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A Review of Jennie Allen’s
Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul
by Carol Coppens
Many years ago, when I was in the 6th grade, I was taught that when doing a book report, even if I didn’t like the book, I should try to say something good about it. That was fine teaching at the time and I think it has made me a better writer, this trying to see both sides. I’m not in school any longer though and these days, I’m bound less by trying to see the good and more to pointing out the multiple errors of books like Anything. If you’re a Jennie Allen fan, you won’t like what I have to say but I can’t stay silent.
Anything is a poorly written book. It’s an irreverent book. It’s a book that will never help any woman discover the totality of God’s plan of redemption, His sovereignty, His wrath which rests on the unregenerate, nor His holy fury at those who presume to speak for Him. This is not a book that will help you to dive deep into the character of God and to know Him better but instead, Jennie’s book is a tedious, self absorbed, experience driven, hermeneutically unsound, over-stepper of scriptural boundaries, mish-mash of emotionalism and repetitive “wrecked-ness”. Here are some of the specific faults that I see.
Even in these days of relativity, where the only rule that seems to apply is that there are to be no rules at all, there are still a few that are necessary. One of the rules of basic English grammar is, if you’re going to use an adjective (remember that word from English class?) you’d better do your homework and find out exactly what that word means, in the context in which you plan to use it.
The word reckless is used multiple times in this book. Jennie describes childlike faith as living “simply, recklessly.” On pg. 97, she writes that she and her husband, “now lay in the hands of a reckless, invisible God.” Page 143 tells of her realization that people are going to think they are foolish for adopting, saying, “that goes with almost any act of recklessness, even reckless love.” Maybe she thought the word sounded powerful and kind of daring when she penned it but the definition of reckless is “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”
Describe human beings as reckless as much as you like, because we all certainly can be, but when a writer uses the word reckless to describe almighty God, that person has crossed over into blasphemy and I would shudder to think that I had written such a thing about the God I will eventually have to give an account to. Some of the other words she uses to describe God are, “unsafe”, “wildly unpredictable”, “radical”, “ridiculously radical” and she also writes that “God is still not very practical.” Exactly where are the chapters and verses for these descriptions of God, Jennie?
In many places, Jennie adds words to Scripture that are not there. Space hinders me from listing them all, so one example will have to do. On page 184, she speaks for Jesus and writes, “as if he were letting us in on the secret, Jesus whispered back to his father, this will all be worth it. Wait till they are with us and see our glory. Just wait till all of this work and suffering and pouring out is over and we are in heaven together forever. Just wait.”
This conversation is, of course, recorded nowhere in Scripture but the words “do not exceed what is written”, definitely are. Jennie would do well to read and meditate deeply on that verse in 1 Corinthians 4. When we imagine that God is speaking to us apart from Scripture, we can easily be led to enter very dangerous territory.
An example of her flawed interpretations of Scripture is on page 37. Jennie quotes Hosea 2:14-17 but then she blatantly misinterprets God’s promise to restore Israel to Himself, as a “dramatic metaphor” about those of us who chase other loves. I say, leave Biblical interpreting to those who know about these things, Jennie. If you think that you’ve been given a new interpretation of these verses that no other person has ever had before, you’re just plain wrong. God was promising restoration to Israel in these verses and nothing else.
She also does emotional and hermeneutical callisthenics with God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (pgs. 69-70). Jennie’s theory is that God was punishing Abraham for his overwhelming love for his son that, according to her, had usurped God as Abraham’s first love. If she had thoughtfully studied these Bible passages or, if she truly understood God’s plan to ultimately save His elect, she would know that the sacrifice of Isaac and the ram God substituted for the boy, was a shadow of God’s own sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no excuse for such lazy interpretation of the sacred Scriptures. In these current times, the proliferation of false and misleading doctrine abounds. Having the correct interpretation of Scripture is of paramount importance because our eternal futures depend on understanding correctly, what God is saying to us.
On page 102, Jennie asks “so how do we actually let God change us?” Finally, I thought, a good solid question after having read page after page of drivel. Can an explanation of justification and sanctification be far behind? Sadly, they weren’t even hinted at and she goes on to tell a rather horrific (as a mother I cringed) story of telling her two oldest children to climb up a cliff and jump off! For Jennie, jumping is the key. Either “jump or crawl down” and “the more we jump and see our God come alive around us, the more we jump without fear – and the bigger the cliffs get”, she says. As the Peanuts character Charlie Brown was known to exclaim, good grief!
In the final analysis, the biggest problem I had with this book (and I slogged through it twice) was my knowing that, from the time of her “vision” in the night that Jennie feels was definitely from God, the wheels of the IF: Gatherings began to turn. For those readers who still might be unfamiliar with IF, they are para-church organization, begun by Jennie, that has no scriptural basis or authority. The gatherings happen outside of the local churches and their oversight, supposedly to accomplish something, ie. discipling women, that only churches are charged to do, in Scripture. In this case, the ends do not justify the means.
Because all the women involved in IF cannot possibly be born again, spirit filled, doctrinally sound, mature women with the spiritual gift of teaching, the possibilities for unscriptural philosophies and practices entering in to local churches, families and society at large, are enormous. I see this movement as no less than a calculated move of Satan against women, a frontal attack on the sufficiency of Scripture and a throwing off of the direct commands of God, in His Word, for both married and single women. Jennie Allen might believe that her “call” to begin IF was of God, but I do not.
So, at the end of the day, would I recommend this book to anyone? Absolutely not! What I do recommend instead is simply this – read your Bible, always praying that God will illuminate your mind with His truth. Get involved with a biblically solid church and pray for God to open doors for you to serve there. There is no substitute for a godly, biblically saturated, discerning Christian woman and one only gets that way by hard work and study. The Scriptures do not open themselves to the slothful. When a woman is mature in Christ and can properly discern truth from error then and only then it will come to pass that the writings of the Jennie Allens of this world will be seen for what they truly are, rubbish.
With a grateful nod to my 6th grade English teacher, I suppose I could say one good thing about this book and that is, that it wasn’t any longer.
Carol and her husband Mike live in a small town, on the shores of Lake Erie, in Ontario, Canada. She was 49 years old when Christ called her to be His disciple. A love for the pure truth of God’s Word fuels her passion to expose false teaching and especially that kind which has women as its primary target.