hold up all things taught in the name of God to the actual word of God. And these biblical exhortations to test all things include even runaway bestsellers like Jesus Calling. Christian women, be on guard.



 Additional Resources 

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: WUI (Writing Under the Influence) (Marcia Montenegro)

Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling
 (Critical Issues Commentary, Pastor Bob DeWaay)

Sarah Young's Bestseller Jesus Calling: An Overactive Imagination or a Demon? (Sola Sisters)

Warning About Bestseller Jesus Calling
 (Sola Sisters)

Tim Challies Reviews Jesus Calling (Challies)

Beth Moore Recommends Jesus Calling Book (Apprising)

Justin Peters on Jesus Calling (10 minute YouTube video)

What Is Automatic Writing? (Wikipedia)

What Does the Bible Say About Channeling? (Got Questions?)

What Does the Bible Say About Divination? (Got Questions?)

"Another Jesus" Calling (book by former New Ager Warren Smith)

Thomas Nelson Publishers Creatively Edit Jesus Calling (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is Jesus Calling A Wrong Number? A Book Review (Stand Up For The Truth)

Changing Jesus Calling: Damage Control For a False Christ (Stand Up For The Truth)

Jesus Calling: Whitewashing The Red Flags (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is Deception Calling? A review of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Stand Up For The Truth)

 Interviews With Sarah Young 


Question and Answer Session with Sarah Young (Christian Broadcasting Network-CBN) (more about God Calling here)

Meet Sarah Young (Christian Retailing, Aug 18, 2010) (Young cites the New Age book God Calling as influential)

Sarah Young: Amid Suffering, Devotion (Publishers Weekly, Nov 14, 2012)


 Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Discussion Threads 

False "Jesus" flatters in Jesus Calling - Dec 14, 2013


The demonic "voice" of Jesus Calling, friends don't let friends read Jesus Calling - Mar 11, 2015

Jesus Calling, occultic practice of Automatic Writing - Mar 11, 2015

Jesus's mission - Mar 12, 2015

The "voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling vs. the "voice" of the Jesus of the Bible  - Mar 13, 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sarah Young's Bestseller "Jesus Calling": An Overactive Imagination or a Demon?

Posted by Sola Sisters

Ladies, have you received a copy of the bestselling book Jesus Calling as a gift from a friend? Perhaps you have even bought and given out this book yourself? If so, please continue reading this article, along with the links below so that you can be aware of the serious spiritual problems with this book.  Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, has characterized her book as "first-person messages from Jesus." In fact, the devotional reads in a conversational manner, albeit a one-sided conversation, in which "Jesus" is purported to be communicating directly to the reader through daily devotionals.

Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, describes the unusual way in which this book came about in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network:
"My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930's by two women who practiced waiting in God's Presence, writing the messages they received as they 'listened.' About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but this was one-way communication: 'monologue.' I knew that God communicates through the Bible (and I treasure His Word), but I wondered what He might say to me personally on a given day. So I decided to 'listen' to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying. Of course, I wasn't listening for an audible voice; I was seeking the 'still, small voice' of God in my mind/heart." (Q and A with Sarah Young, CBN)
But the Bible does not tell us to sit quietly and attempt to hear words from God. In fact, what is being described above by Sarah Young is an extremely occultic practice known in occultic circles as "automatic writing." Wikipedia describes this practice thusly:
"Automatic writing or psychography is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source." (online source)
We know from God's word that He detests any form of divination, which is what this practice is.
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God." (Deut 18:9-13)
Now, it is true that God communicated through words in ages past through the prophets of his choosing, but in Hebrews 1:1-2, we are told that:
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." 
What this means is that God's communication to us found its complete and final and greatest fulfillment in the final Prophet of his choosing, his own Son, Jesus Christ. After Jesus's earthly ministry, death and resurrection, the biblical office of prophet was forever closed. Could any human prophet after Christ add to his perfect, prophetic ministry? Absolutely not. And yet, there have been myriads of those over the centuries who have claimed to receive revelation from God, and to speak authoritatively (prophetically) on his behalf. That is the case with Sarah Young, though in some interviews, there has been waffling on this when she has been pinned down. Well, she can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is speaking authoritatively through this book to us, or he is not. Which is it? And, if he is, then we all need to get out our Bibles and start stapling these prophetic utterances to the backs of our Bibles, right after the end of Revelation. Does anyone else see the problem with this? I, for one, most certainly do. I see the problem, in fact, in the final words of Revelation:
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll." (Rev 22:18-19)

 The "Voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling 

The following question was asked in a thread on our Facebook ministry page in which the bestselling book Jesus Calling was being discussed. I thought it was a great question, and I also think it's one that (rightly) occurs to believers when trying to evaluate whether battles are of the flesh/mind or have a more spiritual/demonic component to them. I have therefore written this standalone article highlighting the question and our answer, in the hope that this exchange is edifying for anyone who might have also had this question. Also, I have posted a number of entries from the Jesus Calling devotional that need to read only with great discernment.

QUESTION: How do you distinguish between something fabricated by an overactive imagination and something truly demonic?

OUR RESPONSE: That's a great question, and one that ultimately we can't really know the answer to. However, when I see the ferocity with which professing believers defend the false "Jesus" of Jesus Calling, I tend to strongly suspect that there is a demon or Satan involved, and thus a spiritual component to the battle. Spiritual warfare is a battle of words, concepts and propositional truths, and those who want to defend the false "Jesus" of Jesus Calling are arguing AGAINST Bible truths with worldly concepts (like pragmatism....."It 'worked' for me!") for the right to cling to their false "Jesus."

Also, the "voice" the false Jesus speaks in is remarkably similar to the demonic spirits I was in touch with while in the New Age. Deception isn't always obvious. In fact, I think it's rarely obvious......else, it wouldn't be deceptive, right? When I was communicating with demons as a New Ager, they (obviously) didn't identify themselves as such. Spooky music didn't start playing and green smoke didn't ooze under the door when they showed up, like we see in the movies. They had beautiful names, and they professed to me to care for me and to desire to help me grow spiritually. They had a very smooth, soothing way of communicating. (The more Bibley term for that would be "ear tickling.")

They would often say "Trust me" or "Trust us," a phrase ("Trust me") that is also often used by the false "Jesus" in Jesus Calling. If you read through the book, you will see that phrase used repeatedly, yet that is not something that Jesus uttered on a regular basis during his earthly ministry or elsewhere in the Bible, even though we are to trust in the Lord. I think the repetition of this phrase is used by demons to lull humans into, well, trusting them, since their obvious aim is to deceive us and confuse us as they are in the process of communicating to us things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches us about Jesus and God. Their ultimate goal, obviously, is to turn us away from the Jesus of the Bible. And to do this, they often masquerade, as we are told they would, as "angels of light" (2 Cor 11:14).
"Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Cor 11:14) 
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." (2 Cor 11:3-4)
"Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Tim 4:3)
[NOTE: I have posted below a number of entries from the Jesus Calling devotional to show how often the false "Jesus" of Jesus Calling urges the reader to trust him. Please pray before reading these, and please exercise discernment while reading these entries]












 Additional Resources 

Warning About Popular Book Jesus Calling (Sola Sisters)

Former New Ager Warren Smith Explains That The "Jesus" of Bestseller Jesus Calling Is Not The Jesus of the Bible
 (Sola Sisters)

Jesus Calling By Sarah Young: W.U.I. (Writing Under the Influence) (Marcia Montenegro, former New Ager and professional astrologer who is now a Christian researcher)

Tim Challies Reviews Jesus Calling (Challies.com)

Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling (Critical Issues Commentary, Pastor Bob DeWaay)

Beth Moore Recommends Jesus Calling Book (Apprising)

"Another Jesus" Calling (book by former New Ager Warren Smith)

Thomas Nelson Publishers Creatively Edit Jesus Calling (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is Jesus Calling A Wrong Number? A Book Review (Stand Up For The Truth)

Changing Jesus Calling: Damage Control For a False Christ (Stand Up For The Truth)

Jesus Calling: Whitewashing The Red Flags (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is Deception Calling? A review of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Stand Up For The Truth)

False Teachings About Hearing Audible Words From God Taking Even Deeper Root in Today's Church (Sola Sisters)

Bestseller "Experiencing God" Misleading Christians With "Soft" Mysticism? (Sola Sisters)


 Interviews With Sarah Young 

Q and A with Sarah Young (Christian Broadcasting Network) (more about God Calling here)

Meet Sarah Young (Christian Retailing, Aug 18, 2010) (Young cites the New Age book God Calling as influential)

Sarah Young: Amid Suffering, Devotion (Publishers Weekly, Nov 14, 2012)


 Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Discussions 

Discussion about Jesus Calling on the Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Dec 14, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Former New Ager Warren Smith Explains That The "Jesus" of Bestseller Jesus Calling Is Not The Jesus of the Bible

Posted by Christine Pack


Warren Smith, former New Ager,
author of "Another Jesus" Calling
Ladies, do you have friends who have been taken in by the ├╝ber popular book Jesus Calling? You almost can't miss this book, which has been a bestseller on Christian book lists for several months now, and has spawned many derivatives: devotionals, teen and children's versions, even a study Bible. But is it a biblically sound book?

Former New Ager Former New Ager Warren Smith says "no," it's not a biblically sound book, and explains in an interview on Stand Up For The Truth radio that the channeled entity in Jesus Calling is NOT the Jesus of the Bible, but a demonic counterfeit instead. Warren Smith is also the author of the just released book entitled "Another Jesus" Calling, which explores the problems with Sarah Young's book in greater detail. The title of Smith's book is taken from 2 Corinthians 11:4:
"For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully." (my emphasis)
If you have friends who have been taken in by this book, you will want to forward this interview with Warren Smith to them.


 Additional Resources 

"Another Jesus" Calling

Beth Moore Recommends Jesus Calling Book Claiming Direct Divine Revelation

Jesus Calling By Sarah Young: W.U.I. (Writing Under the Influence)

Warning About Popular Jesus Calling Book

Tim Challies Reviews Jesus Calling


False Teachings About Hearing Audible Words From God Taking Even Deeper Root in Today's Church

Bestseller Experiencing God Misleading Christians With "Soft" Mysticism?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jesus Calling By Sarah Young: W.U.I. (Writing Under the Influence)

A Commentary by Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers For The New Age)
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19: 8, 10
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and other similar books by her, have multiplied themselves into a publishing empire with offerings of Jesus Calling books for teens and for children, calendars, special editions, accompanying journals, a Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, and even a Jesus Calling Devotional Bible.

This is not a conventional review of the book or her story, nor is the purpose to analyze the whole content. Although several troubling areas are addressed, this paper is a response primarily to two issues:

1) The claims made by Young regarding what she wrote and the alleged words spoken to her by Jesus; and 

2) Young’s admission that a primary influence on her was the book, God Calling, by “Two Listeners.” Due to Young’s admiration for and admitted inspiration from this latter book, it will also be examined.

 EARLY RED FLAGS 

God’s Word – Enough Nourishment?
Jesus Calling offers daily devotions composed of words as though spoken by Jesus, with accompanying citation of verses. Before looking at the content, it is crucial to examine what claims Young is making about the source of these words: why she wrote this and how she wrote it.

In the introduction to her first book, Jesus Calling, Young writes, “I knew that God communicated with me in the Bible, but I yearned for more.”i Why would God’s word be seen as insufficient in delivering the spiritual nourishment God Himself claims it offers?

Contrast Young’s yearning “for more” with how the Bible portrays God’s word. In response to one of Satan’s temptations, we have Jesus quoting Deut. 8:3:

But He answered, "It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

In First Peter, we read, As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation” (1 Pet 2:2; also see 1 Cor. 3:2, Heb.5:14). Paul exhorted Timothy to be nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed” (1 Tim 4:6).

Going back to the Old Testament, we see God’s words likened to food:

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight. Jeremiah 15:16a.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Ps. 119:103

Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:3 (see also Rev. 10:9, 10)

One of the Bible’s themes is the power of God’s word to comfort, exhort, encourage, and nourish those who have believed. One can never come to an end of studying or knowing the Bible because, reflecting God’s nature, his word is infinitely profound and wise.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; see also Ps. 19:8;10; Matt. 22:29; John 10:35; Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).

If someone is not satisfied with God’s word as the way to grow closer to Christ and to grow as a Christian, that opens the door for extra-biblical avenues of deception. While it is true that prayer, fellowship with other Christians, and worship are necessary for maturing in the Christian life, these are additional and different venues, never substitutes for God’s word. Dissatisfaction with God’s word from a professing Christian should be a warning, and it did indeed lead Young into an avenue of communication fraught with spiritual peril.

 Hearing Jesus or Channeling Jesus? 

Following the pattern in God Calling, and seeking something beyond Scripture, Young decided “to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.”ii She determined that this message was “short, biblical, and appropriate,” so she wrote it in her journal.iii Declaring that her journaling “had changed from monologue to dialogue,” she writes that “messages began to flow more freely” and she bought a special notebook in which to record these words.iv

Aware that she might be charged with equating these messages with the Bible, she notes, “I knew that these writings were not inspired as Scripture is.”v One is compelled to ask, why not? Are these words from Jesus or not? (Young uses the term “God” but the book titles use the word “Jesus” and the messages are made to sound like they are from Jesus). In her book, Dear Jesus, she claims she wrote

[I]n the same listening-to-God mode that I used with Jesus Calling. I’ve continued to write with the help of Christs’s Spirit, who guides my thinking while I listen in His Presence. I believe the Bible is the only infallible Word of God. My writings are based on that absolute standard, and I try to ensure they are consistent with Scripture.vi

Young is blatantly asserting that the Holy Spirit is “helping” her and guiding her thinking in writing these messages from Jesus. So why does she need to “ensure they are consistent with Scripture?” If the writings need to be checked, why does she think it is Jesus who is speaking, and if there is doubt, why record the words, especially in books to sell? Moreover, if they are from Jesus, which is how they are presented, then, by definition, they are inspired.

You can’t have it both ways or halfway or every which-way, saying these words are from Jesus but need to be checked; they are from Jesus but are not inspired; or the messages are written with Holy Spirit guidance but not on a par with Scripture. Does Young not see the incredible claims being made and the resulting insoluble contradictory problem? Apparently not.

As someone formerly involved in the New Age, I am bound to say that listening for a message from a supernatural being in order to write down words heard from or dictated by this being is a form of automatic writing, an occult practice. There is no other fitting term for this. If Young had confined this method to herself, it would be a matter between her and God. However, marketing these messages, which are written as though spoken by Jesus, places the book(s) in a public forum, and obligates Christians to examine Young’s claims and the purported messages from Jesus.

Another major red flag is Young’s positive acknowledgement of the book God Calling, which she asserts became a “treasure” to her. Writing about the two women who authored this work, Young states, “These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and papers in hand, recording the messages they received from Him.”vii Young’s fondness for this book and use of it as inspiration for her communication mode with God is deeply disconcerting when one examines the history, method, and content of this “treasure.”

 GOD CALLING: A CALL FOR DISCERNMENT 

 The Two Listeners 

I first encountered God Calling as a very new believer while browsing in a Christian bookstore. Curious, I picked it up and saw it was a devotional for each day of the year. Reading through several of these, I was alarmed at some of the concepts and ideas because many were reminiscent of New Age views. Although at that point I did not know the Bible very well, I recognized statements I knew were not compatible with what I had read in the Bible and knew of God. I almost went to the clerk about my concerns, but being such a new Christian, I was not confident enough to say anything.

The daily devotions in God Calling, written as though God/Jesus is speaking, came about in 1932 when two anonymous women decided to sit down with pencils and paper and wait to hear words from God.viii The claim is made in the foreword by editor A. J. Russell that these two women received messages “from the Living Christ Himself.”ix

One listener, writing in the introduction, declares how grateful they were to receive this direct communication “when millions of souls, far worthier, had to be content with guidance from the Bible, sermons, their churches, books, and other sources.”x Here again, as with Young, is the dissatisfaction with God’s word and the normal channels of guidance for a Christian. The listener states that this book “is no ordinary book,” thereby claiming a special status for it. In fact, the Jesus of this book affirms it in the May 15 reading:

You are very privileged, both of you. I share My plans and secrets with you and make known to you My Purposes, while so many have to grope on.

So the rest of the Christian world is left to “grope on” with the implied paucity of God’s revelation in the Bible? This is alarming.

 Roots of “Listening” 

Andrew James Russell, editor of God Calling, became a follower of Dr. Frank Buchman, who founded the Oxford Group, first started under another name in 1921, but taking the name of Oxford Group in 1931.xi Meeting in groups, this movement emphasized fellowship and receiving direct guidance from God.xii

Russell writes that “I learned that it was a practice of the Group to keep a guidance-book and record in it those thoughts which came in periods of quiet listening to God,” and

The Guidance must come in all those who surrender to God’s will. As Ken Twitchell announced the Quiet Time the undergraduates fumbled for pencils and guidance-books and began to “listen in” to God. This was not simple meditation, which may be concentration on some aspect of Christ or the Gospel, but something more.xiii

Although Russell writes that criteria were used to measure this “guidance,” some of the criteria were quite subjective. Continually seeking guidance in this fashion, which is no different from automatic writing, is opening the door to false doctrine.

Apparently, the “two listeners” were followers of this method and undoubtedly part of the Oxford Group. So it is not surprising that so many unbiblical statements are made. For example, one that is repeated a few times and is one of the most egregious is this:

Truly I said to My Disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." But to you, and the twos who gather to hear Me as you do, I can declare those things now, that then I left unsaid. (April 14)

This statement is being used as though Jesus was referring to people later on, like the two listeners and others, who would receive further revelation. However, Jesus is not saying that. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and makes it clear in the next verse what this means:

I still have many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. John 16: 12, 13

This was referring to when the disciples would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the further teachings through Scripture.xiv To turn this into an endorsement of listening and writing down what one senses coming from God is mangling the text. This is the type of Scripture twisting done by cults. Other examples of Scripture twisting pepper the book.xv

 New Thought Philosophy 

I noted New Thought concepts embedded in God Calling, although I did not find anything online that critiques the book from this viewpoint. This explains why the book struck me as New Age when I first looked through it.

New Thought, a movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, claimed to be Christianity but actually taught that all men are innately divine, Jesus was just another man who realized this, and that the way to true wisdom was to realize this truth and change one’s perceptions. Man is naturally connected to God, and by affirming these new truths, one’s thinking is changed, thereby bringing one’s spiritual status (consciousness) to an alleged “higher level.”xvi While referring to Jesus and acknowledging the biblical story, New Thought imbues the biblical text with entirely different meanings. The New Age adopted the core of New Thought as yet another facet of its massive corpus and so the two often overlap.

Terms noticed in entries for (but not limited to) Feb. 27, March 10 and 13, June 19, July 29, Aug. 18, and Nov. 17 include “material manifestation,” “Spirit-life,” “Spirit-communication,” “Spirit-Kingdom,” “the material plane,” “Sprit Sounds,” “spirit understanding,” and “Spirit-world.” This language is used in New Thought and the New Age, denoting a Gnostic-based spirit-material duality. Even taking into account when this book was written, these terms are not Christian and never have been, and some are used in Spiritualism (although one reading ironically condemns Spiritualism).xvii

At least one blatant Spiritualist reading is found:

How often mortals rush to earthly friends who can serve them in so limited a way, when the friends who are freed from the limitations of humanity can serve them so much better, understand better, protect better, plan better, and even plead better their cause with Me.xviii

The “friends freed from the limitation of humanity” are the dead. This piercing glint of Spiritualism is further suggestion of New Thought influence, since the two were so intertwined at the time.

The God Calling God is a servant to men, a tool for manifesting their joy and happiness, as it is in New Thought. The April 3rd devotion has God saying, “I, who could command a universe – I await the commands of my children.” This idea is also in the Jan. 28 piece.

For March 16, God declares,

I am actually at the center of every man’s being, but distracted with the things of the sense-life, he finds Me not.

This concept, emphasizing the innate divinity of man as well as the spirit-material duality, is New Thought. It is more apparent in the Jan.20 entry:

If you realize your high privilege, you have only to think and immediately the object of your thought is called into being.

and similarly,

To dwell in thought on the material, when once you live in Me – is to call it into being.”

In other words, once your mind is turned onto the New Thought wavelength, which is awareness of one’s divine nature, you can manifest into reality that which you are thinking. This is exactly the same message given by the bestselling book and DVD, The Secret.xix This popular work teaches that one can produce what one thinks through certain techniques and is derived directly from New Thought teachings. (Many early New Thought teachers are quoted, and author Rhonda Byrne crafted this work as a result of reading New Thought teacher Wallace Wattles.)

Furthermore, this New Thought ability to manifest applies to “the spiritual plane” as well, so one must take care in how one thinks. This is the concept that gave rise to the “positive thinking” craze (“spiritual plane” is an authentic Spiritualist and New Thought term):

So you must be careful only to think of and desire that which will help, not hinder, your spiritual growth. The same law operates too on the spiritual plane.

New Thought terms for God, such as “Divine Mind” (used more than once; this is a term used in Christian Science for God), “Divine Force,” “Divine Voice,” and “Divine Spirit” are found throughout the book, including Jan. 31, Feb. 9, Feb. 15, Aug. 17, Sept. 29, Dec. 18 and elsewhere. “Divine alchemy” is found in the Sept. 5 entry – would Jesus even use such a word, which describes a form of sorcery? The Feb. 9th reading is brief and has a striking New Thought ring:

The Divine Voice is not always expressed in words. It is made known as a heart-consciousness.

Most chillingly, an unsound view of the atonement is found in the Jan. 14 devotion:

When I died on the Cross, I died embodying all the human self……As you too kill self, you gain the overwhelming power I released for a wearying world….it is not life and its difficulties you have to conquer, only the self in you.

The self in New Thought is the false self springing from the false perception that man is separate from God. The New Thought Jesus came and died so that this false perception could be destroyed, enabling man to have the correct perception of his True Self, which is divine. Salvation comes not from faith in Christ, but as you “kill self,” the false self. Note that this Jesus says his death “released” a power. This is a New Thought metaphysical view of Jesus’ death, which released a power (similar to Agnes Sanford’s belief, who exhibited New Thought thinking throughout her life).xx

An odd command (though not odd for New Thought) is given for Sept. 5 in words reminiscent of New Age bestseller Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch:
Higher, ever higher, rise to Life and Beauty, Knowledge and Power. Higher and higher.
A. J. Russell was deeply involved with the Oxford Group at a time when New Thought influence was strong. What I read in the book, in my view, echoes New Thought beliefs in the tone, language, and ideas.

 FROM GOD CALLING TO JESUS CALLING 

There is much more material that indicts God Calling, but enough has been given to make a point. The point is that since this book inspired Young and gave Young her method of “hearing” from Jesus, and because Young considers this book to be such a “treasure,” then Young’s discernment must be questioned. She used the same method and model for her other books.

The content of Jesus Calling is almost numbingly repetitive, boring even. The term “My Presence” saturates almost every page. “Jesus” also says some strange things, like this:

Ask Me to open your eyes so that you can find me everywhere…[…]...this is not some sort of escape from reality; it is tuning into the ultimate reality. I am far more Real than the world you can see, hear and touch. (July 18)

If Jesus is real, does he need to be “more Real?” Is there such a thing as “more Real?” Does He need to be the “ultimate reality?” Is not being the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Lamb slain for our sins enough?

Elsewhere, Jesus says, according to Young:

Your part is to be attentive to my messages, in whatever form they come. When you set out to find Me in a day, you discover that the world is vibrantly alive with My Presence. You can find Me not only in beauty and birdcalls, but also in tragedy and faces filled with grief. (July 25)

What “messages” are meant here, and what kind of “form” might they take? “Whatever form” raises troubling questions: does Jesus give messages in multiple venues that we need to watch for and then figure out somehow? More crucially, how do we know the messages are from Jesus?

The other part is similar to panentheism – finding Jesus as part of creation. I do not find Jesus in birdcalls or in tragedy. Beauty may point one to Jesus and tragedy may cause one to turn to Him, but He is not in those things.xxi

There are numerous passages where Young’s Jesus tells the reader to go within to hear and know Jesus, such as:

I am central to your innermost being. Your mind goes off in tangents from its holy Center from time to time….the quickest way to redirect your mind to me is to whisper My Name. (Aug. 25)

The above is similar to Eastern meditation concepts, especially the “holy Center” comment. This is not a biblical concept. Equally alarmingly we read:

Let Me control your mind. The mind is the most restless, unruly part of mankind..[…]…I risked all by granting you freedom to think for yourself. (April 21)

Downgrading thinking and the mind is a tactic of the New Age and Eastern spiritualities, about which I steadily warn. While it is true we can think evil thoughts and it is true our minds can lead us astray, this statement goes further than anything in Scripture. Our mind and ability to think, unlike animals, is part of how we are made in the image of God. Moreover, many scriptural passages exhort people to think and reason.

And does God/Jesus ever take a risk? This would imply that God does not know the future and/or has no control over things. To risk is to take action without being sure of the results. This stunningly leads to the conclusion that God is not omniscient.

The term “high road” is used at least three times (Jan. 18, Jan. 27, June 16). This is a curious phrase since it has many secular meanings but no real biblical one.

Dare to walk on the high road with Me, for it is the most direct route to heaven. The low road is circuitous: twisting and turning in agonizing knots. (Jan. 27)

The point is to trust, but how is trust (assuming that this is what the “high road” refers to) the “most direct route to heaven?” Even if a Christian is on the “low road,” will she not get to heaven as well? If a road is the “most direct,” it means there are other roads to heaven that are less direct. This ambiguous term and rather confusing statement is not an idea found in scripture.

There is an excessive focus on silence and stillness found in so many readings that it would be impossible to list them all, implying that these are superior spiritual practices. As in numerous other texts, sermons, and online websites, Psalm 46:10 is misused. Psalm 46:10, translated as “Be still” in some versions is “Cease striving” in the New American Standard, and is actually a rebuke to the nations fighting against God’s people. When read in context, it is quite clear that this has nothing to do with being physically still in order to meditate or contemplate.xxii

 THE QUESTION 

The most important question to ask about this book is: Is this Jesus speaking, as Young claims it is? Aside from the troubling issues mentioned, a few more are worth considering.

Many of the entries resemble bad greeting card messages with sappy language. For instance, “Let the dew of My Presence refresh your mind and heart” (Sept. 3; this one also misuses the “Be still” words); “Feel you face tingle as you bask in My Love-Light” (Sept. 7); and “Like a luminous veil of light, I hover over you and everything around you” (Dec. 3). Considering who Jesus is and the rich language of Scripture, why would He use such maudlin phrases?

In other places, Young’s Jesus displays a martyr complex with a sly tone of self-admiration. “Imagine,” He says, speaking of Himself, “the self-control required of a martyr who could free Himself at will!” (Dec. 20). For Dec. 25, this Jesus says,

I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions --- a filthy stable. That was a dark night for Me.

These statements do not reflect the character of Christ; Christ does not seek our sympathy or thanks via self-pitying remarks.

Despite the verses listed at the end of each day’s devotion, the words do not sound like the Jesus of the Bible. Those who promote this book will say that Young is not maintaining these words are from Jesus, but as I demonstrated earlier, she is indeed doing this very thing. There is no other reasonable way to interpret her claims. And when one reads each entry written so unmistakably as though Jesus is speaking, how else is one to take it? At the very least, it is misleading and puts words in people’s heads that some may come to believe are from Jesus.

My answer to the question is: No, this is not Jesus who is “calling.”

 RESOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND RESEARCH 
(Does not imply an endorsement of nor agreement with websites listed)

Excellentarticle by Edmond C. Gruss on God Calling, A. J. Russell, and the Oxford Group/Moral Re-Armament


Chapter on Frank Buchman, founder of The Oxford Group, who found a devoted follower in A. J. Russell, from book The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps by A. Orange

More information on the Oxford Group’s teachings, such as:

“In one sense Buchman did not care what a person believed, except for atheism, as long as he listened to God, aimed at adherence to moral standards, and thought his work was a good thing. The movement has always been quite sincere in asking people to believe more intensely in whatever religious convictions they already have and to be more faithful in whatever religious duties their own traditions urged…” (online source




i Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), XI.

ii Ibid., XII

iii Ibid.

iv Ibid.

v Ibid.

vi Quote from “Is Deception Calling?” (Steak and A Bible)

vii Ibid., XI.

viii God Calling, ed. A. J. Russell (Eversham, UK: Arthur James Ltd., 1989), “The Voice Divine” in Introduction (this edition has no page numbers).

ix Ibid., “The Two Listeners.”

x Ibid, “The Voice Divine.”

xii There are other serious problems with the teachings of the Oxford Group, which developed in 1938 into Moral Re-Armament (MRA), considered by some to be a cult; however, that is outside the scope of this article. See Resources for further information.

xv For more examples and an analysis of this book, see Edmond C. Gruss, “God Calling,” Christian Research Journal

xvii New Thought was heavily influenced by Spiritualism and many New Thought teachers openly spoke of communication with the “spirit world” (the dead). So although one of the entries denounces Spiritualism, that does not mean there is no influence from it.

xviii This quote, which I could not find in my copy, is cited by Edmond C. Gruss in his article “God Calling,” Christian Research Journal

xx See CANA article on Emmet Fox and Agnes Sanford (Emmet Fox and Agnes Sanford: Two Dangerous)

xxi See CANA article on Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, (One Thousand Gifts, A Commentary)

xxii See CANA article on Ps. 46:10 (Meditation and Psalm 46:10)