Monday, December 29, 2014

Spurgeon Calling

The popular Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young is often criticized for being written from the perspective of Jesus himself. The author’s words are presented in the devotional as the Lord’s personal words to the reader, and this gets some people bent out of shape. To them, it seems principially inappropriate for non-inspired human words to be presented as God’s words.

But regardless of the merits of the criticism, I wonder if those who disparage Jesus Calling for this reason would stand ready to equally criticize Charles Spurgeon, who occasionally employed the same stylistic device. For example, in his morning devotion of January 16, Spurgeon writes the following paragraph, presented as God’s words to the reader:
It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ’Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. “Help thee?” Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency.
As another example, take the famous hymn “How Firm a Foundation.” This is a classic song, probably well-loved by the sorts of people who criticize Jesus Calling. And yet it’s written by a non-inspired man, and presented as God’s words to the hearer.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand. 
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. 
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
This isn’t an endorsement of Jesus Calling by any means. I haven’t read the book. My only point here is that if we’re going to be principially opposed to the stylistic device of presenting non-inspired human words as God’s words, then we ought to be opposed to it across the board, regardless of who’s doing it.

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