Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

This is a book of devotions for each day of the year, 365 devotions. One for each day. This author begins this book with an introduction about how she decided to compile these devotions and what influenced her to put this book together. At the bottom of each devotion she has included Scriptures which the reader must look up. Each devotion is short, with some on the long side and others on the very brief side. Each devotion is written from the viewpoint of Jesus Who is addressing an individual believer. The devotions are divided by the 12 months of the year, and are dated by each date of that month, including leap year on the month of March. Sarah Young is a professional with degrees in in devotional writing, psychology, philosophy and counseling. She and her husband have traveled widely, planted churches and currently serve Japanese people in Perth, Australia.

I was reading this devotional for review purposes rather than as a devotional, so I went through it rapidly. I have read it categorized as "trash" and Sarah Young called a "false teacher." This is her only material I have read and because I wanted to know what made her books spiritually harmful. I read through each short devotion and I read nothing that I saw that was, of itself, heretical. What is the problem in this book is the unspoken message it sends, that Jesus is some Heavenly Lover. Yes, Jesus is Love and no one loves us as He does. That is what His death on the cross proves. This book of devotionals gives the impression that walking with Jesus is a "touchy feely" affair. Yes, the author is right in some matters, when, from the viewpoint of Jesus, she stresses the need for trust, dependence on God and waiting on Him. We are to do those things. Indeed, we are commanded to "Be still and know that He is God." When I read all of Sarah Young's credentials, I found myself wondering how many of us could possibly identify with her, especially those who are ill, poor, aged or turned off by this style of communication. Her target readership, as is so often the case in the Christian market, seems to be middle-class people. Also, these devotions, though written from Jesus' point of view, do not sound like the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus I read of in the Bible speaks not only of love and peace, but also of holiness, judgment, God's wrath, sin, and Hell. The author does mention the issue of sin, usually sins that directly hinder intimacy with Jesus, such as not trusting Him, worry, efforts to control one's life, and the like. This book is okay if one is sound in the faith and realizes that it is not the whole counsel of God. It should not be one's primary source of spiritual nourishment. There is far too little theology here. To be fair to this author, she offers the disclaimer that her book is not inspired "in the sense that God's inerrant Word is" and I will provide a link to an article, about an interview she did on this book.

I would not recommend this book to non-Christians, as it does not tell them how to come to know this Jesus and it gives an unbalanced picture of Him as a loving, sweet, nice Deity but not also as holy, righteous, majestic, bold, fearless and our soon to be Judge. I would not recommend this book to new Christians for many of the same reasons. We are told to consider the goodness and severity of God "together." This book, like so many on the Christian market, gives only one side.

Read an interview with the author here.

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