February 27, 2014

Jesus Calling Devotional Bible?—Putting Words in Jesus’ Mouth—And in the Bible

Warren B. Smith

(author of the new release “Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer)

One of the many spin-off products from Sarah Young’s best-selling book, Jesus Calling, is the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. It is a New King James Bible filled with “messages” Young claims to have “received” from Jesus Christ. In the original Introduction to her book, Jesus Calling, Young describes the nature of these messages:
 My journaling had changed from monologue to dialogue. Soon, messages began to flow more freely, and I bought a special notebook to record these words. 1
I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him. 2
This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. 3
In the Introduction to Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, she describes the “joy of listening to Jesus with pen in hand”:
 After many years of writing in prayer journals—and then discovering the joy of listening to Jesus with “pen in hand” — I believe all of this more than ever today. 4
She describes the difference that this “listening to Jesus” has made in her life. She writes:
What has made the difference? The practice of listening to Jesus and letting Him speak to me. This practice has done more to increase my intimacy with Him than any other spiritual discipline. And the words of assurance and instruction that He has “spoken” to me over the years are what I have shared in my devotional books. 5
         Young Believes that her “Messages” from “Jesus” Belong in the Bible?
Young’s personal “messages” from “Jesus” occupy some 250 separate full pages of her Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. Young claims that the placement of her messages and writings alongside Scripture is a “natural place” for them — and that she feels honored to have them there.
Since my writings are rooted in the infallible, unchanging Word of God, having them appear alongside the biblical text would seem to be a natural place for them. It is an honor to have devotionals from two of my books, Jesus Calling and Jesus Lives, included in this volume. 6
However, as I pointed out in “Another Jesus” Calling, many of Sarah Young’s “messages” in Jesus Calling are clearly not rooted in the “infallible, unchanging Word of God.” And now, a number of these problematic “messages” have been placed throughout the pages of her Jesus Calling Devotional Bible.

Take, for example, the bizarre account she reputedly received from Jesus regarding Abraham and Isaac. This “message” has been placed “alongside” the actual Genesis 22 account, with her “Jesus” purportedly describing Abraham as an idolater and son-worshiper:
Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from son-worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry even in the form of parental love. 7
But this extrabiblical “message” from Young’s “Jesus” is blatantly unbiblical. In fact, her publisher, Thomas Nelson, has removed it from some recent printings of Jesus Calling and related products.  The original Abraham and Isaac August 23rd “devotion” has been cut and pasted and toned down to now read Jacob and Joseph rather than Abraham and Isaac. As mentioned in a previous Lighthouse Trails post, Sarah Young and her Thomas Nelson editors have removed controversial materials from recently printed Jesus Calling items with no explanation, apology, or repentance to Young’s millions of readers.  However—at least as of today—this original Abraham and Isaac account can still be found—unbelievably—in Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible.

Ironically, the Jesus Calling: 365 Devotional For Kids also keeps Abraham and Isaac in the August 23rd account. However, Young—with help from others—has cleaned up the original account to make it more biblical. The new sanitized version, according to the book’s title page, originated with Sarah Young. It was adapted by a woman named Tama Fortner and then further edited by another woman named Kris Bears. And now gone is Abraham’s idolatry. Gone are his undisciplined emotions. And instead of having been a son-worshiper, now he is only in danger of worshiping his son. This carefully paraphrased, adapted, and further edited version of “Jesus’” original “message” now reads:
Abraham had waited so long for a son. When Isaac finally came, Abraham was in danger of worshipping his son. I tested Abraham, and—as hard as it was—Abraham trusted Me to take care of Isaac. And I did.8
With all of this cutting, pasting, adapting, and editing away of problematic words and passages—all in the name of “Jesus”—one cannot help wonder if this is Thomas Nelson’s attempt to stay one step ahead of unsuspecting readers and legitimate criticism. Responding truthfully and forthrightly about the many controversial questions surrounding Sarah Young’s inconsistent “Jesus” appear to be less important than preserving her #1 best-selling book Jesus Calling and its many related products—like the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible.

Other Problems with the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible

Other problematic “messages” contained in the original, unedited Jesus Calling can also be found in Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. Perhaps the most obviously unscriptural is how Young’s “Jesus” contradicts the Bible’s Jesus in regards to the last words Jesus spoke before ascending into heaven. In the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, with Matthew 28:20 cited at the bottom of the page, Young’s “Jesus” states:
My final statement just before I ascended into heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all my followers, without exception.
But these were not Jesus Christ’s last words. This Matthew 28:20 passage was uttered on a mount in Galilee (Matthew 28:16) while His last words were actually spoken later in Acts 1:7-9 on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12):
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and the true Jesus does not contradict Himself regarding His last words before ascending into heaven or any other matter. Nor does He put forth untrue, disparaging remarks about Abraham and Isaac. While it is not the purpose of this article to catalog all the concerns that arise when reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, these two examples alone should be enough to keep any sincere believer far away from the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible.

Bible Warnings

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)
For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:5)
  1. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p.XII in the original Introduction.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., p.XIII in the original Introduction.
  4. Sarah Young (General Editor), Jesus Calling Devotional Bible: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2011), p.V
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., p.VI.
  7. Ibid., p.37.
  8. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids (Nashville, TN: Tommy Nelson, 2010), p.246
  9. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, p.1237.

A Word of Caution: Ecumenical-Backed Movie, “Son of God,” May Send Subtle New Age/Roman Catholic Messages

Lighthouse Trails Editors
“If everything begins with intention, our heart on ‘Son of God’ was to find the places that we could bring people together.”—Roma Downey, New York Times
On February 28th, 20th Century Fox will release the movie Son of God in theaters. The movie is produced by husband/wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (Downey plays Mary in the film). While the movie is about the life of Jesus, and if the movie trailer is any indication, it will be  a very moving and emotional account, Lighthouse Trails wishes to issue a word of caution and warning to those who will be going to see it. Between Roma Downey’s affinity toward New Ageism and the highly ecumenical (evangelical, emerging, contemplative, Catholic, Mormon, etc) group of endorsers and advisers, there may be subtle messages in the movie that are contrary to the Word of God and its portrayal of Jesus Christ and truth. Thus, we encourage those who will be seeing the movie to watch it through the eyes of discernment and the filter of God’s Word.

We know the Bible tells us the day will come when the whole world will follow a false (anti) Christ and will worship him. And we can see how quickly an apostate ecumenical religious body is rising to the surface, leaving traditional, biblical Christianity behind. There have been films that have been produced over the years with the purpose of drawing people into an ecumenical religious movement. For instance, when Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ came out, evangelical Christians flocked to the movie in scores, and most major Christian leaders promoted it. But after the movie had come out, Mel Gibson admitted that the his reason for doing the movie was to draw people to the Eucharist, Mary, and the Catholic church. If you did not read Roger Oakland’s article, “What Lies Behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ  by Roger Oakland,” we hope you will read it before attending Son of God. Roger received a lot of criticism from peers for his warnings about The Passion of the Christ. But in the end, it was Mel Gibson himself who set the record straight and confirmed what Roger was saying was true. And today, several years later, the evangelical/Protestant church is so much further down the contemplative/emerging, ecumenical road.

With Son of God, we can only hope that Roma Downey’s New Age/Catholic bent doesn’t surface. However, we are skeptical that it won’t. A February 27th New York Times article shows that the intention of filmmakers for Son of God is to reach past the differences of religious faiths and bring people into unity. The article states:
Downey’s husband, “The Voice” and “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett, said the Christian filmmaking team reached out specifically to other faiths to tell the story of the life of Jesus . . . without causing offense.
“It just took a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of listening over a number of years to see everybody’s point of view and how to not take the teeth out of the story — the dynamic drama from the story — but be sensitive across groups,” Burnett said. “Because there’s very different interpretations across the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and the Jewish faith.”
In a July 2013 Lighthouse Trails article, we wrote the following statements, which reflect Roma Downey’s spiritual proclivities:
From our July 2013 article, “From the Frying Pan into the Fire: Women of Faith Partners with New Age Advocate Roma Downey” :
In an article we posted earlier this year, “Rick Warren Endorses 2013 Book, “Catholics Come Home” – Calls Catholic Evangelization “Critically Important,” we quoted [Roma] Downey as saying this about the Catholics Come Home book: “Catholics Come Home inspires each of us to share God’s love with others, in order to help change the world for the better, for eternity!” And, in a book titled Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life, there is a companion “Meditation” CD by Roma Downey that comes with the book.
But Roma Downey isn’t just a Catholic promoter. She is a New Age/New Spirituality promoter. Within the pages of a book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published in 2010 by the New Age publisher, Hay House), Downey endorses the book saying:
“As a USM [ University of Santa Monica - a New Age metaphysical school] graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary  in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. Let’s just say that I went from playing an angel on TV to living more of an angelic life every day. The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.”
Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with full-blown New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). By the way, Neale Donald Walsch, the New Ager who said that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them,1 wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul.
Clearly, Downey read this book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it.
To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:
“Center your awareness in your heart and consciously look for the Loving Essence in the person in your presence. By doing so, you’re signifying your respect for the Soul before you . . .  Maintain awareness that you’re in conversation with another Divine Being who is engaged in having a human experience.” (p. 209)
“We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings  who work with each of us.” (from the “Invocation” – emphasis added)
“When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation.” (p. 8, quoting favorably a New Age “spiritual teacher”)
“For the awakening person, there is a growing yearning for time in the silence. There is a sense of needing time and space for contemplation, meditation, walking in nature, and just plain being alone. Attuning to the inner channel of Divine Love is supported by quiet moments.” (p. 27)
“You begin to recognize others as Divine Beings, and the situations and circumstances of your life as learning devices.” (p. 31)
Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine). Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age book Warren B. Smith talks about in his biography, The Light That Was Dark).
In addition to endorsing Loyalty to Your Soul, Downey also endorsed a book called Angels in My Hair: the true story of a modern day Irish mystic by Lorna Bryne. The book is about spirit guides in people’s lives. We find it disconcerting to know that someone with Downey’s spiritual propensities, who attended a New Age university, helped to create a program on God’s Word.
If you watch the video clips of various Christian leaders who are promoting the Son of God movie (e.g., Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Max Lucado, etc), you will notice that many of these endorsers are praising Hollywood for coming out with films on Jesus and the Bible (soon a movie on Noah is going to be released). But if the Jesus that Hollywood is depicting is not the Jesus of the Bible but rather a why-can’t-we-all-get-along kind of Jesus and if the Word of God itself is being altered and revised, then how can we, as Christian believers, praise such work? Nevertheless, it will be praised by today’s popular religious leaders and most likely tens of millions will go to see the film. And the question that must be asked is, what will be the “fruit” of this and other such films?