My main critique of Jesus Calling is that Young positions her book as a collection of devotionals given to her by God. God has spoken to her (she calls herself a “Listener”) and now she is sharing the words God has given her. This raises an all-important question related to the authority her words carry. If they are truly given by God, aren’t they authoritative and binding on us? She does not answer well. Though she says that her writings must be subservient to the Bible, she does not actually tell us what they are or how we are to regard them. Are they authoritative? Are they in any way binding on her or on us? If they are not inspired and not inerrant, what exactly are they? It is one thing to say that God has spoken to you, and another entirely to set these words within a context that continues to honor the authority and uniqueness of Scripture. These are not unreasonable questions, and especially so now that Young is modelling her form of listening to not only adults but to children and encouraging them to participate in it.
I found the Introduction to the children’s version of her book quite interesting. She repeats her claim that these are words given to her by God while affirming that only the Bible is perfect. But what is equally interesting to me is that she appears to have either received 365 new words from God for children (the devotionals in this book are very different and very obviously targeted at children) or she has adapted existing devotionals, but without stating that she has done so. Either way, this book seems to muddy her claims. Either God has given words to her specifically for other people (in this case, for children)–some form of prophetic function–or she has taken God’s words and translated or adapted them to fit a new audience. In either case, I think it’s time we saw this for what it is.
Here is the book’s Introduction: