In the past weeks I’ve looked all over the internet in search of a non-glowing, non-head-over-heels review of the top-selling Christian book of 2010, the Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young. All there seemed to be was one discerning pastor’s concerns expressed on the book’s Amazon page.

Naturally I’ve added some concerns of my own, I hope with grace and truth, in today’s An open letter to ‘Jesus Calling’ readers.

Part 1 is on YeHaveHeard, and part 2 will be up this Friday morning. Here are some bits from both, starting with a reminder from Ephesians — perfectly timed thanks to Paul Valentine’s sermon last week, based on the actual Bible.

In Ephesians 1, the apostle Paul’s loving letter to a new church, he prays for them: not that they would find new wisdom, but that they would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (verse 18), through Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus, open their eyes to the amazing salvation and spiritual riches You’ve already given them!

Young does credit the Bible as “the only inerrant Word of God,” but after explaining how her wish for more led her to “listen” for other “personal messages” and “directives” from God. But why not focus on the Word? “My writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard,” she says, and thank God for that. But why write messages “from Jesus” at all, for ourselves or for others? I know I haven’t mastered the Bible in a 101 course and am now ready for more! But even if Young had mastered Scripture, why does she ignore the Bible’s Gospel narrative — the holy God sent His Son to save sinners? That actually weakens His love and promises.

[...] How might Jesus feel to hear His wonderful Word so dismissed? Moreover, can one say he or she wants a personal relationship with Christ, and then decide not to listen to what we know He said — or, even with good intentions, listen to someone else who wasn’t listening?

[Preview from part 2]

[A] third and last tragic result of Young’s attempts to speak on Jesus’ behalf: Jesus Calling implicitly denies the Gospel. This is perhaps the worst lie of omission in the book: in 365 devotions, Young never finds time to emphasize how Jesus came to Earth to fulfill the Law and die to save from sins. He came not just to show a better way to live or give us His special Peace and Presence that help in our troubles — any self-help speaker could do that. Instead Jesus showed the more amazing love: He died for His people’s sins to reconcile them and His creation to God the Father.

Any book that bypasses that — as if expecting someone else to take care of that tangential, trivial part of the Bible — does not help point people to the true-life Jesus.

Read the rest at YeHaveHeard, and may we all appreciate even more the more-sure Word.

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