I've noticed over the last day or so that there seems to be some confusion among Christians about a particular occult technique known as automatic writing. I thought it might be useful to take a look at this particular occult activity and define it.
Automatic writing is a mediumistic talent/technique where the medium (or channel if you prefer) allows a spirit being to communicate using their hand to write messages. The medium is most often in some form of deep trance and is unaware of what is being written during the session. Some mediums who utilize automatic writing may be aware or in a light trance but unaware of what their hand is writing during the automatic writing activity.
Being inspired while writing is not to be confused with supernatural automatic writing. Additionally,inspired writing is definitely not to be confused with "God breathed" such as with the Bible.
Recently I wrote a review of a Christian devotional book called Jesus Calling. Unbeknownst to me there is some kind of controversy swirling around this book which include accusations of heresy, occultism, and (you guessed it) automatic writing. I was truly surprised upon learning this so I decided to check into the accusations and read some of the "concerns" being addressed.
There are two points to which critics have pointed in condemning both Sarah Young and her book which I thought I'd address in this post.
- The first objection is that Sarah chose to write each devotional reading in a "first person" voice. In other words, she writes as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader.
- The second objection is the description of how she began her devotional writing journey.
According to her introduction in the book, Sarah was inspired by a previous work called "God Calling" and decided that during her private devotional time she would "listen" for God's voice and write whatever she felt God was saying to her. She says that it was awkward at first but that over time it became easier. Every "message" she received was firmly based in scripture and strengthened her faith walk with the Lord.
Reading various blogs and articles I've discovered that some people seem to believe this "inspired" writing is automatic writing. Let's be clear. If this were actually a case of automatic writing then Sarah would be unaware of what she was writing during the process. Nothing in her introduction or explanation of her devotional time indicates she enters any kind of a "trance" state or is unaware of what she's doing. Rather, Sarah explains that she is being consciously still and quiet before the Lord. Actively listening for His voice and responding to it.
In my view there is nothing wrong with what Sarah is describing and is actually something we as Christians SHOULD do.
(Psalm 46:10, Deuteronomy 13:10, Hebrews 4:12, John 14:26).
We hear God's voice through His word but we also hear His voice through the wise counsel of godly brothers and sisters in Christ, church leadership, and as individuals in our own quiet time if we take the time to hear Him, with EVERYTHING weighed by scripture.
This is how we know and recognize the voice of our Lord.
When I read Sarah Young's devotional I see nothing more than a paraphrase of the verses which INSPIRED the message. This is how we can know that the "inspiration" behind her writing is the Holy Spirit. Sarah Young also doesn't claim to be writing "new words" from God or adding to the Bible. She is sharing encouragement based upon and filled with revealed scripture.
I think because of such things as the Emergent Church Movement and their idea of "re-imagining" Christianity (some of which HAS blundered into the realm of heresy) and an increasing influence of the occult within the body of Christ, some Christians have become a little hyper-vigilant. While it is important to be aware of these things, some people are seeing heresy or occultism where it doesn't always exist. This is the reason everything must be discerned with Biblical understanding, asking God for wisdom, and then acted upon with love. In the case of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling, I honestly think some people are rushing to judgment without a clear understanding of the devotional she's written or a true definition of automatic writing.
Automatic writing is when a medium or channel gives themselves up to a spiritual being to be used as a conduit of communication and is totally unaware of what's being written even if they are not in a full trance. There are some cases, such as with A Course in Miracles (and apparently much of the Twilight Saga) where the writer "hears" a "voice" and in essence takes "dictation" and thus is being used as a channel or medium, but this is not automatic writing. Most people, when writing or being creative in some way, are "inspired" by something and yes this can be spiritual but certainly not always demonic. We should hopefully acknowledge that God inspires writers, musicians, and various other artists as they create in a variety of ways.
Know what the Bible says and don't just go by someone else's word., even your pastor's. Judge everything by scripture.
Does something has to be "word for word" verbatim to be inspired by God? I don't believe so, otherwise teachers wouldn't be able to expound or explain the Bible and we'd have to throw out any paraphrase. We certainly wouldn't be able to enjoy Christian music or books created on the various themes of scripture, or even watch a movie based on the Bible. It's important as Christians to be wise about what we read, see, or do but we also need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.