Friday, August 31, 2012

Rocks and Trees and Speeches and Prayers of Hope and Comfort or Defiance of God?

I'm still reeling a bit from that last post, especially seeing that David James wasn't alert to the false theology of St. Paul's even through their mushminded sentimentality if nothing else, certainly their utter lack of a gospel context of any sort whatever, but also that he allowed himself to suspect that perhaps the idea of the "divine in all of us" was REALLY from Jonathan Cahn himself although it couldn't be confirmed. That hits me as really low.

But the main problem is that if David James and the other critics don't understand that it is defiance of God after He has brought judgment against us to try to comfort the nation with symbols of "hope" and promises to rebuild, perhaps it's hopeless to try to get the message across. This is a failure of spiritual discernment, or perhaps, also a failure of biblical hermeneutics, to hand them back their own criticism. That is, since their hermeneutic makes it impossible to apply Isaiah 9:10 to America despite its being such a perfect fit, they are going to be blind to the whole message of The Harbinger for that reason. Or perhaps it's theology: if you aren't committed to the view that God is sovereign over all things, in control of absolutely everything, you may fail to recognize disasters as the work of God, and in that case you may also fail to see that attempts to offer hope and comfort on the basis of human strength alone amount to defiance of God.

This in fact seems to describe the majority "Christian" response to 9/11 at the time, which is exactly what The Harbinger is intended to expose, exactly what the harbingers themselves are meant to sear into the collective American mind if anyone can be made to pay attention.


Cahn is dead-on right that the spirit of America's reaction to 9/11 is defiance of God, just as it is described in Isaiah 9:10. If you really do have discernment you should have known that without the revelation of The Harbinger, but it seems to me the revelation must have been sent to open some eyes, which must be understood as God's merciful condescension to a spiritually dull people if so. The vow to rebuild, restated in so many ways by so many American leaders, even actually quoting Isaiah 9:10 itself in the delusion that this is a positive and reassuring statement of national hope and pride; the fatuous sentimental delusion of making a bronze memorial of the roots of the fallen sycamore tree as if such a creepy image could by any stretch be an omen of anything good whatever; and planting the wishfully misnamed Tree of Hope, all of these things are unwitting testimonies to God's judgment against the nation rather than the positive symbols they were intended to be. They all reflect Isaiah 9:10 despite the critics' bizarre and hairsplitting attempts to undermine the obvious connections. Cahn has nailed it. James and the other critics are missing it completely.

I looked up some scriptures that it seems to me apply to the kind of thinking that treats these events as symbols of hope rather than symbols of God's judgment against the nation:

The theme is RITES AND PRAYERS AND EMPTY WORDS IN THE ABSENCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. I'm thinking here of the sad refrain "God bless America" that was sung and said so often in the wake of 9/11, typical of America's appeal to God without acknowledging God's warning in that attack that we are out of His will. The only right thing we could possibly do under those circumstances is repent, as The Harbinger preaches over and over and over. Acknowledge the nations sins and do what we can to turn the country back to Him.

Prayer is useless when we are out of God's will. He will not listen. The story of the defeat of the Israelites at Ai because of the sin of Achan comes to mind:
Jos 7:10-13 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, [but] turned [their] backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, [There is] an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
Oh but we aren't ancient Israel, are we? I guess that means that if WE commit sins God won't judge us the same way but will still listen to our fatuous prayers even while we're tolerating idolatrous religions as equal to God (and those making such prayers are part of those false religions), murdering our unborn in the tens of millions and up to our ears in unrighteous laws and legalized immoralities of every kind? Right. THOSE things only bothered God if ISRAEL committed them. I dunno, though, maybe we could TRY it. Stop asking God to bless this corrupt nation, get rid of an accursed object or two and see if it helps.

Here's a similar message from God to Israel (oh but far be it from me to suggest it might have implications for modern America. No, I'm just including it here because, well, because. Oh well.)
Isa 1:13-17 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them]. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
The blood of the unborn is on our hands, God is sick of our empty ceremonies like dedicating a rock to rebuild what He knocked down to call our attention to our sins, like planting a "tree of hope" where He uprooted a sycamore to call attention to our sins, and praying over it too, prayers for God to bless a sinning nation with not the slightest intention of doing anything to make the nation obedient to His will. Oh but that's all just for Israel. God loves America even though we've removed His Commandments from our view and from our laws and now have laws almost reversing them. Right. It was just those bad Muslims who attacked us, that had nothing to do with God. Right. We're going to rebuild and God will bless us. Right.
Jer 7:9-16 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen [it], saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which [was] in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto [this] house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, [even] the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
The abominations America commits in His house such as that abomination of an ecumenical prayer service in the National Cathedral that G W Bush assembled right after 9/11, with all the false religions including Islam that he called "the religion of peace" and Catholicism whose Pope he said reminded him of God. God has said He doesn't hear the prayers of those who deny Him and follow other gods. And I don't know if St. Paul's, the church where George Washington and his team prayed for the nation was a true church back then but it certainly isn't now and its clergy offer prayers that are an abomination in God's ears, and ceremonies performed with empty idolatrous words that deny Him and celebrate human works. Our churches and the nation as a whole are following all kinds of other gods, and the nation has legalized all kinds of sins including adultery and stealing and murder but we still "stand before Him in His house" as if we are "delivered to do all those abominations in His house." But we expect God to "bless America."

And the prophet Amos gives a similar message:
Amos 5:21-27 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept [them]: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name [is] The God of hosts.
And again, of course we mustn't take this to apply to America because we don't observe the same feast days that Israel did so God must not hate OUR feast days, and we don't offer offerings any more as Israel did, and we don't sing vain songs to God, and we don't sacrifice to false gods and besides He can't send US into captivity beyond Damascus so OBVIOUSLY none of this applies to America.

Just one last thought. Was 9/11 REALLY God's judgment on America?
Amos 3:6 Shall there be calamity in a city, and the LORD hath not done [it]?
We need a new Protestant Reformation. Send us fearless preachers of Your gospel, Lord, to turn this nation back to You, Your true Gospel that overthrows darkness, turns hearts to righteousness and brings people into Your Kingdom by the blood of Christ, God in human flesh who died to pay for our sins. THIS is how You would bless America, Lord, if You would have such mercy on us.

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 4: Tree of Hope or Defiance of God?

(This is a very rough post because it turned out there was so much that needed to be covered, took me most of the day to get the information together and I haven't yet fully commented on all of it or edited it either. But I wanted to post it in its rough form anyway. That usually helps me see what I need to do next.)

I'm beginning to think that much of this sort of hairsplitting irrelevance must come from the simple fact that these critics, including James, did not see 9/11 as God's judgment before The Harbinger came out and don't habitually think in terms of calamities as God's judgment, as I tend to do. A major reason I have taken such an interest in The Harbinger is that I did see it that way and Cahn's revelation of the harbingers hit me as a literal manifestation of that fact, which I've speculated comes perhaps as a way to wake up those who didn't recognize it as God's judgment in the first place. Perhaps it has awakened some, but those who rejected the judgment interpretation at the time, and are inclined to deny that SORT of interpretation as a general rule, may be simply elaborating their position in this strange attempt to find fault with the book.

The next subject James gets into under this heading of the Erez Tree particularly demonstrates this frame of mind. Here James is attacking the very heart of the message of The Harbinger, in fact the very heart of Isaiah 9:10. This is a theme that comes up in the context of other harbingers as well, but here it concerns the understanding of the planting of the Norway spruce in the place of the uprooted sycamore.
The third major problem with Cahn's theory of The Erez Tree harbinger concerns Israel's attitude and unmitigated act of defiance. Israel wanted to show the Assyrians that their attacks had neither permanently destroyed the nation nor their resolve to survive all attempts to annihilate them. Yet Israel also knew that the Assyrians were merely instruments in the hands of God who was severely judging them. Their intentional defiance was ultimately directed at the Lord.

Likewise, Cahn portrays the placement of the Tree of Hope (the Norway spruce) at Ground Zero as an equally significant act of defiance toward God. This is despite the complete lack of supporting evidence. Those at the ceremony simply were not defying God. They were not even necessarily showing defiance toward America's enemies at that point in time. They were focused on bringing a message of comfort and hope to the soul of a nation that had not fully recovered from 9/11.[THFOF p. 106]
Where does James get this idea that Israel's defiance was intentional? Isaiah 9:9 says they determined to rebuild "in the pride and arrogance of their hearts," but what's to say that they consciously intended to defy God any more than America did? Are we supposed to assume that because they were Israel who had been so favored by God that they would know they were defying God but that we in modern America wouldn't, although the people doing the ceremony over the Tree of Hope were supposedly Christians who ought to know the ways of God? Not to mention that most of us were raised with SOME sense of our Biblical heritage which also leaves us no excuse. Even further, that even the heathen who have had no exposure to the Bible are said in scripture to be without excuse as God's handiwork is apparent to all in some sense.

Seems to me that Israel's intention to rebuild could just as well be described in the words James applied to America, as being
focused on bringing a message of comfort and hope to the soul of a nation that had not fully recovered from [the Assyrian attack.]
Did not Israel's false prophets customarily prophesy "Peace, peace, when there is no peace?" Isn't that the essence of their false prophecies down the centuries, that they denied the hand of God in judgment, denied the prophecies of judgment to come that were given by the true prophets, even persecuted and murdered the true prophets because they didn't like their messages?

How is this different from America's blindness to God's hand in 9/11 and the frequently expressed anger at those few who dared to tell us that's what it was? God's people Israel were often guilty of failing to see God's workings and failing to listen to God's prophets. This doesn't mean they were any more "intentional" in their failure than America has been since 9/11 -- it's the way of the flesh, the common tendency of fallen humanity to follow our own fallible minds and forget God, and even God's people fail in this way if we are not careful. This way of the flesh IS prideful and arrogant by its very nature, as we regard ourselves as independent of God, not thinking of Him at all most of the time.

The angry denial that 9/11 was God's judgment of America is the same kind of pride and arrogance as Isaiah describes in the hearts of the people of ancient Israel. But the denial doesn't have to be angry to be defiance of God. Even the Tree of Hope is a way of crying "peace, peace, when there is no peace." When what was needed was acall to turn back the sins of the nation that had brought God's judgment against us. The planters of the Tree of Hope were indeed seeking to bring “a message of hope and comfort” to the nation. As were the political leaders Daschle and Edwards when they quoted Isaiah 9:10, as were all America’s leaders who promised one way or another that we would rebuild.


This IS the attitude of defiance of God but James doesn’t recognize it. He says that Cahn “disregards” the intention to bring comfort and hope “in favor of trying to create more support for his theories:
[The Prophet] “The Erez Tree becomes another symbol of the nation and its defiance – a living symbol of their confidence in their national resurgence, their tree of hope.”

[Kaplan] “A tree of hope, but not a good hope.”

[The Prophet] “No,” he replied, “a prideful, self-centered, and godless hope. What they saw as a tree of hope was, in reality, a harbinger of judgment.”

[Kaplan] “They replaced the fallen Sycamore with the Erez Tree!”

[The Prophet] “The sign of a nation’s false hope and defiance before God.”

[Kaplan] “It’s like something out of a movie . . . it’s surreal.”

[The Prophet] “Except that it’s real.”

[Kaplan] “Who was behind the decision to do that?” I asked.

[The Prophet] “No one,” he answered. “No one in the sense of any one person making it all happen or trying to fulfill the prophecy.”

[Kaplan] “No one had any idea what they were doing?”

[The Prophet] “No one.”
That is the essence of the message of The Harbinger right there, and James misses it by a million miles. He’s quoted this dialogue in order to declare:
Cahn imposes a clearly wrong interpretation on the events surrounding the placing of the Tree of Hope and misrepresents those who were involved. However, even two years after 9/11, the spirit at the dedication ceremony at St. Paul’s Chapel was consistent with what had happened at the church during the year following the terrorist attacks. In September 2002, National Geographic published an article by a minister at the church in which he described his experience during that year:
More than 5,000 people used their special gifts to transform St. Paul’s into a place of rest and refuge. Musicians, clergy, podiatrists, lawyers, soccer moms, and folks of every imaginable type poured coffee, swept floors, took out the trash, and served more than a half a million meals. Emerging at St. Paul’s was a dynamic I think of as a reciprocity of gratitude, a circle of thanksgiving – in which volunteers and rescue and recovery workers tried to outdo each other with acts of kindness and love, leaving both giver and receiver changed. This circle of gratitude was infectious, and I hope it continues to spread. In fact, I hope it turns into an epidemic.
That minister’s heart is clearly reflected in the words he spoke just a few days after the attacks: “But we would gladly give up St. Paul’s to have saved just one life across the street.” Even someone who might have sharp theological disagreements with whatever might be preached on any given Sunday at that church can readily see there was no spirit of defiance against God in this place – intentional or otherwise. It is simply unreasonable and misleading to suggest that the placement, dedication and lighting ceremonies for the Tree of Hope were any different.

The 21-foot Norway spruce was lowered into the ground on November 22, 2003. This was followed by a prayer service and lighting ceremony on November 29, when St. Paul’s was filled to capacity. Rather than an unintentional act of defiance toward God, it was an intentional act of worship and reliance on Him. Although some might argue that many there were not actually worshiping the God of the Bible, when it comes to assessing motives the important point is that thehy believed that they were. It is not their theology that is in question.

Many internet articles purport to quote part of the prayer of dedication as including a reference to "the divine in all of us." Of course, if true, this statement would be heresy. However, as of this writing, despite extensive research by this author, the oirgianl source of that prayer has not been located. It appears that most if not all writers my be referencing a message by Jonathan Cahn at his church, but this has not been confirumed. Unfortunately, the endnote reference on pate 94 of The Harbinger, which is also said to be a quogte from the dedication ceremony, only mentions the name of the speaker and cites no source for the quote.

However, even if true, it would be difficult to characterize this as defiance with a malicious heart. Although Israel’s defiance would have fallen into the category of an intentional ‘high-handed sin, “ such was not the case at the dedication of the Tree of Hope.

The plaque at the site of the Tree of Hope has the following inscription:
Ground Zero workers helped plant this Norway spruce on November 22, 2003, in place of a giant sycamore that was struck down during the collapse of the World Trade Center. In a special thanksgiving service, St. Paul’s dedicated the new tree as “The Tree of Hope,” a reminder and affirmation of the power of love in the face of tragedy.
I copied out all of that verbatim because I just couldn't believe my eyes and wanted to be sure I was seeing what I was seeing. There is absolutely NOTHING in anything James quotes from the minister at that church or that plaque that couldn't have been said by a Mormon or a New Age practitioner or a Unity believer or even an atheist.

What James misreads as apparently a true Christian spirit in "that minister's heart" I read as the soul of antichrist defiance of God itself because it denies God's judgment on the nation and prides itself on its supposed compassion at the human level. I can't find the speech dedicating the Tree of Hope anywhere online either, but I did find a page at the Trinity Wall Street Church site, of which the St. Paul's Chapel is a part, that clearly indicates it would be in keeping with that church's views to use such a phrase as "the divine in all of us."

When I first started researching the background for The Harbinger I found sermons at this Trinity Church that clearly misrepresent the gospel of Jesus Christ, denying His Deity among other things. I wish I had linked them at the time, but there's plenty enough at that site to show that it is a screamingly apostate church. For instance I just found a blog that identifies the theology there as Liberation Theology or at least some form of the Social Gospel, and as far as I looked I couldn't find one single statement of the true gospel of salvation in Christ, but a lot of existentialist New Agey gobbledygook that could almost be said to deify The Poor.

Below I've collected a hodgepodge of quotes that I'll try to get back and clean up, but if you read through them you'll find him talking only about social issues, about how he's writing a book about Barack Obama, he speaks positively about Roman Catholicism, talks about "gay rights," and especially carries on about The Poor. I've bolded the most UNChristian parts.
The Fullness

Preaching as Liberation Theology with the Poor in Mind
Every church community faces the task of authentic proclamation of the good news of God in Christ. The issue of poverty remains part of the fabric of human life. It does seem that in the words of Jesus, we will always have the poor with us. However, what distinguishes the church from other social institutions is how the church addresses this reality. How does the church place the poor as one of its prized treasures or concerns? Even in affluent communities, how does the church remind its people of the need to be attentive to the needs of the poor?

I base my preaching on the Good News of God in Christ: one that is good news for the poor, one in which the poor know they are the recipients of the reign of God, a democracy in which they are subjects. And I see myself as participating in God’s continuing action of sending manna for food, the prophets for moral nourishment, and the Bread of Life as Eucharist for the world.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist is called the Mass – it is from the Latin Word for dismissal. This word serves as a reminder that, as much as worship is about gathering as community, it is just as much about, going into the world to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.

So whenever we pray, whenever we worship, we should view ourselves as participating in the life, work, mission and love of God. Our liturgies should call us into a work for justice, freedom, peace and righteousness. Liturgies remind us of that profound call to love God and neighbor with our whole, mind, heart and strength.

Years ago, while serving as a missionary in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, I was made very aware of the power of liturgy to transform human lives. Throughout much of Latin America during the fifties, sixties and early seventies, many of these countries poorest people did not means of getting their voices heard through the regular political channels. Many of them turned to the churches, primarily the Roman Catholic Churches and this led to the development of the base communities and the Liberation Theology Movement.

After the gospel was read, the dramatization of the gospel began. With the dramatization, I noticed something in the gospel that after thirty years of reading I had never noticed before. A group of three women entered on stage carrying buckets for water, two of them fainted along the way, and only the Samaritan woman got to the well. On the other end of the stage the disciple are complaining that they are hungry. Jesus sends all of them to go and buy food. He walks towards the center of the stage. The narrator shouted the following: Lack of water and food increasingly divide our families and get in the way of the family staying together in love. We need easier access to water and we need more basis food supplies. We are thirsty, we are starving.”

The dramatization showed the Samaritan woman highlighting all her needs: lack of water, losing her husbands to the city life, struggling to make ends meet and telling her whole life to Jesus. Jesus listened and promised to help her and to help her village. They ended the dramatization with Jesus and the disciples meeting the woman and all the villagers. They get together and plant corn and dig a well. The closing scene showed the disciples baptizing the villagers and the whole church standing to sing, “Amazing Grace.”

I remember thinking, “Wow. Now this is what you call liturgy!”

The president says his view continues to evolve. I recently heard a commentator say that the president is too “young, hip, cool, and smart not to believe in gay marriage”. I believe and agree with that. Barack Obama, I believe, believes that gays and lesbians should marry. That said, on this issue; I think the president’s claim to be evolving does not pose a huge problem. In this day and age, where actions speak louder than words; the president’s action show that he supports gay marriage. Was it St Francis who said, “Preach the gospel at all time and when necessary use words”. I guess one could say, preach the gospel of gay marriage at all times and when necessary answer people’s questions about whether you believe in gay marriage. The kind of evolution practiced by the president offers more hope of justice than many “evolutions” present in our churches and society today. Let the reader remember, we are all evolving…

For me, the Incarnation (God occupying a human for in the person of Jesus) stands as the most sensibly and mysterious belief. God became a human being, Jesus Christ, a man, invited us all to become like God. This is good news, gospel. To believe in the gospel is to believe that God occupies every human being and God loves the poor in a special way.

In the book, Barack says, “Blessed are those who live a preferential love for the poor…. Blessed are those who die before their time because they are poor. Woe to those who advocate solving the economic woes [by putting burdens] on the backs of the poor. They advocate balancing the debt by cutting the social programs and refusing to tax the richest in the country.”

On May 1, I had the great honor of being part of a Trinity Institute program called May Day Teach-In, an attempt to address many of the issues facing our nation/world and the issues raised by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Religious and secular leaders were invited to discuss the issues of justice and the poor; in a context described as part convention, rally, and renewal.

Our first presenter, the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Minister Emeritus, The Riverside Church, New York, reminded us of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who preached against and pointed to the triple threat/evils of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism. Then, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, rector, Trinity Wall Street, spoke about the unity of actions between TWS and OWS to confront poverty and raise the issues.

Master of Ceremonies, Charles B. Strozier, professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and musicians Peader and Pio helped introduce and pave the way for the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, rector, Trinity Wall Street, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Diego IbaƱez, Joyce Carol Oates, Bryan K. Parsons, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, James W. Jones and I to offer thoughs about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It was a hopeful discussion with many strong challenges.

I wanted to summarize my thoughts

•I wish Trinity Church had started the Movement. I wish we had been the ones to give birth to the Movement.
•Reminded the group that our greatest spiritual call is to love the divine in the other by caring for the poor and those most in need. Any worship where the poor do not receive preferential option and love borders on idolatry.
•It is idolatrous to disrespect the poor.
•Then I told a story that emphasized the importance of giving away what is precious to us.
•Then I shared the words of a holy man, I was honored to have met, Dom Helder Camara from brazil who said, “When I feed the poor they call me a saint; when I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist.”
•How I wish, I said, we could all be called communists.
•Then I shared a story about the importance of not being afraid.
•I reminded the group that Jesus spoke a lot more about money than we are willing to admit or are aware.
•I encouraged all of us to be grateful for the challenges that come from the OWS Movement.
•Then I mentioned I wished we were able to do the conference in the streets instead of the studio.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 3 continued: taxonomy and evolutionary theory

This is a continuation of the last post.

Now. Even if the trees are each the original created Kind, this does not eliminate all similarities that can be observed among them and anybody can see that ALL conifers have similarities to each other, while experts can apparently see that certain conifers can be grouped together as having more similarities to one another than they do to others outside the group. So presumably the Pinacea family contains conifers that are particularly similar to each other according to expert assessment.

Cahn did his homework and he found scientific and linguistic similarities that ought to be regarded as supporting the harbinger claim. Again, in Hebrew apparently "erez" IS often used to denote different kinds of trees, despite the fact that the English Bibles have chosen to translate it "cedar." Hebrew is the underlying language, or are we to trust a translation over the original? Again, there are at least two places in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were wandering in the desert of Sinai, that the commentators object that the tree so designated could not possibly be a cedar because cedars can't grow there. And again, even the scientific Latin classification system shows a family resemblance between the cedar and the Norway Spruce that ought to confirm the intuitive sense of their similarity.

But the intuitive sense of the similarity is really the main case to be made for it in my opinion. Most of us reading the book simply SEE the similarity between the cedar and the spruce -- tall evergreen trees with needles and cones -- and the sycamores which have the same name and a similar appearance as well -- both being tall wide-branching leafy green trees. It's enough to confirm the connection between the harbingers and Isaiah 9:10 it seems to me. That is, it's enough to point us back to the message of national defiance of God in Isaiah 9:10, which is what it is meant to do IF it is in fact a "harbinger" as Cahn claims it is. The exactness the critics are calling for is inappropriate, it's hairsplitting, it's misleading. The apparent similarities are quite dramatic enough to serve the purpose. The very idea that there should be exactness from an ancient context to a modern one is rather odd. We read the Bible all the time to apply to our current situations without ever suspecting that it can't apply because our situations are not exactly like those of the ancient people.

Let's just finish off this theme from James:
Since The Harbinger purports to convey biblical truth, it seems very misguided to rely on an unbiblical theory of origins and development of life on earth to establish fulfilled prophecy.[THFOF p. 105]
Again, this is simply false, and misleading, like going out of his way to find something, anything, to object to. If there were a contradiction he'd have a point but there is no contradiction. Cahn simply does not use the Linnaean classification system in an evolutionary sense, to imply genetic descent. He never says anything to imply a common ancestor of the trees in question, he ONLY uses it to demonstrate the scientific recognition of similarities between certain trees, which is what the system was originally designed for.

Much of science DOES support the Bible if you are careful to avoid stepping on the semantic land mines planted by the evolutionists. But you have to first interpret the Bible correctly AND the science as well. As I argue in the previous post, reproductive isolation is not a sufficient definition of a Kind, and today representatives of the original Kinds aren't with us -- BECAUSE OF THE DEATH THAT ENTERED THE CREATION AT THE FALL (that's a BIBLICAL principle) -- but are represented by many varieties, some of which are reproductively isolated and some not. To fall into the reproductive-compatibility definition is in fact to fall into the evolutionists' way of thinking because that's how they define a species, although clearly that supposed species is simply a rare variation on the Kind that happens to have become genetically incompatible with the other members of the Kind. I don't claim to know a lot about genetics but I know enough to have an idea how this happens even within a given gene pool and I spend a LOT of time on my creationism blog explaining it. Yes, genetics is an extrabiblical science, but there's nothing in it that is inherently contradictory with the Bible and plenty that can be shown to elaborate Biblical facts. Again, if you are careful to avoid the evolutionist word traps. Same with the simple Latin classification of observed similarities between trees.

OK I'm repeating myself but it is hard to be sure I'm getting this said clearly.

James goes on in the same vein but with a slightly different emphasis:
Biblically, the ultimate question concerns both Isaiah's and the Lord's intent in Isaiah's prophecy. The text makes it clear that Isaiah was referring to replacing one specific kind of tree (fig-mulberry trees) with another specific kind of tree (cedars of Lebanon). He was not prophesying that just any tree that might be called a 'sycamore' in another language would be replaced by just any tree within the taxonomic rank of the Pinacea family, such as a Norway spruce.[THFOF pp. 105-06]
For some reason the phrase just popped into my mind:
The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
I guess I can't make too much of that but did want to report it for its expression of my own feeling as I read James' messages.

But again, the problem here is the recurrent problem with the critical perspective of James and so many of his fellow critics, the insistence that there can be no application of an Old Testament verse outside the context of ancient Israel, the odd insistence that any such application would have to be so exact ancient Israel itself would have to be recreated in the present.
Neither was Isaiah's prophecy a warning to be fulfilled with a couple of relatively insignificant symbolic events such as the exchange of one unimportant tree for another. The Assyrian army totally decimated the countryside, wiping out untold numbers of fig-mulberry trees across the land. In turn, Israel would replace them with the much stronger and more majestic cedars of Lebanon, symbolizing defiance and determination to return to her glory days.

It's puzzling how this could be identified as a precise match and literal fulfillment when there is no amazing scientific coincidence. Again, there is no match. There is no parellel. And there is no harbinger.
[THFOF p. 106]
Nothing Cahn writes implies anything about the PURPOSE of Isaiah's prophecy other than to describe the situation in ancient Israel, nothing to imply he thinks the prophecy itself was intended to be for America whether through "relatively insignificant symbolic events" or not. Again James is requiring an impossible exactness of situation to justify making any claims about the verse's application to America or to anything outside ancient Israel for that matter.

Once you've set such an irrational standard then you can go on to pronounce a failure to meet the standard as he does, as no match, no parallel, no harbinger. This is a sort of straw man. He's set up the argument in order to demolish it, but the truth of the match and the parallel and the harbinger exists in spite of his artificial requirements. This is what most of the book's readers immediately recognize, the matches, the parallels, the harbingers. It takes some strange reasoning to require more of them than is obvious.

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 3: Does taxonomic classification of trees support evolutionary theory?

James goes on with his discussion of the many faults he finds with Cahn's presentation about this particular harbinger.

Cahn's reasoning reveals that he is depending on the taxonomic classification system to make his case. The taxonomic system is based on a hierarchy of seven ranks for classifying all living things on earth, which are:

kingdom - phyla - class - order - family - genus - species.

The first problem with appealing to this classification system is that it is based exclusively on evolutionary theory. In addition, as evolutionary theory evolves, so does the classification system itself, and it can change significantly over time. A lack of consensus often exists about relationships within and between ranks... [T]he system can be very subjective.
As a matter of fact, the system of classification was invented at least a century before evolutionary theory came along so that it's not "based on" evolutionary theory at all. It was devised by a Swedish botanist named Linnaeus and is useful for organizing living things into recognizable classes in spite of differences of opinion and in spite of evolutionary theory. Linnaeus did offend Christians by classifying human beings along with "simians" as "manlike" on the basis of anatomic similarities, which gave a foundation for evolution when it came along, and now of course the system is used in the service of evolution, but it remains a simple classification system as well, and shouldn't be dismissed by Christians.

From Wikipedia:
Linnaeus believed that he was classifying God's creation and was not trying to express any deeper relationships. He is frequently quoted to have said God created, Linnaeus organized.
Today, yes, it is interpreted to support the assumption of genetic descent from one "species" to another, as in this statement quoted by James:
The taxonomic tree...tells us that humans and armadillos are related, but not closely. We share the same class, but belong to different orders.
To which James replies:
This directly contradicts the biblical view of the way God has grouped life on earth -- which is 'according to kind.' Humans are simply not related to armadillos in any way.
But remember that the system was originally designed simply to classify living things according to anatomic features and did not imply genetic descent. It doesn't have to imply it now either, and I must say it seems like a case of trying to find anything at all to pin on Cahn to make an issue of this.

James goes on to discuss the difference between taxonomic science and Biblical creation, quoting Genesis 1:11 and concluding that
...the biblical biological classification system has boundaries marked off by reproductive compatibility. Among animals, even within kinds, there are often reproductive dead-ends because of sterile offspring (such as mules). If organisms (in this case plants) are not compatible in the realm of reproduction, they constitute a different kind.
This is in fact not true. The problem with this understanding of Kinds is that there are many subspecies or varieties of different Kinds that are known to have descended from other populations of that same Kind, have acquired reproductive incompatibility with that group -- have become "reproductive dead-ends" as far as the whole population is concerned -- yet are not sterile like mules but "reproduce after their own kind" within their own population just as the original Kinds did. Science done in the name of evolution is going to misname and misunderstand everything they observe but sometimes they do manage to simply describe actual observed phenomena in the process. They call this formation of new varieties "speciation," and call the new population a new "species" although it is in fact a variety or subspecies. It belongs to the same Kind as its parent population though it has become reproductively isolated from it, and in some cases this is due to genetic differences that develop in such situations, without any impairment of the new "species" to reproduce within its own population.

I've argued this sort of thing on my Fantasy of Evolution blog over and over. We don't have the original Kinds from the Creation any more. Or, to be more accurate, we have them represented in many different varieties, and most probably none of them is much like the original created individuals. IF THERE HAD BEEN NO DEATH, WHICH ENTERED AS A RESULT OF THE FALL, THE ORIGINALS WOULD STILL BE LIVING, AND MANY OTHER THINGS WOULD BE DIFFERENT AS WELL. My main point here is that most, and probably all, of the Kinds have branched out into subspecies whose ancestors are no long living. These separately get called species by evolutionists if they can no longer interbreed with parent or sibling populations, or even if they are simply not inclined to interbreed -- that IS the evolutionist definition of a new "species," so it's not just a Biblical concept that applies to the original Kinds. They consider this to be proof of evolution from one species to another but from the creationist point of view that's an illusion, it's simply God's design for variation within each Kind playing itself out to its ultimate expression along one genetic path or another.

In fact, as I propose over and over at my creationism blog, each new subspecies involves a reduction in genetic variability that ultimately leads to the end of all ability to vary or "evolve" further.

One of the arguments believers in evolution like to bring against the Biblical Flood is that there are too many species to have fit on the ark. This is based on today's proliferating numbers of species as they define them, but the original Kinds were not so numerous, and the subspecies that had developed up to the time of the Flood must have retained a great level of genetic variability since they were the progenitors of all the subspecies that formed since the Flood.

So for instance, it's a question whether the "cat" Kind on the ark was represented by many different Kinds which might have included lions, tigers, cheetahs, bobcats, mountain lions, all the domestic breeds, and so on, or if these all "evolved" since the Flood from one pair of cats on the ark that wasn't necessarily like any of them but contained the genetic potential to produce all of them. I think the latter must have been the case for many reasons, but also because the evolutionists are right that if there were a dozen different Kinds of cats along with that many of every other animal there wouldn't have been room on the ark for them all.

And I believe that Population Genetics is a good basis for arguing this. Certainly the Flood would have eliminated a huge proportion of the genetic endowment of each Kind by killing all but the few left on the ark, a situation known as a genetic "bottleneck" or "founder effect" which if it occurs now can seriously deplete a new subpopulation of genetic possibilities and in fact bring further "evolution" to a complete end. A case in point is the cheetah, apparently the product of a bottleneck that cut it off reproductively from other cat subspecies and caused such a severe genetic depletion that it has no opportunities left to "evolve" within its own gene pool at all. This, I argue over and over, shows that the very occurrence of "evolution" ultimately leads to an inability to evolve at all -- "evolution defeats evolution." Of course evolutionists wishfully insist that mutations will rush in to save the day and speed the cheetah along to life as a different species, but the lack of evidence for such a possibility is pretty glaring, and believe me, I've argued all this in many ways on that other blog.

But such genetic depletion wouldn't have yet been the case with those on the ark or their descendants. According to the "fossil record," the variety of life forms within one species or Kind was enormous before the Flood and in many cases quite different from living forms today. What is the fossil record? It's the preserved remains of billions of living things that happen to be encased in layers of different kinds of rock -- such as you can see displayed in the walls of the Grand Canyon for instance. Evolutionists claim it records the development of one species into another over time, time according to them climbing from ancient to modern up the ladder of rock, as fossils of one type are found in a layer of rock either above or below fossils of a related "species." But logically, from a biblical point of view all the fossils in the "fossil record" are of creatures that lived before the Flood, and the layered sediments were produced by the action of the water in that Flood. Attempts to account for the layering on the theory of millions of years for each to be deposited are really absurd.

There IS a sort of "evolution" that does occur, in other words, which apparently demonstrates that each biblical Kind was designed to produce interesting new varieties, and this continues in the present. Think of the enormous number of different breeds of dogs, yet all ARE dogs. If a few of the breeds become incapable of breeding with others that doesn't make separate Kinds of them. It's not politically correct to talk of human "races" any more but it demonstrates the principle. We're all related to each other back to Adam and Eve and yet obviously the human race has varied in some rather striking ways involving differences in skin color, stature, and many other traits. Somehow the genetic potential for all variations of human beings was "in" the genetic endowment of Adam and Eve, and continued with great variability as well through Noah and his sons and daughters-in-law, who were the progenitors of all human beings today. The variety of human beings before the Flood should have been much greater than we've seen since the Flood, but even since the Flood it's clear that the genetic endowment of human beings survived even that severe genetic bottleneck with great variability, as did that of all the animals.

So why am I going into all this? Because David James' idea of the biblical Kinds doesn't square with reality. He treats each separate tree as a separate Kind because of course they all reproduce "after their own Kind." I don't know enough about plants to understand their reproductive systems but I'm aware that evolutionists treat them as "evolving" and undergoing "speciation" just as animals do, which suggests that they also have the built-in genetic potential to vary into different types that in some cases can lead to inability to breed with the "parent" population. In which case it would be highly improbable that ANY of them is the actual original Kind God planted at the Creation, the same as it is with animals, but varieties have branched out -- descended from-- the original in great abundance since then, just as we know is the case with animals. Meaning the different tree types within a Linnaean classification COULD be genetically related.

Which are descended from which I'd agree is probably impossible to determine in most cases. Darwin wrote interestingly about this (I have a post or two on that subject at the other blog), as he objected to the subjectivity of the standards for determining which population was a species and which a variety. In those days they still recognized that there WERE varieties of what they regarded as fixed Kinds or Species, although as Darwin made clear the designations were usually arbitrary and often fanciful except where a particular population was known from observation to have descended from another. Darwin of course changed all that with the notion that everything descended from everything else. And at my other blog I blame this partly on "creationist" biologists and geologists of the time who were not true to the Biblical record but had gone off in the fanciful directions Darwin rightly, yes, RIGHTLY, criticized.

All that information may not be necessary, I'm too tired right now to figure it out, but the point of writing it was to argue with James about his view of the biblical Kinds as if we have those same Kinds today.

However, perhaps none of that was really necessary to the main point, which is that the taxonomic system does NOT derive from evolutionary theory and doesn't HAVE to be used to defend the idea of universal descent. And Cahn only uses it as the neutral classification system it was originally intended to be. As most of us do. I think in terms of such classifications at times and I NEVER have the evolutionary explanation in mind.

But since there is such a thing as "microevolution" or descent with modification WITHIN the Kinds, it is possible depending perhaps on earlier reproductive systems that have stopped operating, that the Norway spruce, the cedar, the fir and the pine did all genetically descend from an original conifer if one wanted to make that case instead of merely taking the group as defined by anatomic similarities. It's possible. And if they are genetically related, having descended from an original parent type, the likelihood of any of them being a representative of the original created Kind is remote to nonexistent. (However, there are plenty of reasons to believe that plants are not biblically to be regarded as "living things" as animals are anyway. God did not order Noah to preserve them on the ark but left them to survive the Flood if they could by other means.)

But again, the important point here is that Cahn did not use the taxonomic system in any way that implies evolution, and it's only James' wrong assumption that it ALWAYS implies evolution that has fueled this particular argument against him.

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 2: Does "erez" only denote the cedar?

To answer the question whether Jonathan Cahn simply made up the equation between the Hebrew word erez and the whole family of trees called the Pinacea family, he sent me his notes on the subject that he took for the writing of his book. They are rough and when he has time maybe he could make them a bit easier to follow, but even in their present sketchy condition I think they demonstrate that there are many sources that affirm that erez does refer to the whole family. Its exclusive translation as "cedar" in the English Bibles may have to do at least partly with the many contexts which clearly point to that tree.

However, there do remain the verses in Leviticus and Numbers where erez was translated "cedar" and yet some commentators are quite definite that it couldn't have referred to the cedar of Lebanon because it doesn't grow in the desert where the Israelites were wandering at the time, thus making one clear reference to its use to refer to trees other than the cedar.

Strong's on the other hand insists that the word always refers to the cedar, as having firm roots not shared by the other members of the pine family, specifically arguing against Celsius who applied it to any conifer. So there is some disagreement.

Nevertheless the preponderance of reference material does support Cahn's contention that the word is generally applied to the broad category and not always the specific cedar.

He also told me that he has a cousin whose name in Polish was the name of a tree (which tree he didn't identify but apparently not a cedar) and when he moved to Israel they changed his name to Eres. Anecdotal of course but along with the following references a nice confirmation of the claim that in Hebrew the term is often used to refer to many trees and not just the cedar.

Here are the notes as he sent them to me, minus his various emphases which don't translate well into the Blogger software:
Here are a few of my notes from over 2000 pages of research

From Jamiesson Fausset and Brown - Classic Commentary on the Bible
ON Levitcus 14:4 Where speaks of CEDAR – EREZ in wilderness

“Cedrus Libani cannot be meant here, for that famous tree was not a native of the Sinaitic desert.

As the word eres is used in a wide sense to denote any CONIFER it has been supposed by many that the juniper (juniper oxycedrus) (((other is juniperus Phoenicia – same?))))) is referred to , as several varieties of that shrub are found growing abundantly in the clefts and crevices of the SInaitic mountains.

Quote from JF&B at BLB: cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop--The cedar here meant was certainly not the famous tree of Lebanon, and it is generally supposed to have been the juniper, as several varieties of that shrub are found growing abundantly in the clefts and crevices of the Sinaitic mountains. [I added this from Blue Letter Bible: Faith]
Another Source:
‘erez’ -applied in a loose way to allied trees, such as junipers and PINES

The entire entry on “cedar” on pages 197-198 reads as follows:

Large evergreen tree of Lebanon, prized for its use in the construction of public buildings;

generally, any EVERGREEN including the juniper bush. …..

The Hebrew ‘erez, rendered “cedar” in all English versions, is most likely a generic word for THE PINE FAMILY


Cedar (Hebrew: erez; Arabic [arz, “the latch) There are eleven groves of cedars on the Lebanon mountains, which have been visited by travelers recently……..

The reference to cedar-wood int eh Scripture do not always mean the cedar of Lebanon – as, for instance, when at Sinai (Leviticus 12:6).

The word means also the PINE, Cyprus, fir and juniper

Some plant names were used for more than one species, such as erez (cedar) for the true cedar, THE PINE, the tamarisk and probably the juniper, while other plants were given several names

HISTORY OF PHOENICIA – BY George Rawlingson, M.A. (1889)

[27] Ibid xxvii.5. The Hebrew /erez/probably covered other trees beside the actual cedar.... THE PINE would have been more suited for __than the cedar

THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK FO THE OLD TESTAMENT – R.Laird Harris – Gleason L. Archer, JR. Bruce K. Waltke

160 EREZ. CEDAR - A TREE OF THE PINE FAMILY, one which grows best in a high and dry region. The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 23a), says that the inhabitants of Palestine called ten different trees cedar.

Rab Judah said: There are four kinds of cedar – ((ARZEEM/EREZ plural))) cedar ((EREZ)), kedros.((KETROS))) Pinewood and cypress. [What is ] kedros? – R. Idra stated that in the school of R. Shila it was defined as mabliga, though others held that it is gulmish. He [Rab Judah] differs herein from Rabbah son of R. Huna; for Rabbah son of R. Huna reported that in the school of Rab it was stated that there are ten kinds of cedar ((,ARZEEM/EREZ))) (Included is PINE

CEDAR – Hebrew erez – the Cedrus Libani
Almost all the biblical mention of erez refer to the cedar of Lebanon, even when this is not explicitly stated. In Psalm 148:9 the reference to cedars (“fruitful trees and all cedars”) is apparently intended as a generic term for the various non-fruit bearing trees, THE EVERGREEN VARIETY of which, post-biblical literature, was denoted by the term erez. Four CONIFEROUS TREES (VARIETIES OF PINUS and C) were included under this term by some,

And 10 and even 24 types of EVERGREEN by others (RH 23a).


CEDAR – common name for the genus Cedrus three or four species of large trees native to mountainous areas of North Africa and Asia. Cedar trees belong to the pine family, the members of which have needle-like leaves and, like all confiers, bear their seeds on scales clustered into cones. … Although no true cedars are native to other regions…

The best known cedar is the cedar of Lebanon, mentioned often in the Odl Testament .. the Temple .. etc - it is native to Asia Minor,a nd today only a few original groves remain… Trees

The name “cedar” is also applied to other conifer trees E � e ' hE 8 ft:.25in;text-align:justify;mso-line-height-alt: 12.0pt;mso-hyphenate:none;tab-stops:-.5in'>Various Spruces

Various Pines




About 50 or so plants – in Pinaceae Family

About 40 different Families

Pinaceae Family includes:

Various Firs

Various Cedars

Various Spruces

Various Pines

PINE (Pinaceae)
Pine is the common name for thePInaceae family, which are resinous woody trees, normally found in northern temperate zones, and characterized by their needlelike, usually evergreen, leaves. The Pinaceae reproduce by means of cones rather thanflowers, and have winged seeds suitable for wind distribution. The PINACEA family is the largest of the CONIFERS

In 1745 and 1747, the 2 volumes Of CELSIUS’ “Hierobotanicon”. The latter are usually regarded as being among the foundation-stones of this study.

Celsius ‘Hierobotanicon,’ i. 106) it The word erez is used in a wide sense to denote any CONIFER

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree

On page 100, in his Chapter 10, The Ancient Mystery: The Nine Harbingers, David James has arrived at The Erez Tree. This is Harbinger Number Seven so I'm passing over the earlier ones for now.

He opens the topic with:
FACT CONCERNING ISRAEL: Israel planted valuable cedars of Lebanon to replace sycamores in defiance of the Assyrians who cut them down and in defiance of God who had sent them to judge the nation. *
Well, perhaps they did eventually plant them, but Isaiah 9:10, which is the focus of The Harbinger, only says they INTENDED to plant them. The point about that verse is always the intent, the heart attitude, the defiance of God in the making of plans to overcome the effects of God's judgment.

He continues:
CLAIM CONCERNING AMERICA: A Norway spruce was planted at Ground Zero to replace the sycamore to give hope to a hurting nation. *
I'm wondering WHOSE claim he has in mind here. It's not Jonathan Cahn's claim, which is that all the harbingers represent America's defiance of God just as Israel's intention to rebuild and replant was defiance of God. Few Americans recognized 9/11 as God's judgment and did all kinds of foolish things in their desire to "recover" from the attack, to rebuild and replant just as Israel determined to do, and they did call the Norway Spruce The Tree of Hope because that was the whole tenor of America's response to 9/11, rather than a recognition of being out of God's will and a call to the nation to repent. But anyone who thought of 9/11 as God's judgment could only see such actions as a foolish refusal to submit to God and to seek our hope in Him rather than merely human plans.

Some interpret Isaiah 9:10 to suggest that Israel KNEW they were defying God's judgment by their plans to rebuild. I'm not sure where they get that -- from the preceding verse that describes their plan as coming from the pride and arrogance of their hearts? But we don't have to consciously intend to defy God to express that sort of arrogance, it's implicit in the very lack of acknowledgement of Him, the lack of submission to Him, as if He simply doesn't exist. America just "doesn't think that way," we don't think in terms of God's judgments, we're "modern" people who see only our human enemies in an event like 9/11, only chance in natural disasters, hurricanes, floods and so on. But by God's standards this IS the same arrogance of heart as Isaiah 9:9 describes of Israel. America WAS once a Christian nation, did once call upon God AS A NATION too, even observed days of repentance and prayer AS A NATION, called to it by our own Presidents. We've fallen a long way since then. We've forgotten God altogether. Now we do it ourselves and as an afterthought ask God to bless our efforts. The sad thing is that this call for God to bless America is mistaken even by David James as acknowledging God rather than defying Him, so that he himself expresses the unwittingly defiant attitude of America in this way, which I can demonstrate in many places in his book.

James goes on to point out that in The Harbinger the similarity that makes a match of the Norway Spruce to the Erez tree of Isaiah is a botanical similarity, while the match between the sycamores is a match of names only as botanically they are different trees, similar in appearance but botanically different. James says "He can't have it both ways." I'm not sure why not. I simply see similarities here, I'm not sure the different basis for the similarities is important, but let's say for now it's something to think about.

But now he is going to object to the botanical basis for the similarity of the spruce to the erez tree anyway. Cahn, he says,
...mishandles the scientific evidence, but even more important, his argument goes beyond a lack of biblical evidence. It contradicts the biblical evidence. In addition, he again fails to accurately convey the historical context of the events.

First, Cahn tries to persuade the reader that the spruce that replaced the sycamore at Ground Zero exactly matched the cedars in Isaiah 9:10 when The Prophet says, 'It is a particular kind of cone-bearing evergreen.'[TH p. 90] But he then immediately reverses direction by arguing that the match is due to the fact that cedar and spruce trees are both part of the same broad category. He cites a commentary for support: 'The Hebrew erez rendered 'cedar' in all English versions, is most likely a generic word for the pine family.'[Revell Dictionary p. 198].
OK, that's a big enough bite to start with. James is first of all saying that Cahn is contradicting himself even practically in the same breath, by supposedly first saying there is an exact perfect match and then seeming to take it back by making the match within a class of trees of a similar kind.

James does this sort of thing a lot in this book. He finds what superficially seems like a contradiction to him, although a moment's hesitation should have told him that Cahn could not possibly have committed such a contradiction within a sentence or two and therefore must have meant something else than James first took him to mean. Benefit of the doubt at least: you'd have to be a bit demented to create such a contradiction and not notice it. So, in this case shouldn't it be understood that by "particular kind" Cahn MEANS what James calls the "broad category," or the "pine family?" This is simply a matter of words being taken in the wrong sense. The pine family IS a "particular kind" of tree; there are other "particular kinds" of conifers as well. Again, the identifying of such supposed self-contradictions is a recurring theme in James' book, and in all of them it seems to me it's the same kind of confusion on James' part that could have been avoided by a little generosity of spirit. (I'll allow that perhaps Cahn could have expressed his meaning more exactly in some places, but even given that possibility a reviewer ought to be able to tell a lack of precision from a contradiction.)

He goes on from there to quote part of a dialogue from The Harbinger showing that Cahn is equating the erez tree with the pine family or the pinacea family, having The Prophet say
Yes. The most botanically precise translation of the vow would be, 'But we will plant pinacea trees in their place" [TH p. 90].
Which prompts James to emphasize the supposed self-contradiction:
So, which is it? Does the spruce match the erez tree because it is a particular kind of tree? Or does it match because erez refers only to a broad category?
And again, they are one and the same thing, the category IS the particular kind Cahn has in mind. Obvious, really.

But now he does go on to seemingly score a point against The Harbinger, (or does he?):
The remainder of Cahn's argument hinges on erez referring only to the broad category of Pinacea familyk, or pine tree. But that is not the way erez is used in the Bible.

Well, this is true. In the Bible, in all the English translations, erez is rendered "cedar." There are even other members of the Pinacea family specifically referred to in the Bible translated from other Hebrew words, such as the fir and the pine. there isn't a single exception to this. There isn't a pine or a fir translated from erez, and there isn't any other Hebrew word translated "cedar." So did Cahn just make up the meaning Pinacea Family off the top of his head?

Stay tuned.

Have received information that the asterisked quotes had escaped the author's edits and that they are now being corrected for the next edition.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lord, Expose, Reprove, Deliver many from the Christian Counterfeits

O Lord, open the eyes of your sleeping Church to the enemy's work. Bring millions out of his deceptions to true salvation by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. Expose the works of darkness that are leading Your people astray. Bring it all to the light. Turn those who are deceived to the truth. Thank You for those who are exposing all these things and raise up more workers to do this. Strengthen them, strengthen their work, open doors for their work to edify the Body of Christ. Amen.

First the Catholic Antichrist. Open the eyes of nominal "Protestants" to the truth and make us TRUE Protestants against the pure evil of the Harlot Church of Rome. Bring millions out of her.

The Liberal Churches that compromise Your word and promote worldliness and false faith in a false God.

Also the Charismatic movement that is mistaking either fleshly or demonic phenomena for Your Spirit. Also the Word of Faith. Give them the necessary understanding to lead them out of this pagan darkness into Your Light. Cast down the false teachers, the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Today's movements within the churches that are compromising Your Word, leaning to Rome, leaning to mysticism, leaning to a worldly focus, on good deeds and social justice over Your supernatural salvation. Such as the Emergent Church, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, so many others I haven't been keeping up with.

The false histories of America such as by David Barton, I think also the earlier ones that came out a few decades ago, I'll have to look them up. Thank you for exposing this, bring us the true history of America.

The Cults that think they are biblical, such as Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Also please open eyes about the Bible versions. The eyes of pastors who are unwittingly supporting what is really the work of the evil one, to undermine the faith of Your people through corrupt manuscripts, false history, a babel of "translations" and all the rest of it. Bless Chris Pinto's new film about all this, Tares Among the Wheat.

Cast light on the deceptions of the false science of Evolution that has ensnared so many and turned them away from You. Expose, Reprove, Deliver, Lord.

I also pray that You would show the churches what You REALLY mean in First Corinthians 11:2-16. This is another deception that undermines Your Creation Order, Your government, scandalizes angels and affects the whole tenor of Your churches and has most probably fed the destructive Liberalism that has already destroyed many churches.

There are false teachers and false teachings in every part of the Church, all of them, Baptist, Fundamental, Reformed, Holiness, all of them, I pray for them all to be exposed and convicted or cast out.

Lord, Reform Your Church. Expose, Reprove, Deliver. Bring Your people out of the darkness of this world that is getting darker every day.

Thank you for so many who are doing this work these days. Strengthen the ministers of Your light and correct them as needed.

Give us a new Protestant Reformation.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Charismatic Deceptions, Hinduism, Kundalini, Kriyas etc.

The most important influence in causing me to pull back from defending the Harbinger is the charismatic connections of its author, Jonathan Cahn. I learned years ago that many of the teachers he seems to be accepting in some way or another are deceived men and women who are leading other Christians astray. While I haven't been able to find such influences in the Harbinger itself I have to be alert to the possibility that there is some such influence that's outside my ability to detect, and if I want to find out one way or the other I'm going to have to suspend all judgment about it altogether for a while.

Meanwhile I want to take a tour through the charismatic deceptions as a sort of foundation for whatever I need to know about all this. So this morning I was listening to one of Brannon Howse's broadcasts about a prayer rally that's to be held tomorrow in which some charismatic leaders I KNOW are deceivers have apparently succeeded in deceiving some political leaders on the Right, such as Michele Bachman and Phyllis Schlafly. Here's the blurb from Howse's show:
Brannon’s guest is Justin Peters. Topic: Several well-known New Religious right leaders that include Michele Bachman, Jim Garlow, Rick Scarborough, David Barton, Tom Minnery of Focus on the family and others are listed as speakers at a prayer rally at the church of Rodney Howard-Browne. Do these people not have search engines on their computers? Hear audio clips of Rodney Howard-Browne and learn how he brought the idea of being “drunk in the spirit”, “holy laughter” and other manifestations into churches in the early 1990s. What is the source of these manifestations? What does it tell us about the condition of modern-day evangelicalism when a man with the theology of Browne can see members of the New Religious Right take part in a prayer rally at his church? Topic: Hear an audio clip by John MacArthur on how many of the NAR and WOF proponents are committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Topic: We take your calls and we hear from a caller that was part of this movement and is thankful we are exposing it as not being Biblical.
I've written on some of these manifestations in charismatic churches on this blog, but Howse pointed out a You Tube video that really brings it home how false they are, how they are EXACTLY what goes on in the pagan religion of Hinduism in the form of "Kundalini Yoga." I've heard many times how similar it all is without ever having witnessed it. In this case Andrew Strom, an ex-charismatic "prophet" who has been exposing this movement for years now, has put up footage of the same manifestations occurring in a Hindu context, and there is no doubt that this is satanic stuff.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who set up shop in Oregon for a few years in the 80s and led many Americans to demon-possession, whose followers dressed in red, is shown in this film administering "shaktipat" to one of his disciples. Rajneesh is what he used to be called anyway, although as I recall he changed his name to something like Oshi(?) after his criminal activities in America got him deported. "Shaktipat" is most probably the touch of a demon-possessed person being given to another person to "impart" the demonic phenomena to the recipient, the "kriyas" or the jerkings and laughing and shakings and barkings and falling down and so on. The Hindu understanding is that it's "awakening" the "Kundalini," which is supposedly some sort of "energy" that's latent in the body, built into the human frame. In either case it's clearly something that goes on in pagan religions and doesn't belong in Christian churches.

I wonder if the presence of so many Hindu "gurus" in America back in the 60s through the 80s was somehow the origin of the demonic phenomena in the charismatic churches. The fact that the "spirit" can be passed from one person to another by touch suggests many ways this could have happened.

They are doing exactly the same thing in the "Christian" churches only not calling it "Shaktipat" or the phenomena "kriyas" but promoting it as "the power of the Holy Spirit."

There are at least two parts to this video at You Tube. Here's the first part. This video should be shown in all the charismatic churches, in ALL the churches for that matter.

It should bring all TRUE Christians out of the charismatic movement.

Here's a description of "kriyas" by a Kundalini teacher.
Kriyas ( pronounced kree-yuhz) are automatic movements, vocalizations or actions that are part of the process of Kundalini clearing the karma held in the energy body. They may take almost infinite forms, from a simple urge to put the body into yoga postures, even if you have never studied yoga- to elaborate songs, chanting and dances, possibly in a language you are unfamiliar with.

Yoga postures, twitching and shaking are the most common types of kriyas. Kurt Keutzer's FAQ contains a simple analogy of what is actually happening: Imagine a garden hose, coiled up and kinked. Turn the water on (Kundalini energy) and the hose tends to thrash around until the water pressure causes it to straighten enough for the water to flow easily. Kriyas most often occur when the body's instinctive guidance is in the process of moving a blockage to the flow of spiritual life energy.

Most kriyas are simple tremors or twitches as tension held in the body, releases. However, they can be quite complex movements, breathing patterns, (pranayama) vocalizations, visions,... the body will do whatever it needs to do, to facilitate the blockage being cleared, and it has all the wisdom of the Collective consciousness, to draw upon. So, a Kriya may take the form of an African Dance, a Sanskrit song, an Aboriginal drum chant, or anything. Energy clearing techniques that have been used by different cultures for thousands of years, tend to have a higher resonance in the Collective, and the body-mind guidance will make use of that unconscious information, bring it forth.

That is why people who may never have studied Hatha Yoga, find their bodies wanting to assume Yoga postures, or why people who do not speak a foreign language may find themselves spontaneously chanting in Sanskrit.
Obviously obviously obviously this is the same stuff we're seeing in these "revivals," at Brownsville, in Toronto, at Lakeland and so on. It includes even "speaking in tongues" and the "[un]holy laughter" but most commonly the jerkings and spasmodic movements of the head and body. Whether it is a release of what Jessie Penn-Lewis and Watchman Nee call "soul power" or is demonically inspired, or both, I don't know for sure, but it's NOT the Holy Spirit.

What if I'm deceived about the Harbinger?

I am now seriously grappling with the possibility of having been deceived about the Harbinger.

One thing that keeps hitting me is that deception is VERY subtle. The devil knows exactly where to get us. Being moved by the message of the Harbinger COULD even be a deception, I'm not saying it is, but it COULD be. I already had a commitment to 9/11 as God's judgment on the nation and the Harbinger fit right in, and any time our favorite positions are confirmed COULD be an avenue to deception. Especially these days.

I remember from the time I had to face the possibility that I was being deceived in the charismatic movement just how HARD it was to recognize and accept my wrong judgment. It takes a real scouring soul-searching to begin to see and accept one's own deceptions. I have been unable to see any serious errors in the Harbinger itself, but my inability to see them doesn't prove anything I'm afraid. It could simply prove the subtlety of deception. It COULD. I'm willing to try to face this possibility.

So I'm going to pull back from taking any position on it for a while. As long as I commit to ANY position, if it should be a deception, the Lord won't show me where I'm wrong, I'm sure of that.

I know I have to be completely open to whatever the truth is, and that means being willing to abandon EVERYTHING I've thought if necessary. And that means a struggle with myself. If I've been right in defending the Harbinger and am willing to be completely wrong instead, THEN I can count on being shown the truth, but not while I'm committed to defending it -- or committed to ANY position for that matter.


Deception is afoot these days in so many ways, any of us can be deceived, we need to be willing to subject ourselves to a rigorous assessment of our motives. Try me O Lord and see if there is any wicked way in me. And there always is, you know, SOME wicked way in us. We're always easily deceived by our wicked hearts, but whether that will turn out to show that I've been deceived over the Harbinger or not I don't yet know.

I would hope that Jonathan Cahn himself would be willing to subject himself to such a scouring for his own sake. His being at all in favor of some of the charismatic teachers that I learned the hard way are seriously out of the Lord's will makes him especially vulnerable to deception.

It's possible I'll end up being more sure than ever that the Harbinger is from God, but I can't predict at the moment. All I know is that my inner turmoil about these things means I've got to pull back at least for a while.

Friday, August 24, 2012

When is an illusion not an illusion; and a poem about Harbinger Soup

I'm taking a break from the book by David James because there's just too much in it to answer, too many issues he raises. Most of them I do want to answer, because they seem to me either to be completely artifacts of his dispensationalist assumptions or forced in one way or another. I think all that does need to be answered but it would take a lot of time to get to it and through it. He does make the occasional point I can agree with, but not many.

But I wanted to sketch out one of his main arguments that happens to be on my mind: He judges all the harbingers, the signs that occurred in America that the book presents as uncanny symbols that echo the various parts of Isaiah 9:10 as "illusions." Coincidences that persuade there is more to them because of a "wow" factor.

But what does he base the conclusion that they are illusions on? He actually argues that since the bricks that fell in Israel represented the entire city that there is no correspondence between that destruction and the falling of a few buildings in New York City, AND of course those buildings weren't made of clay bricks either. Then they intended to rebuild the entire city with hewn stones but all Cahn can point to is the one gigantic hewn cornerstone for the New Freedom Tower that didn't even get used! The sycamore that was uprooted was only one tree, not the groves that were destroyed in Israel, and it isn't even the same kind of tree! The tree that was brought in to replace it isn't a cedar of Lebanon, which the leaders of Israel intended to plant to replace their sycamores.

Excuse me if I say that this is just silly. I know it needs some references and quotes and so on which I'll try to supply when I'm up to it again, but the basic idea is just silly.

What, only if a whole town built of clay bricks were destroyed, along with groves of Middle Eastern sycamores, which don't grow here, and only if stone masons were to be the builders of a new skyscraper, and a grove of cedars of Lebanon were planted, would James accept that the harbingers are not an illusion?

I don't even know what to call this kind of thinking.

You know this is getting to me when I write something like the following:

Or, The Theology of Straining out Gnats

Nine chickens we took from the biblical coop
To make harbinger harbinger harbinger soup.

A couple escaped and we chased with a whoop
So we could have plenty of harbinger soup.

We caught them and tied them by making a loop
Out of twine that had come from the John B sloop.

And broke we their necks -- they'd no longer us dupe
And botch up the planned hermeneutical soup.

We made it with arguments bound as a group
To spice up our fine exegetical soup.

The critics then thrust in their finely-meshed scoop
And, horrified, cried There are flies in your soup!

By the hundreds, they shouted, a fat sassy troop,
Along with their Musca Domestica poop!

Well, sad we all were at the thought of such goop
Befouling our fine theological soup.

But in through the window there came with a swoop
A fly-eating bird, a redoubtable snoop,

Who hungrily spied out the flies in the scoop
and pronounced that in fact they were


Not flies,

And only three of them,

And flew off in a huff.

So now I have told you of how we made soup
Out of chickens that came from the biblical coop
Oh it was truly a wonderful soup
A humble American harbinger soup.

Though now we may need some more time to regroup
And consider perhaps just how lowly to stoop
To be sure we make positive biblical soup

With no flies in it.

Or gnats either.

We're not sure what happened to the camel.

O harbinger harbinger harbinger soup.

Notes from Cyberia, or Bloggin on Bloggin while the world unravels. Or something like that.

Thanks largely to Google I've been hearing from people on both sides of this Harbinger controversy for months now. The only other issue to have attracted my blogs so much attention is the "heaven" stories. For some reason the former mostly brings me emails, the latter brings comments on my posts.

I've been used to doing my own thing out here in cyberspace not expecting much attention, mostly because my topics tend to be on the less popular side -- and I suppose also because I have the habit of writing at a length that stretches people's patience. I decided early on that I have to write as I'm inspired to write whether I get readers or not.

There is every sort of blogging style out there. Some make a point of touring the Blogosphere in search of a network of contacts in order to build up a community of like-minded people. Some already have a network to get them going, or a business or a ministry or a project. Some start out cold and write into the void. That's pretty much my style. I've tried to interest friends and relatives but I'm a black sheep there so I stay a black sheep here.

I've posted on other blogs but that doesn't usually win me friends. In fact, many of my blog posts here have been prompted by the reaction to my opinions I've encountered on other blogs. I could even say that my main bloggus operandi as it were is responding to disagreements, even hostility, I've encountered elsewhere in cyberspace.

The origin of my posts about the stories of children's visits to heaven was such a disagreement at another blog, in fact I got quite a pounding there. Just a little research made it pretty clear to my mind that those stories should not be accepted by Christians, and of course I said so, which was not the going opinion at that blog to put it mildly.

The same thing happened with my opinion that Christians should not support Glenn Beck now that he's made his stance religious rather than political. I was amazed that people who consider themselves Christians seem to have so little discernment. I suppose that sounds like bragging but what can I say, I can only argue for what I believe is true. I'm sure I have my own blindnesses but that doesn't preclude being able to see some things clearly nevertheless.

The same thing happens of course any time I've said elsewhere that Catholicism is not Christian. Or Mormonism. Outrage, even from people I think really are Christians. I get some of the same reaction here as well, most especially to the heaven stories so far. After some years on the internet I got used to being trounced by atheists, leftists and evolutionists for all the understandable reasons but getting trounced by Christians and conservatives was unexpected.

My other blogs aren't popular topics either. The woman's head covering? You might as well consign yourself to cyber-Siberia if you're going to try to argue that one (I like that so much I have to make it the title of this post). And the Bible versions conflict too. Some of the best-known and most influential Christian leaders are against me on both those topics.

You might think I'm just a stubborn contrarian I suppose. I think I sincerely study the issues -- with prayer, a LOT of prayer in some cases -- and come to a sincere and objective opinion, but the Lord knows for sure what we're all really doing in our heart of hearts, which He can read but we often can't.

I'm out on a limb many times with my Creationism blog as well. It's amazing to me how many people who seem to be sincere Christians will allow their inadequate understanding of science to dictate their reading of the first chapters of Genesis. I suspect that whole questionable hermeneutical systems have been embraced by some because they can't tolerate the tension between their understanding of "science" and their reading of the Bible. And then there are the out-and-out casualties who completely abandon their Christian allegiance because "science" has a greater grip on them. Again, this is their OWN inadequate grasp of science calling the shots here --influenced also of course by ridicule from the defenders of evolution. How easily we forget the Word's admonitions about not being conformed to this world, about not being taken in by worldly philosophies, about leaning not to our own understanding, about expecting that if they hate us it's because they hate our Lord, about expecting tribulation in this world, about being willing to suffer as He did -- the mockery, the rejection -- NO MATTER WHAT. We are SUPPOSED TO BE fools for Christ! He trusted Genesis! HE AUTHORED GENESIS!

The main focus of my blogs is Christian discernment, which ought to put me in alignment with the discernment ministries out there and to a great extent it does. Those are the ministries I follow most regularly and those are the ones weighing in most heavily on either side of the Harbinger controversy, such as The Berean Call, Worldview Weekend, Understanding the Times, Take a Stand Ministries... The first two oppose the Harbinger, the latter two support it.

People who agree with me on one or two of my topics are very likely to be adamantly opposed to me on others so although I've found support for my views of Cahn's book I can't expect support for some of my other opinions from the same people. And I have to admit that the charismatic arena, from which the book gets so much of its support, sometimes causes me to reconsider defending the book, although I haven't found charismatic or doctrinal problems in the book itself.

So I'm never just happily in tune with any point of view out there. There are always areas of agreement and disagreement. I suppose that's true of all of us but it would be SO nice to agree COMPLETELY with somebody for a change.

A major area of disagreement I have with both supporters and critics of The Harbinger concerns the role of Israel vis a vis the Church in the last days, and I've done some posts on this topic. I have not yet arrived at an end-times theology that answers enough of the relevant questions for me so I remain suspended in a general sort of way on these issues, although I know at least I'm not a Preterist or an Amillennialist. I do strongly believe, however, that the Church is the fulfillment of God's plan of redemption, traceable through scripture from Eden, that the Church is the Elect or the Chosen People and was always God's Chosen ("Not all Israel is Israel"), which includes all believing faithful Jews from Abraham to the present. Many of the ministries I may otherwise agree with consider this point of view to be "replacement theology" as if it's an unfair usurpation of the role of Israel or the Jews, but I believe scripture is clear that the Church IS the true Israel, the inheritor of God's covenant with Abraham, and was always God's plan to be realized through the death of the Messiah, and that unsaved people who reject Christ, the Messiah promised from Eden, simply cannot be God's Chosen. I've heard this view called "unbiblical" though it's completely based on the Bible.

Nevertheless just watching history unfold, just recognizing the reestablishment of Israel on their ancient land after almost 2000 years, just watching the world grow in hatred toward Israel and support of the bogus "nation" of Palestine, suggests to me that God isn't finished with Israel. Developments too neatly fit the pattern of humanity's "enmity with God" and against God's will. Although Israel is in rejection of God by rejecting His Messiah, if they didn't somehow represent Him and His plans I wouldn't expect the world to hate them as they do. So I find it hard to deny that God MUST have some plans left for national Israel of some kind and such plans fit with a lot of scripture that deals with the last days.

I haven't studied the relevant scriptures well enough to apply them to the situation but there are some Old Testament verses that are particularly hard to apply to the Church. Those who deny national Israel ANY Biblical role at all find ways to apply them to the Church, I know, but as I'm not up on the arguments I can only point to the current world situation and, knowing that God is in charge of all things, suspect He's going to make Israel the centerpiece of His final conquest of Planet Earth, not the redemption of mankind which comes through the Church, but some kind of earthly finale out of which enormous numbers of Jews will be saved. He IS going to return to the Mount of Olives, and I just can't spiritualize such a solidly earthly location to make it mean something else. Scripture is a bit ambiguous on all these things, however, that's why I haven't arrived at a definite position though so many others do who've studied it all in more depth. Still, even the best exegetes disagree with each other anyway. But history is also God's work.

Just believing that God still has a plan for earthly Israel puts me in the category of "Progressive Dispensationalist" according to one authority I consulted, although I don't recognize myself in much of the descriptions of that view I've found online. And according to Chris Pinto what I believe is what the Protestant Reformers believed so there must be a Reformed category it belongs in rather than dispensationalism.

Maybe I'm all wrong, of course. I guess I won't know until I see the Lord.

Waiting around for David James' book to arrive somehow prompted all the above a couple weeks ago but I didn't leave it up. The book arrived and I've spent most of my time on that since then. Now I'm burnt out, need a break. So the above is getting posted after all for a different reason.