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PCA To Assess If Sarah Young’s ‘Jesus Calling’ Promotes ‘Grave Errors,’ Breaks 2nd Commandment

Sarah Young
Steve Young, husband of the late Sarah Young, defends "Jesus Calling" on June 13 at the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly. Screengrab from YouTube / @pcageneralassembly1973

Leaders of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted this week to investigate whether Sarah Young’s book, “Jesus Calling,” is appropriate “for Christians in general and PCA members and congregations in particular.”

At the denomination’s 51st General Assembly on Thursday (June 13), church leaders known as commissioners approved an amended measure, or overture, by a vote of 947-834. It directs two PCA committees to research the book and then issue reports.

Young’s 2004 devotional “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence,” published by Thomas Nelson, has sold more than 45 million copies. Because the book is written in Jesus’ voice, some critics have called it misleading, dangerous, and even idolatrous.

Young, who died in August 2023 at age 77, had a master’s degree from the PCA’s Covenant Theological Seminary. Her husband, PCA elder and missionary Steve Young, was among her defenders at this week’s General Assembly, held in Richmond, Virginia.

PCA Leaders Vote for Inquiry Into ‘Jesus Calling’

The original overture regarding Sarah Young’s book came from North Carolina Pastor Benjamin Inman, who has condemned “Jesus Calling” as idolatrous. According to Christianity Today, a committee toned down some language in Inman’s overture, which might have improved its chance of passing.

The two committees directed to investigate the book’s history with the PCA and its “appropriateness for Christians” are the Committee on Discipleship Ministries, which withdrew the book from its inventory, and Mission to the World, through which the Youngs worked.

Church leaders who supported the overture said it’s important to examine such a widely read book. Although “Jesus Calling” wasn’t published by the PCA, South Carolina Pastor Zachary Groff noted that its popularity warranted the investigation. “Our committees exist in part to help us, as an assembly, to evaluate things of national import that affect the church as a whole,” he said.

Chuck Williams, a teaching elder in Florida, said “Jesus Calling” has had “destructive effects” on some PCA members. “This book defiles the sufficiency of Scripture very clearly,” he added. Williams also expressed concerns about the author “claiming an immediate revelation from God”—something the book’s editors have denied.

Sarah Young’s Widower Defends ‘Jesus Calling’

At this week’s PCA gathering, Steve Young defended the work of his late wife. “Her writings did not add to Scripture but explain it,” he told attendees. Young described Sarah as someone who “meditated day and night” on the Lord’s law and “was led to share her meditations with the world.”

“Sarah was a humble servant of Jesus who did not seek self-glory and prayed for her readers to know and deeply love the only Savior, Jesus Christ,” Young added. “She would stand with Martin Luther and declare that her conscience was captive to the Word of God.”