Friday, September 28, 2012

New Criticism of The Harbinger: Douma Pt. 2

Usually I'm up for taking on the critics but this one makes me really really tired.  Maybe it's no worse than the others, maybe it's just my current frame of mind, but I listen to this stuff, I read the notes, and it's such a muddled mess both logically and theologically the task of hacking my way through it just makes me weary. 

And there's Brannon Howse saying if this one doesn't convince us there's something doctrinally, theologically and biblically wrong with The Harbinger that's some kind of final proof of our failure of discernment.  Deep deep Sigh.  Is there any hope of showing someone with that wrongheaded a perspective on all this that HE's the one with the discernment failure here?  And that thought makes me really really REALLY tired.

Well, where to start.  I think I'll start by saying that this whole excuse for a critique is so ABSTRACT it reminds me of a Marxist treatise.  Really.  Ever read one of those?  Never touches down to earth, just flies along about ten feet off the ground trailing paragraphs of Terminology, words that have no anchor in reality, just in Theory.  Very sophisticated-sounding Word Salad.  You don't dare ask what it MEANS because then you'll REALLY be lost.  Here we have a wonderful display of those words I called somewhere back a ways  "trigger words," that apparently awaken red-alert Suspiciousness in certain theological camps and launch virtual nuclear warheads of this earnestly "concerned" undecipherable gobbledygook.  

Oh I HOPE I'll be up to responding PROPERLY to this eventually.  I've got LOTS of notes.  I'll just publish this much anyway and add to it later.  Lord willing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A New Criticism of The Harbinger: Douma

Apparently the criticism of The Harbinger isn't going to stop soon. Here comes another attack on the book, aired by Brannon Howse on his Worldview Weekend program.
Today Brannon plays a powerful presentation by Pastor Eric Douma of Twin City Fellowship. Days before Jonathan Cahn appears in the Twin Cities, Pastor Douma is warning of the dangerous theological issue with Cahn’s book. Pastor Douma has done his Biblical homework and lays out point by point the serious theological errors of Cahn’s book. After listening to this program if someone can still defend Cahn’s book and theology then I think we have to seriously question their discernment and commitment to the authority of Scripture not to mention their lack of ability to study the Bible in context. Be sure to listen and post to your Facebook page.
Here's the whole sermon, Can The Bible Ever Mean What It Never Meant? / Case Study: The Harbinger, at the site of Eric Douma's church Twin City Fellowship.

I'm only halfway through it and I feel like screaming and tearing my hair out.  I know this is REALLY unhelpful, but take it as a sign that I hope to come back and do my best to show the absolute nonsense of this unfortunately all too typical critique of The Harbinger.

It's like they're all focused on the minutiae of words, taking them apart under a microscope with a tweezers to find errors that don't exist. OK, yes, I know that's unhelpful. Sorry. I hope I can do something more persuasive later.

Good grief, the devil is busy these days, inventing problems with this book, but he's also been tripping me up.  It's my own fault, I haven't been watchful enough.  The Lord says we must lose our lives and I've been trying hard to save mine.  Not my physical life I hasten to add, though perhaps my physical wellbeing, plus inconveniences and ego stuff I end up having to apologize for.  Devil knows I'm susceptible to all that but I can't blame him, just have to be more watchful and prayerful.  Watch, pray, stand.  If you don't watch and pray you don't stand.


Chris Pinto covered this article by a priest on his radio show today and I reported it on my other blog about Catholicism. Seemed worth a headline here as well.   Distinguishing between the power structure of Rome and the average Catholic's faith has got to be a good start.  Then when they go on to get the true gospel of salvation by faith alone figured out, HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chris Pinto's show on The Harbinger back in January was right on

I discovered The Harbinger originally through Chris Pinto's program on January 5th of this year, and just decided I needed to hear it again after all the attacks on the book since then.

As usual I find that Pinto's perspective is spiritually more trustworthy than most, biblical and true.  What is wrong with the critics who miss it and miss it and miss it?  Pinto hadn't read the book at that time but just from some ads and reviews he correctly assesses Cahn's message.


The critics have missed it completely but Pinto GETS IT.  I'm glad I heard it again. 

He criticizes the "conspiracy crew" who think that by exposing the New World Order adherents they can change things.   No, he says, but Cahn has exposed what is needed:  repentance for our sins.  Nothing else is going to change America.  He also gets into the influence of ecumenism and Billy Graham as a wolf in sheep's clothing bringing the nation under judgment.

I had only one objection.  He reads the line about how God's hand "is stretched out still" to be stretched out in invitation to us to come to Him, though in context it is simply a way of emphasizing what has already been shown, that since there is no repentance His hand is still stretched out IN JUDGMENT.  The message about God's invitation to us is nevertheless probably true enough, it's just not what that particular line means.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Timely encouragement

Sometimes you lose heart for what you thought was your calling, lose your sense of direction and need a light back to the path. But then the Lord brings just exactly the encouragement you need.

I've received two or three bits of needed encouragement recently, but one in particular was so especially effective I'm going to quote some of it here as a reminder to me if nothing else, and maybe even an encouragement to someone else. You never know:
A 'reformed' position breathes out of your writing, Connie, this is why I took to your blogs so much, finding the whole thrust of your position trustworthy.
Even if you express nothing beyond defense - which is the primary task - there is something in your writing which speaks for yourself and more importantly for the 'reformed' faith. But after all that, it is the passion for truth and the love of the Lord that drives us on....
My personal advice, for what it's worth, would be: go back to your writing on the Harbinger, which you are good at, and enjoy it again, free from niggling 'concerns' which are hindering. ... you cannot, as said, hide your 'reformed position', even if you do not state it, it breathes out of your writing!, write according to your conscience ...No worries, keep going and be happy that the Lord has smiled upon you. ...Smile back at the Lord and love the work he gives you.
Thank you, my lovely sister in Christ.

I would hope my thinking is Reformed in essence and it makes me SO happy to see that someone else with a Reformed perspective appreciates it, and it does release me from some heaviness that has been slowing me down recently. 

Back to work!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Does The Harbinger say America is IN Isaiah as the critics claim?

A major objection to The Harbinger by the critics is that "Cahn has demonstrated that Isaiah 9:10 is also about America." And what they mean by that is that America is actually IN the verse as written by Isaiah. They claim that Cahn must have this view although Cahn has denied it. Why would he deny it if it's something he believes? This can only be a strange misreading.

I've never heard of anyone ever before having such a notion of something in the present having actually been written in a Bible verse, never seen any examples of such a thing, but somehow the critics see it in The Harbinger. Apparently it is possible to misread the book this way despite the lack of precedent and despite Jonathan Cahn's denials, and perhaps some have done so who are favorable toward the book as well as the critics. This would be a mistake but perhaps it's possible to make this mistake because of the way some statements are worded.

Here are a few examples from a list of statements in ads for the book and by fans and critics of the book, both, that the critics claim say that America is IN the prophecy. As I read the whole list, with the exception of one, and a couple that are questionable, they all say only that Isaiah 9:10 also applies to America. And again, since Jonathan Cahn says that is how he intended it, I would assume that most people read it as he intended it. Perhaps I can conduct a survey of sorts to test this eventually.

Anyway, here is the list, minus context and links, just the words that are in dispute:
...a pattern of American leaders fulfilling an ancient biblical prophecy and a curse of judgment on the U.S., according to the best-selling Christian book of 2012 and the No. 1 faith movie.
The "ancient biblical prophecy" is NOW applied to America where it is being fulfilled, there is no need to read this as assuming that America was included in the original prophecy.
There are also physical proofs that Isaiah's prophecy is against America ...
Yes, the prophecy AS APPLIED TO AMERICA NOW, IN THE PRESENT, not that the prophecy as written by Isaiah had America in mind. There is no need to read it that way.
[Ad for the book] Is There An Ancient Mystery that Foretells America's Future?
Yes, it foretells it once you've applied it TO America. Again, there is no need to read this as America's future being foretold in the original prophecy as written by Isaiah.
...the preciseness with which America has fulfilled the verses in Isaiah ...
Again it seems to me obvious that this means "the verses as applied to America."
Read here of a mysterious, coded prophecy hidden in a small passage in the book of Isaiah the prophet.
Over and over it's as if words are being taken in a far too literal sense when they were intended in a more poetic or dramatic sense. In this case the meaning is "hidden" in Isaiah only in the poetic sense that once you know how perfectly it fits America, once you've already applied it to America, then you can say, Yes, in a sense this was "hidden" in that passage all this time, but that doesn't mean it was written into the passage or that Isaiah had it in mind. That passage is going to apply to many nations over the centuries, not just America. None of them is written into the verse and yet they are all in a sense "hidden" there.

And here is the main one that does seem to put America literally into the verse:
These two questions are asked all over our land. "Where is America in the bible"? and "Where is America during the end times."?... Isaiah 9:10 provides us swith much of the answer...
Yes, a person COULD read some of these statements to suggest that America was IN Isaiah, or that Jonathan Cahn thinks so. He's denied that and again, there is no reason he should deny it if he actually believes it and intended it in the book.

No, it's the critics who are reading it that way and not even imagining that it can and should be read as I'm presenting it. At the very least, not to take Cahn's word for what he intends these expressions to say shows a very ungracious attitude to the person who should know how these phrases should read.

There's more of this I could add here and may later.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brannon Howse now consorting with infidels who dare to say that God judges America according to His word to Israel?

Brannon Howse, who has been a major enemy of The Harbinger for all the wrong reasons I've been writing about here, hosts a number of Christian programs at his Worldview Weekend website, one of which is Dr. Erwin Lutzer's, who today has a program on How God judges nations.

Guess how God judges nations? According to Pastor Lutzer He judges all nations according to His instructions to the nation of ISRAEL. Lutzer refers to Deuteronomy, Jeremiah and Amos as his sources for the ways God can be expected to judge AMERICA.

Wasn't it THE major complaint of those Brannon Howse hosted against The Harbinger that Cahn had wrongly applied God's words written exclusively to Israel to America?

Shouldn't Brannon Howse be raking Lutzer over the coals as a false prophet just as he did Cahn? Shouldn't he repent of sharing a platform with such an apostate teacher? Every opportunity he gets he says something of the sort against Cahn.

The Harbinger says nothing that isn't in keeping with Dr. Lutzer's sermon despite the critics' suspicions. The vast majority of people who read it understand it in the sense of Dr. Lutzer's teachings. How the critics get anything else out of it is the puzzle.

You owe Cahn a major major apology, Brannon, as do all your critic friends such as T A McMahon, Jimmy DeYoung and David James.

Heard from someone who tells me this is a straw man argument. That is simply not true. The critics are using the straw man arguments, by insisting that Cahn is advocating Replacement Theology or reading America into Isaiah 9:10 or equating Israel's covenant with God with the covenants made by American founders, all of which are false. A straw man is a false argument you impute to your opposition so you can shoot it down. That's what they are doing with these false arguments. The truth is that The Harbinger is saying what Dr. Lutzer is saying about how the Old Testament also applies to America or any other nation.

America's attitude hasn't changed since 9/11

Comments gleaned from here and there on the web as the nation remembers 9/11 can pretty well be summed up in this one I think, from a site with many "Christians:"
I'll never forget that...and never forget that we still owe someone our wrath after 11 years.
Any chance The Harbinger could turn around such a hardened godless view of the event and make people aware after all this time that God was trying to tell us something and that retaliating would be against Him?

Sad to think that we can expect more of God's judgment of the nation BECAUSE of this attitude.

Two films: The Firefighters of 9/11 and the Boatlift of 9/11 at other blog

Films at Too Late for America blog.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

David James' take on The Harbinger is UNBIBLICAL: an interim Summation

This is just to sum up the arguments I've been bringing against David James' critique of The Harbinger to this point.

It's been becoming clear that James' criticisms of The Harbinger, along with the other critics', are NOT biblical despite his claim, but that Jonathan Cahn has the biblical perspective. James seems to have a more technical or formal idea of what's "biblical," pointing to rules and precedents and that sort of thing, while Cahn's points are all about the message itself as given in the Bible, and it is the biblical message that he applies to America.

James is more concerned to note whether "the hedge of protection" Cahn says was removed on 9/11, really fits the actual precise biblical pattern or the historical circumstances, whereas Cahn is far more into the spirit of the thing: that is, we all FELT 9/11 was something different from the various other attacks James outlines, we FELT it to be an attack on the nation while some other attacks as James lists them FELT LIKE local criminal actions. TECHNICALLY, James may be correct to point out that at least Pearl Harbor was already a breach of whatever hedge of protection there might have been in place to that point, and one can't argue a biblical point from how it FELT to us after all, but it seems to miss the main point of The Harbinger to focus so minutely on such facts. If there IS a technical error here, fine, point it out and move on -- such criticisms don't deserve a whole book in any case -- but James and the critics make it into a major biblical failure. But it is they who are missing the point, straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

We were attacked in a NEW way on 9/11, and the entire nation viewed it that way. it wasn't merely a bomb that killed some people in New York -- which describes three of the incidents James points out -- it was an attack that killed thousands and brought down a major part of New York City's skyline.

Exactly what a "hedge of protection" amounts to biblically isn't clear, but it's a metaphor based on the hedge built around a vineyard, a metaphor for some way God protects a nation or a people or even a person from enemy attack. It may involve the stationing of angels around the target to fend off enemies. In fact it probably does. We know from the Book of Daniel that God's angels may actually fight with demonic principalities who rule over heathen nations, no doubt with an eye to protecting God's people even in that case. There is also Psalm 91, the great psalm of protection, that promises angels to guard those who trust in God;
Psa 91:10-11 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
There is also Psalm 34 that promises angelic protection:
Psalm 34:7: The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them."
So a Christian population should expect such protection, and a nation that subscribes to Christian principles as well. We ARE "Israel" too, not America but American Christians, and with our Christian heritage it makes sense to assume that America as a nation has also been protected by God, as we have been blessed down the centuries in unusual ways we can ascribe to our Christian heritage.

We've also been judged, The Civil War for one instance having been recognized as God's judgment even by Abraham Lincoln. But there's something new about 9/11, and the harbingers seem to me, as to so many others, to be a sort of seal on the fact that we are now under judgment in a new way, something Cahn presents as having been put in place by God Himself to call us back to Him. Or to stand as witnesses against us if we don't turn back.

If a "hedge of protection" had been in place before 9/11, it was certainly removed in that event, and if it was removed it is STILL removed, because the BIBLICAL point is that the hedge is removed when God is bringing judgment against a nation (or in the case of Job letting Satan do his worst.) Since we failed to recognize 9/11 as God's judgment and made no move to turn back the sins that brought the judgment against us, we are still under His judgment and can expect more judgment to come.

We aggressively ignored it as judgment, many rebuking and reviling those few who said it was judgment, and over and over again our political leaders said in one way or another that we were going to rebuild, without the slightest regard to God's having already judged us. Repentance is the ONLY appropriate response to an act of judgment, intentions to rebuild in that context are defiance of God. That was God's message to Israel through Isaiah in verse 9:10 and it's His same message to America.

As for James' objections about the Assyrian or The Terrorist, he seems to have scored a point against The Harbinger with his historical research that shows that today's Assyrians are in fact Christians, so that Cahn's linking today's terrorists with the ancient Assyrians may have some problems. He also questions whether the Assyrians were in fact the inventors of terrorism. Since he doesn't know himself but only raises the question, I'd trust Rabbi Cahn on this, who did a prodigious amount of research for his book. Cahn has this to say about James' objection:
The sign of The Terrorist is not dependent on blood – but simply this – That the attack on the land, the breach on the nation is accomplished specifically by agents of terror. The Assyrians were specifically the agents of terror in the ancient world – The members of Al Qaeda who carried out 9/11 were the agents of terror in the modern world

Beyond that – the Assyrians were the inventors, fathers of terrorism – any modern day terrorist is their historical disciple

Beyond that – and in the category of added and extra:

The Assyrians were children of the Middle East – the terrorists of 9/11 were children of the Middle East

The Assyrians carried out the attack in Akkadian – The terrorists of 9/11 carried out the attack in Arabic, the closest sister language to the ancient Assyrians on earth

Israel was brought into conflict with Assyria – America with Iraq – Iraq is modern-day Assyria

It is also noted as an added point that the American soldiers would have passed by the descendants of the ancient Assyrians

And a final added point – which is noted only as a possibility – that it is possible that in the veins of the terrorists (or some of) may have been blood from the ancient Assyrians - Again stated only as a possibility – not as a non-critical extra - and in the realm of possibility – and not even speaking of direct full-blooded descendants – but simply that as those of the Middle East – the likelihood that there would be some blood of the ancient Assyrians would be high – But again – none of this is the point- or the central reality – on which anything hangs or falls
My main arguments against James so far have to do with his making so much out of what are really technical or formal points and missing the actual BIBLICAL message. Such objections didn't deserve a whole book against The Harbinger. He makes an issue of the differences between the harbingers that appeared in America and the originals in Isaiah 9:10, and those differences amount in his mind to a complete negation of the claim that they are harbingers at all. Since the fallen bricks that demonstrate the destruction wrought by Assyria against Israel aren't exactly replicated in 21st century New York City, since it was only a few gbuildings and not a whole city that was destroyed and since those buildings weren't constructed of clay bricks of the sort they used in Israel, that negates Cahn's claim that the fallen bricks in any way represent the fallen World Trade Center of 9/11. Since there was only one "hewn stone" that appeared in America, albeit a highly symbolic gigantic stone intended to be the cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower that was to replace the WTC, since the new building would not be constructed with quarried stones, that supposedly negates Cahn's claim that it represents the hewn stones Israel vowed to rebuild with. Since the sycamore isn't botanically the same tree as the Middle Eastern sycamore, according to James that cancels it out completely as the symbolic match to Isaiah 9:10 that Cahn claims for it. Since the tree brought in to replace it wasn't a cedar of Lebanon but merely a Norway Spruce, a tree very closely related morphologically to that cedar according to the Linnaean classification system, that cancels it out as the match that makes it the harbinger Cahn claims it is.

One does wonder just how close a match would be accepted according to whatever standard James has in mind. How many actual clay bricks would have to be seen in the WTC rubble to qualify; how many actual quarried stones would have to be used as part of the new building, although modern construction doesn't use bricks or stone. That being the case, the mere appearance of fallen bricks in the WTC rubble as noted by journalists, and a huge quarried stone intended as cornerstone ought to be enough for any critic, but these are apparently not similar enough for them. Would it have had to be a Middle Eastern sycamore that was uprooted at Ground Zero for James to accept it as a harbinger, although those trees don't grow in North America and wouldn't have been planted in a churchyard in New York City? The uncanny fact that it is NAMED a "sycamore" after that Middle Eastern tree isn't enough for James. I suppose an actual Cedar of Lebanon might have been sent to replace it, even in North America -- God COULD no doubt have arranged for that degree of perfection in that case without leaving our modern context -- but such perfection ought not to be required, and a spruce that is the same KIND of tree, even as close as within the same "family" of trees, OUGHT to be accepted as the uncanny match Cahn finds in it. Just HOW perfect does the match have to be for James anyway? It is easy to get the impression that no match perfect enough exists for him. It would practically have had to be an exact reproduction of ancient Israel in New York City to qualify by the standards of these critics.

Then there is James' completely UNBIBLICAL treatment of the speeches of Edwards and Daschle, as he accepts uncritically the fact that neither of them INTENDED to be defiant of God by quoting Isaiah 9:10 and that they even invoked God as part of their message. This is naive at the very least but certainly unbiblical, as it misses not only the message of Isaiah 9:10 but many other passages of scripture that condemn the drawing near to God "with their lips while their hearts are far from Me." Such "lip service" is a perfect description of America's response to 9/11 in general, with all the calls for God to bless America while denouncing anyone who said the attack was God's judgment on the nation, which the speeches of Edwards and Daschle merely put into official form.

Yet James attacks Cahn's TRULY biblical understanding of all these events by his unbiblical standards.

James takes on Harbinger Nine, The Prophecy, Part 2

Now James is objecting to Cahn's contention that Daschle's quoting Isaiah 9:10 was prophetic. As with his previous objections, although his entire book is intended to show that The Harbinger fails the biblical test, I've been finding James' views to be the unbiblical views. It becomes difficult to understand what he means by "biblical" at all. I have to suppose he means something like failing to meet some hermeneutic standard as he understands it.

But what I mean by "biblical," which it seems to me describes Cahn's understanding far better than James' and the other critics', is that it follows a biblical pattern that can be demonstrated. Cahn says that American political leaders in quoting Isaiah 9:10 were speaking the words of defiance in that verse on behalf of America. James objects that their motives were far from defiant, that in fact they meant to honor God by quoting the Bible and by saying "God bless America" and that proves Cahn completely wrong. Cahn answers that it has nothing to do with their conscious motives, it's simply about their quoting the verse with the intention of its representing the American response to 9/11. They misunderstood the verse to be inspiring or reassuring so what they were presenting as America's response to 9/11 wasn't what they intended, but what the verse actually means -- and it is a statement of defiance of God in its vow to rebuild without recognizing that 9/11 was God's judgment of the nation, a clear message that we are out of his will.

This is a BIBLICAL understanding of what happened: They intended the verse to be America's response -- WE will rebuild -- so although they didn't understand it rightly it nevertheless DID stand as America's response. They spoke the defiant intention on behalf of the nation. The fact that they didn't understand it doesn't change that. Of course, if they'd understood its true meaning they wouldn't have quoted it at all since the point in their minds was to offer reassurance. Pronouncing judgment was far from their minds.

I also gave some other biblical texts to demonstrate that consciously one may think one is honoring God by prayers and quoting the Bible and so on, although God knows the true heart and calls that "drawing near to Me with their lips though their hearts are far from Me." In the context of the attack on 9/11 as God's judgment of the nation there is no doubt that the many invocations of God without repentance are nothing but lip service, a way Americans were wearying God with our observances and supplications instead of correcting our sins and idolatries, just as ancient Israel did. This is a BIBLICAL perspective.

Who inspired Daschle and Edwards to choose that particular verse? Who moved them to speak? Are you going to deny that it was God Himself who moved them? Are we autonomous, are we independent from God? Perhaps if you are an Arminian you think so. Then perhaps you simply cannot grasp the biblical meaning of this event at all. There's no point in having the old Calvin-Arminius debate here, and it's not necessary for anyone to identify with either position as it's possible to be on either side of this debate without being aware of it too, but maybe it explains something about the different points of view to cast it in these terms.

God moved them to speak, and what they spoke in spite of themselves was the true meaning of Isaiah 9:10 which is a statement of defiance of God in the intention to rebuild without regard to God's already having judged the nation.

Cahn makes this very clear in the book, emphasizing that Daschle didn't know what he was doing:
[James] Now Cahn is claiming that Daschle was fulfilling a revelatory prophetic role and publicly pronouncing judgment on the United States of America:

[Kaplan] "But he was identifying Ameridca as a nation under judgment."

[The Prophet] "Yes, unwittingly."

[Kaplan] "The majority leader of the United States Senate was publicly pronouncing judgment on America."

[The Prophet] "Blindly," he replied, "having no idea what he was pronouncing. As far as he knew, he was only delivering an inspiring speech."

[Kaplan] "But unknowingly playing his part in a prophetic mystery."

[The Prophet] "Yes ... and so the words of the ancient vow were now officially joined to America and 9/11. And just as Isaiah's recording of the vow transformed it into a matter of national record and a prophetic word for all the people, so now the same words were officially recorded in the Annals of Congress as a matter of national record."
[James] How could Daschle have been proclaiming a prophetic word from God to the people of the United States?
Just as James took Daschle's and Edwards' conscious motives to be the important thing, thus contradicting Cahn's claim that they were speaking in the spirit of defiance of Isaiah 9:10, James of course also cannot see how they could have been speaking prophetically. If he doesn't recognize that they were moved by God to declare the attitude of defiance on behalf of America, then he isn't going to regard them as speaking prophetically.

He is so sure of his judgment that he even accuses Cahn of having overwhelmed his readers with his
"inexplicable coincidences" to the point that "he is able to get away with just about anything -- no matter how bizarre or unbiblical.
It is James whose views are unbiblical but he is so convinced of them he can just go on and on condemning Cahn. He goes on to object to Cahn's comparison with an incident in scripture in which words were spoken that had prophetic significance when understood in that light:
He defends the indefensible theory that Daschle was prophesying by referring to an incident recorded in John chapter 11 concerning Caiaphas the high priest.
Cahn didn't need the example of Caiaphas to make his point, in my opinion, it's made by the facts of the matter alone, but Caiaphas IS a good example of the phenomenon in question -- the unwitting pronouncement of a prophecy.

Caiaphas consciously intended to say that it would be good for the nation if the upstart Jesus were to die, but scripture goes on to explain that in his office as high priest he was actually unwittingly prophesying of Jesus' death for the sins of His people.

James objects that we know Caiphas' unwitting words were prophetic because we are told so in the scripture itself, but that Cahn has no way of knowing that about Daschle's words unless God revealed it to him.

It seems to me that simply knowing that nothing happens without God is enough to make the case that Daschle was speaking as God moved him, and that since what he spoke was the words of Isaiah 9:10 with the intention of speaking for the attitude of the nation, the attitude that we will rebuild, God had moved him to say that on behalf of the nation. It doesn't require a special revelation to come to this conclusion. Daschle had a different motive than God had, since he misunderstood the verse.

James then goes on to list other objections to the comparison with Caiaphas, beginning with his usual complaint that Cahn seems to be equating America with ancient Israel, the idea being that Israel was a theocracy in covenant with God and America isn't, that in a theocracy the political and religious offices wre inseparably linked but that can't happen in America.

However, this isn't quite a fair statement. I'd point out here that there was in fact a separation between the religious and political leaders even in Israel. The priests and prophets were the religious leaders, not the kings. Even David, the man after God's own heart, was informed of his sin with Bathsheba by the prophet Nathan. It was the prophets who brought God's word to the people, also to the kings. It was the priests who administered the sacrifices and it was greatly out of order when King Saul performed sacrifices.

Another I want to comment on: James says "the true meaning of Caiaphas' words did not contradict either what he intended to say of what he actually said." This is not true. What he intended to say was that the Jewish leaders should try to put Jesus to death for the sake of the nation as a political entity under Rome, but the true meaning of the words was that Jesus would die for the sins of the people, about which Caiphas had not the slightest inkling. It is in fact a solid parallel with Daschle's speech. What Daschle and Edwards intended to say was the words they did say but with a different meaning, which is exactly the same situation as Caisphas' --they contradicted the true meaning, as did Caiaphas, as the true meaning was known only by knowing what God intended by those words.

And then there is James' contention that Cahn's understanding of the speeches by Daschle and Edwards involves an allegorical interpretation of scripture. Which is patently ridiculous.
The meaning he assigns to their speeches is completely disconnected from what the words actually say ... If a proposed theological or spiritual idea does not come from the biblical text, then someone made it up. [THFOF pp. 119-20].
This is pernicious nonsense. It seems that James has no idea what Isaiah 9:10 is about.

Isaiah 9;10 is the statement of the leaders of Israel, in the "pride and arrogance of their hearts" that they will rebuild and replant what the Assyrian invasion destroyed of their buildings and trees, without the slightest regard to the fact that this invasion was God's judgment on Israel. That IS the meaning of that verse, and when Daschle and Edwards quoted it that was ALSO the meaning of that verse, only now in the context of America's response to 9/11.

It ought to have been apparent to any Christian with any biblical sense at all that America had exactly the same attitude that Israel had, with or without those exact words being spoken, but that the fact that they WERE spoken makes it clear that God Himself was directing their being spoken as if to underscore the fact that America's attitude was in fact defiance of His judgment.

It's James who has the unbiblical perspective on all this.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Nine, The Prophecy


Then James goes on to Harbinger Nine, The Prophecy, which is Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's speech given the day after 9/11, in which he too quoted Isaiah 9:10, which James so studiously denies is of any import, just as he claims none of the harbingers are really harbingers. Daschle quotes it with the same lack of understanding as Edwards would three years later, intending it to be "inspiration" for comfort.

He makes much of the fact that Cahn only quoted as far as Daschle's reading through of the verse and then his emphasizing the intent to rebuild and recover, but left out this last statement:
[Daschle] The people of America will stand together because the peoople of America have always stood together, and those of us who are privileged to serve this great nation will stand with you. God bless the people of America.[THFOF, p. 116]
James italicized the last sentence as I show. And then he goes on to give this objection:
By invoking God with the intent to comfort Americans and by using the Bible (albeit wrongly), Daschle's intention was clearly not defiance of God -- it was exactly the opposite. The decision to edit out the last two sentences of the Senate majority leader's speech and the failure to at least mention them is very misleading, if not worse.
How many times, and I've quoted some of them in previous posts, did God severely upbraid His people for coming to Him with prayers and sacrifices and other observances supposedly intended to honor Him while they were practicing idolatries and other sins? He denounced them for this "lip service" because they were ignoring their idolatries and sins and even God's acts of judgment against them. Surely their INTENTION was to honor God, surely they didn't INTEND to be defiant. This is a theme over and over in the Old Testament. If the Israelites' intention to honor God was not accepted by God how is it that James thinks a few words invoking God by Daschle and Edwards should be regarded as honoring God? God treated the ceremonies and sacrifices of His people pretty much as contempt of Him because of their lack of obedience. Yet James thinks a few sentimental words tossed to God by Daschle and Edwards proves they didn't have the defiant spirit of Isaiah 9:10? Again, this shows a biblical deaf ear, a complete lack of a biblical way of thinking.

Remember this is in the context of the attack on 9/11. Many want to deny that attack was God's judgment, but what explanation does that leave? Either the devil is in charge and has more power over such events than God Himself does, or it was simply the work of the terrorists and God has no power over them either. Same with natural disasters, if God isn't in charge who is? Either Nature itself or the devil, either having more power than God in that case. THAT is a REALLY dangerous world it seems to me, but that's the world you get if you deny that God is sovereign over ALL things. We can appeal to God, we can repent before God, not something we can do with either Nature or the devil.

Satan cannot do one thing without God's permission, and that is demonstrated in more than one place in scripture. Neither can Nature, neither can terrorists. There is no such thing as pure accident. We may not know the reason for a particular event but we should know that God is in control and that nothing happens without Him.

In which case there is really no other explanation for 9/11 than that God was completely in control of it and He had his reasons. He doesn't do things whimsically, He was saying something to America: We are out of His will. As God's judgments go, 9/11 was extremely mild, barely a love tap. It WAS judgment, but just a warning tap. We ignored it, so what does that mean? What choice does God have but to send MORE judgment against us? Is there another message He could have been giving?

And don't we Christians KNOW we are out of His will anyway? Why is it then that so many Christians and pastors denied that God had anything to do with 9/11? This can only be the result of some really really bad theology being taught in the churches and seminaries of this nation.

The fatuous ceremonies by that completely apostate Trinity Wall Street Church at Ground Zero are unfortunately not all that far from the mindset of true Christians across the country. What a sad thought THAT is. Their sentimental fawning over the sycamore tree root and the "Tree of Hope" they planted, as if they were symbols of better things to come for the nation, which in reality are symbols of God's judgment to anyone with a biblical sense, are all of a piece with the biblical obtuseness of Edwards and Daschle -- and yes, David James who sees it all exactly as they saw it, without the slightest sense of the true biblical meaning of it all.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Eight, Part 2, The Vow

The utterance as a biblical vow
Cahn brings yet another concept into his argument that lacks both biblical and historical support when he refers to Isaiah 9:10 and Edwards's words as a vow. The idea that both include vows is a crucial part of Cahn's theory -- so much so that he uses the word 100 times in the book.

As with his other ideas, concepts and theories, Cahn presents this one in such a way that most readers will probably never give a second thought as to whether or not the author has used the term vow biblically. He has not. And because of this, he has wrongly concluded that Isaiah 9:10 and John Edwards's speech both contain a vow. They do not.

...In English, vow can be used as a synonym for any type of oath or promise.
I don't see any need to go into this in depth. First I want to object to James' frequent reference to Cahn's "theory." This shows just how far he is from getting what The Harbinger is about. There is no theory involved, this is all a matter of Cahn's having made observations of events in the present and recognized their uncanny reflection of a verse in the Old Testament, in the context of that verse's happening to describe the attitude of America just as it described Israel's 1500 years ago. This is all observation and biblical application, this is not "theory."

Beyond that, what is going on here is that James claims that Cahn is using the word vow in the biblical sense of a formal vow taken before God, but in fact he isn't and there is nothing to suggest that he is except something in James' own mind. Isaiah 9:10 is a vow in the sense that it is a declared intention to rebuild, it is not a biblical vow taken in God's sight for some religious purpose. Since it is a statement of defiance against God Himself it is very odd that there could be any question about its being such a vow anyway. How do you vow before God to defy God? James is simply once again rigidly insisting on one particular meaning of a word, and in this case it doesn't even fit the context.

Neither is Edwards' that sort of vow. James makes much of Edwards' not even talking about literally rebuilding but about how people were coping with their losses since 9/11 as if that means he wasn't making a vow at all. Missing the point that simply reading Isaiah 9:10 as a statement meant to bring comfort to the nation by a promise to rebuid is a statement of the vow whether he elaborated on that promise or not. A promise, a statement of intent, a nonformal sort of vow.

Monday, September 3, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Eight, The Utterance, and Utterly Misses the Point:

The evidence continues to mount that [Cahn] believes that in some way Isaiah 9:10 was not only to Israel but was also to, about, and for the United States. Cahn useds the idea that "Somehow Isaiah 9:10 has to be connected to Washington DC" to set up his theory concerning the eighth harbinger.
David James seems to be a nice guy, a sincere guy, he's probably a good Christian man, and apparently in writing this book he's writing for at least some others who had the same take on The Harbinger he had, but from where I sit he's missed it so completely it is hard to comprehend and hard to explain.

This is THE main recurrent theme of the criticism he brings against The Harbinger, that he thinks Cahn actually believes that Isaiah himself some 2500 years ago was writing not only to Israel and about Israel but also had modern America in mind. It boggles MY mind that he could even begin to think such a thing, but he thinks he sees it in some of Cahn's wording such as "Somehow Isaiah 9:10 has to be connected to Washington DC."

It's a dramatic device Cahn is using, he's not saying somehow Washington DC must be IN Isaiah 9:10, he's saying that for the prophecy to continue to be consistent, as it has been over the previous harbingers, for it to continue to play out as the remarkable reflection of Isaiah 9:10 it already is, when we get to the question of who SPOKE the vow to rebuild we would expect to find that coming from the LEADERS of the nation, because it was the leaders of Israel who spoke it way back then. In short, if the parallel between Israel's attitude and America's is to hold up we would expect to find the leaders of America voicing it. That's why we have to find a connection to Washington DC because that's where the leaders of America generally hang out.

I'd really like to know how many out there could possibly have misread this the way David James and his fellow critics have misread it. My guess would be very few or at least I hope it's very few. I can't even imagine what it is that leads them to read it this way. Is it somehow the consequence of their biblical hermeneutic that they can imagine anyone reading the present into an ancient manuscript like this? Common sense ought to tell them that even if at first glance it SEEMS like that's what Cahn is saying he couldn't POSSIBLY be saying that, which should then lead them to what he DID mean.

And really, since in various interviews they did put this question to Cahn over and over again and he consistently denied it, what sort of arrogance does it take for them to ignore his denials and continue to insist that THEIR reading of it is what he REALLY meant? Some time back I mentioned that the way the critics deal with Cahn reminds me of a "kafkaesque nightmare," which means they come to the task with some very strange preconceptions of their own that they apply whether they fit or not, they insist they do fit, and nothing Cahn says matters -- or everything he says only confirms his guilt in his interrogators' minds. He's under suspicion from beginning to end of the interrogation based on some standard that is completely alien to his own way of thinking, he's tried and convicted on this alien standard and they consider justice to have been done. I don't know how far this scenario reflects Franz Kafka's actual writings but it's what the phrase has always conjured in my mind and it sadly fits the situation of The Harbinger.


I'm sure that same theme is going to come up again as I read this book, but now James is going on to Harbinger Eight itself, which will no doubt involve another "kafkaesque" assumption designed to convict Cahn of some sort of offense of their own invention.

Cahn takes the reader to Washington D.C. where we are shown John Edwards giving a speech in which he quotes Isaiah 9:10. This occurred in reality at a Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2004. Here's James' take on this:
As was said of those involved with the placement of the Tree of Hope at Ground Zero, Cahn frames Edwards's words as part of an unwitting act of defiance. However, an honest reading of the entire speech makes it clear that not only was defiance of God the furthest thing from his mind, but neither was he unwittingly using defiant words (as can be seen in the following excerpts from the speech). So if defiance was not in his words andif it was not in his heart and mind, then where was it? Unfortunately, this is just one more thing that has been made up.
To be sure it's clear where James is getting his view of Edwards' speech I'll reproduce what he's quoted of that speech in the book as well:
[John Edwards] Good morning. Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord's word to get us through. "The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place."
Well, let's take this first part of it first because this is all Cahn needed to make his point. Edwards quotes Isaiah 9:10 which is the statement of Israel's defiance of God by vowing to rebuild what the Assyrians had destroyed, without acknowledging that the destruction was God's judgment of the nation or seeking repentance to bring the nation back to God's good favor. It was clear to Cahn, as it was to me and many other readers of the book, that merely quoting Isaiah 9:10 puts Edwards in the position of pronouncing the same attitude toward 9/11 that the leaders of Israel pronounced toward the Assyrian invasion. It was defiance in Israel and it remains defiance when applied to America.

Edwards' foolish misunderstanding of it as words of reassurance, as "the Lord's word to get us through," really only highlights the defiance in the message. James has italicized that phrase as if it demonstrates that Cahn is wrong, claiming it shows that Edwards had no defiance in his heart but wanted to bring a message of comfort to the nation. But it is that very fact that makes the defiance unwitting. Simply to speak of rebuilding without recognizing that 9/11 was God's judgment IS defiance of God. This is Cahn's point. This is why Cahn emphasizes over and over that it is not about the intentions of the speaker, but simply that in speaking the words themselves he is speaking defiance of God.

It also proves nothing about Edward's heart as James claims it does, since the very desire to comfort the nation for 9/11 without acknowledging that it was God's judgment IS to have a heart attitude of defiance. That is essentially what Isaiah 9:10 describes of Israel's attitude -- we will restore our hurting nation by rebuilding, with no acknowledgment that they are out of the will of God and no intention whatever of making amends with God.

Was their defiance intentional or conscious? I don't see that the scripture says it was any more than John Edwards' defiance was. Their "prideful and arrogant hearts" are implicit in the very ignoring of God's judgment. Israel was always committing sins and idolatries ALONG WITH their prescribed sacrifices and their rites and ceremonies in supposed worship of their covenant God Jehovah, and always considered themselves to be His chosen people. They didn't see their own defiance any more than Edwards saw his or America's. That's why God sent prophets to Israel over and over, to SHOW them that they were in violation of His law and His covenant, to bring suit against them in the hope of waking them up and bringing them back to the fold. This is what The Harbinger aims to do for America.

James is very naive here. He has the same naivete Edwards had and that America has. And it is his naivete that leads him to completely miss the point. It is a BIBLICAL point that Cahn is making, it is something you know from knowing the Bible. The human heart is wicked above all things, who can know it? said Jeremiah. Well, how many of us recognize the wickedness of our hearts without the Bible's telling us it is so? Hardly any. Most people think they are good and have good hearts and that most people have good hearts. Jeremiah tells us, no, our hearts are wicked.

This is why I don't think Israel intended to defy God, and it's why Edwards was defying God without knowing it, and all America was defying God in refusing to see 9/11 as His judgment. What an American leader SHOULD have done, preferably a President but any leader could have at least made the point, is call for a national time of fasting, mourning and repentance for the sins that brought the attack upon us. There were times in the past when Presidents did call for such an national observance. Instead all we heard was about the sufferings and needing to bind the wounds of a hurting nation -- that part was important and necessary but in the absense of an acknowledgment of the attack as God's judgment it becomes defiance of God. But this single focus is what James and so many others think is sufficient acknowledgment of God? I'm afraid so. Americans thought they were acknowledging God when they sang "God bless America" but in fact were defying God because ignoring His judgment against us, His attempt to make us aware that we are out of His will, that the nation is groaning under sins that He must judge unless we turn it back to Him.

This is the whole point of The Harbinger. It is a BIBLICAL point. James shares the very attitude of defiance of God that the book seeks to expose and correct and this is really the substance of his objection to the book.

James goes on to quote the rest of Edwards' speech, which is about the sadness of the nation over the attack, and the loneliness and the bewilderment, and this IS sad. I don't want to minimize the pain of the sufferers here, but NOBODY APPLIED THE RIGHT REMEDY. People went to the churches after 9/11 hoping to find an answer to this bewildering and painful experience and they got sympathy and platitudes, they did not get the truth. They didn't stay in the churches. What was there to stay for? You can get sympathy and platitudes at the local bar and the anaesthetic of alcohol as well.

I've been looking for a passage of scripture that says something like "They heal the wounds of My people lightly," meaning the remedy isn't sufficient that is being applied because the cause of the suffering isn't recognized. But I can't find it.

Found it:
Jer 8:11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace.
The true prophets didn't prophesy peace where there is no peace, they prophesied judgment. The wounds won't be healed until the cause of the judgment is turned back.

This is another reason I don't think Israel's defiance was intentional, because there are many passages where God is lamenting that His people aren't taught rightly, they are ignorant of His ways and His laws and therefore keep coming under His judgment and having to suffer for lack of knowledge. This one in Isaiah at least describes the cause of the suffering:
Isa 1:4-6 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head [there is] no soundness in it; [but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
James thinks that Edwards' call for grace and goodwill and prayers for comfort, proves that there was no defiance in Edwards' heart.
Not a single hint of defiance can be read into Edwards's words. Defiance most certainly was not on the hearts and minds of those in attendance at the prayer breakfast that morning either. yet in spite of all evidence to the contrary, the following dialogue explains what Cahn elieves really happened that day:
[Kaplan] "It wasn't about the motive or the intention of the one doing it, the fact that it was done . . . that it happened. It happened because it had to happen. It was another replahying of the ancient mystery. What the speakier intended to say was irrelevant. The words came out because those were the words that had to be spoken. The vow had to be proclaimed, the words of the ancient leaders over the ancient calamity had to be proclaimed by an American leader over 9/11. And by doing so, the two nations, the ancient and the modern, were bound together. The utterance would join the Assyrian invasion to 9/11 and America's post-9/11 defiance to Israel's defiance in the face of God's judgment.
Jonathan Cahn contends that Edwards was openly defying God but did not realize he was doing so. Cahn does the same thing concerning Tom Daschle in the next chapter. Based on nothing more than a need to fit his harbinger theory, the author contends that although Edwards and Daschle both intended to say one thing, their words carries a far different meaning -- a meaning that they did not intend and a meaning that no one who heard either speech would have understood or even remotely considered.
Seems to me that what Jonathan Cahn is up against here is a Biblical deaf ear. James doesn't think biblically. He thinks like any secular fallen human being. This stuff is biblically naive to put it kindly.

The reason Edwards and Daschle had no idea what they were saying and that no one who heard them would have remotely considered the meaning of defiance is that they and their hearers, like most of America, are biblically deaf.

Cahn's biblical insight on the other hand is right on the mark. Edwards and Daschle both DID speak prophetically in quoting Isaiah 9:10, they DID pronounce the spirit of defiance on behalf of the nation, that was being expressed already anyway by the majority of the people including pastors across the country. In pronouncing that spirit of defiance they were speaking harbingers of God's judgment against a sinful nation. What does it mean when God's judgment is ignored? MORE IS TO COME. It is a Biblical principle. They spoke the words of defiance, defying God's judgment on 9/11. and that becomes prophetic of further judgment. It's a BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 5: Again, is Isaiah ABOUT America?

And here comes this absolutely bizarre notion again that keeps cropping up in the thinking of The Harbinger's critics:
And finally, concerning the Erez tree, it must be noted once again that Cahn has at times tried to distance himself from his own words in the book by stating that Isaiah 9:10 is not a prophecy about America. However, it is virtually impossible to reconcile this claim with the following exchange:
[The Prophet] "The new tree was set into position to stand on the same spot where once had stood the Sycamore of Ground Zero."

[Kaplan]"What was it? What kind of tree?"

[The Prophet] "The most natural thing to have done would have been to replace the one Sycamore with another. But the prophecy required that the fallen Sycamore be replaced with a tree of an entirely different nature."
The prophecy in Isaiah 9:10 cannot require anything to happen in America if it was not given to America. Yet repeatedly Cahn insists that each of the harbinger events had to happen in America after 9/11 because the Isaiah passage required them to happen. Once again, there is no amazing prophetic coincidence. There is no match. There is no parallel. And there is no harbinger.
Often while reading this sort of thing in James' book I find myself sitting perplexed trying to figure out how he managed to get this idea out of that piece of writing.

Cahn is not "trying to distance himself from his own words," he's trying to distance himself from this sort of bizarre misreading of his words.

He states that "Isaiah 9:10 is not a prophecy about America" because it isn't a prophecy about America and he never said it was, although James apparently thinks he's saying it is in the short dialogue he quotes above.

First, Isaiah 9:10 itself is not a prophecy and Cahn does not mean it is a prophecy EXCEPT as it becomes manifest in America. THEN it becomes a prophecy TO America. But in itself it is just a statement of a nation's defiance of God in planning to rebuild after God has brought judgment against them, instead of repenting for the sins that brought the judgment.

Once it is applied to America it is THEN a prophecy and it THEN "requires" replacing the Sycamore with the Erez because that's what Israel said they were going to do. For the verse to BE a prophecy to America events in America must follow the pattern described there. That's all he means by saying "the prophecy required" the planting of the Erez.

Isaiah 9:10 in itself does not "require" ANYTHING to happen and Cahn does not say it does. James is simply misreading and misunderstanding the whole thing.

Hard to understand how but obviously he is and since he so completely misread that I suppose he would misread my explanation as well.

Well, this finishes off James' section on the Erez Tree. On to the next section, Harbinger Eight, The Utterance.

Update on my soul-searching about The Harbinger

The critics were getting to me: Perhaps, although I don't see it, I am deceived about it since they are so convinced it is a deception. The only way to find out would be to suspend my opinions and take some time off to think and pray about it.

I did that. I kept hoping for some sort of clear directive to kind of hit me from out of the blue as it were. Nothing happened. But when I went back to reading David James' book it was just as clear to me as ever that he is wrong in his criticisms. That apparently is God's answer and now I'm back to defending The Harbinger.