Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Another Scripture

Part 4: Conclusion

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

“Sanctify them through Thy truth:
Thy Word is truth.”
(Jesus, John 17:17)

The Pied Piper

A Report by Barbara Wilhelm

Sarah Young denies the Words of Scripture. In fact, she nullifies the entire book of Hebrews and every other book in the New Testament. Notice the clarity - and finality - of Hebrews 1:1-2 and the confirmation provided by Jude 1:3:

Hebrews 1:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 

Jude 3 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 
One of the versions of Jesus Calling

In the last of these days God has spoken to us in the Person - not the "Presence" of His Son. He has spoken "once, for all time." Jesus in His Word has emphatically stated that He is completely finished speaking any more words for publication. How then can a "Presence" of "Jesus" contradict Jesus? These inner voices of the "Presence" are assumed by Sarah Young to be Jesus. Therefore, she encourages her readers to assume the same. She uses journaling or, more accurately, automatic writing to keep track of these voices. She encourages listening to these voices spoken by the "Presence" as a means of direct communication between the readers and the "Presence" themselves. Normally we have been told throughout our Christian walks that our Lord Jesus speaks through His Bible to us. Now we are being encouraged to listen to the mystical voice of a "Presence" whose words contradict the Bible. This will, ultimately, lead to great confusion for the readers… or worse.

The idea of following the voices of a "Presence" reminds me of the story of the Pied Piper which, as I just discovered, is based on an apparently true event. [See: https://theportalist.com/the-chilling-true-story-behind-the-pied-piper-of-hamelin] A Pied Piper is defined as someone who induces others to follow him/her by means of false promises. [Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pied-piper] I often have wondered where the children went after they were lured to follow this very colorful person who was so enticing to their eyes and ears. The children listened to an enchanting sound and it led them… to where? Isaiah 53:6 comes to mind: "All we like sheep have gone astray." 
Yet another Sarah Young book

One of the most important characteristics of the Bible is that the Words are never to be added to or subtracted from (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19). This is because Jesus Himself is unchangeable. Considering that, the question has to be asked: why have revisions been made to Jesus Calling if this is truly "Jesus" speaking in Sarah Young's book? Yet this is precisely what has happened. The August 23 devotion in the 2004 version of her book speaks of Abraham and Isaac and accuses Abraham of "son worship." However, while the August 23 devotion in the 2011 edition begins the same as the 2004 edition, it changes mid-stream and talks - not about Abraham and Isaac - but about Jacob and Joseph. Has the true Jesus ever been known to edit His Own Words? Has He ever re-phrased one of the books of the Bible? The real Jesus has not, and according to His Own Word, could not revise His Words. The only assumption I think we can make is that the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling is not the real Jesus.

Warren Smith examined the multiple versions of the Jesus Calling book that were published over the years. He has published booklets and articles that elaborate even further the problems discussed above: the authenticity and trustworthiness of the messages from the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling. Warren Smith is eminently qualified to write a detailed analysis of Jesus Calling. He is an ex-New Ager and an expert on the many false New Age "Jesus" and "God" entities whose channeled transmissions appear in popular books. The very title of one of his articles/booklets - "Changing Jesus Calling - Damage Control for a False Christ" - brings to my mind the cautionary verses below:
Warren Smith's booklet

2 Corinthians 11:2-4 New King James Version (NKJV) 
2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! 
In his article, Warren Smith writes:

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… these tactics are doing more to expose their problems than cover them up…. 

The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs published by Harvest House Christian publishers specifically describes God Calling as a channeled New Age book. In their lengthy chapter on channeling and spiritual dictation, authors/apologist [Christian] John Weldon and John Ankerberg explain that channeling is a form of New Age "mediumship" and according to the Bible it "is a practice forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)." Under the subheading titled "Impersonations of Christianity," the authors describe God Calling as a New Age book "replete with denials of biblical teaching" as it "subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ's personal guidance... and often misinterprets Scripture." Yet Sarah Young wrote that it was God Calling that inspired her to receive her own messages from "Jesus." In her original introduction to Jesus Calling, Young praised God Calling as "a treasure to me"…. 

Yet another Sarah Young book
The Damage Control 
In recent editions of Jesus Calling - including the 10th anniversary edition--the preceding paragraph regarding God Calling - has been removed from the author's longstanding introduction. No explanation. No apology. Nothing. Suddenly and completely gone is any mention of God Calling - how it had inspired her to receive her own "messages" from "Jesus" and how it was a "treasure" to her. Her previous praise of God Calling had become problematic as it had drawn obvious New Age comparisons to her own book. It had also become apparent that her original endorsement of God Calling was helping to popularize this New Age book among believers! While Christian leaders have been strangely silent about Jesus Calling, it was the secular media that took Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson to task for changing and deleting the problematic material in their best-selling book. 

Ruth Graham, writing in The Daily Beast, a popular online American news reporting and opinion website formerly associated with Newsweek magazine, wrote an article to question the changes being made to Sarah Young's original introduction. Graham wrote: 

The latest edition of Jesus Calling includes some important changes. The paragraph about God Calling has been deleted, and references to received "messages" have been changed to the less mystically inflected "writings and devotions." In a passage in which Young recounts her early attempts to write down what God told her, the new version characterizes this as "focusing on Jesus and His Word, while asking Him to guide my thoughts." Thomas Nelson refers to the books as "Sarah's prayer journal," emphasizing that Young is not claiming to speak for Jesus. A skeptical reader, comparing the two introductions, would see an effort by a publisher to bring an increasingly controversial but lucrative best-seller into line with mainstream evangelical orthodoxy. 

In that same article, Ruth Graham also questioned the explanations offered by Thomas Nelson publicist Katie Powell: 

In an email responding to my questions, the book's publicist at Thomas Nelson, Katie Powell, wrote that the reference to God Calling was never meant as more than "a nod," and it was deleted because it had "created some confusion." "The book's theology has always been sound," she wrote. "The changes were made to make the introduction easier to understand especially since Jesus Calling is now being read by such a wide variety of people" Thomas Nelson did not call attention to the changes, Powell wrote, because the introduction's "content did not change" between editions. But it's hard to square that with the similarities between Young's book and Jesus Calling--right down to the title. 
Yet another Sarah Young book

Graham's skepticism was right on target. And contrary to the statement by the Thomas Nelson publicist, the content of the introduction has changed in recent editions. The unexplained changes have caused many former supporters of Jesus Calling to stop using the devotional. Christian online newspaper WorldNetDaily (WND) picked up on the controversy and published two articles, "Top Christian Bestseller Accused of Heresy," and "Is Hit Book 'Jesus Calling' Publishing New Age?" Charisma magazine followed up with a similar article that noted the growing controversy. It was titled "Critics Accuse 'Jesus Calling' of Mixing Truth With New Age Error."…

The Damage Control 
In recent editions of Jesus Calling, all ten references to the words "message" and "messages" have been deleted from her otherwise longstanding introduction. What were originally described as "messages" she "received" from "Jesus" are now being described as "writing" and "devotions" that she "gleaned" in her "quiet moments."… 

Since this unbiblical contradiction was brought to light in my book "Another Jesus" Calling, Sarah Young and Thomas Nelson have eliminated this obvious contradiction in their 10th anniversary edition. In other words, they had their "Jesus" correct himself. Compare the original January 28th and October 15th statements that have been in Jesus Calling for the last ten years, with the replacement statements now inserted in the new 10th anniversary edition. 

January 28th Original Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. These were the last words I spoke before ascending into heaven. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen. [bold added] 

January 28th Replacement Statement
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. I spoke these words to My disciples after My resurrection. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen. [bold added] 

October 15th Original Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My presence with you is both a promise and a protection. My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. [bold added] 

October 15th Replacement Statement
TRY TO STAY CONSCIOUS OF ME as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. After My resurrection, I assured My followers: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. [bold added] 

Note: One of the 250 "messages" Sarah Young included in her yet-to-be-corrected Jesus Calling Devotional Bible (NKJV) is the original October 15th "message" from Jesus Calling--"My final statement just before I went to heaven was: Surely I am with you always." Given that this statement is clearly unbiblical, Young's justification for her messages to be included "alongside the biblical text" falls a little flat. She wrote: 

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. 

Yet another Sarah Young book

Jesus Corrects Himself? 
Sarah Young might argue that because Jesus never contradicts Himself, she must have heard it wrong. But if that were the case, she had to hear it wrong on two separate occasions because the unbiblical statement is in two different messages. With this in mind, an important question must be asked. Who was Sarah Young listening to when she "received" these two "messages?" Obviously the real Jesus does not contradict himself--much less correct Himself in regards to His own words and actions. 

And for those who might argue that there is no longer a problem because this contradiction and other problematic areas have been corrected, several more questions must be asked. What about the ten million readers who have trusted these unbiblical messages over the last ten years? Do you just pretend it never happened? Aren't they owed some kind of explanation as to how Sarah Young's "Jesus" could make mistakes of this magnitude? But perhaps most importantly, how can an author and publisher--or anyone for that matter-believe they have the right to put words in and out of the mouth of Jesus Christ like He is some kind of literary device--and most especially when it is for the purpose of damage control. [Extended excerpts used with permission of the author. Read the entire piece at: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16349

The Pied Piper

Before I close this report there is one more thing on my heart that I feel I must share. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. How many people who previously would have gone to their Bibles when they needed comfort now go to Jesus Calling? How many who started their days reading the Bible (2Timothy 3:16, the God-breathed Word) now go to these questionable words channeled through a woman? As a result, their relationships with the true Jesus have been stolen and destroyed. He is our Shelter, our Refuge, our very present help in time of need, our Comfort, our Life, our Daily Bread, our Soon and Coming King, our Savior. This is the Jesus of the Bible. Can this "Jesus" of Jesus Calling offer all that… or is he a thief who has stolen away our relationships with the true Son of God?

Life Application: 
1Thessalonians 5:21 commands us to prove all things. This entire series of lessons is an example of obedience to that command by a variety of those in His body who care for the safety of His people. If you or someone you know have read these books, would you go back to the very beginnings of these lessons and see this action as a "kindness" that has been done to the body of Christ and share it with them to keep them safe?

Psalm 141:5 Amplified Bible (AMP) 
"Let the righteous [thoughtfully] strike (correct) me--
it is a kindness [done to encourage my spiritual maturity].
It is [the choicest anointing] oil on the head;
Let my head not refuse
[to accept and acknowledge and learn from] it;"

Bulle, Florence God Wants You Rich and Other Enticing Doctrines, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, 1983. 
A.J. Russell ed. God Calling, by Two Listeners, Old Tappan, N.J., Fleming H. Revel., 1936.

The author of this 4-part series, Barbara Wilhelm, is a long-time discerner. She recently started her own blog, Holding His Word Higher: https://holdinghiswordhigher.com. Visit her site for her weekly posts.