Friday, August 17, 2012

The error of expecting the application of an Old Testament message to modern times to be exact

I'm trying to get all this together in my mind, in order to have a definitive response to the critics myself, which is what I regard David James' book as attempting to do for his team. So along with reading his book I've been listening to the last part of the discussion on Brannon Howse's program for August 7th, with Howse and T A McMahon as well as David James, which deals with the same material the book does if not in as much detail.

Something I have to say right away is that if David James is going to complain about my trying to make him or his fellow critics look foolish, which he suggested in his comment to my previous post, it has to be acknowledged that they are not pulling any punches themselves in characterizing The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn or his defenders as foolish. It's true that David James himself seems to be more cautious in his use of terms but the message is nevertheless the same: the defenders of The Harbinger are falling for an extremely foolish illusion, treating mere coincidences as a word from God, and failing to apply what they characterize as basic principles of Bible interpretation, and so on and so forth. Brannon Howse on that program mentions an email he received from a "well-known" pastor in Chicago whom he quotes as saying he'd read half of The Harbinger and found it "silly and foolish."

With that kind of rhetoric coming from the critics they are hardly justified in demanding that Cahn's defenders refrain from similar language. In fact, there is no way to do so consistently. Even with the best of intentions, bending over backwards to avoid insulting language, it can't be done beyond a bare minimum because both sides of this controversy regard the other side as coming to absurd and foolish conclusions about the book. Certainly I don't think the critics themselves are foolish, but I do think their arguments are foolish, something I find hard to account for coming from knowledgeable Christian leaders, and I've had a struggle to comprehend this all along. Obviously they have the same opinion of their opponents' judgments.

In my last post I raise questions about what seems to me to be only one of their absurd criticisms of The Harbinger, this notion that Cahn interprets Isaiah as literally addressing America. I asked what might have led them to this conclusion since to me it IS absurd, and so far I have only my same guesses -- some way they read Cahn's word choices in some other sense than he meant them. That's the best I can do to understand it.

Another issue that is just as absurd to my mind is their insistence that the "harbingers" are not precise enough matches from Isaiah 9 to present-day America to claim that these harbingers are something only God could have brought about. Jonathan Cahn has himself answered this many times, pointing out that this is like expecting New York City to BE Jerusalem of the 8th century BC, or to expect that ancient Assyrians are going to come marching against the United States as God's judgment against us. You can't expect a message that was originally intended for ancient Israel to be precisely matched in the context of modern America, to which it does now nevertheless clearly apply. They keep harping on the idea that the match must be PRECISE. This is absurd in the extreme. What on earth leads them to this absurdity?

I'm sorry, David James and the rest of you, I can't see this any other way and I sincerely do not understand how you can allow yourselves to entertain even for a moment what I can only regard as extreme absurdities.

But this is just to give one more instance of the same. I'm still working on all this.


Unknown said...

Interesting that you're incredulous as to how anyone couldn't see that these are harbingers - and how anyone does see that The Harbinger identifies prophetic connections between Isaiah 9:10 from beginning to end. I'm just not sure how Isaiah 9:10 can *cause* things to happen in America and still not be connected in some way.

As much as you believe I'm missing the point, I think you are as well concerning the application of the OT - as well as misunderstanding what I believe about this. I absolutely believe that there are OT principles that can be directly applied. I believe there a parallels and patterns of both blessing and judgment in the OT that can also have contemporary significance in every generation. God often does things in similar ways at various points in time. If this were what Cahn were saying, no one would have a problem - but as I demonstrate in the book, he goes far beyond this.

Of course I wouldn't expect exact matches between an OT message and a modern application. For example, if whole forests of trees of any kind were cut down by an invader and we would replace them with whole forests of any kind of trees that were stronger - this would have the potential of being fairly significant. But to say that one tree falling that is a completely different kind than those in entire forests that were decimated by a foreign invader constitutes an exact or even roughly approximate match is difficult to fathom. Not only are they not exact - they are vastly different in every aspect. And this is true of every single harbinger.

I will leave it at this because I'm fairly sure at this point that we're not going to get past this impasse: When I compare a list of those who have deep concerns about TH with a list of those who support and defend TH and Jonathan Cahn (with a few notable exceptions, such as yourself), I am very glad to be among those who have concerns.

Even if I agreed with TH the difference between these two groups would be alarming. I know that you have taken strong stands against those who make up the majority of the supporting group. And my guess is that we would agree on far more things than we would disagree - as would be true between you and the rest of those who have concerns - which makes this whole thing rather puzzling. And this is also true of the other notable exceptions.


Faith aka Connie said...

Interesting that you're incredulous as to how anyone couldn't see that these are harbingers - and how anyone does see that The Harbinger identifies prophetic connections between Isaiah 9:10 from beginning to end.

I'm not sure what you are saying here. I'm going to have to mark more carefully how some words are used on both sides of this argument, but I'm not arguing that The Harbinger DOESN'T make such prophetic connections, I just don't see that it treats the verse as prophetic in itself, only as its elements become harbingers or signs in America.

At that point it IS prophetic simply because it so literally emphasizes that America had the same attitude of defiance that Israel had, which was the reason God went on to say His hand was still outstretched against Israel, meaning He would bring further destruction to them for their defiance.

The harbingers in America ONLY point back to verse 10, not the whole context which the critics keep insisting must be taken just as literally into account. But no, the attitude of defiance is the point, which the harbingers should make impossible for us to avoid (as I see it) and the implication is certainly prophetic: that God WILL judge America for the same reason He said He would judge Israel. That doesn't mean the exact KIND of judgment is to be expected.

For one thing the harbingers are NOT exact as the critics keep saying they should be. They are really just tokens, or as Cahn calls them, signs, which can only be meant to draw our attention to what they represent -- America's attitude of defiance in planning to rebuild without recognizing God's warning judgment in 9/11 and without a call to repentance.

A fallen building is enough to represent that, we don't need an entire city razed to the ground to make the connection; a hewn cornerstone is sufficient for the same reason, to make us aware through a literal symbolic object of our having the same attitude Israel had. Same with a single symbolic sycamore, a single symbolic erez tree to replace it. These are SYMBOLS that manifested uncannily literally in reality, that quite literally identify America as sharing the same attitude of defiance as Israel.

Cahn says this message to America is "hidden" in that verse, but this is only in the sense that these harbingers' appearance in reality in America bring out the fact that America had exactly the same attitude of defiance that Israel had. And some of our leaders even publically DECLARED that attitude on behalf of the nation by reading the verse in an official capacity. But that's another whole area of odd confusion I'll have to deal with some other time.

I'm just not sure how Isaiah 9:10 can *cause* things to happen in America and still not be connected in some way.

But where does Cahn say the verse CAUSED all this? I think this must be, again, some way his word choices are getting read in some other sense he didn't intend.

And of course there is a CONNECTION, it's just not the kind of connection the critics keep making of it, the idea that somehow the verse was literally written to America at the time. The connection is made NOW, in the present, and its the appearance of the harbingers that makes the connection.

Well, there I've pretty much gone and written a whole new post.

Faith aka Connie said...

As for the charismatic connection, yes I share the critics' view here, and I'm not entirely sure how to respond to this. I can say that the people I happen to know who are avidly reading The Harbinger, almost a whole church in one case, are NOT charismatics. For whatever that is worth. And I can also say that none of this shows up in the book itself, and the book is supposedly the concern here. Attempts to find elements in the book that reflect a charismatic viewpoint are strained.

Unknown said...

But where does Cahn say the verse CAUSED all this? I think this must be, again, some way his word choices are getting read in some other sense he didn't intend.

It seems that you haven't finished my book. You're arguing points that I make very clear as if I didn't make them. If you have read it, then we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

Also, concerning precision, you're arguing the opposite of Cahn - which makes no sense at all. You can't defend him on that basis. He is arguing for EXACT PRECISION all over the place. Yet, you're arguing it doesn't have to be precise. So, no, a fallen building absolutely is not enough to do that. Actually, you argue it both ways within a few paragraphs - precise but it's not precise.

Again, you need to finish my book to see everything together - including the issue of signs - which are prophetic by definition.

Concerning misunderstanding Cahn's choice of words - I don't think that is an issue because he repeats exactly the same words in every interview.

(And no, there really isn't a much in the way of a charismatic issue in the book - and I never deal with it in mine for that reason.)

Faith aka Connie said...

It's true I haven't finished the book, I've been assuming you aren't going to say more than I've heard discussed in the many interviews but OK, I'll wait to make final judgment.

I don't think Cahn means precision in the same sense you mean it, about the same kinds of things. Yes he repeats exactly the same words everywhere and I think they are misunderstood in exactly the same way everywhere by those who misunderstand them.

"Signs" can be used in more than one sense too. Also "vow" which is one you make much of in the book.

But again, I'll get through the book and see if I have a different view of these things.

I'm glad you agree the book is not guilty of charismatic error.