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Church News

'Jesus Calling' book under investigation by the Presbyterian Church

by Lydia Davies

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has initiated an investigation into the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Young, who passed away last August at 77 years old, was a notable author within the PCA community.

According to Christianity Today, the decision to examine the book was made at their annual meeting on Thursday.

Concerns among PCA pastors centred on Young's use of the voice of Jesus in her book, which they believe might conflict with doctrine and "potentially border on heresy". 

The book, published in 2004, has already faced theological criticism from some leaders within the denomination.

Young, who had a degree from Covenant Theological Seminary, was married to Steve Young, a PCA elder and missionary in Japan. During the debate on the investigation, he addressed the assembly, urging them to vote against it.

He said: “Her writings did not add to Scripture but explain it,

“She would stand with Martin Luther and declare that her conscience was captive to the Word of God.”

He continued: “Sarah is a sister in Christ and wife who delighted in the law of the Lord, and on his law she meditated day and night. She was led to share her meditations with the world.”

Despite his plea, the measure passed narrowly, with a vote of 947–834 and 20 abstentions - this directs two denominational committees to review the book and assess its appropriateness for Christians, particularly PCA members.

As a result, the committees will investigate the history of the book within the denomination and evaluate its doctrinal and methodological soundness.

Notably, one of the reports will come from Mission to the World (MTW), the PCA's mission agency through which Sarah and Steve Young served as missionaries.

Chuck Williams, a Church leader, expressed concerns about claims of immediate divine revelation at the meeting, although Young’s editors at Thomas Nelson have stated that she did not claim to receive new revelations.

Opponents of the investigation argued that it was unusual and inappropriately timed, given Sarah Young's recent passing.

Daniel Wells, a pastor from Tennessee, who claims to know the Young family, pointed out that her family is still grieving and urged empathy.

He said: “They are still grieving. Romans 12:15 tells us to weep with those who weep. This overture would instead ask us to investigate this woman who has passed on.”

Jerid Krulish from Alaska humorously likened the measure to a “fishing expedition”, while hymn writer Kevin Twit defended using God’s voice in religious literature as a means of summarising biblical ideas, not as new revelation.

Jesus Calling has so far sold over 45 million copies.

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