I’ve seen it listed under “Best Sellers” in Christian book catalogues. I’ve seen it on shelves with other books under the sign, “Best Picks” in Christian bookstores. That this book should be in Christian book catalogues and in Christian bookstores is cause enough for alarm, but what makes the situation all the more alarming is that it is a best seller! Why? One would think that since the book has been around long enough (my earliest copy dates to 1945), Christians should have circulated the word of warning by now. After reading this book my first response was, “What is wrong with Christians? Are we so ignorant of the truth that we cannot smell a lie?”
God Calling is edited by A. J. Russell and published by Fleming H. Revell (Old Tappan, N.J.) by arrangement with Dodd, Mead & Company. Note that Russell is not the author. Rather, two women who desire to be known as the “Two Listeners” and want to remain anonymous are responsible for the book. Or are they? The book, one of the Two Listeners claims, contains “beautiful messages . . . given to her [i.e. her friend, the other Listener] by the Lord Himself.” The Listener continues in the Introduction:
We felt all unworthy and overwhelmed by the wonder of it, and could hardly realize that we were being taught, trained and encouraged day by day by HIM personally, when millions of souls, far worthier, had to be content with guidance from the Bible, sermons, their Churches, books and other sources (p. 12).
Near the end of the Introduction, the Listeners claim, “So to us this book, which we believe has been guided by our Lord Himself, is no ordinary book” (p. 13). Then begin the Lord’s words, almost 200 pages of teachings under the rubric of 365 daily devotionals beginning with January 1 and ending with December 31. But are they the words of the Lord, as A. J. Russell believes (p. 5)?
First, I should note that the book does not contain 100% error. There are statements in the book that square with what the Bible teaches. But this does not let God Calling off the hook. After all, there are statements in numerous volumes of cultic literature that coincide with biblical teaching. But there are enough errors in this literature that negate essential Christianity so as to make it definitely anti-Christian. In short, though there are statements in God Calling that are not heretical, even one heretical statement is enough to make the book suspect, since it claims to be the very words of Jesus Himself. But there is not merely one error in the book, there are several.
The Jesus of God Calling states, “I am at the center of every man’s being, but, distracted with the things of the sense-life, he finds Me not” (p. 55, March 16). This is quite unbiblical. Jesus makes no such statement in the New Testament that agrees with this. Rather, as Paul states, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Here “you” means believers, the “saints” to whom Paul addressed his Letter to the Colossians (Col. 1:2), not every person.
The Jesus of God Calling states, “Love can and does go round the world, passed on the God-currents from one to another” (p. 111, June 30). This as well assumes that Jesus is at the center of everyone. And just what are God-currents”?
The Jesus of God Calling talks of prosperity in ways that are likened to some of the teachers in the Word-Faith Movement, or to the Unity School of Christianity, a Mind Science prosperity cult with roots in Christian Science. “The storehouses of God are full to overflowing, but you must see this in your mind. Be sure of this before you can realize it in material form. Think thoughts of plenty” (p. 166, October 15; see also pp. 116,122,159). Here the power of positive thinking lays hold of what we truly deserve, i.e. “plenty.” The idea is to think plenty so that what is in the spiritual will materialize in the natural. The next day (October 16, p. 167) features the title “The Imprisoned God.” Here Jesus tells us to “release the imprisoned God-Power within you.” “That power,” we are further told, “will immediately perform miracles” (ibid.). Biblically, is it the “God-Power” that performs miracles, or does God do it through His power? It is the latter. Again, this is more akin to the unbiblical teachings of Word-Faith teachers, New Age prosperity teachers, and forms of Eastern philosophy promulgating the inner-god imprisoned in flesh.
The Jesus of God Calling also asks us to dwell on the phrase “God is Love.” This is all well and good if we dwell on this phrase as the Bible intends it. The phrase occurs in 1 John 4:8. “God is love,” writes John. But then John defines the phrase: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The phrase “God is love,” then, occurs squarely in the context of Christ dying for our sins. The Jesus of God Calling, however, partly concludes from the biblical phrase the following: “God is Love . . . no judging” (p. 70, April 16). Is this the intent of 1 John?
Are we not to judge? Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 has oftentimes been misinterpreted by Christians to mean that we are not to judge anyone or anything. Jesus’ words, “Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves” (Matt. 7:1), mean that we should not judge hypocritically, i.e. we should not judge others when we ourselves are doing the very same things others are! (Matt. 7:2-5) And what do we make of the actions and words of Paul, who “decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit might be saved” (1 Cor. 5:5), and who asked with an affirmative answer implied, “Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Cor. 5:12) The truth is, Christians must indeed judge for the welfare of individual Christians as well as the church.
The Jesus of God Calling is not the biblical Jesus. The Jesus of God Calling contradicts the biblical Jesus and the words of his chosen instruments, who, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the providence of God the Father, gave to us the writings of the New Testament. I cannot recommend that Christians read God Calling for any other reason than to be able to warn others who are. Further, I am appalled that the book has reached best seller status in the Christian community. The popularity of this book is a symptom of what ails the Church today—virtually no discernment, no deep biblical knowledge, a sugar-coated view of God, and a desire for the what-can-I-get-out-of-God rather than a desire to know God more deeply through the study of His word.
I for one say, “Wake up, Church!”