The books God Calling and Jesus Calling have become very popular devotional readings over the years, making numerous “best-seller” lists. But from the moment I began to see quotes from the books being posted on Facebook and other places I had some grave concerns. Upon investigation, I discovered that I am not the only one with reservations about these books. Indeed, many discerning Christian leaders are concerned that they are dangerous spiritually in several ways.
Of first concern is the method of “inspiration.” The writers did not sit with open Bibles to gain the truths they share in the books, instead one of the authors of God Calling said in the introduction that “we sat down, pencils and paper in hand and waited” and that then “beautiful messages were given to her by our Lord Himself.” But there is no promise or indication in scripture that God speaks to us this way. He does state repeatedly that He communicates to us in His word. The kind of “inspiration” the authors used for these two books is in fact the same sort of “revelation” that cult leaders often indicate that they have received. Bible-believing Christians believe that there is ONE source for us of “beautiful messages by our Lord Himself” — and that is His inspired word. (II Timothy 3:16)
Secondly, the use of the first person language in the books is troubling. “First person” means that it is written as if Jesus Himself were speaking: “I want you to know x-y-z” — as if the Lord were directly communicating these truths to the readers. This was my first “red flag” regarding the books. Kathy Keller (wife of respected pastor Tim) writes:
“If Sarah Young, the author of the words attributed to Jesus, had only used ‘He’ instead of ‘I’ in her book, about half of my objection to it would be gone.”
But as it stands, writing a book which reads as if God were the author is at minimum presumptuous beyond measure, and at worst blasphemous: putting words into the mouth of God which He did not speak! There is only ONE place where we may confidently state “thus saith the Lord”, and that is the word of God, the Bible.
Of next concern is the actual content of the books. Those who have read them in their entirety indicate that the content itself is indeed troubling. The Christian Research Institute points out several “problem passages” in God Calling, including:
— “I need you more than you need Me.” (p. 60)
— “I await the commands of My children.” (p. 63)
— “Yes! But remember the first hail must be that of the Magi in the Bethlehem stable” (p. 204).
Edmond Gruss of CRI points out here: “‘Christ’ slips up on this last one. Matthew 2:9-11 indicates that the Magi arrived at Bethlehem a considerable time after Jesus was born. Note that verse 11 mentions their being at the ‘house.’ The Magi never did visit Jesus at the stable, but the shepherds did (Luke 2:1 5-20).”
Any man-made book is bound to have errors, certainly. But compounding the problem here is that these books are written as if GOD were speaking — and He is not the author of such error.
Finally, my desire in this post is not merely to criticize a false path, but to point out a better way. If you want to hear every day from the Lord, there is a sure-fire way to do it: read the Bible, the authoritative and genuinely inspired word of God, and ask for the illumination of the Holy Spirit, whom God gave to enable us to understand His word!
I Peter 2:2 commands us as believers: “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” Scripture repeatedly commands God’s children to find His truth for them in His revealed word. What every believer needs each day is time with an open Bible — no “devotional books” or helps or commentaries — but just “the pure milk of the word” and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Devotionals and commentaries have a place, but only after one has had time of his own with the “pure milk” of the word, the unadulterated word of God itself.
One of the most revealing, and condemning statements about these books was made by Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, who wrote in the introduction: “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.” This statement alone should serve as a warning to any potential reader, and is exactly the problem: “more” than the “pure milk” of the Bible is not “more”; it is LESS; much less! Unfortunately, too many believers today are looking for “more” — but they are looking for it in the wrong place. Look for more in what we know for certain is His word, not some questionable book claiming to speak for Him.
It is just as the old hymn asserts:
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word. What more can He say than to you He hath said … ?”
II Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable …”. There is ONE place where we can know for certain that it is indeed “God calling” and “Jesus calling” — and that is in His word. I would encourage you to rededicate yourself today to experiencing His leadership in what we know is the God-breathed truth of the Bible.
If I do not have enough credibility with you, or if I have not elucidated my concerns well enough, I plead with you to check out the following reviews before you read these two books — or before you pick them up again. These are not from obscure “reactionaries”, but from some of today’s most respected, Bible-believing Christian leaders:
— Kathy Keller, wife of pastor Tim Keller: http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/?aid=414
— Tim Challies: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/jesus-calling
— Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/PDF/DG100.pdf