I was approached by Emily Jones from Columbus Press via social media for the purpose of writing a review for a new book they were publishing. The book is, “God Sightings” by Kelly Hanes. The original message I was sent included a blurb about the book. After I read it, I was concerned that it might not be theologically sound. I sent Emily Jones this message, “…If you still want me to read and review your book, you should know ahead of time that theology is very important to me. If the book has heresies, or blasphemies in it, I will mention them in the review…” To which she responded, “… I understand your theological commitment. I will get you a copy right away. We would love to have you do a review…” That being written, I agreed to do a review.
The book promptly arrived, and I began reading it. I immediately ran into problems with the emerging theological positions. I wanted to give the author, “Kelly Hanes” the benefit of the doubt, so I kept on reading. Unfortunately as I progressed in the book, I determined that it was blasphemous, and heretical. Vague, emotionally manipulative language was used throughout. I believe that the vague language is used as a defense measure, so that if anyone is critical of the work the author could come back later and insist that the critic didn’t understand what she was writing, and that they are misrepresenting her. It is incumbent upon the author to use specific and precise language when explaining nuanced topics like theology. I would expect precision from someone who has won literary awards like she has.
The book, “God Sightings” is a collection of 26 vignettes about the author’s alleged encounters with God. It seems from what I could deduct that the author believes; that everyone at certain times is actually God, in some sort of panentheism. That people preexisted in Heaven. That emotions are the arbiter of truth and since God’s word wasn’t even mentioned, I’m guessing that it is completely under the authority of emotional experiences. That it is acceptable to lie to people and her Husband. There is a mixing of heterodox teachings, emotional manipulation, a reliance on emotional experiences, in some syncretic, new age/emergent movement mysticism. These alleged extrabiblical personal revelations from god are not to be trusted because they conflict with His word, and what He has already revealed of Himself in it, as well as through the incarnation, and the creation.
If I give Hanes the benefit of the doubt, I could conclude that when she writes about seeing God in these individuals, that she really means, she sees God using them as the means by which He accomplishes His sovereign will, while not indwelling the unbelievers, but unfortunately after reading her book, I can’t give her the benefit of the doubt. It is fairly obvious that she truly believes that all people are God. Not in the sense of the Holy Spirit indwelling them, while economically remaining a distinct individual person of the triune God, but rather as God Himself in the panentheist understanding.
In other words, she writes that these people are God. She even reveals her thoughts that she had during her conversations with these people, and in those thoughts says things like, “The silence finally broke, and the children returned to their conversations. I looked at the brown-eyed girl and smiled, and she smiled back at me. It was then, in that moment, that I saw God, right there, in the girl’s eyes. Shining, confident, exultant. Oh, God! I said in my mind. Is that You? (notice how she capitalized You to indicate that it is God.) I should have known! I felt my heart lift, my spirit soar. As we sat there looking at each other, God and I, one of Her classmates, leaned over and confided to us, voice lowered, “You know what? Sometimes I think I see specialness too.””
In one vignette she writes about a man who she thought perhaps was a malfeasant regarding her children while at the store. The children had received stuffed animals from this strange man, and it aroused her suspicions. She followed him and had a conversation with him. This is part of what she said that relates to her panentheism, “My heart began to pound. When he looked at me like that, wrinkles crinkling, dark brown eyes shining as he mentioned my children, it all washed through me…God! I was speaking with God in the middle of the grocery store parking lot, and God had been glad to see my children that day.”
She returns to her van and children and then her eight-year-old son says, “You know what Mom? People like that could change the world.” I mean come on? Of course, this is no different than many American, “Christians” these days. We’ve collectively abandoned orthodoxy, and the surety of God’s word for fickle and fleeting emotional ebbs and tides.
In another vignette she writes about the evils of the world. Then makes this dubious statement, “Yet embedded within the killing world is another world, a world forever connected to The Good Kingdom, (Notice how she capitalized, “The Good Kingdom.” This leads us to believe she is writing about God’s Kingdom.) a world that each one of us has known. It stands as our reminder.” It seems that she is trying to establish our preexistence in Heaven. If that is the case, then she is guilty of false teachings.
Mixing all of these heresies, and heterodox teachings together with the rampant emotional manipulation is common among the leaders in the, “New Age, and Emergent Church” movements. It is syncretism at its worst.
It is also apparent from her work that she doesn’t understand the noetic effect of sin, or the curse of the fall. In an encounter with a sick girl, where they both hugged for a prolonged time she wrote, “My darkness was gone. Because She saw my soul and acknowledged it. Because She chose to “sit with me a while.” Because She looked me in the eye and pronounced me good. And somehow, in doing so, She had dispelled my darkness and I became well. I realized, as the girl disappeared from my sight, that it was God who had laid Her head upon my knee and wrapped Her arms around me. And it was God I had held in my arms. God is a sick girl, healing you.”
Please note, that again she capitalizes, “She.” Hanes is implying that the girl is God. Then she flatly proclaims the girl to be God. Not only that, but God has pronounced her to be good. This statement lacks any grounding in Biblical truth. As Christians, we understand from the Bible, that we are not good, but rather are sinful. Christians have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them upon repenting of their sins and trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross for their justification to God. In other words, their righteousness is not their own, but God’s imputed to them.
On page 56 Hanes details how she, through deception, manipulates her husband into leaving Lowe’s hardware store because she doesn’t want to be there. Does that sound like an honest, and earnest Christian wife? How about, “I’d rather not go with you to Lowe’s, but I’d love to spend time with you after. Maybe we can go to dinner?”
Emotions are fickle. If you are counting on feeling God as a way to determine that your faith is true, then you will always be confused by the constant flux of your unbridled emotions. God says in His word, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” In James 1:5-8 we read, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
You see to have sure faith you must know God by the truth of His word. If you know Him, and His will, you can ask in faith. You can live and have stable emotions because you can temper them with what is true. This is the right way, not emotionalism and experientialism. The emotionalism and experientialism are an empty cistern, that cannot quench your thirst. Instead trust in Christ. He is the living water that will satisfy your soul forever, and the only way to do this is to know Him by His word.
Humans are not God. God is omnipresent. Each individual person of the trinity remains separate individual persons, in perfect communion with each other, while one in being. The only person of the godhead who has specific location is the Son, but by the indwelling of the Spirit, and the Spirit coming forth from the Father and Son, economically the Son can be considered omnipresent by the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit unites the believer to the Father and the Son. This is how we are in Christ. A human, who is not Christ, is not God. The only human to every be God is Jesus Christ, and He was not solely human. He was the hypostatic union of human and God natures. Both natures, 100% God and 100% man joined perfectly in the person of Jesus without mixing the natures.
Vignette 12, “God Sings” really gets my hackles up. Doesn’t Hanes know that the unbeliever is at war with God. They are His enemy. He doesn’t love them as a Father. God is angry with the wicked every day according to scripture. Romans 8:8, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” With the reading of every line of, “God Sightings” I agonized, “If I have to read one more expression of panentheism, or any other heresy, I’m going to burn this book.” Reading this book was truly a test of my patience. I wondered to myself, “Has this woman every studied the Bible?”
If vignette 12 ticked me off, vignette 24 sealed the deal. It was titled, “God is an Atheist.” After reading that one, I’m left wondering if the author has taken hallucinogens, or has a mental illness. Run from this book, and never read any of Kelly Hanes’ work until she repents, and trusts in the real God, the God of the Bible, not the one she made up that makes her feel all special. I know she is going to feel attacked after reading this review. Perhaps she’ll take her own advice from vignette 25? I hope my review shakes her out of her blasphemies, heresies, and lies. I hope she is so upset that she repents and comes to true saving faith.
I cannot recommend this work for Christian study. It is not edifying or conducive to genuine maturation of your faith. This is a solid, “Don’t waste your time.” From cover to cover, this book has no redeeming qualities for the Christian, and his library. The author, Kelly Hanes, regardless of the world’s opinions of her qualifications to teach, is Biblically disqualified, and it is well demonstrated by this heretical book that seems to present panentheism, human preexistence, and new age syncretism, as Christian.
For all the other reviewers who clamored their adoration for this book, “What is wrong with you people? Have you never read the Bible? Tolle Lege!”