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.

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