Thinking Out Loud

October 20, 2017

Jesus Wants to Talk to You, But He Realizes You’re Busy

Jesus Calling quote

With Halloween fast approaching, a look at the book with the bright orange cover…

I realized today that despite all that’s been written about the format and content* of the popular devotional book Jesus Calling, my chief complaint is that the writings are simply far too short. Heck, I’ve posted things on Twitter that are lengthier than what passes for a daily devotional. If this is devotion, if I were God, I’d be looking for a greater degree of loyalty.

It’s as if Jesus is calling, but he’s in Europe, and it’s a toll call, and he’s run out of Euro coins and can only speak for a minute. Or perhaps he knows that you have a full schedule and he doesn’t want to take too much of your time.

Full disclosure: Sometimes my devotional kick-start is equally short. If I’m running really late, I might just have time to read the key verse at DailyEncouragement.net and the one I get weekdays by email from GreatBigLife.co.uk. But on those very days, I’m heading into an environment that in many ways resembles an eight-hour-long small group meeting. I often wonder how many scripture verses are quoted or alluded to by me or the people I interact with. (I need an intern to follow me and count them, like the student who followed Kramer on that Seinfeld episode.)

But if Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling were my only source of spiritual feeding for an entire day, I think I would be shortchanged.

That’s the part the scares me. That people are buying and using and gifting this book and it becomes a surrogate for real quality time with God.

So again, this is aside from all other doctrinal considerations about this title that have been analyzed to death elsewhere; I just think the book is baby food. Perhaps as Hebrews 5:12 and I Cor 3:2 remind us, maybe much of the Church in North America, Australia and Western Europe just isn’t ready for solid food.

Jesus Calling Collection


*I realize some of you haven’t been in touch with where the doctrinal issues in this book arise. Much of the discussion online has to do with the fact that this book is part of a very small subset of devotional literature where the words on the page appear as a direct message to the reader from God. In other words, the (human) author purports to be writing this as God, speaking in the first person; “I” instead of “He.” Consider Francis Roberts’ Come Away My Beloved, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters, Sheri Rose Shepherd’s His Princess series, Paul Pastor’s The Listening Day and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and Jesus Always as examples of this; you’ll also find this type of writing on some blogs.

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October 31, 2015

Jesus is Calling, But He’s Only Got a Minute

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:47 am

Jesus Calling quote

For Halloween, a look at the book with the bright orange cover…

I realized today that despite all that’s been written about the format and content of the popular devotional book Jesus Calling, my chief complaint is that the writings are simply far too short. Heck, I’ve posted things on Twitter that are lengthier than what passes for a daily devotional. If this is devotion, if I were God, I’d be looking for a greater degree of loyalty.

It’s as if Jesus is calling, but he’s in Europe, and it’s a toll call, and he’s run out of Euro coins and can only speak for a minute.

Full disclosure: Sometimes my devotional kickstart is equally short. If I’m running really late, I might just have time to read the key verse at DailyEncouragement.net and the one I get weekdays by email from GreatBigLife.co.uk. But on those very days, I’m heading into an environment that in many ways resembles an eight-hour-long small group meeting. I often wonder how many scripture verses are quoted or alluded to by me or the people I interact with. (I need an intern to follow me and count them, like the student who followed Kramer on that Seinfeld episode.)

But if Jesus Calling were my only source of spiritual feeding for an entire day, I think I would be shortchanged.

That’s the part the scares me. That people are buying and using and gifting this book and it becomes a surrogate for real quality time with God.

So again, this is aside from all other doctrinal considerations about this title that have been analyzed to death elsewhere; I just think the book is baby food. Perhaps as Hebrews 5:12 and I Cor 3:2 remind us, maybe much of the Church in North America, Australia and Western Europe just isn’t ready for solid food.

Jesus Calling Collection


If you were looking for our more traditional Halloween post, two of my favorites are

December 6, 2014

Thomas Nelson: The Macro Perspective

One thing I like about a new month is that I give myself permission to go back one year and look at old articles as candidates for possible re-blogging. But today, I want to go back only a few days, partly to add some things, and party because I think this story got missed.

Jesus Calling 10th AnniversaryIn a story posted late Monday night, we noted the claim from heresy watcher Warren B. Smith about the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:

…[I]f you are more interested in protecting your product rather than in protecting the truth, you do everything in your power to make these problems disappear. One thing is for sure. Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have made some of their problems suddenly disappear in recent editions of Jesus Calling—most especially in a special 10th anniversary edition of Jesus Calling released on September 30, 2014.

Perhaps taking their cue from the missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes from Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have been systematically deleting controversial material from Jesus Calling. Adding, subtracting, cutting, pasting, and completely eliminating problematic words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs, Young and her editors do not hesitate to put words in the mouth of their “Jesus,” even as they take others away. But like the Watergate tapes, the missing evidence and their in-your-face tactics are doing more to expose their problems than cover them up.

We then went on to note:

It’s hard to find articles online critical of the book, since everyone is on the sales bandwagon, especially in some markets where the book has been #1 for much of the past few years. So I don’t have other corroboration of Smith’s claims.

Still, the book’s theological liabilities have not escaped notice. I’ve been following the discussion thread at Ryan Dueck’s blog for over four years now, and not surprisingly, the book did not fare well with Canadian blogger Tim Challies, who called it “a very dangerous book.” We covered those links here before, also noting two years ago that the genre in which it is written is not entirely new; and also linking to that rare occasion where author Sarah Young did an interview with Christianity Today.

On a personal note, I should say that at the bookstore where I hang out, a good 80% of the sales on this book over the past 18 months have been to the local Spiritualist Church. Until recently the store did not acknowledge sales of the book on its Top books chart, and also, prior to 2012, a book closely associated with it, God Calling was available there only by special order, even though the book is published by, among others, Baker Books.

For it’s part, Thomas Nelson is marketing the anniversary release as an “Expanded Edition.” Nowhere on the company website are words like “revised,” “edited,” or even “updated” used.

What you didn’t see that day however was a comment that I added myself on the original version of the story at Christian Book Shop Talk, an affiliate blog of this one:

BennyHinnI didn’t want to go to hard on Thomas Nelson, but this isn’t the first time they’ve found themselves in a pickle like this, is it? Charismatic faith healer Benny Hinn was reported to have some wacky doctrine that each part of the Godhead was also triune — that’s nine parts if you’re counting — that needed to be excised from one of his bestsellers. (The belief is called Tritheism.) It was also alleged that after the book went through an editorial process, Hinn reiterated the belief in yet another volume.

Check out this link and do a keyword ‘find’ for “Benny Hinn” and “Tritheism.” It’s also in  this piece.

Now that Thomas Nelson is owned by HarperCollins, Jesus Calling would probably be a better fit on its HarperOne imprint, not the more Evangelical imprints like Zondervan or Nelson.

Mark Driscoll 2But then I got to thinking about how this connects with the whole Mark Driscoll story, since the Seattle pastor’s Real Marriage was also caught in the plagiarism controversy.

And that got me thinking about the stable of authors the company has published in the last forty years. From ultra-conservatives who didn’t like the NKJV, to the concerns that Robert Schuller’s message was simply about positive-thinking platitudes with little resemblance to the gospel, all the way forward to doctrinal concerns in Heaven is For Real

It’s no wonder that doctrinal purists reject anything the company issues, or why for example, the New Calvinist community feels the need to create its own sales channels, where they can filter what is marketed and distributed.

When you look at the entire history of Thomas Nelson, Jesus Calling is nothing new for these battle-scarred warriors; it’s more of a minor skirmish.

 

December 1, 2014

Jesus Calling Critic Says New Edition is Greatly Edited

Jesus Calling 10th AnniversaryHeresy hunter Warren B. Smith begins:

What if you are a major publisher like Thomas Nelson and you suddenly discover that your mega best-selling book Jesus Calling was inspired by a channeled New Age book? And what if you find out that some of the “messages” your author “received” from her “Jesus” weren’t really from Jesus because they contradict what the real Jesus Christ says in the Bible? And what if your best-selling author has introduced a host of other problems in her book that your usually sharp editors had somehow overlooked? What do you do given these issues are already in the pages of ten million previously published books? If you want to be fair to your readers, you deal honestly with these problems as they are brought to your attention. However, if you are more interested in protecting your product rather than in protecting the truth, you do everything in your power to make these problems disappear. One thing is for sure. Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have made some of their problems suddenly disappear in recent editions of Jesus Calling—most especially in a special 10th anniversary edition of Jesus Calling released on September 30, 2014.

Perhaps taking their cue from the missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes from Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have been systematically deleting controversial material from Jesus Calling. Adding, subtracting, cutting, pasting, and completely eliminating problematic words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs, Young and her editors do not hesitate to put words in the mouth of their “Jesus,” even as they take others away. But like the Watergate tapes, the missing evidence and their in-your-face tactics are doing more to expose their problems than cover them up.

He then reiterates his objections to the original book in the rest of the piece. You can read the entire article at the Stand Up For The Truth website.

It’s hard to find articles online critical of the book, since everyone is on the sales bandwagon, especially in some markets where the book has been #1 for much of the past few years. So I don’t have other corroboration of Smith’s claims.

Still, the book’s theological liabilities have not escaped notice. I’ve been following the discussion thread at Ryan Dueck’s blog for over four years now, and not surprisingly, the book did not fare well with Canadian blogger Tim Challies, who called it “a very dangerous book.” We covered those links here before, also noting two years ago that the genre in which it is written is not entirely new; and also linking to that rare occasion where author Sarah Young did an interview with Christianity Today.

On a personal note, I should say that at the bookstore where I hang out, a good 80% of the sales on this book over the past two years have been to the local Spiritualist Church. Until recently the store did not acknowledge sales of the book on its Top books chart, and also, prior to 2012, a book closely associated with it, God Calling was available there only by special order, even though the book is published by, among others, Baker Books.

For it’s part, Thomas Nelson is marketing the anniversary release as an “Expanded Edition.” Nowhere on the company website are words like “revised,” “edited,” or even “updated” used.

So, if anyone can send us third party verification of what Warren B. Smith has written, we’ll add the link here.

Jesus Calling Collection

 

Co-published with Christian Book Shop Talk blog.

June 25, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Church Organ - Air Conditioner Combo

While this is list number two-hundred-and-something at Thinking Out Loud — and probably about the 400th link list over all, it’s list #52 at PARSE. A year! Time flies when you’re having links. Since Leadership Journal owns this weekly piece, clicking anything below takes you to PARSE where you can then link to the item you wish to read first.

Thursday through Tuesday, Paul blogs at Thinking Out Loud, both writes and steals devotional material at Christianity 201, and provides hints of the following week’s link list on Twitter.

 

It's not every day that we see a Jaguar X16 with a Jesus fish in our part of the world. Mind you it's a gold fish, nicely framed and matted.

It’s not every day that we see a Jaguar X16 with a Jesus fish in our part of the world. Mind you it’s a gold fish, nicely framed and matted.

December 1, 2010

Wednesday Link List

I’m making a list and checking it twice…

  • Out of every ten people, seven can not live their faith in full freedom. And the most persecuted religion is Christianity, with at least 200 million people suffering from discrimination. This was revealed by the report on religious freedom in the world that is published every two years by the Catholic organization “Aid to the Church in Need.”    Watch the video from RomeReports.com
  • When Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped the ball, he may have done so in more ways than one.   Here’s a frank, disturbing and yet must-read account of the theological fallout from Johnson’s ill-considered Twitter post, at the blog, The Wartburg Watch.   Don’t miss the comments, either.
  • Phil Johnson’s view of worship is very non-Pentecostal to be sure, but it’s a view common to many people who attend weekly meetings consisting largely of scripture reading and exposition, and would still say, if asked, that they attended a worship service.
  • Here’s a discussion I joined back in August on the blog Rumblings, concerning the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that’s still going strong three months later.
  • The normally much more sedate Julie Clawson explains why she was walking down the streets of Austin, Texas wearing nothing but underwear.   There’s even an element of cross-dressing.
  • Got young kids?   Here’s a website they might enjoy from CBH (Children’s Bible Hour) Ministries, the people who produce the Down Gilead Lane radio shows.   It’s called iToadU; sorta as in ‘I told you.’
  • A Canadian version of the Hallellujah Chorus flashmob thing. two weeks ago in a city outside of Niagara Falls; but local discussion has centered on the fact that, in not keeping with tradition associated with this piece of music, the entire audience did not stand up.
  • Really enjoying listening online to WAY-FM, broadcasting from the warmer climes of South Florida, especially since my normal online radio switched to Christmas music a little too early for my tastes.
  • Dean Lusk notes that his cat and dog aren’t as enlightened as us, and thereby are able to live together as an example of harmony.
  • Linkless entry to fellow bloggers:  When you embed from Hulu, only people in the U.S. can watch.   Always frustrating.  This may come as a surprise to you, but you actually do have readers in other parts of the world.   Or at least you did.
  • Christianity Today asks a wide variety of contacts the [literally] musical question, “Should churches ban Christmas carols with questionable theology?”   Read their answers and consider yours.  Or skip the experts and go straight to the comments on this one.
  • At Internet Monk, Chaplain Mike says that “those who welcome the Prince of Peace at this time of year should be praying for peace in this dangerous situation.”  Read his comments about last week’s attack on South Korea by North Korea.
  • Linkless entry to fellow bloggers:  Another thing about embedding videos:  I know Vimeo is much more cool than YouTube, but it takes forever to buffer, even if you have high speed internet.   Sometimes I really want to see what you enjoyed so much, but it just takes soooo long.
  • Tomorrow at Thinking Out Loud:  A report on the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair on the benefits of religion to society, and an analysis on debates of this nature in general.
  • Our cartoon today is from Dave Walker at The Cartoon Blog in the UK.  He has three books out of which the newest, The Exciting World of Churchgoing is available to retailers through Canterbury Press, distributed in the U.S. by Ingram/Spring Arbor.

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