Saturday, June 30, 2012

Comment posted on The Harbinger

Want to be sure when I get a comment on The Harbinger that it comes to the reader's attention. This one was posted on my Monday June 25 blog about the bad hermeneutics of the critics of the book. The writer claims that The Harbinger violates sound hermeneutics but as with all the critics so far fails to make the point.

July 1: There's a follow-up comment at the same link. The strangeness of the attacks on the Harbinger has to make you wonder what the devil has against it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Another very weary attempt to get it said about The Harbinger

Here's more of the Worldview Weekend radio show I blogged on in my last post.

This makes me SO tired. I'll just have to say it again:


All Jonathan Cahn's questionable associations are relevant only if the harbingers are not from God or if you can prove that he used mystical or gnostic methods or a wrong hermeneutic in his presentation. He DIDN'T, all that is being wrongly attributed to him.

Brannon Howse says a lot of true things about today's Christian drive to save the nation at the expense of the gospel. He's trying to lump the Harbinger in with this drive and to the extent that some may take it as an important message of judgment that might save the nation and use it as a reason to unite with unbelievers he has a point, but not a point that applies to Jonathan Cahn himself or the motives behind The Harbinger itself. Howse can quote many who actively support the apostate views of the people they are associating with. AS FAR AS I'M AWARE, HE CAN'T DO THAT WITH JONATHAN CAHN WHO REMAINS COMMITTED TO THE TRUE GOSPEL AND THE NEED FOR MORMONS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, NEW AGERS, HINDUS AND SO ON TO COME TO CHRIST FOR SALVATION.

Even if Cahn appears on questionable venues he has never SAID anything that agrees with apostate views.

For myself nothing I've said about The Harbinger is about feeling I have to accept an ecumenical compromise position to ward off the coming disaster, God's judgment on the nation, which Howse has suggested is the motive of those who defend The Harbinger, and I've also given up on any kind of spiritual awakening (except for myself I hope and small pockets of true believers, that could spread in at least a limited way) BECAUSE all the apostates and heretics and antichrists have taken over that hope. AND when it comes to discernment which he wishfully accords to DeYoung, D. James, T. A. McMahon and Christine Pack, I'm afraid this time he's picked the team that lacks it.

I did and do think that if God brought these harbingers about then we have the question what He wants to accomplish with this book. SHOW ME THAT THE HARBINGERS COULD HAVE COME ABOUT FROM ANY OTHER SOURCE THAN GOD HIMSELF. THERE IS NO OTHER REASON FOR THE HARBINGER.

We know without The Harbinger that the nation is coming under judgment, but nevertheless for some reason these harbingers of judgment HAVE APPEARED IN REALITY and NOBODY could have brought this about other than God Himself.

ALL THE CRITICS are addressing everything BUT this one important fact.

They are making up meanings of their own that are not in the book. Jimmy DeYoung criticizes the book from a position I consider to be at least a borderline heresy itself but Brannon Howse takes HIS word for all of it and hasn't read the book. Christine Pack carried on about the definition of gnosticism that has nothing whatever to do with The Harbinger just because of some words like mystery and secret that are also part of gnosticism, but in a context where they have nothing to do with gnosticism or mysticism. As I wrote about in the previous post.


Cahn may lose me, however, on his willingness to appear on Glenn Beck's show and any other nonChristian shows in such a way that makes it appear he endorses false religions.* I'm sure his idea is just that he wants to get this message out to as many as he possibly can, as the watchman would who feels an obligation to warn everyone, and I'll have to take that into account. Since he's never said anything accepting of apostate positions, which the people Howse and others keep trying to stick on him, I may decide this puts him in a different category whether his message gets misused or not. This is going to take prayer and thought. A precedent might be the prophet Jonah's call to warn Nineveh of coming judgment. Who lived in Nineveh but idolators who didn't believe in the true God? And yet they repented when the judgment warning was preached to them.

But of course in our day the Mormons are not likely to hear anything that opposes their Mormonism unless the gospel is preached, and it won't be preached by Jonathan Cahn to the Mormons or he will not be a guest on Beck again. But if he doesn't then they are free to take the Harbinger as from THEIR God. Same with the Muslims, Hindus, whoever. Unless the gospel presentation in the book is used by God to save them, and of course that could happen. But again, this is going to take prayer and thought. I can't link Cahn with the ecumenicists, his motives are entirely different. I could be shown to be wrong, I suppose, but it hasn't happened yet.

All those apostates are probably not going to repent of what the nation NEEDS to repent of, which is the rampant apostasy itself. THIS is why Cahn's appearance on Glenn Beck is a problem, but again HIS motives are different from the ecumenicists so I'm waiting to see.

I NEVERTHELESS STILL CHALLENGE THE CRITICS TO SHOW A SOURCE OF THE HARBINGERS THAT IS NOT GOD. And don't give me that fuzzy stuff about how they don't REALLY fit Isaiah 9:10. Be honest -- they do.

One more remark: Brannon Howse played a clip of Cahn referring to the Zohar, the Jewish mystical book. As I heard it, what Cahn is doing is not teaching that anyone should follow the Zohar but only that it's remarkable that even this Jewish mystical sect RECOGNIZED THE TERM "GOLGOTHA" AS CONNECTED WITH THE MESSIAH, with the redemption of the world. I found something similar some years ago in a book about pre-Christian Jewish beliefs in the Messiah, that showed that the Jews anticipated two Messiahs (because of scripture's portraits of both the Suffering Servant and the Conquering King which they were unable to reconcile in one Messiah), even three in some writings, which without their being aware of it showed an anticipation of what turned out to be two advents of the Messiah first as suffering servant, then finally as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Showing that the Jews had some beliefs that can be reconciled with the New Testament reality of the Messiah is not the same thing as telling Christians to believe what the Jews believed in the Zohar or anywhere else. It shows only that before Jesus came, Jewish commentary was a lot more in line with the reality of the Messiah to come than they were willing to admit after He HAD come. When Jesus came and they rejected Him, it appears that they forgot all their former prophetic wisdom that DID far more closely anticipate the true appearance of the Lord.

* July 10: I changed my mind about this, soon after I wrote this post as a matter of fact. I think it's going way overboard to worry about how people are going to misconstrue an appearance by a Christian on a nonChristian program as supporting the nonChristian point of view. I'll say more about this eventually.

More irresponsible criticism of The Harbinger by Brannon Howse and Christine Pack

I would really love to get off The Harbinger and back to my new project on Catholicism but the stupidities continue to multiply.

Brannon Howse is coming up with new ways every day to find fault with The Harbinger that apparently didn't bother him before. I've got to suspect that the only reason he is carrying on this way is due to his friendship with Jimmy DeYoung who started the crazy attacks on The Harbinger. Yes, they are crazy.

So much for integrity, Brannon.

OF COURSE HE STILL HASN'T READ IT, on the false excuse that it's "fiction."


Today he's calling it "mysticism" and "gnosticism." WHY? It's like he just discovered the words on the COVER OF THE BOOK, about an "ancient mystery." It's the same thing he did yesterday with Jan Markell's calling it a "code" and likening Cahn to the prophets John and Jeremiah. That is, Brannon doesn't care whether they mean by those terms what he wants them to mean by them or not, it's enough for him that they can be used as flag words against The Harbinger. Wasn't the false accusation that the book replaces Israel with America enough? Gotta keep diggin up stuff to throw at it?


Actually, it turns out he got his new stones to throw from a new source, which he has published at his site, A Warning About the Harbinger by Christine Pack:
Posted: 06/27/12
A Commentary on The Harbinger: A Warning About The Harbinger
by Christine Pack

A book called The Harbinger is fast becoming a lightning rod issue among evangelical Christians, with many Christians saying it is exactly what America needs right now to "wake up" and repent, and come back to biblical truth, but other Christians documenting that Cahn quotes liberally from extra-biblical and mystical sources for his book.
Who? DOCUMENTING??? "LIBERALLY" yet??? WHAT extrabiblical and mystical sources???? If you are going to accuse him of that, you have to give the quotes you are referring to and the supposed extrabiblical or mystical source of them. *

The cover of Cahn's book (right) boldly claims that The Harbinger is an "Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America's Future."
Yeah, right, this is how Brannon Howse just discovered what's been on the cover of the book all along. NOW somebody is making an issue of it.

I've mentioned myself that I wish the book weren't attended by so much hype. But that IS all it is, hype -- and the way you KNOW it is hype is by READING THE BOOK or listening to one of Cahn's talks on it. The facts are real, they really don't need all the hype and yes I wish Cahn wasn't so enamored of the hype words because I think they detract from the message. I suppose he sees it as a mystery being unveiled, and that's not wrong since certain connections between certain realities did have to be discovered -- as long as you don't make too much of the concept.

Now all of a sudden people have decided to make too much of it.

It wasn't enough to accuse Cahn of "replacement theology" and misapplying the Old Testament to our times (which is false theology right there), oh how gleeful they must have been to discover that Sid Roth who endorses the book also endorsed Todd Bentley's false revival, or that Cahn had decided to appear on Glenn Beck's show. Hey, that is all stuff to make one question the book, and I admit it gives me pause too. I still don't know how to put all these things together but I know the way Howse and company are putting them together is false.

I GO BACK TO THE FACTS AS PRESENTED IN THE BOOK AND THEY SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. But this writer doesn't care about the facts either. She's into flag words too, it doesn't matter what they MEAN if they sort of remind you of or SOUND LIKE "gnosticism" or whatnot.
Could this be true? Could it be that there are hidden truths that need to be decoded and unveiled to Christians today? And if so, for what purpose? Cahn seems to think so, and has written a book which proclaims just that. The Harbinger is a fiction book, and features a character known as The Prophet who is slowly giving seals to one of the main characters. These seals contain messages (nine in all) which are meant to be put together as clues in a mystery, so that a final, distinct message will emerge and be revealed. This message, once decoded, is intimated to hold the secret to bringing America back to its moral center and becoming once again a Godly nation.

I have many concerns about this book, and so I will address them one at a time.


There is an exchange between two of the characters in The Harbinger who are discussing a secret message from a mysterious character ("The Prophet") in the book:

"It's the appointed time, but not for an ancient nation. It's time for the word to be given.....for the mystery to be revealed.....for the message to go forth. It's the appointed time⎯but not for an ancient nation." (The Harbinger, p 13)
Friends, anytime you see language like this, and like the language below (also from The Harbinger).....

¡ "ancient mystery hidden for thousands of years......but now revealed"
¡ a "mystery" that holds a "secret" to our future
¡ "clues" needed to "unlock" a mystery
¡ "messages" that need to be "unveiled"
......what you are dealing with is an ancient heresy called Gnosticism.

Gnosticism is a very old heresy that teaches that the truth has to be decoded, uncovered, unlocked, unveiled, discovered.
Oh for crying out loud. Flag words. Word magic.

This is all to be put down to Jonathan Cahn's no doubt unfortunate love of drama and words like "mystery." But in simple FACT the mystery in this book is out there for anyone to discover, it's not a mystery in the gnostic sense at all. The book puts you through the paces of a fictional plot to discover each of the harbingers, for the sake of DRAMA, but the clues are not to anything hidden, it's all in plain sight for anyone to discover. To discover them you have to be aware of Isaiah 9:10. This verse from the Book of Isaiah IS the "ancient mystery," folks, it's not a gnostic mystery, it's just a Bible verse, but because what it describes has literally shown up in America it's become a message for America as well as Israel. Originally the connections between the harbingers and Isaiah 9:10 did have to be brought to Cahn's attention, by what means other than God I can't imagine, and he has come up with a fictional device to bring these connections to the attention of the reader. But once we are introduced to Isaiah 9:10 -- hey, it's in every Bible, you can go read it for yourself, there's nothing hidden about it -- once you become familiar with the verse in Isaiah, then you see the actual harbingers themselves are actually there in the world, the actual realities that reflect the elements referred to in that verse.

If this is Gnosticism Ms. Pack is a Six Pack, or a Pack of Lies or a packrat or a suitcase. Well, hey, the WORDS are there, she MUST be that.
Secret Knowledge = Gnosticism
Turning this kind of language into gnosticism is STUPID! It's some kind of logical fallacy or cognitive disorder, not sure which.

I used to read Nancy Drew mysteries when I was about ten. They use similar language. The Secret of the Old Clock, the Mystery of the Blah Blah. In fact, let's emphasize this: the sense in which The Harbinger is a mystery is much more along the lines of a mystery to be solved than a spiritual mystery, the Prophet is more like a sleuth than a prophet -- except he already knows all the answers -- and so on. Gnosticism has nothing to do with it.
Gnosticism is a heresy because, according to God, we are given all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) in God's word. We don't need to decode secret mysteries, unravel sealed up messages, decipher clues, or pull back the veil on hidden things. All that we need, all that God wants us to know, is contained in the Bible.
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. If this had anything to do with The Harbinger I'd agree, but it has NOTHING to do with it. But the fact is that THE HARBINGERS ARE REAL, Cahn did not invent them. God did. You have to account for THAT.
Now, I will grant that in the New Testament, Paul does talk about the mystery of Gentiles and Jews being united together in a common church and common faith (something that could have scarcely been imagined in Old Testament times). There is also the mystery of Jesus Christ, who was dimly glimpsed through types and shadows in the Old Testament, but Who was gloriously revealed in his fullness as our Savior in the New Testament. But these are mysteries which are laid open for all to see and know and understand and respond to, and not clues on a Mysterious Journey to Somewhere (which is really the more western understanding of the word "mystery").
Well, golly gee, she knows there are other meanings to the word "mystery." Now if only she also had the good sense to know that The Harbinger does not use the word in the sense of gnosticism.

I'm courting an ulcer dealing with this sort of stupidity, and I'm not even happy myself with some decisions Jonathan Cahn has made for getting his message out, but the false accusations against it are still coming at it and still need to be answered.

I'll say it again: I'm still waiting for someone to explain those harbingers in any other way. UNTIL THEN EVERYTHING ELSE IN CRITICISM OF THE BOOK IS IRRELEVANT.

Somewhere in the rest of the article she says something like how we don't NEED the Harbinger to know the nation is under judgment, and I would agree but YOU STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN THE APPEARANCE OF THOSE HARBINGERS THAT SO UNCANNILY REFLECT 9/11. THEY suggest that God wanted to impress the fact on us beyond what a few of us already know. Yes, God. Cahn didn't put the harbingers there. Howse, Pack, DeYoung, all the rest of them, are trying to make a case against the book without grappling with this central FACT that is the ONLY thing that needs to be thought about. THE ONLY THING.

*And I see below that she says Cahn referred to finding something in a mystical Jewish work, the Zohar, that reflects something he had been discovering, and implies he's explaining EVERYTHING in the book by this reference. Is he Ms. Pack?
"An incredible thing, it blew me away, I found it in the mystical writings, Jewish writings, of the Zohar*...." Jonathan Cahn, discussing extra-biblical, mystical writings as his sources.
Why don't you make it clear exactly WHAT he found reflected in the Zohar? In fact why don't you give us the reference where he said that so we can track it down?

She just goes on and on with the same irrelevancies. I'm not up to answering them at the moment, may come back later.
"I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right."(Isaiah 45:19) As a former Gnostic, I found great comfort as a born again Christian in understanding that all that God truly wants me to know He has plainly revealed in his Word. I spent more than a decade of my life as a New Ager/Gnostic going from teaching to teaching to teaching. I lost track of how many conferences I went to, books I purchased, teachers and gurus that I sought out, all in an effort to find truth. My quest for truth was sincere, but truth proved to be surprisingly elusive to attain. By the time God saved me, I was weary. I was worn out. I didn't have it in me to go after One More Thing. All I could think of at the end was that I wanted rest, just a little bit of rest, from all my fruitless searching. The Lord, in his infinite mercy, gave me rest by rescuing me out of the mire of man-made wisdom and giving me the elegant simplicity of his Word. There is such a lovely purity and clarity in knowing that I can rest securely in the knowledge that all that God wants me to know I can find in the Bible.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
If you are unfamiliar with the heresy of Gnosticism, please listen to Phil Johnson in this in-depth discussion of what Gnosticism is, and see if you don't come away from that talk thinking of The Harbinger.

Fiction? or Fiction Masquerading Itself as Fact?

Much like William P. Young's troublesome book The Shack, The Harbinger also has a fictional character who is teaching things that are contrary to Scripture, but which the author wants to claim as truth. Of course, when pressed on the biblical problems with the teachings, both Young and Cahn have resorted to saying, But it's only a fictional character! The problem with this is that Young and Cahn both personally believe what they have written, and are seeking to teach a wide audience of readers what they believe to be true, while hiding behind the label "Fiction."

The Truth About America's Future

The truth about America's future (and the future of all nations, for that matter), is that God holds the future in His hands. Yes, we should pray, we are commanded and exhorted to pray, but ultimately, we know that our sovereign Lord will work all things together for the good of those who love him and for HIS own purposes (Romans 8:28). And sometimes, in God's sovereign wisdom, this means that He will allow countries to fall, and nations to topple. Even, that is, nations that He has used in a mighty way to proclaim his truth to the world. I certainly do not desire to see America fall, and I pray for the leaders of this country, but at the same time, we know from the Bible that God has often used times of distress and difficulty as a means of chastening and disciplining his people.

"The kingfs heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will." (Proverbs 21:1)
When I was a fairly new Christian, I came across a resource called James Ussher's Chronological Chart of History that helped steady my thinking in this regard. James Ussher was a 17th century Anglican bishop who painstakingly charted out the bloodline from Adam and Eve to Jesus. His chart features the Biblical timeline going across the top and the corresponding world history underneath it. It's so amazing to look at this chart, and see God's hand sovereignly guiding all of human history. Below the scarlet thread of Jesus's bloodline, you see nations and kings rise and fall, rise and fall, but above it all, God's bloodline marches steadily onward toward the fulfillment of his purposes.

As Americans, we tend to think that we are so mighty, the greatest nation on earth. Well, when you look at Ussher's timeline, you realize that ALL these kingdoms once had their day in the sun, but where are they now? Egypt was once the mightiest nation in the world, known for the architectural magnificence of their awe-inspiring pyramids, and for taming the Nile River. Babylon, known for their acclaimed Hanging Gardens, and brilliant military campaigns led by Nebuchadnezzar. Rome, their amazing Roman roads and contributions to education and government. Where are they now? Some of them are still around, but do they rule the world? Looking at this chart is truly humbling, and it brings the deeper realization that all that is here will be one day be burned up and destroyed, when God himself creates a new heavens and a new earth. No government that exists here on earth - not even America - will be reigning in that Kingdom to come. But this is not bad news, this is glorious, good news, that should gladden the heart of all who truly love God and bend the knee to his sovereign will and purposes.

As far as America goes, all people everywhere are commanded to repent and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sins, but that is not the basic message of this book. This book teaches that there is a secret message encoded in the Bible that needs to be decoded to be understood, and if we will only buy this book and decode this message, then we can bring America back. But as I wrote above, this is the heresy of Gnosticism. Our country does not need a "special" Gnostic teaching to tell us what we already know about repentance, salvation and the forgiveness of sins. In fact, I tend to agree with John MacArthur (When God Abandons A Nation), that when we look around us, we don't need to wonder, will we be judged? because we are already under judgment. First came the sexual revolution of the 60s/70s/80s (Romans 1:24), then came the homosexual revolution (Romans 1:26-27), and next comes the debased mind (Romans 1:28). We are following the trajectory laid out in Romans 1, and where we are indicates not a country that is basically good and can come back to its moral center, but a country that has been given over to its depravity. So we can churn out book after book about "taking back America" and "reclaiming America" (including Jonathan Cahn's The Harbinger), but in my opinion, America is past the tipping point. True Bible-believing Christians are in the minority in this country, and a minority is never going to reclaim a culture. We need to proclaim the gospel and snatch the few that we can from the flames.

Jonathan Cahn's Extrabiblical, Mystical Sources

"An incredible thing, it blew me away, I found it in the mystical writings, Jewish writings, of the Zohar*...." Jonathan Cahn, discussing extra-biblical, mystical writings as his sources.
* Please note that Zohar is an extrabiblical, mystical source from which the occultic and mystical Kabbalah is derived.

The Zohar Speaks

Jonathan Cahn Myspace Video

Jonathan Cahn Goes on Glenn Beck's Show To Discuss How To "Save A Nation"

Harbinger author Jonathan Cahn joined Mormon Glenn Beck for two segments of Beck's June 26/June 27 programs, and said the following things about The Harbinger:

"The Harbinger is a two and a half thousand year mystery that lies behind everything."
"The message of The Harbinger is not to condemn, it's to wake up and it's to call back. This is I believe coming out now for a reason, it's to save a nation, and to turn back."
"We can't maintain our blessings without God.....America is blessed as much as America follows God. If America does not follow God, you cannot expect the smiles of heaven."
Once again, a Gnostic teaching about a "mystery" that has to be decoded, and a call for America to turn back to God. But, why is Jonathan Cahn, who is a Christian pastor, linking with a Mormon (Glenn Beck) in order to proclaim his message? Christians and Mormons do not worship the same God, and for Cahn to appear with Mormon Glenn Beck and for the two to discuss God and America turning back to God can only serve to send a very confusing message to the world about who "God" is.


Does The Harbinger hold clues to helping America find her way back God? In my view, Jonathan Cahn's book is "hooking" those Christians in America who are burdened over the rising tide of immorality in our country, and who desire for America to repent and come back to the Lord. This is not a wrong or wicked's just that, it might not play out that way, in God's sovereign plan. And this desire can become problematic, especially when Christians begin linking with non-Christians (as Jonathan Cahn did with Mormon Glenn Beck) in an effort to force those desires to come to fruition.

"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why can't anybody get it right about The Harbinger?

The Harbinger controversy just gets more and more confused and crazy. Brannon Howse did another program on this today, this time alone, without Jimmy DeYoung.

But what did Brannon do? He talked mostly about the publisher of the book, names associated with the publisher, signs-and-wonders people, today's heretical prophets and apostles, trying to slam The Harbinger through guilt by association.

First, I agree with Howse about all those connections. These associations are a blot on The Harbinger and on Jonathan Cahn. And probably the worst association is Cahn's agreement to appear on the Glenn Beck show today and tomorrow. It's doubtful he could be on the show and confront Beck about his Mormonism, so I have to agree that his appearance on the show speaks against him. It puts him in the position of seeming to endorse a false religion.

However, Brannon did not go about this right. Just about the first thing he said was

It is not right for you not to read the book but take the time to research all kinds of things and people around the book. This is a cheap excuse, Brannon.

But now you have a real complaint about the book, and I agree as far as that goes. It bothered me that Cahn was interviewed by Sid Roth, by Jim Bakker, that it was published by Charisma House. The hype has bothered me from the beginning. And his appearing on Glenn Beck is probably going to do him in with me.

BUT, the substance of criticism of the book that Brannon has endorsed up until this point is false and remains false. On this program he quotes an unnamed "well known" evangelical saying about the book that he didn't read it through because:

THIS is what is silly. This is the same old wrong take on the book that started the whole controversy. This is false theology, the erroneous Dispensational theology that Jimmy DeYoung has been using against the book. If you're going to pull anything from your show, Brannon, you should pull the dispensationalist criticisms of Harbinger by Jimmy DeYoung.

Besides that, Cahn does not equate America with Israel but does point out that America's earliest founders did make a covenant with God. That's simple historical fact.

Also it is ridiculous to equate the fictional character of the prophet with today's prophecy movement. Since you haven't read the book you are making indefensible accusations. This subject is confused enough without adding to it from a position of total ignorance of what the book actually says.

He's not claiming to have received revelation either as the last caller on the show said he claims.



So far the criticisms of the book ITSELF, apart from extraneous things like its publisher and so on, ARE SIMPLY WRONG.

HOWEVER, AGAIN, all those associations Cahn has been involved with do bother me too. And if he's on Beck without making any criticism of Beck's Mormonism, if he does not come out now and clearly repudiate Beck and Sid Roth (who actually defended Todd Bentley's demon drama as "revival") then I'm not going to defend him any more either. [Later (July 2) : I believe the facts that he has never said anything that I know of to support any of the views of these people, and has to my knowledge consistently defended the true gospel of salvation, and that his motive is simply to get the message to as many people as possible, are a sufficient defense of appearing on questionable shows, and he would have to do something very clearly in the wrong, like call Glenn Beck a Christian or Bentley's or Joyner's "worship" performances Christian, for me to change my mind. Even then, oddly enough perhaps, none of this affects the content of The Harbinger itself.]

But Brannon, you are wrong not to read the book and think about the message and criticise Cahn ONLY based on these associations.

As I keep saying, the harbingers in the book could not have come about by any other power than by God. No, it can't be coincidence, and yes the equivalence with Isaiah 9:10 is uncanny. If you don't read the book you have no way to fairly assess this claim, let alone answer it, and that's the bottom line.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain those harbingers in any other way. UNTIL THEN EVERYTHING ELSE IN CRITICISM OF THE BOOK IS IRRELEVANT.

Monday, June 25, 2012

More Harbinger controversy: it's all about the false hermeneutics* of the critics

Brannon Howse apparently doesn't have any problems with Jimmy DeYoung's "hermeneutics" which insists that we are to apply the Old Testament ONLY to Israel to whom it was originally addressed.* This flies in the face of Christian understanding for 2000 years. Never trust in man, Brannon, the best of friends with the best reputation can be wrong. Do your own research on these things.

So Brannon has DeYoung on his program today as he frequently does, and the subject of the first half is the storm over The Harbinger.
Brannon’s guest is Dr. Jimmy DeYoung. Topic: Dr. DeYoung and Brannon begin this week’s program by discussing a recent radio program by a “discernment ministry” defending the book, The Harbinger. The program included, in a negative manner, a discussion of individuals that have rightfully been concerned with the book The Harbinger.
"Rightfully" only if you accept their erroneous "hermeneutic" that says we can't apply the Old Testament to anything in our own day, As DeYoung said on the program: "It comes down to hermeneutics. It comes down to whether this passage which was written directly to the nation of Israel can be applied to America." Yes, it does come down to that, and it's DeYoung's hermeneutic that is wrong, not Jonathan Cahn's.
Which hermeneutic is apparently Dispensationalism. By the way, today's radio show by Chris Pinto addresses this topic.
And they are "rightfully" concerned only if you accept their total misreading of Cahn's book. No, in fact the whole attack on The Harbinger has been done WRONGFULLY. What MIGHT be rightfully criticized about the book doesn't even get addressed, while instead they wrongfully attack it at its core as theologically false.
In addition, the host of this program wrote a article that Jonathan Cahn, the author of The Harbinger “…got stuck with unraveling a code given to him by God.” As Dr. DeYoung explained, this is a major issue. Today, God is NOT giving anyone code to unravel. God is not giving extra Biblical revelation today. If God is giving an individual a code then that would make that person a prophet and the office of prophet is closed because the cannon [sic] of Scripture is closed.
The person they are talking about, who wrote the article for World Net Daily, is Jan Markell of Understanding the Times, and unfortunately I don't agree with how she describes The Harbinger as a code -- there's no code involved, although possibly she didn't mean by that what she was taken to mean. I want to think about some parts of her article later in this post so I won't say more here, but what she said doesn't give license to DeYoung and Howse once again to muddy things. This is not a personal prophecy by Jonathan Cahn.
This is not a small issue or a side-bar issue or a non-essential issue. This issue is actually at the heart of defending the authority and supremacy of Scripture.
Amazing how he can have a heretical view of scripture himself, that denies that the Old Testament was written to individuals and nations of the future as well as to ancient Israel, and claim he is defending the authority and supremacy of scripture. Where did this false hermeneutic of Dr. DeYoung's come from? Must be fairly recent.
Brannon and Dr. DeYoung believe that some people seem to be about destroying people and not destroying arguments raised up against the Lord. However, respectfully disagreeing with the author of the book, The Harbinger, as men like Dr. DeYoung, T.A. McMahon of the Berean Call, and Pastor Gary Gilley have done is not being cantankerous nor are they being “modern-day Pharisees.”
This pretty much sums up what was said on today's program, but I've got to say you can't characterize Jimmy DeYoung's very first remarks on Worldview Weekend as anything BUT cantankerous as he was nearly beside himself with the false idea that The Harbinger teaches "replacement theology" and denounced it in very angry tones -- without having read it. And he's pretty much still accusing Cahn of replacement theology when he goes on insisting that what was said to Israel by Isaiah can't be applied to America. And you can't characterize T A McMahon's criticism as anything but cantankerous either.

They keep emphasizing "tone" as the problem, but it's not, the problem is the WORDS, the INTERPRETATION. You can be nice as all get out while calling someone a false prophet.

They HAVEN'T been "nice," Brannon, you have been nice, others have been nice, but overall there is nothing nice about any of the attack on Cahn. Getting it as wrong as they do, and making it a matter of theological error as they do, even aside from some of the namecalling that's been done, is not nice at all.

Here is Jan Markell's article at WND:. I wish I could agree with her more completely but my impression is that her way of looking at The Harbinger may only be increasing the mystification about it by putting Cahn in the role of prophet.
By Jan Markell

I need to apologize. I founded and direct an organization that could be called a Christian discernment ministry. We contend for the faith as we are instructed to do in the book of Jude. We’re busy. Doctrine is askew today. False teachers are plentiful. Wolves are slinking around the sheep and devouring them. We try to discern the times, and we even name the names of those who, in our perception, are in error...

So why am I apologizing? Some in the discernment crowd are having a field day over something that may be God’s final warning to America. It may even be a final warning to individuals to get right with God. It’s a wake-up call to the church. I am referring to Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” and the related film produced by Joseph Farah, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”

If you haven’t read the book or viewed the DVD, Cahn takes nine warnings to ancient Israel and uses them as a signal to America. Israel was warned. America is being warned. Israel shook a fist at God, and America may follow suit – but some, like Cahn, are trying to stop the train wreck.
So far so good, except that as usual I always want to add that it's not right to attribute any of this to Cahn himself. The "harbingers" simply EXIST in reality, they simply came to Cahn's attention -- BROUGHT to his attention by God, I'm sure -- and he went on to arrange a way to present them to the public. Trying to stop the train wreck is the only thing a Christian can rightly do when confronted with such realities that MUST HAVE come from God.

Must have. The only way you could fault the message of The Harbinger would be by showing how the harbingers DID NOT come from God. I'd like to see someone try. Merely ASSERTING that Cahn invented it all is simply false.
What is it about a warning that stirs controversy? Jonathan Cahn is not marching up and down Main Street wearing a sandwich board that says, “Repent, America.” He has connected some very mysterious dots on a map that started on 9/11. Each dot is a harbinger. They make perfect sense. The Ark door is going to be slammed shut again. God wants none to perish. It says in the book of Daniel that some mysteries would be sealed up until the end and then they would be revealed. Could the “Harbinger” message be one of them? I think so.
Interesting way to look at it although I don't see that the message of the book extends beyond America so that it could reflect the sealed mysteries of Daniel. I don't even see all this as a "mystery," although it is certainly astonishing that God would bring such literal signs to America to tell us that we're under judgment just as ancient Israel was.
But to the hypercritical and some modern-day Pharisees, Cahn’s hermeneutics aren’t quite right. He hasn’t fully dotted every “I” and crossed every “T,” they claim.
But let's be clear here. There's only ONE complaint about his hermeneutics and that is that we aren't allowed to apply to America what God gave His prophets to speak to Israel. That's IT. And it's a false hermeneutic, false in relation to all the teachings of all the churches I've ever been in, and false to the last two millennia of theological understanding. If I'm wrong I'd like to know HOW, but so far all I've heard is this bald assertion that we aren't allowed to apply the OT to anything today.

And again: The "harbingers" were not invented by Cahn, they HAPPENED IN REALITY. Plunk plunk plunk, one after another they simply SHOWED UP IN REALITY starting with 9/11. These complaints about his hermeneutics are complaints about GOD's hermeneutics since God brought about all the harbingers.
Additionally, the message of “The Harbinger” is unique enough that it doesn’t fit into the way God usually does things. Imagine that. God outside of a box! To be honest, I’d prefer God in a box, too, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that He just doesn’t always work that way! He is creative.
True, when has there ever been such an appearance of literal elements of an Old Testament prophecy in a later nation? It's staggering to think about.

AGAIN, these literal material harbingers or signs are what the critics have to explain away. Fussing about Cahn's hermeneutics misses the point by light years.
John the Revelator had to deal with this. Imagine the poor guy stuck on an island trying to connect the dots of the vision he was given. It was a classic case of “Lord, choose somebody else!” But there was no Internet back then so that critics could jump on board and accuse John of bad hermeneutics. Lucky for him. They would have had a field day, because to this day they are having a field day over the book of Revelation! For centuries scholarly old men have laughed at the profound words in the last book of the Bible and brushed aside its warnings. Some have said through the ages that it is too complicated, too mysterious. We must leave it alone. We leave it alone at our own peril.
I don't see it Jan. Jonathan Cahn was not given anything to himself alone. What he observed is out there for anyone to verify. It all exists in reality, not merely in the mind/soul/spirit of a prophet. I think by making such a claim you are making it harder to answer the critics.
Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jew, is a 21st century John or Jeremiah but in the right sense! He is not some out-of-order “prophet.” He got stuck with unraveling a code given to him by God. Cahn himself calls it, “mind-blowing.”
It IS mind-blowing, it's amazing. But please let's not liken Cahn to the prophets. And there is no "code" here to "unravel." It's all very straightforward once you simply SEE it. It all exists in reality, and the message to be gleaned from it is unmistakable. There are no apocalyptic symbols or visions involved. The stark reality of the "harbingers" is in itself amazing and dramatic but there is nothing mysterious about them in themselves, nothing cryptic or hard to interpret.
Then Ishmael and Isaac meet as Joseph Farah, of Arab heritage, who enters the scene to produce one of the most brilliant films you will ever see, giving the visual effect to further the “Harbinger” message. Wait! This union just might be of God.
I guess I'm not quite ready to find anything especially symbolic in this union myself, although I admit it's nice.
So I apologize for those “discerning ministries” who have concluded that what just might be a somber final call for individuals and America is out of bounds. They call Cahn’s book and the companion DVD “inane,” “preposterous,” “fallacious,” “blasphemy,” a “lying prophecy,” and much more! One critic denigrates Cahn’s character with a derogatory reference to his Jewish chutzpah.
Wow, I really wish you had named names HERE, Jan. WHO has used these terms? (I don't think they all came from T A McMahon, did they?)
What I’m reading and hearing from these older scholarly wonks is that they don’t get it that this is a Jewish thing for such a time as this.
I'm OK with this idea. IF we are at the brink of the revelation of the Antichrist, and IF the pre-trib rapture people are right and the Church is about to leave this world, and IF the clock of the 70th week is about to start ticking down, and IF world events are about to push national Israel onstage for the Last Act of Planet Earth, then bringing a message of God's judgment through a Messianic Jewish Rabbi/Pastor could have all kinds of interesting implications.
I have one more issue: Not one of these men who are criticizing – and may I say even bashing – made the slightest effort to contact Cahn and dialogue with him. And in that they run in a discernment crowd, Matthew 18 just must be on their mind now and then! How quickly we forget. Shoot first – follow protocol second!

And that’s why what some discernment outfits do is blood sport. For that I apologize. Profusely. I am ashamed. I don’t want to be known more for what I attack than what I build up. This has taught me a lesson for which I am deeply appreciative. As a representative of the “discernment community,” I apologize to Cahn and Farah for what is flying around right now. How, when and why did repentance become controversial? It’s such a simple theme. It’s the theme of the Bible from the opening verse to the last verse.

Forgive us, guys. Some folks are entering the Ark because of your work. Many will be eternally thankful.
All true. I wish the critics would stop and think.

*The false hermeneutics that to one degree or another apply the OT only to Israel, denying its application to anything today, individuals or nations or whatever, is called Dispensationalism.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spiritual Deception: Soul Power 3

Probably the most common way going off track into signs-and-wonders "Christianity" doesn't get recognized:

These are phenomena that just come over a person. They are involuntary, they come out of nowhere, it seems supernatural. You were praying to God (you thought), you were worshipping God (you thought), you have dedicated your life to God, all you want to do is serve God, therefore it must be from God. Speaking in tongues comes this way, visions and dreams come this way, jerking and flailing and falling down "under the power" come this way, the "holy laughter" comes this way. Out of the blue, out of nowhere, unbidden.

Since scripture isn't crystal clear about these things a person can just go on assuming it's from God. You can argue all you like that the supernatural gifts stopped when the canon was closed, but you won't be persuasive with people who have experienced these things. You can't tell them there is no more prophecy because they've experienced prophecy -- and healings, and tongues and so on. And where could such things come from except God? Can't be Satan "because we're Christians." Can't have human origin because, well, because we don't think of human powers as ever reaching a level we'd call miraculous or supernatural -- Nee's teaching on the latent Adamic powers is not well known or accepted.

Calling it all "mysticism" may help categorize it at least but the way that term is used as a blanket pejorative has always bothered me. On this point maybe I'm the one who needs to change my mind, that's not clear yet, but the reason I've not wanted to think of mysticism as always a bad thing is that some very good Christians have both experienced something they call mysticism and defended it. A W Tozer defended it and even put out a book of quotes from various "mystics." This is because some of those called "mystics" seem to have a much more powerful appreciation of the character of God than the average Christian does, love of God, fear of God, an all-around deeper sold-out Christian life of genuine dying to self and service to others.

I remember reading of a striking vision Jonathan Edwards had, and a description of his wife's actually levitating. That struck me as very odd and as often happens I don't remember where I saw it, but would we accuse THEM of practicing mysticism? While the Catholic mystics are to be shunned, for good doctrinal reasons, nevertheless Teresa of Avila seemed when I first read her to be describing unusual phenomena that simply happened to her as a result of normal if protracted periods of prayer -- to God, not Mary -- not something she was seeking but something that just happened, and most of it seemed to come through passionate love of God and it had the effect of inspiring love of God in me the reader.

Also, those mystics were always advising their students not to take supernatural or unusual spiritual phenomena seriously, that most of it did not come from God, and that even if some of it was from God you shouldn't focus on God's gifts but on God Himself. Sounds like words of wisdom to me. John of the Cross wrote quite sternly against one nun who got carried away about how God had "spoken" to her. Yet John of the Cross's methods reminded me of what I'd read of Buddhist methods -- despite the fact that his famous poem about the Dark Night of the Soul* was all about yearning in love after God, panting after God as the psalm says, while Buddhists aren't seeking God and love would seem to be an emotion foreign to their practice. I read the Catholic mystics on my way to becoming a Christian and I did put them aside at that point with no intention of returning to them, but some of the phenomena they described I also found described among some good Protestants and it always seemed to be something that just came to a person, wasn't sought, but was given by God to those seeking Him for Himself and not for His gifts.

HOWEVER, Watchman Nee's Latent Power of the Soul does suggest another way of thinking about these things. It's not at all a familiar idea that the human soul possesses any powers that could reach expressions describable as supernatural or miraculous, so at first it's hard to entertain what Nee is saying even as a possibility, but it's coming to make more sense to me. Jessie Penn-Lewis also writes about the phenomena of the soul as opposed to the spirit and specifically attributes the powers of the coming Antichrist to soul power. The Biblical term in the Greek is "psyche," so these can be called "psychic" powers, though "soulish" is often the preferred English rendering. Both Nee and Penn Lewis wrote in the early part of the 20th century when it had become fashionable for "scientists" to study paranormal and psychic phenomena, so some of their descriptions sound out of date, but the same phenomena persist now of course, sometimes with terms from Eastern religions attached. Much of it is what now gets called "mysticism."

Nee's descriptions reminded me of the Russian Startsy or holy men who were (are?) known for their various "supernatural" powers. Seems to be rather a striking example of just what Nee is talking about, practicing methods that release not the spirit but the soul powers.

Many of them have a reputation amidst believers of being able to know the secrets of a person's heart without having ever previously met the visitor, and having the ability to discern God's plan for a person's life. This, as all of the elder's gifts, is believed to come from the Holy Spirit acting through the elder.
Nee himself said he had experienced knowing "the secrets of a person's heart" but had to learn that this was soul power that did NOT come from the Holy Spirit, that he must put this power under the cross or deny it so that the spirit, that is the dwelling place of God's own life, could operate in him instead. It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. A popular book about the life of a Starets is Way of a Pilgrim in which the method prescribed for the holy life is the practice of the Jesus Prayer, which is used the way a mantra is, simply endlessly repeated, the very sort of thing that releases soul power according to Nee, and in the case of the "pilgrim" of the book that's exactly what happened, as he came to have heightened powers of various kinds.

Just another way of missing God completely. Spectacularly.

It is very likely that many or all of the "charismatic" gifts including speaking in tongues, are based on soul power. Also the phenomena of "revival" such as the "holy laughter" and the spasmodic bodily movements and the like. There is nothing of God in those environments but the odd manifestations are what deceive people into thinking God is present. Those of us who have experienced these things know they are real, know we aren't bringing them about intentionally, know that they aren't an illusion produced by the mind, and yet sometimes they don't feel like they have anything to do with God at all. My own "gift of tongues" has always felt wrong and I haven't had any way of epxlaining it. It also doesn't go away when I pray God will take it away. I try to suppress it but sometimes it's just "there" anyway. It came just as I describe above, out of the blue, not as something I produced myself in any way at all, just all these "words" came tumbling out of my mouth as I was praying out loud in my room one day. Sure does seem supernatural or miraculous. But it has NEVER felt like worship, always felt wrong, though I never knew how to deal with it. Now it seems to me that I should probably regard it as a soul power that I inadvertently facilitated by my participation in charismatic groups, so then I can practice denying it as Nee denied his ability to know what was in people's minds.

In this way Nee's book is very helpful, and it seems to me it could be more helpful in getting a handle on this sort of phenomena than the usual arguments are, even possibly persuading some people out of them who have been caught up in them.

Here's an example of a typical charismatic type "prophecy" or "word from the Lord" given by Jill Austin, who used to be well known among the Kansas City Prophets -- she died a few years ago. She says to a woman that she "saw" her apparently dead husband "dancing on the sapphire sea" with the Lord. You'd think this sort of thing would be so patently obviously nuts it couldn't be entertained at all just because it's so obviously unbiblical -- dead people don't return to talk to people in this life -- but again, it just "comes out of the blue" and is taken to come from God because supposedly where ELSE could it come from? This could be either soul power or just garden-variety witchcraft or mediumship in which demons impart enough knowledge about other people to seduce them.

It's not just the usual charismatic phenomena we have to account for these days either. There is now a growing movement of people who have become dangerously enamored of what is called "contemplative prayer" which makes of prayer a "practice" or a "meditation" or a sort of repetitive mantra along the lines of some Hindu practices. Just another way of releasing soul power or even inviting demonic power.

Another hindrance to recognizing and being able to deal effectively with the "supernatural" counterfeits of the Christian life may be the belief in much of the Church that there is no distinction between soul and spirit as Nee and Penn-Lewis teach there is, even saying that to teach such a distinction is heretical. Maybe I need to try to get more into this concept here.

*Dark Night of the Soul: In John of the Cross's poem, the "dark night" is a state of the soul in prayer, in which all the faculities and powers of the soul and body, the senses for instance, mind and emotions as well, have become "quieted" or "dark" so that the spirit can go forth unimpeded, in love and yearning and adoration to God. It's not meant to describe just any kind of suffering, as most people misinterpret it who don't know anything about the poem but its title, but the suffering of being deprived of the usual faculties we depend on, dealing with impediments to the spiritual life and learning to deny self. I'm not advocating anything about his methods. Clearly they are a minefield of dangers and potential delusions, especially to anyone today who casually and naively decides to try "contemplative prayer." But of course the main problem with ANYTHING Catholic is that they preach a false gospel of salvation by works.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spiritual Deception: Soul Power 2 --Hindrances to recognizing the problem

I was involved in a charismatic "parachurch" organization in the early 90s but some happenings and teachings, and the "tone" of it, started getting to me after a while. I couldn't discern clearly what was wrong, it just FELT wrong. Even back then I knew the Catholic Church was not Christian so when my group prayed for the Pope to be blessed I refused to join in and that was the beginning of the end. I was finally driven to pray for understanding and God showed me things I was accepting that I shouldn't have been accepting and I left.

Something similar may possibly be the case with others inside that movement. You can get into a position where you feel, even quite strongly, that there's something wrong with, say, the "Toronto Blessing," the Brownsville "revival," "holy laughter" and the like, can even think of Biblical objections to it, but you doubt your own impression because you're told it's of the Holy Spirit. Since you don't want to offend the Holy Spirit you just keep going along with such things though in a chronic state of unease. (Oh and try telling someone you're "confused" about this or that charismatic phenomenon, and see if you get back in a chirpy dismissive tone of voice "God is not the author of confusion!" Hoo boy, thanks.)

I did read critical studies of those things to see if they would convince me, but they always left some questions hanging in my mind, enough to prevent me from taking a definite stand one way or the other. Even after all this time I still have some questions left hanging in my mind, though I think my rereading of Nee's Latent Power of the Soul may yet give me a handle on some of it.

Side note on being at odds with your conscience: I was just reminded of a book I recently read, that I've been planning to post on when I can get to it, that shows that a person can go on in such a conflicted state of mind for years, possibly even indefinitely. This book is Fifty Years in the "Church" of Rome, written in the 19th century by Charles Chiniquy, an ex-Catholic priest. For years he was greatly disturbed by the corruptions he kept seeing in priests and bishops of the Church, also great evils in the confessional where people were more likely to be corrupted than encouraged to holiness. He read and loved the Bible and found many things there contradicted by Roman tradition. He worked for reform within the Church, denying that the problems were in the Church institution itself. He had strong prickings of conscience but because he was committed to his Church and believed its teachings he denied his conscience, told himself it was the devil trying to lead him away from the truth, and he went on in that uncomfortable state of mind until a series of events finally drove him out of the Church and he found true salvation in Christ -- after twenty-five years as a priest.

Richard Bennett is another ex-Catholic priest whose story is similar, also unable to bring himself to leave the Roman Church for many years despite seeing many ways its teachings contradict the Bible. He has the website Berean Beacon, and you can find many of his videos at You Tube as well.

I wonder how many are in the Roman Church in a similar state of mind, clinging loyally to their "Church" and constantly in conflict with their consciences. Or the charismatic movement. Or any of the other apostate or cultic "churches" that are springing up like weeds these days. Suppressing their conscience, perhaps even to the point that they hardly detect it any more.

Poor blind humanity. And that includes most of us Christians who have received light from God but let ourselves be blinded and act blind so much of the time nevertheless. We know so little of the realities we live in, the dangers that surround us. We have spiritual enemies in high places working constantly to keep us in the dark, to convince us that good is evil and evil is good, or at least keep us so busy with irrelevancies we are useless as God's servants. But although we know from the Bible the reality of such enemies, how many of us really take it seriously and apply ourselves with the appropriate fervency to protecting ourselves and each other?

God WILL give us light, but we can even ask for light wrongly, we can have a wrong idea of God that can lead us astray and so on. The perils are everywhere.

As Nee points out, we can sing too much, we can even PRAY wrongly, focusing on the wrong object as we pray, or even study the Bible wrongly -- YES, isn't that a depressing thought? Simply concentrating hard on a passage of scripture can release what Nee calls soul power that can bring an answer -- even a true answer -- but if it doesn't come from God it remains a mental exercise rather than a spiritual illumination. As Nee says [p. 71] if it's not from God it will not bear spiritual fruit.
Not only he himself may not derive life from it, he may also have no way to impart life to others while giving out his interpretation. All he can do is help the mind of people a little.
The Spirit, indwelling the human spirit upon salvation, IMPARTS LIFE, not just knowledge, not just experiences, but actual SAVING LIFE. If we use our soul powers without their being submitted to the Spirit we impart nothing of God's life. Much preaching is done in soul power rather than spiritual power, imparting only intellectual knowledge or human compassion and not spiritual life.

So often I've thought about my own blogging here: I know I'm doing this in the flesh, in my own natural abilities, I so much want to do it in the spirit but I don't know how, Lord help me.

And now I'm led to Nee's writings once again and hoping that God will help me with this.

What we want as Christians is to be able to release the LIFE that God gives us upon believing in Christ, so that LIFE can be LIFE to others as well. All our best thoughts, our true thoughts, do not impart LIFE. All our deepest emotions, of compassion and concern for others, do not impart LIFE if they come only from our own soul powers.

And, another depressing thought for you -- spiritual life iteself can be counterfeited BY the soul powers. We can think we have the "anointing" of the Spirit when it's nothing but a heightening of the natural powers left over from the Adamic life in us, OR even sometimes something coming from demonic activity. As Nee says in Latent Power of the Soul there is a false salvation counterfeited by the soul powers, a false regeneration, a false repentance and so on and so forth. Mere human powers can be dazzling and convincing.

False conversions, false prayer, false Bible reading, false visions, false dreams, false prophecies, false healings, false miracles, false anointing, false spiritual life . . .

The answer, again, is DYING TO SELF, mortification of sin, mortification of Self, crucifixion of everything of the Adamic life, submitting to the crosses that the Lord sends us daily -- how often we fight them but we need to submit to them because they are for our eternal good.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spiritual Deception: Soul Power. Dangers of seeking experiences or "gifts" in the wrong way

On his June 12th radio program Brannon Howse directed listeners to google "manifestations at Rick Joyner's Morningstar Ministries" which takes you to You Tube for a "church service" that is quite a spectacle of bizarre charismatic "worship." It has the flavor of some kind of pagan ceremony, or tribal celebration, with heavy drumbeat, people jumping up and down and at least one woman apparently emotionally unstrung up on the stage giving an incoherent "testimony" of some sort. Here's one and here's another video of Rick Joyner's "church."

I also watched part of an interview Sid Roth (It's Supernatural) did with Joyner at the beginning of 2011 about a dream he had had about America under God's judgment. In the interview he sounds like a sincere Christian who sees judgment coming to America, though you might wonder why a dream would be necessary to inform us that the nation is under judgment. He comes off as sincere in the other videos too -- it's the raucous carryings-on around him that he apparently accepts and promotes as the right way to "do church," as valid worship, that make it clear there's something deeply amiss spiritually. This is beyond anything I ever saw in charismania, into heavy spiritual darkness. But Rick Joyner stands up there talking in a pastorly sort of way, albeit in charismospeak, as if it's all quite normal.

Brannon Howse surprised me by referring to Watchman Nee's Latent Power of the Soul as a source of insight into such phenomena. I think he was quoting Jerry Vines. I was surprised because it's a book that I've found is often treated as beyond the pale of orthodoxy.

So I got out my copy and reread it. It's all about the powers of the soul that Adam supposedly possessed originally, that were lost -- or hidden rather than lost, according to Nee, buried in the flesh as it were -- at the Fall. The only way this could be known, or inferred, is from exhibitions of such powers now. There is no Biblical clue to them that I know of. Nee says they can be released now, and that's what many of the practices of the fallen religions are aimed at, and sometimes they occur spontaneously in Christian settings as well under certain conditions.

Hindus describe many powers that their practices are aimed to develop, practices such as meditations to control the mind, breath control exercises, postural exercises and so on. Walking on burning coals and lying on a bed of nails without pain are a couple of the Hindu versions of soul power. Not just Hinduism but Buddhism and Jainism as well promote such practices and powers. Look up "siddhis" for lists and discussions of various powers. I always thought of these things as demonically produced but according to Nee they are normally latent human powers that can be cultivated or released, though they are usually instigated demonically. Sometimes powers can be manifested that approach the miraculous, including healing of the body.

There are also involuntary movements of the body that are released in some of the practices, called "kriyas." Some of these things happen spontaneously even in Christian settings. I did a post about the Brownsville "revival" a while back in which at least two people were manifesting odd bodily movements that they couldn't control, jerking movements or flailing and thrashing movements -- and attributing them to being under the power of God. I posted the videos there or you can find them at You Tube.

In Christian settings what may bring them about is SEEKING manifestations of one sort or another, mistaking these things for gifts of the Holy Spirit or expressions of God's power. Anything that stirs up and concentrates emotions can also bring them about, such as repetitious singing.

What Christians need to know that most don't know is that these things have nothing whatever to do with God but come from the human soul usually under instigation by demon spirits. Intense emotion can release them. They are unusual, often involuntary and sometimes "miraculous" and that's why people assume they are from God. (To compound the problem, sometimes SOME manifestations MAY be from God, but let's not get hung up on this point yet).

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" says scripture. It would seem to apply here, because in churches where the "gifts of the Spirit" are avidly sought and supposedly practiced it is very easy for people to be exercising a power of their own soul or even a demonically imparted power and not something that comes from God and not know the difference. Clairvoyance is a power of the soul that can be mistaken for a gift of the spirit. Nee says he himself had the ability to know what was in other people's minds and at first he thought this was a good thing that served God until he came to realize that it was something God didn't want him to use and learned to deny it. (Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me).

There are soul powers that can mimic prophecy. These "prophets" in the charismatic movement are most likely experiencing this power of the soul and missing God completely.

According to Nee the soul powers can produce even a false salvation, a false repentance, a false regeneration, false revivals --such as Toronto and Brownsville -- but this book was written in 1933!) ...and "false joy."

False joy: Again, this book was written in 1933 and he talks about the "holy laugh." The "Toronto Blessing" of the 90s was all about Holy Laughter and at the time I had no idea there were ever such manifestations in churches before that. Nee describes a meeting -- this would have been in China in the 20s or 30s -- at which was announced that everybody should seek for this holy laugh. All began to beat tables or chairs, jumping and leaping all around until not long afterwards this so-called holy laughing came...

Can this possibly be the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Can this be His work? No, this is plainily one of the works of the soul. [p. 71]
SEEKING it and doing things to work up an artificial state of mind or emotion seem to be the prerequisites.
How do people get this laugh? What procedure do they follow?or what condition must they fulfill? It is nothing but simply the asking to laugh... Are they seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Their lips may indeed utter such words as 'O God, fill me with Your Spirit.' Nevertheless, that is merely a procedure; the aim of asking to be filled with the Spirit is something else than to be so filled...their heart desire is elsewhere.
God must be the object of our seeking if we are not to be deceived, and there must be a willingness to do without any sort of experience if He so wills. If you seek an experience you may get it but it won't be from Him.

Nee reports [p. 74] that one young man
pleaded fervently with God, and vowed that he would npt get up from prayer that evening if God did not give [the holy laughter] to him.
Eventually he did get the laughter. Did he get God or anything from God or of God? That's the question, and the answer is Probably not.

As a side note, I've read of people who have made this vow not to get up until God grants this or that, and it's always struck me as questionable that God would honor such an attitude. Isn't this tempting God? Isn't it trying to force God to accede to YOUR will instead of submitting to His will? Charles Finney did this and it began his career as a very powerful evangelist in the middle 19th century. Is it possible he was operating on soul power instead of spiritual power? During and following that period a great many of today's cults got started. Christian Science, for instance, is completely a matter of cultivating and practicing soul power. Could there be a connection?

Seems to me today's churches are in need of knowledge about these things. There are many deceived into thinking they are following God when they are following only their own heightened powers and they are deceiving others who treat them as prophets and seers. This is dangerous, obviously. They may be listening to demons at times too, that can impart some kinds of knowledge, just as they do to mediums and witches, as well as dreams and visions.

There is a remedy, there is a preventative. What did Jesus preach? Taking up your cross, dying to self. Think of it as dying to soul power, dying to your own abilities -- any abilities, natural abilities, natural talents, asking God to keep you from depending on your natural abilities so that you can depend completely on Him instead. If you truly want God your attitude needs to be bearing the cross, crucifying or mortifying the flesh and the self.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

The knowledge that is lacked is knowledge of God, according to the context and at least one commentary I consulted (JF&B). This applies here as the knowledge pursued in seeking experiences and gifts is not knowledge of God. And in context, also, the lack of knowledge is sin, not mere helpless ignorance. True knowledge is not sought.
Hsa 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
So maybe they won't listen. But shouldn't these things be taught in the churches these days? It's a very serious and dangerous mistake to stir up soul powers and mistake them for the Holy Spirit. It's not necessarily easy to learn these things but sincerely wanting to is a first step.

More Harbinger criticism: the down side to fictionalizing reality

Other criticisms of The Harbinger have been coming to light. I don't have it in me right now to write a full analytical post on this, or series of posts as it might be, or even to go in search of others' answers to it yet, so I'm just going to give a brief sketch of this one off the top of my head:

This is by Joseph Chambers, Pentecostal pastor of Paw Creek Ministries: The Harbinger, A Fable Forbidden By the Holy Bible

He makes much of Paul's admonitions against believing "fables" and takes this admonition to apply to the Harbinger. He quotes from many commentaries but here's one I just looked up:

FABLE: From Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary on 1 Tim 1 (referred from 2 Tim 4:3) at Blue Letter Bible:
4. fables--legends about the origin and propagation of angels, such as the false teachers taught at Colosse ( Col 2:18-23 ).
The whole phrase is fables and genealogies, so here's the comment on genealogies as well:
genealogies--not merely such civil genealogies as were common among the Jews, whereby they traced their descent from the patriarchs, to which Paul would not object, and which he would not as here class with "fables," but Gnostic genealogies of spirits and aeons, as they called them, "Lists of Gnostic emanations" [ALFORD]. So TERTULLIAN [Against Valentinian, c. 3], and IRENAEUS [Preface]. The Judaizers here alluded to, while maintaining the perpetual obligation of the Mosaic law, joined with it a theosophic ascetic tendency, pretending to see in it mysteries deeper than others could see.
I gather that what is in Paul's mind here is along the lines of the fictitious Apocrypha, tales made up but presented as truth. This is the problem, that they were presented as the truth and believed as the truth, in the place of the true gospel revelation. He's not talking about fiction presented as fiction and understood to be fiction.

As I understand it, the way Jonathan Cahn came upon the harbingers in reality is nothing at all like the fictitious story he invented to present them to the public. There was no journalist, there was no "prophet" like the major character in the book, there were no mysterious meetings with such a person, there were no clay seals involved, there was no literary or media agent he told the story to. All these things are a literary device to get the story told in some kind of measured order so that the reader can ponder each harbinger as it is presented.

Pastor Chambers calls the prophet character the "false prophet" and says that since he is fictitious his prophecies are also fictitious. Well he IS fictitious but his message is not. The prophet in The Harbinger is not intended to represent any sort of reality and I don't know of anyone who has taken him for real. He's merely a vehicle for the message of the harbingers. In fact, he must have been fun to invent -- his frustrating habit of showing up when and where he pleases and refusing to tell the whole story until he puts the journalist through some agonies to investigate the facts, provide the only somewhat comic moments.

I suppose if he were to be likened to anything in reality he might be compared with an angel that can appear and disappear unexpectedly, but even that comparison is a stretch, and since no such comparison is made in the book there's no point in pursuing it. The prophet is a fictitious character, period.

BUT: The harbingers are real. That's ALL that's real in the book. And that's the important thing, that's the point of the story, the reality of the harbingers.

What all the critics seem to have in common is their failure to recognize the reality of the harbingers. Sometimes they seem to go out of their way to find ridiculous ways to ignore them. Chambers says there is no sycamore at Ground Zero, for instance. But in actual manifested literal material real reality, there IS a sycamore at Ground Zero -- or was. It appears he hasn't read the book or hasn't researched the facts connected with it. They are certainly real. There are pictures of them out there, pictures of the uprooted sycamore, of the spruce that replaced it, of the bronze sculpture of the sycamore roots, of the quarried cornerstone, reports of and videos of the speeches made by various American leaders and so on and so forth. I've posted some of them myself earlier on.

HOWEVER: Here's where the down side of making an important reality into a fiction should probably be acknowledged. If you listen to the interviews of Jonathan Cahn and the talk he gave at a Messianic conference back in 2005 (all at You Tube), which I posted a few times earlier, you aren't likely to get all caught up in the truth-versus-fiction confusion, but this apparently can happen with the book --for some people anyway.

The harbingers are the ONLY point of the story, they are Real Reality that carries a message I think must be recognized as obviously from God Himself once you appreciate them, but this probably comes through much more clearly in the talk and interviews than the book.

I don't think this excuses the critics from their responsibility to think through what obviously they've simply impulsively reacted to instead. You have to start from the reality of the harbingers to get the message. If you first grasp that much you are not likely to go off into the extremes of accusation of dire theological failure as the critics do.

AFTER you get that essential message, THEN you could reasonably go on and consider whether it helps or detracts from the message to create fictional characters, and whether the Prophet character might imply something a Christian would be better off not implying. That could be a reasonable position to take.

But again, the harbingers themselves ARE the story. If you don't get that you miss The Harbinger completely.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Harbinger critic DeYoung may be a false teacher to a very serious degree.

The pastor at Calvary Chapel of Appleton, Wisconsin has written
An Open Letter to the Berean Call
in response to T A McMahon's harsh review of Jonathan Cahn's book, The Harbinger.

Short of reproducing the entire article here I haven't been able to find a particular passage to highlight to get across the gist of the message. He covers a lot of ground. Unless I rethink this, all I can do is recommend that the whole thing be read at the link.

I do have something to say about one tangential point pastor Dwight made, however, about Jimmy DeYoung's theology. I've already been coming to the conclusion that he and David James and probably T A McMahon as well are at least flirting with a cultic point of view that may even be a heresy, in their insistence that the Old Testament not be applied to our own times. But beyond that, this article reveals that DeYoung has actually taught what could rightly be considered a very dangerous heresy, that those who take the Mark of the Beast can repent with impunity:
I would also like to know how Jimmy DeYoung can state in interviews and a local appearance that once a person receives the mark of the beast they can repent and become “unmarked”, because God would understand them wanting to feed their family. This was spoken by him at an event here in our area, and our women’s ministry head heard it. He has also said this on Brannon Howse’s radio program, specifically on September 28, 2011. This completely goes against the clear teaching of Scripture in Revelation 14:9-11, and in my opinion is ignoring the warning for such who do so in Revelation 22:19. He is falsely telling people that they can be saved after they take it, completely naive to what it means eternally to do so. How can this be? Can we agree that DeYoung’s unscriptural position on that is far more dangerous than anything Jonathan has written?
Well, you've got my agreement for what it's worth. This is scary stuff. The Lord is giving a test here -- Will you be faithful to Me or choose to save your own life when push comes to shove in this evil world? To save your own life, as Jesus taught, is to lose it. LOSE it. To choose any kind of comfort in this life over Him is an insult to Him and a sad failure of faith.

Christians down through the centuries have suffered and died rather than betray our Lord. John Bunyan in prison was in the position of abandoning his wife and children if he refused to obey the law [made by the Romanist king Charles II] against preaching outside the Anglican church, when recanting would have allowed him to be released from prison, but he committed his family to the Lord rather than betray Him.

Yet DeYoung would teach this bit of fleshly worldliness that God puts feeding one's family above faithfulness to Him?

Did the prophet Daniel stop his practice of praying to God when King Darius signed a decree that all must petition no-one but himself on pain of death?

For two millennia Christians have been challenged with the choice "Recant or die" -- get burned at the stake or suffer torture at the hands of the Inquisition, "Worship Caesar or die" -- get eaten by lions in the arena or burned as a human torch in Nero's gardens.

Take the Mark of the Beast or die is going to be the last challenge. It's a choice between Christ and Antichrist. Will you trust Him enough to die for Him?

Truly we live in a time of seriously compromised Christianity.

Beginning to suspect that The Harbinger could turn out in some contexts to be a divider of the sheep from the goats. Brannon Howse and others who have been accepting of DeYoung's teachings need to do some serious rethinking.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No, the Old Testament was NOT written only for Israel but also for us

On his latest radio show, Brannon Howse discusses a meeting called Evangelical Immigration Table, in which a motley collection of evangelicals and others gathered to promote the acceptance of illegal aliens. That's a sad development in itself, but what prompted me to blog on it was the fact that they justify this action by a couple of verses in Leviticus:
Lev 19:33-34 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. [But] the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.
Their take on it is ridiculous. There is certainly no call to treat illegal aliens as if they were citizens, because they are not, and as Matthew Henry points out in his commentary, the condition was that they worship the God of Israel. Idolators are not to be welcomed. Our aliens are alien not only by culture but by opposition to American values in many respects.

But that's another discussion.

The main thing I want to mention is Brannon Howse's assertion that they are wrong to base their ideology on a passage in the Old Testament for the simple reason that what was written to Israel was meant only for Israel. "We are not Israel. Let's not take verses that apply to Israel and say they apply to everybody and they apply to America."

This strange principle is one I've been encountering recently in the discussions about The Harbinger, which the critics from the very pro-Israel school of thought denounce for supposedly equating America with Israel.

It's finally become clear to me that this is really a sort of cultic point of view, perhaps even a heresy. It flies in the face of very familiar basic Christian teaching I would have thought the entire church took for granted. Of course we apply the Old Testament to ourselves and to our own times, and there's nothing odd if it turns out to specifically apply to a nation such as America either. That's how we learn that God judges nations for violations of His Law and that America is under judgment. Nobody applies it literally where it refers to the specific context of ancient Israel, but there is always an important principle we can take from even the most culture-specific lesson. This passage for instance is a good teaching against xenophobia or cultural chauvinism, an attitude that can be found in all times and places. It has nothing to do with illegal aliens who are in violation of the law.

It seems that Brannon Howse has been taking his cue on this from his friend and frequent guest, Jimmy DeYoung. He might want to consider consulting some other sources.

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is talking about the experiences of the Israelites and using them as an example for the church. The message is summed up in verse 11:
1Cr 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
And another relevant New Testament verse is:
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Brannon's comments on the Evangelical Immigration Table are as usual illuminating, things we need to know, but this false idea about how we are to use the Old Testament mars the teaching.

Conversation with a critic of Jonathan Cahn

Somebody who used to be part of Jonathan Cahn's church contacted me to tell me why I shouldn't be defending his book over the critics like TA McMahon. It was mostly about Rabbi Cahn as a personality and leader of a church, which as far as I can see doesn't have anything to do with the merits of the book itself, so I'm not going to comment on any of that.

[Just to be clear, of course I take such attacks on personality with a huge grain of salt. Personality clashes happen in the church as much as outside it. I don't want to discuss all that but just one hint: I believe the very personality traits that are specifically related to a person's spiritual gifts can be a problem for some people whose minds don't operate in the same patterns. That's why we're admonished to be patient with one another and submit to one another and regard others as better than ourselves. It doesn't come naturally, it can only come through the Holy Spirit.]

In any case, after hearing him out I have the same opinion about the critics and the book I already had.

He hadn't read the book but was sure the critics are right who say Cahn misused scripture. He also seems to be convinced that the harbingers must be some kind of illusion. I told him he should read the book and he said he plans to so maybe that will change his mind.

Well, Rabbi Cahn did not misuse scripture and the claims that he did don't hold water. It's absurd to suggest that he could have thought that Isaiah consciously wrote to a future America, he certainly did not equate America's covenants with Israel's or suggest any kind of replacement of Israel by America. He certainly didn't say anything to link him with the Mormon heresy of The Covenant which Jimmy DeYoung and David James have been insinuating he did. Apparently the overarching objection that leads to such nonsensical accusations is the bizarre idea that we are not to apply the Old Testament to ourselves in our time -- "It was for Israel, period." This in itself is an aberrant idea even approaching heresy. None of this got discussed with the person I'm talking about here, but these are the main criticisms of Rabbi Cahn's supposed misuse of scripture as I understand it and they're all false.

As for the harbingers being some kind of illusion, I asked him to give me a scenario how that might be the case and he suggested that there could have been many trees downed by the falling towers so that if you focus only on a particular one you give a false impression of something uncanny that is really just selective attention. It's a reasonable suspicion if you don't know anything about the harbingers, but if you do -- certainly if you really think honestly and carefully about them -- you are going to have to admit that each of them DOES carry the uncanny implications the book claims for them. Just concerning the sycamore, its having been named after the sycamores of the Middle East which connects it with Isaiah 9:10, its placement in the graveyard of the church where George Washington and his government prayed for the nation, the same church that was the original owner of the land where the twin towers had been built and was now Ground Zero; the fact that a great public to-do was made over that sycamore, its roots being put on display as a memorial to 9/l1, then memorialized in bronze and placed beside the main sanctuary of that church which has a Wall Street address, then replaced by the same kind of tree Israel vowed in Isaiah 9:10 to replace their fallen sycamores -- there's no way this is some kind of illusory mental manipulation to make it merely appear to be significant. It simply IS significant.

He also wanted to dismiss the speeches by the politicians who quoted Isaiah 9:10 as the same sort of illusion, because lots of people could have quoted that same passage. Well, as a matter of fact, lots didn't, although lots did echo the attitude of defiance that the verse expresses. But if lots HAD quoted it that would only increase rather than decrease the indictment of America for that defiant attitude. And as I keep harping on in recent blogs on this subject, you can't treat their quoting this passage in terms of the leaders' conscious intentions and try to deny that the message was one of defiance, because merely quoting the passage straight, thinking of it as reassuring, shows that they themselves share the attitude of defiance in their heart of hearts. "We will rebuild" IS that attitude of defiance in the absence of a recognition of 9/11 as God's judgment on the nation. That's the attitude the majority of Americans had at the time, and the leaders had it too OR they would have preached the verse from an entirely different perspective: they would have preached it as pastor David Wilkerson preached it, as a clear indictment of the nation for refusing to acknowledge God's judgment in the attack of 9/11 or recognize it as a warning call to repentance of the nation's sins and rejection of God. Just as The Harbinger shows, for American leaders to quote that verse is for them to make that attitude of defiance official on behalf of the nation.

This person also said that we don't need the harbingers, the verse itself teaches us that the nation is in defiance of God, and as Christians we know it is anyway without a particular verse to tell us so. This is quite true up to a point, except that, as I recall, the majority of Christians and even pastors at the time of 9/11 denied that it was God's judgment flat out, often rather belligerently, and the messages from pulpits across the nation were about comforting the people, which is of course necessary and right in a time of disaster, but that was the ONLY message, no message of God's judgment on the nation, except by an extreme minority, who were denounced for it.

But be that as it may, you still have to explain why these uncannily literal signs or harbingers did in fact "manifest" in America as they in fact did. There is no humanly possible way they could have been engineered to occur, I don't see how they could be the product of any kind of illusion or magical thinking, and I can't think of any other explanation for them than that God Himself did it all.

One thing that the conversation at issue here did bring up for me is that I have had my own misgivings about the book quite apart from its central message, which to my mind is indisputable.

One problem is the hype I've mentioned more than once here. It still bothers me to see a Christian message I think of as coming from God packaged as some sort of science fiction extravaganza might be. If anything such a message should be understated so that its merits will shine all the brighter. Dramatizing it cheapens it or at least obscures it. Just the tone of "an ancient mystery" that holds the "secret to America's future" would ordinarily be enough of a hint to me that whatever the book is about needn't be taken seriously. It detracts from the seriousness of its message.

And although I've accepted the author's reasons for fictionalizing it -- and it is also good to be reminded that Pilgrim's Progress is also fiction -- I still have the same concern that fictionalizing it detracts from its importance and its truth.

There's no doubt that it's helped give it a wide audience, however.

McMahon did complain about its being fictionalized, but that's about as far as I'm in agreement with him about his criticism of the book.