Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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.

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