Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jesus Calling, from the PCA?

In case you are unfamiliar with the book Jesus Calling, let me bring you up to speed. It is one of the best selling Christian books on the market. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young has sold hundreds of thousands of copies since it was first published in 2003. The marketing of this book is only expanding. Type "Jesus Calling" into an Amazon search, and you will find a devotional journal, a devotional for kids, a sequel titled Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence, and now a Jesus Calling Study Bible

On its surface, Jesus Calling is just another daily devotional, like many others that have come before it. But, Jesus Calling differs from most other devotional books in one significant way. The author writes in the introduction, "I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God, with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying."

The author claims that the content of Jesus Calling are direct messages from God to her. This is a problem.

I am by no means the first person to point this out. See here, and here, and here for just a few examples.

But, unlike those of you who have been aware of this book for sometime, I only recently became aware of it. And, as I like to do, I started doing some research on the author, Sarah Young. Amazon tells me this: 
Sarah Young is quietly leading millions on a journey of intimacy with Christ. She has been featured in the New York TimesWall Street JournalUSA Today, and Christianity Today and has sold over 10 million books worldwide. Jesus Today received the 2013 ECPA Christian Book of the Year award. Sarah and her husband lived overseas for decades, counseling and planting churches in Japan and Australia. They currently live in the US.
I found out that Mrs. Young attended Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, and spent some time at L'Abri (she mentions both these facts in the introduction to Jesus Calling).

But, what I have not seen anyone else point out is that Mrs. Young and her husband are listed as missionaries on the PCA's Mission to the World site (scroll down to "Young, Steve and Sarah" on this page.) [Note: The Youngs are currently listed as being on "Home Missionary Assignment" meaning they are on leave from the field.]

Perhaps this is not a surprise to anyone. Maybe this is old news. But, to me, it came as a bit of a shock that the woman who claims to have direct revelation from God is also sponsored by a supposedly-Reformed mission agency. 

After all, our Confession of Faith makes it clear that Scripture is necessary, because, "those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased." (WCF 1.1). Scripture is sufficient (WCF 1.6, "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men."), and Scripture is the final authority unto which all matters Spiritual are to be appealed (WCF 1.10, "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.")

I wonder, then, where is there room for Mrs. Young's supposed messages from God? I also wonder how someone who is a member of the PCA could claim to receive direct revelation from our Lord Himself and have absolutely nothing done about it.


  1. I haven't read this book and I probably won't, but I am curious about the position you have laid out. Are you saying that the only way that the Lord speaks to his people is through the bible? I hold the position that the Spirit of God can and does use other methods to communicte with his people. The scripture is; however, the final arbiter. If someone claims to hear from God something that contradicts scripture (or adds to scripture), then that is not to be trusted. That is what I see the WCF saying in your quote above. But perhaps I don't know the full context. If I told you that I was in prayer and the Lord said to me "I will never do to you what your father did" (my father having abandoned me as a child), would you tell me I'm mistaken and the Lord did not reveal that to me? Even though it is in keeping with Heb 13:5? Is the only appropriate way for the Spirit to communicate that idea to me by quoting Heb 13:5?

  2. Ian, don't confuse revelation with illumination.

  3. That's why I was questioning, because it seems like that's what Seth is doing.