Tom and his guest, former New Ager Warren Smith, have an in-depth discussion on further concerns about Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, answering the question, “Did Jesus really say, ‘I am above all and in all’?”
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could tune in. In today’s program, Tom continues his discussion with Warren Smith, author of many books including From the New Age to Amazing Grace; Deceived on Purpose; The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Movement, and many others. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today our guest is Warren Smith. This is the second session of my interview with him. And Warren, as I mentioned last week, he’s an author and speaker—numerous books: The Light That Was Dark was the one he started with; [subtitled] From the New Age to Amazing Grace—he’s dealt with so many subjects. But the subject for today, as it was most of last week, is his book “Another Jesus” Calling, and that’s what we want to talk about.
Now last week, well, I’ll just start with this, Warren, and you can jump on it. Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling, which is the book we’re critiquing here, and he critiques in his book, she says, “Sitting quietly with pen and paper in hand will give you the opportunity to enter into a two-way conversation with Jesus.” That’s the heart of the book, isn’t it, Warren?
Warren: It is, and it kind of reminds me of the pressure that’s being put on believers today by a lot of fairly well-known names to hear the voice of God. To hear the voice of the Lord. And it’s almost if you don’t hear the voice, there’s something wrong with your Christianity. As a matter of fact, at a Passion Conference with John Piper, Beth Moore, Louis Giglio, and I think Francis Chan was there, there was a woman outside afterwards who was very distraught because she hadn’t “heard” anything, and she felt like she was less of a person because of that.
This is what we did in the New Age, Tom. It’s like most of the teachings that came in from Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God; A Course in Miracles, we talked about last week; they are channeled voices coming from the spirit world in the name of God, in the name of Jesus, and what I really became extremely concerned about was there were so many things—I mean, Jesus Calling looks like kind of a simple book on the surface, but when you really read it carefully, it’s just fraught with all sorts of problems. And one of them is that you can’t just be quiet—[you] go into the silence, repeat Scripture, and call it contemplative prayer, which is just really a smokescreen of moving away from biblical meditation, which is to meditate on Scripture, on God’s testimonies, on His works—not to go into kind of a silence and an openness to whatever comes in.
And so, she’s opening herself up and opening her readers up, because she’s encouraging them, just as she was encouraged by God Calling, that channeled New Age book that we talked about last week that inspired her to do what she did, to write this book, and now millions of people are reading her book, and probably a lot of people are doing exactly what she’s encouraged them to do, which is “You, too, can take pen and pencil in hand…”
But, you know what it is? It reminds me of Jack-in-the-Box. Late in the evening in San Francisco, years ago, when there was nowhere else to eat, we’d go to Jack-in-the-Box, and you’d pull up alongside that box, and it’d say, “Jack will speak to you now.” And that’s almost what we’ve got going here, which is you…we’re being told you repeat a Scripture, you go into silence, and then God will be so happy that you’ve recited Scripture that He’s going to talk with you. And that just is not the way God works.
Tom: Here at Berean Call, people are writing, asking about this. This is why we’re addressing it. But many say, “Well, this is our Bible study.” “This is our devotional time.” “We get together with people and we go through this.” And give some information to our listeners, Warren, about all the different aspects of this book. What is being made available? And who’s the publisher? Is it Thomas Nelson?
Warren: Yeah, one of the first things is that when Jesus was asked what would be the sign of His return, and the end of the world in Matthew:24:3-5, He said, “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ.’” That’s exactly what we were taught in A Course in Miracles—that we were all Christ, that we’re all God. And I think this idea of identity theft, which is really what He’s talking about—“many will come in his name.” When somebody is saying they’re hearing from Jesus, and there’s a whole book, and as popular as this book has become, it’s beholden upon every believer to really make sure this is Jesus Christ.
And that’s the way that I read the book, and I didn’t go about it just to tear it apart. I wanted to look at it biblically. I wanted to look and see, okay, what possible problems do we have here? Is this really Jesus Christ? And it was very quickly apparent that it was not, because for one, on page 199, her “Jesus” says, “I am above all and in all.” That, as you well know, is the bottom line of the New Age religion, it’s the bottom line of the New Spirituality, the new worldview that’s coming in to not only the world but the church. That right there is enough, if you really believe Galatians:5:9 that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. That’s enough right there to go, “That’s not Jesus Christ.”
Probably most people won’t be satisfied with that, so that’s really why I wrote this book. I just felt burdened because you can’t, in a radio program, even, if we were to do this for two or three hours, it’s hard to cover everything. And I tried to systematically go through the book and to bring up some of the issues.
Do you want me to just, kind of like you said, to just go through a few of these things?
Tom: Yeah, I do. But let me interject this: you know, as you said, this should be a slam-dunk for a biblical Christian. When I say a biblical Christian, I’m talking about somebody who really is into the Word of God, who is a Berean, who is testing things, who is checking things out. First and foremost is the Bible—this is God’s revelation to mankind. It’s in written form. It’s His objective revelation to mankind. What we’re talking about here is Sarah Young…I mean, she obviously believes this, that she’s hearing from Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible. But as you pointed out last week, and I know you’re going to get into this—wait a minute! How could this be Jesus, when it contradicts, when it goes against, what He’s saying in His Word, and the first thing is this is a subjective experience that this woman is having, and then she’s convincing others—well, she isn’t just convincing, she’s supposed to be an evangelist for this, is that right?
Warren: She is a very elusive figure because she has multiple health problems, and I don’t think we’ve ever heard her in an actual interview. It’s usually done through her publicist at Thomas Nelson or through email, so we don’t really know too much about her except she did say she was very rebellious when she was young, and I kind of wonder—and this is just speculation—if she had gotten involved with some of the metaphysical New Age teachings and maybe, like some people I know, they just didn’t fully understand the difference between the metaphysical, the New Age, and the Word of God and true biblical Christianity, because it leaches in.
I’ll give you an example. She says that Jesus told her this: “The future is a phantom seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future.”
Well, Tom, you know, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 is pretty sober words about the future, and we’re told to watch and pray and to not be deceived and the idea of laughing at the future—what’s so ironic is that my Course in Miracles “Jesus,” when I was in the New Age, said that the world is going to end in laughter. So there’s an emphasis on laughter both in God Calling and in Jesus Calling. The scripture that comes to mind is Luke:6:25: “Whoa unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep.”
Tom: Yeah, or, Warren, the Book of Revelation. You want to laugh at that?
Warren: Yeah! Yeah! You know, and the Book of Revelation’s being pretty much…well, what it really comes down to is the New Age is saying there’s an alternative to Armageddon. We can co-create the future. We can get around Armageddon if we all band together and don’t have these divisive teachings like “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me,” (says the real Jesus Christ).
Co-create the future, and then all of a sudden, unbelievably, in Jesus Calling, Jesus says, “This is a very practical way of collaborating with me. I, the creator of the universe have deigned to co-create with you.” We’re not in the creative role. You know, He is the Creator. This is strictly New Age, so this reference to co-creation is very dangerous, along with taking a quantum leap. Her Jesus says, “When you make that quantum leap into eternity, you will find me awaiting you in heaven.”
The real Jesus Christ knows how quantum physics and the whole quantum leap thing has been used by the New Age. He would never say that. He would never say, “When you make that quantum leap into eternity, you’ll find me awaiting you in heaven.”
This one really bothered me. I don’t know how you felt when you read it. The “Jesus” of Jesus Calling said, “Try to imagine what I gave up when I came into this world as a baby. I set aside my glory so that I could identify with mankind. I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. That was a dark night for me.”
Warren: That’s extra-biblical. We’re bringing in new information here, and this is where this is all going. We’re getting new info from Jesus, and what that just did is it just kind of put a quash on O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Away in a Manger, and yeah, probably some of our ways of looking at that night might be a little bit overly romanticized, but …
Tom: Well, the statement doesn’t sound like He humbled Himself. It sounds like He’s complaining about it.
But let’s go back to something I mentioned earlier, Warren. When I said that she’s an evangelist for this, the entity that she’s listening to, didn’t this entity, this other “Jesus,” another Jesus, didn’t he say, “Promote this, get this out there.” That’s what her books are about. So now we have mentioned extra-biblical information—all of this is. This is something that…this “Jesus”—really false Jesus—is communicating that somehow the Holy Spirit left out of the Bible. And now we’re not getting it through the objective Word of God, we’re getting it through the personal experience, the subjective experience, by this woman Sarah Young.
Now, what about that? She says that she checks everything out by the Word of God, from what she writes down, what she’s listening to. Now why would she have to do that?
Warren: Yeah, that was my thought. When I read that, I went, “Well, who are you listening to? If you have to discern whether it’s true or whether it’s biblical, what voice are you listening to?
Tom: Yeah, how does she make that distinction? Obviously, we are supposed to check everything out, but still…
Warren: And obviously, her range of Bible knowledge is just not real clear when she’s taking in that Jesus says, “I am above all and in all,” and laughing at the future. I remember at one point in the book…well, actually it was at the very beginning, she said, “One morning as I prayed I visualized God protecting each of us. I pictured first our daughter encircled by God’s protective presence,” and then she said that when she prayed for herself she was enveloped in brilliant light, profound peace, and it was interesting because in that same encyclopedia of New Age beliefs, they talked all about the dangers of [visualization?], guess who they quoted? You and Dave, from Seduction of Christianity. So she’s into visualization. There’s a real push for contemplative prayer, and my sense is that one of the reasons this book has not been properly critiqued up to this point, and, Tom, this book came out in 2004! It’s been doubling in volume every year, and now—it’s the number 1 book in the country right now, and when I wrote my book it was number 3 in the country of all books. So she’s got visualization, channeling, experiential…the word “Presence,” practicing the presence, which is a bogus term—we used to use it in the New Age.
The word “presence” is listed over 365 times in her book. It’s listed over and over and over. When I was a kid…
Tom: Now, what did she mean by that? Presence…
Warren: Well, practicing the presence is the presence of Jesus. But the question that the reader needs to ask is that if this is not Jesus Christ, then what presence are you dealing with?
Warren: And when I was a kid, you know, when you spend that night at your friend’s house, and it’d be kind of spooky in the middle of the night, you’d go, “Wow, feels like there’s a presence in the house.” I mean, presence doesn’t always have a wonderful connotation to it, and the Apostle Paul warned, he chided the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians:11:4. He said if somebody comes through here preaching another Jesus, another gospel, another Spirit, you might just go for it, and I would suggest that the church—at least a lot of people in the church—have bought into this, and I was in Appleton earlier this year, and I talked about the book, and a man shouted down the hallway to me, he says, “Thanks for coming, Mr. Smith.”
I said, “Why so much enthusiasm?”
He said, “Well, we were doing Jesus Calling, and, you know now we’ve realized that it’s not right.”
I said, “Well, what got you?”
And he said, “Well, all those scriptures at the bottom of the page, we figured it had to be biblical, because there were scriptures there.”
Tom: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Warren: And I said, “Yeah, Jesus in the wilderness. What did the devil do when he found out that Jesus was saying, “It is written, it is written”? He came back with Scripture himself. So, you can’t be deceived by that aspect of it.
Tom: Speaking of Scripture, you talk a lot about—and this is the heart of not just the contemplative emerging church mysticism, Catholic mysticism—but it’s Psalm:46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Can’t we use that and be still, and…what do you say?
Warren: Well, Tom, you know and I know that that’s not what that scripture says…
Tom: Right. Well, explain it to our….
Warren: Yeah, God is telling the nations to be quiet and to know that He is God. This is not, as Sarah Young says…or actually, her “Jesus” said, it was a command to sit and be quiet and let him kind of wash through you, to soak in his spirit. That right there is another reason that you have to be very suspicious of this “Jesus,” because that’s just not what it is.
Listen, when I was in the New Age, I remember being at an Edgar Cayce conference, and that’s how we started our meditation. We recited: “Be still, and know that I (me, myself) am God.” And Deepak Chropra uses that. He says you have to go into meditation to really know God, and he uses “Be still and know that I’m God.” And Ken Blanchard, Rick Warren’s guy that was going to head up the “Lead Like Jesus” group in the Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. plan endorsed Chopra’s book and recently endorsed Chopra’s most recent book on spiritual leadership, saying it’s a godsend.
So what we’re doing is we’re watching a lot of interfacing at the New Age language, techniques, but yeah, this “Be still and know that I am God” is not a call to meditation. It’s a call to obedience.
Tom: Yeah, well, Warren, you know that the heart of Eastern mysticism, the heart of the New Age, is experientialism.
Tom: They say over and over again we can’t know God with our intellect, we can’t know God…
Even though, my Bible, your Bible says, God says, “Come, let us reason together.” And mediation is not their form of meditation. It’s really wrestling over these teachings, the instructions of the Word of God, using your, you know, your mind. Obviously, there are things that are incomprehensible to us, because God is God. He’s above us. At the same time, He’s the one who said, “Come let us reason together.” So we don’t take a “leap of faith.” Our faith is based upon reason to the degree that we can handle it, and then, we trust God. Things that we can’t explain, that we don’t know. But it’s not experientialism. We have the objective Word of God. You and I can sit down, we can go over a passage of Scripture and we can use hermeneutics, you know, we can come to an agreement objectively about what that verse says. On the other hand, if we take the experiential approach, and, Warren, you say, “Well, here’s how I feel about it,” and I say, “Wonderful, Warren, here’s how I feel about it.” We cannot come to objective truth on that basis, and that’s the huge part of this problem.
Warren: It is, and part of the experiential thing is that when you let this voice that I contend is not Jesus Christ guide you in your life, then he can come up with new truths, new revelation, like he did with Neale Donald Walsch and the New Agers, and that’s what’s starting to happen here. We’ve got some of these things leaching in now, with “I’m above all and in all,” some of these—I mean, the one that just astounded me was when the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling said this: “Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to free Abraham from S-O-N worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love.”
Tom: Yeah, well, see, now there’s an insight that the Holy Spirit kept from the Scriptures, the Word of God. Now we have… see, that’s the other attraction to this, and I want to talk about that, because people have not only been seduced into this—there’s a power involved. You know, it could be, you say, Well, it’s new information. Now, I’m kind of head of the…well, I don’t have to worry about the Bible. I’m getting information directly from Jesus. I mean, there’s power in that.
Warren: There is, and it’s basically…it makes you feel special. That’s what happened in the New Age. You always feel like you’re kind of special, you know. It’s like…
Tom: It’s about self, isn’t it?
Warren: Yeah, Sarah Young said, “Yeah, I had the Bible, but I wanted more.” And in God Calling, the two women that did this channeling, they basically said, you know, “We were given this special relationship where other people had to rely on their Bible or sermons or churches.” And there’s this idea that there’s something old about this 2,000 Bible. And my testimony is that it spoke right to the heart of the deception that I’d been involved in, and I have not had anything but just clarity from the Bible all the way through, now 29 years. And unfortunately, what a lot believers are doing is they’re getting sort of seduced into some of the very same things that we got involved in in the New Age.
Tom: Yeah, see…
Warren: I mean…
Tom: Well, the other aspect of this is, and it’s part of the attraction, Warren, as you know, this is an authority issue. For example, your authority’s the Word of God, my authority is the Word of God, but now, if I go through Jesus Calling, Sarah Young becomes the authority. She’s the one who is taking supposedly from Jesus, laying it out for us, and we are following her. That’s not just extra-biblical. That is drifting…well, drifting—tearing us away from the Scriptures, even though she says, “Oh yeah, well, I check it out by the Scriptures. I’m using a lot of scriptures,” and so on. No! Sarah Young has become the authority here, and my authority, you know, for all things of faith, practice, and all of that, is the B-I-B-L-E.
Warren: Well, and you know, Tom, that’s exactly right, but it goes even further, because it’s really…she’s wanting people to believe that these messages…she said, “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received.”
These are messages that she’s getting from Jesus Christ. So this is really new revelation, new truths, and the thing that’s amazing is that there’s….when I read this one, I just went, “This is just flat-out mockery.” The Jesus of Jesus Calling says not to hesitate to go out on a limb with him, to take the road less traveled. Well, you know, as you well know, that’s Shirley MacLain and M Scott Peck…you know, that’s just a joke. There’s no way the real Jesus Christ would bring up the names of two of the biggest selling and influential New Age books. But then, then, in one of her devotions, “Jesus” said, “Sit quietly in my presence while I bless you. Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it.” Then at the bottom of the devotion he says, “Take time to rest by the wayside, for I am not in a hurry.”
Well, the wayside is where, in the parable of the sower and the seed, that’s where the devil took the Word of God out of people’s hearts. We’ve just got flat out…we’ve got mockery, we’ve got heresy, we’ve got flattery, we’ve got contradictions of Scripture. There was one where “Jesus” of Jesus Calling said that “My last words before I ascended into heaven were Lo, I am with you always.” No, those weren’t the last words. That was…what? Matthew 28. And in Acts 1, like 6-8, 8-10, in that area, before He ascended up into heaven, He called upon them to be His witnesses, not exaggerating or emphasizing the presence.
There’s a flat-out contradiction there. And there’s no way….Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He’s not going to contradict Himself. So we’ve got that laid out.
So there’s contradiction, there’s just inappropriate use of Psalm:46:10. In New Age language, we’re not being picky, here, Tom, this is a serious, serious intrusion into the Word of God.
Tom: So, Warren, one of the reasons, among a number, that I really appreciate about your book is that you keep bringing the reader back to the Scriptures. Now, having said that, there’s an antidote to this, isn’t there? It’s not complex. What is it? What’s the prevention to being duped by something like this? What do you tell our listeners?
Warren: Well, it goes back to what happened to Johanna Michelson. She accepted the Lord in college, but she didn’t know the Word of God, so she was vulnerable, and she got involved in just about everything you possibly could in the New Age, and ended up with a psychic surgeon. People need to know the Word of God, and we’re not talking Eugene Peterson’s Message; we’re not talking some, like the Voice, this new Bible translation that actually talks about how Jesus…2 Peter:3:18, Tom, if you look it up on Gateway, in the Voice, it says that Jesus is going to come until the New Age. This is Brian MacLaren, Leonard Sweet, this is the emerging church. They are turning everything upside down. And, yeah, “Heaven and earth will pass away, My words will not pass away.” And my testimony is that I did a lot of this stuff, and the Bible exposes it, and unfortunately, I don’t doubt Sarah Young’s sincerity. She is so deceived into believing that this is Jesus Christ, it’s almost unbelievable.
Tom: Yeah, and if we are not into the Word of God—and we’re talking about reading and reading and reading, the more you read, the more you know. That’s my approach to Scripture—that scripture interprets scripture. But the great thing about having a discipline of reading God’s Word every day is that you are communicating with the Lord. You’re receiving what He has revealed to believers, to those who have come to know Him, and without that, we don’t know what He wants. If somebody throws us a curve here, and we can’t even recognize it, we’re going to be part of—unwittingly, we’re going to be drawn into the religion of the Antichrist, the apostasy, all the things that the Scripture lays out very clearly, and very simply, that will take us away from the truth.
So, Warren, really appreciate you being on with us, and I’m excited about this book and we’re going to let people know about it and get it to them.
Warren: Thanks, Tom, good being with you guys.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend OR, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638; or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.