"Jesus Calling" A Review

Tim Challies reviews Sarah Young's enormously popular book Jesus Calling. In it, Young claims direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Oddly, while Young claims the entries in her book are the words of Jesus delivered to her, she cautions the reader to not regard them as authoritative as Scripture. But how can this be? If her book is Jesus speaking (which she explicitly claims) then how can those words be less authoritative or binding as the Scriptures? Indeed, if Mrs. Young has written down the words of Jesus that He spoke directly to her, then how can they not be Scripture? Unfortunately, her many admirers seem not to mind her troubling claim or incoherent contradiction.

Challies writes:

James Montgomery Boice once said that the real battle in our times would not be the inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture, but its sufficiency—are we going to rely on the Bible or will we continually long for other revelation? In Jesus Calling we see this so clearly. Young teaches that though the Bible is inerrant and infallible, it is insufficient. It was not enough for her and, implicitly, she teaches that it cannot be enough for us. After all, it was not reading Scripture that proved her most important spiritual discipline, but this listening, this receiving of messages from the Lord. It is not Scripture she brings to us, not primarily anyway, but these messages from Jesus.

On this basis alone this book is very suspect and needs to be treated with the utmost care. Young offers us words that she insists come straight from the Lord. But she gives no proof that we should expect the Lord to speak to us this way; all she offers is her own experience of it. At this point we are left with a few options. We can stop reading altogether, we can continue to read while rejecting her claims that these are words from the Lord, or we can read and take her at her word. Personally, unless reviewing the book, I would abandon it immediately. If she claims to be speaking Jesus’ words, I am no longer interested. However, for the sake of reviewing it, I continued to read.
Dr. Boice was right. Clearly, the battle over inerrancy continues. But more often it is the sufficiency of Scripture that is under constant attack in evangelical circles. "God told me," "God spoke this word in my heart," etc are frequent appeals to extra-biblical revelation. And yet such claims are ubiquitous among evangelicals. We make bestsellers out of fanciful tales of people's trips to heaven. How gullible have we become? We must ask, "When did God's Word become insufficient?" When did the Bible need the help of mystical experiences? extra words from God? or a little boy's trip to heaven and back?

Challies continues:

It is interesting that the majority of the devotionals are affirmations rather than commandments which means that the book tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is less about Jesus telling how we are to live, but more about who he is, who we are, and how to enjoy his Presence. It is notable that these affirmations span only a very narrow range of the Christian experience. It is equally notable that many of Jesus’ words sound very little like what he says in the Bible. For example, “Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me.” And shortly after, “Learn to hide in the secret of My Presence, even as you carry out your duties in the world.” I do not even know what that means or how it might be applied. There is no clear command there for me to obey and no clear word about who Jesus is.

Jesus Calling is, in its own way, a very dangerous book. Though the theology is largely sound enough, my great concern is that it teaches that hearing words directly from Jesus and then sharing these words with others is the normal Christian experience. In fact, it elevates this experience over all others. And this is a dangerous precedent to set. I see no reason that I would ever recommend this book.

Read the entire review HERE