It can’t be denied: The Jesus of Sarah Young sounds suspiciously like a twenty-first century, Western, middle-aged woman. ~ Tim Challies
In an announcement betraying the sad state of affairs in the Christian World, Publishers Weekly has announced that Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling devotional has sold over 40,000,000 copies across all formats and editions. Three years ago it had sold 30,000,000 copies, meaning that it shows no sign of slowing down and is one of the best-selling ‘christian’ books of all time.
This is no thanks to the efforts of the spiritual strychnine that is Lifeway, the for-profit publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention that has been peddling her wares for years, even having their own splash page for the creepy book, selling every possible variant they can get their grubby little paws on.
In a widely shared book review by Tim Challies, he explains most of the major problems with this book, with these two being the most prominent:
“1. She speaks for God. Far and away the most troubling aspect of the book is its very premise—that Sarah Young hears from Jesus and then dutifully brings his messages to her readers. Jesus Calling makes the boldest, gutsiest, and, to my mind, most arrogant claim of any book ever to be considered Christian. The publisher describes the book in this way:
“After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Savior’s voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her—and many others around the world. In these powerful pages are the words and Scriptures Jesus lovingly laid on her heart. Words of reassurance, comfort, and hope. Words that have made her increasingly aware of His presence and allowed her to enjoy His peace (bold mine).”
There is no way to avoid her claim that she is communicating divine revelation, a claim that raises a host of questions and concerns, not the least of which is the doctrine of Scripture alone which assures us that the Bible and the Bible alone is sufficient to guide us in all matters of faith and practice.
2. She proclaims the insufficiency of the Bible. Jesus Calling only exists because Sarah Young had a deep desire to hear from God outside of the Bible. In the introduction she describes the book’s genesis:
“I began to wonder if I … could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. 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.”
In those few sentences she sets up unnecessary competition between her revelation and what we are told of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Biblically, there is no category for what she provides as the heart and soul of her book. Biblically, there is no need for it and no reason we should expect or heed it.”
That this has sold 40 million copies is a sad indictment on the church, and cursed be any bookstore that sells it.