Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Neurosurgeon's "heaven" story. More credible with the science believers?

The story about a visit to heaven by this neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, Proof of Heaven, is now available at Amazon, and is also getting some positive publicity at various blogs I visit, one of them run by a Christian who should know better, but I've found for some time now that even people I do regard as true Christians in fact don't have a biblical perspetive on these things.  If it's supernatural they buy it as if all supernatural experiences must be in tune with the Bible.  What a recipe for deception!  And Satan's hordes are having a field day with this stuff.  Must be fun inventing "heaven" for the easily deceived. 

I also got an email about this one from a friend who's heavy into the New Age and will hear nothing about the gospel from me.  That alone ought to show that such experiences have nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It should be obvious enough anyway from the stories themselves to anyone who has a Biblical perspective on these things.   

This particular story is written from the point of view of one who had believed the outrageous claims of materialist "science" that everything proceeds from the material so that such experiences are understood to be mere products of a disordered brain and the like. 

The following is from the Amazon Eben Alexander page:
His experience clearly revealed that we are conscious in spite of our brain - that, in fact, consciousness is at the root of all existence.
His story offers a crucial key to the understanding of reality and human consciousness. It will have a major effect on how we view spirituality, soul and the non-material realm. In analyzing his experience, including the scientific possibilities and grand implications, he envisions a more complete reconciliation of modern science and spirituality as a natural product.
He has been blessed with a complete recovery, and has written a book about this most powerful, life-changing story. Simon & Schuster will publish his book, entitled "Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife" on October 23, 2012. 
For more information, including video links and reading list, visit 
Yes, we are conscious in spite of our brain.  I've experienced that myself as a matter of fact although I wouldn't try to persuade someone else based on my experience.  We are immortal souls.  We will live forever. 

But what you aren't going to find out from this kind of report is that there is such a place or state as Hell, which IS an afterlife after all, in which SOME will live forever if that can be called "living."  These out-of-body experiences are designed to mislead you into believing EVERYBODY is going to have this very pleasant afterlife experience.  That's obviously the purpose of them.  No Hell, no worry, just look forward to intense beauty, color, interesting creatures, forever.  THAT's the delusion in these things. 

The whole point is to deny the testimony of the Bible, a testimony given to us to lead us to truth and save us from such deceptions by the demonic hordes.  Keeping you away from THAT is their aim.  God became a man in order to die to pay for our sins so we won't have to go to Hell?  Na, there's no such thing as sin, no such thing as Hell, we like our own delusions better. 

So are Hitler and Stalin and Jack the Ripper having a nice time in one of these otherworldly paradises do ya think?

Anyway, maybe his story will persuade some of the "science"-bound to believe in the existence of an afterlife (not in the God of the Bible, of course, not in salvation from sin through faith in Christ's death on the cross in our place), just because he's a neurosurgeon I suppose, who's sort of in the science arena and may therefore be considered particularly credible for no good reason whatever. Just that he too was deceived by "science" so that makes him more credible? Something like that. So he might be believed by some who wouldn't listen to the Bible which is full of witness testimony to things miraculous and otherworldly but will listen to just anybody today with an experience.

In reality, there's no more evidence for such things from this story than there ever is, of course: You either believe this guy or you don't. That's the way it always is in the end. Unless you have such an experience yourself all you have is witness testimony. That's the way it is with the Bible and that's the way it is with ALL testimonies to anything you can't prove from material evidence or personally prove from yur own experience, such as a spiritual life apart from the body.

I just happened to write about this at my evolution blog this morning, about how faith is based on witness testimony, in response to a post at EvC (Evolution versus Creation forum), as the poster tried to dismiss faith as having no rational grounds whatever.  They simply define it out of existence.  

But as I say at the other blog, faith is believing witnesses, and you believe on the basis of judging their testimony to be credible, and you don't believe if you don't think it credible -- or just because you are one of those who won't believe anything whatever unless you can see it and touch it and feel it for yourself (or so you think, since in reality everybody believes tons of stuff on witness testimony alone).  

I found the statement at this link to be an interesting clue:
Although I considered myself a faithful Christian, I was so more in name than in actual belief. I didn't begrudge those who wanted to believe that Jesus was more than simply a good man who had suffered at the hands of the world. I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God somewhere out there who loved us unconditionally. In fact, I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better than to believe them myself.
He considered himself to be a "faithful Christian" although he never attended church (he doesn't identify the church he feels is his either) and he doesn't give one iota of evidence that he understands anything that has to do with being a Christian, and as far as this goes he believes nothing any more Christian after his experience than before it.

Yahoo report on this story

And a followup.  Somebody posted a comment in relation to a report on this book about how a small child on leaving the gravesite of the grandmother who had doted on him suddenly looked up toward the sky and said "I'll miss you too."  That's very touching and full of implications about what the child was supposedly responding to.  Even the "Christians" at this website took it as the grandmother's saying goodbye from heaven.

Question:  Does this story in any way suggest the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, or does it instead suggest universalism, that is, the belief that everybody goes to heaven?

The latter obviously.  No mention was made of this family's beliefs if any, just this experience.  This alone OUGHT to alert a Christian to the fact that this sort of thing is a deception for the purpose of detracting from the gospel of Christ.  We have to assume the child heard SOMETHING in order to respond as he did, and if you believe the Bible you should know it could not have been his grandmother in heaven because we don't have communication with the dead, but demons may impersonate people and they are the ones who have the motive to detract from the gospel.

Wake up, Christians!  The devils don't mind using a three-year-old to deceive sentimental souls who would not let themselves question such a supposedly tender moment. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How do we find Biblical Truth in the midst of today's doctrinal chaos

We are in a time not only of deteriorating morality and spirituality in the world, inviting God's judgment particularly against the once-Christian western nations, and in the cults and the obviously apostate churches, but questionable leanings by EVERY ministry we'd generally consider to be orthodox within the church. 
I was surprised when it turned out that the criticisms of The Harbinger seem to come predominantly from Dispensationalism, a theological system within the Church holding views not normally regarded as cause for division among Christians, but in this case being applied against The Harbinger in a surprisingly dogmatic way, as if it is THE biblical standard and all opposition to it is to be condemned as apostate.  Mostly I've found that the critics are misreading the book to hold the views they are condemning, erecting a straw man argument in other words, but nevertheless their willingness to condemn this straw man opponent of their theology is surprising. 

Normally a criticism of the sort coming against The Harbinger would expose errors based on Biblical principles common to all Christians, such as clearcut doctrinal deviations as from the Deity of Christ, which is held by the "liberal" churches and by the Jehovah's Witnesses for instance, or from a false works-based idea of salvation, which is held by Catholicism and by Mormonism.  A critique from within a theological system normally considered to be within orthodoxy would ordinarily identify that system and not take a condemnatory stance toward the other, but this is what has happened with respect to The Harbinger.   They multiply objections against the book, often with a dogmatic condemnatory thrust, but so far I haven't found a single one that sticks from a truly Biblical perspective.

Sometimes the truly apostate gets mixed up with these merely in-house differences.  I was just reading an article in The Berean Call finding fault with The Truth Project, a series of teachings on DVD I saw a couple years ago, aimed at defining a Christian Biblical worldview, taught by Del Tackett of Focus on the Family.  I found that series to be extremely well done but I fault it myself for including a Catholic priest, and McMahon of The Berean Call shows that that particular Catholic priest has his hands in the gay movement among other things, making it even worse. 

He also objects to the fact that the series was put out by Focus on the Family which also bothers me because that ministry treats Catholicism as Christian and because they promote psychotherapy concepts that shouldn't be in the church at all, and I agree with him about both.  But I don't find the psychotherapy focus in The Truth Project itself and I think McMahon is going too far there --  he thinks Tackett's saying that God has given us all a desire for "significance" amounts to an emphasis on self as in the psychotherapy framework, but I didn't hear it that way.  I hear it rather as a desire as creatures made in the image of God for something better to define our lives than this fallen world has to offer us, which seems to me to be perfectly within biblical implications. 

And beyond that McMahon objects to some Calvinist teachings in the series, even objecting to its quoting from the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Well, I consider myself to be a Calvinist so that's a plus for the series in my mind. I don't claim to know enough to argue the Calvinist-Arminian dispute beyond some basics, so I hold it all somewhat loosely and generally avoid getting into the debate.  As McMahon points out, however, there are some directions today's Calvinists go that I WOULD object to, such as Reconstructionism, which McMahon also criticizes, and their tending toward Amillennialism and Preterism.  None of these doctrines was held by the original Reformers and I reject all of them.  

I made my own attempt to grapple with Amillennialism a couple years ago, which I spell out at my blog End Times Monitor, and found it a frustrating exercise in nonsense.  To this day I still don't have a well worked out end times theology of my own.  I tend to think some things are yet future, I think for instance that there must be a role for national Israel yet to play out in the drama of Planet Earth, I haven't seen a convincing interpretion of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel that treats it as anything but a specific period of years of which 69 were fulfilled at the coming of Christ, leaving seven of them yet future, yet overall I reject Dispensationalism which treats Old Testament Israel as a separate entity from the Church. 

I like some things about Historicism, such as that it preserves the historical FACT that Roman Catholicism was recognized as the Antichrist by Bible believers down through the centuries from very early on, and that recognition has been lost with the rise of these other eschatalogical (end times) systems such as Amillennialism, Preterism and Futurism.   THAT is a major disaster for the Church it seems to me.  If there is one major mistake being made by the churches it is in treating Roman Catholicism as just another Christian denomination.  THAT's the Trojan Horse within the Church these days, the one we should all be learning to identify and eject from our midst and I strongly appreciate Chris Pinto's work toward this end. 

Beyond that obvious glaring mistake, it's like there's no such thing as a pure ministry anywhere these days.  I could list all my own beliefs and objections to various systems of thought just as many others could and I think I'm right just as they think they are right.  So in my opinion McMahon gets some things right, lots of things right overall, even in his criticism of The Truth Project but also gets some things wrong.  The Truth Project gets most important things right in my opinion but does get a few things wrong and that Catholic priest is no SMALL thing that's wrong with it, although I don't find that it affects what the series actually teaches, and overall its doctrine remains creditable in my judgment.  Take out the priest, take a clear stand against Romanism, and psychotherapy too, and get some other ministry than Focus on the Family to sponsor it and I wouldn't have any objections to it. 

It's rather like The Harbinger perhaps, in that there is nothing doctrinally wrong with it although it has some associations that should rightly raise some eyebrows.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some comments I wrote at Dave James site

Dave James said at his site Biblical
“However, much of the understanding and application of Cahn’s “insights” into Isaiah 9:10 have not been revealed by God as even a cursory study of the passage clearly demonstrates.
I show this in great detail in my book.”
Hello Dave,
Cahn has offered no special “insights” into Isaiah 9:10, he reads it as all of us read it, as a description of Israel’s attitude of nonrepentance after God’s first wave of judgment against them by the Assyrians.

All Cahn did was notice that this verse describes America’s attitude after 9/11, that various American politicians even quoted it in connection with 9/11, thereby declaring the same attitude of nonrepentance it describes of Israel, and that certain physical “harbingers” also appeared in America that emphasize the same message:   That America is in defiance of God, refusing to acknowledge that we are under judgment and that 9/11 was judgment, a first warning judgment so that if the nation doesn’t turn back to Him there is to be more to come.

It’s all in the meaning of the Isaiah passage itself and its undeniable application in America.

I really have no clue what more God could have done to impress on us the understanding and application of that verse in relation to America than He has done in the ways Cahn has pointed out. You seem to be asking for something impossible, in fact I have no idea what you ARE asking for it’s so strange to my thinking.

One more thing, you make far more of the idea of the first American settlers’ having a covenant with God than Cahn does. You claim in your book (p. 58) that “there would be no basis for the book or for any of Cahn’s major ideas” without the belief in such a covenant relationship with God. That is simply not true. God brings ALL nations under judgment, and the evidence that America is under judgment is present whether or not we had a covenant.

And as usual you just run roughshod over Cahn’s endless denials of all the critics’ accusations, in this case his denial of this very thing where you quote him saying (your book p. 67) “…America has been blessed. But the idea that this necessitates such a covenant, or that God entered into such a covenant, is never claimed anywhere in the book."

This is true, but it doesn’t seem to matter what Cahn says or anybody else says, you remain convinced of your own view of it which you are apparently willing to assert no matter what anyone else says.

You go on from that quote to cast suspicion on Cahn’s lack of certainty whether we’re in covenant with God or not. But he clearly has no basis for certainty and was acknowledging that. We know the Puritans and Pilgrims wanted to live as in covenant with Him, they committed themselves to Him, they had the “aim…to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” in America. They considered themselves under covenant but there is not one hint that this was the same KIND of covenant Israel had and it would be stupid for anyone to make such a claim. The Bible is clear that God initiated THAT covenant.

To call America the “new Israel” does not have any implication of replacing Israel, merely following Israel. And a desire and sincere effort to follow God even after the pattern of the Laws God gave Israel would PROBABLY be honored by God. Cahn says as much. There is no certainty, there is no covenant like Israel’s, but there was a way that America was dedicated to God that DID make it unique among nations and I for one find it compelling that all that DID put America on a special footing with God.


Today Oct 15:
What happens is if you take the Reformed approach, the it becomes a theological hermeneutic rather than a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic. Rather than allowing the text to speak for itself, our understanding of a particular theological issue can get imposed back on the text so that we say “this is what it really means” when the writer would never have understood that meaning in a million years. This completely undermines the idea of the perspicuity of the Scriptures.
 I recently posted a couple of talks at my blog on Reformed hermeneutics by [a local] pastor in which he discusses this and makes what apparently is a standard Reformed argument that the OT writers did in fact understand that they were writing of Christ, so that the surface meaning isn't all there is to it even in their minds.  

He starts from Jesus' and the disciples' own interpretations of the OT, who of course ought to be authoritative --  or do you claim they got it wrong about the OT? 

He also refers to a "grammatical historical" hermeneutic by the way and gives some reasons why "literal" doesn't work. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dispensationalists are true Christians but misled by Rome

I am aware that major players on both sides of this Harbinger dispute are Dispensationalists, and very likely Jonathan Cahn as well. 

It's one of the areas of disagreement between me and others even on my side of this issue, such as Jan Markell's ministry, and I've posted on some topics where it is a problem I have to mention, but it never is such a problem as it is with David James and the other critics of The Harbinger.  I don't know how to account for this, I can only figure there are some Dispensationalists who are theologically more rigid than others, but I'm now completely convinced that it's the critics' Dispensationalism that is the root of their attack.  

And I should say that I do not regard this as an issue to divide Christians.  Angry though I can be to see how Dispensationalist tenets are being used against The Harbinger, it's not the PEOPLE that are the problem.  I'm not dividing from Christians on this, I consider them all to be brothers and sisters in Christ and good Christians  -- merely in thrall to a truly bad theological and hermeneutical system.  

The first thing they accused The Harbinger of was Replacement Theology.  David James realizes that's not the case but he still applies his Dispensationalist assumptions to the point of claiming that Cahn has put America in the place of Israel in some sense.  This to my mind is utterly absurd and not borne out in the book, although if it were it wouldn't necessarily be an offense to my Reformed views anyway.  It's simply false, absurd.  But David James is a nice guy and a good Christian man from all I can tell, perhaps simply too good an exponent of the Dispensationalist system of hermeneutics and theology.  This is NOT personal.

I don't believe there is such a thing as Replacement Theology, that's a Dispensationalist misrepresentation of the Reformed position.  (I gather the Reformed position is called Covenant Theology but I'm not up enough on all these different categories to know quite what that means yet so I'm simply referring to the whole theological divide as Reformed versus Dispensational.)  

The very term "Replacement Theology" makes one a Dispensationalist because their main tenet is that Israel and the Church are to be regarded as separate entities, so that the Reformed's seeing the promises as all fulfilled in the Church rather than in Israel is to their mind a "replacement" of Israel by the Church.  The Reformed side believe that the Church always WAS Israel from the beginning and is the fulfillment of all the promises, there is no replacement because there never were two separate entities, and the Old Testament is entirely a preparation for the coming of the Messiah Jesus in whom all the promises are fulfilled. 

However, I'm not Reformed ENOUGH according to some of the Reformed I know, who believe that the state of Israel has NO biblical justification whatever.  Pastor Borgman's studies on these things that I recently posted are very very good, but I still end up thinking there HAS to be SOME purpose for the state of Israel in the end times, and it helps to my mind that the Protestant Reformers also had this point of view.  You never know where I'll end up if I keep studying all this but this is where I am now and where I've been for some time. 

I've been particularly influenced by Chris Pinto who gave the information that the Reformers believed there is still to be a role for national Israel, also that the Dispensationalist system of theology is part of the Roman Church's Counter-Reformation as formulated by their Jesuit attack dogs.  Also Arminianism.  They've certainly succeeded in their aim to get the onus off the Vatican as the seat of the Antichrist which was the Reformed position and in fact the position of true Christians back 1500 years or so, also succeeded in undermining formerly solid Protestant theology.  The Futurism of the Dispensationalist camp is a major coup as now everybody is looking for some personality to be the Antichrist who has nothing to do with the Roman Church, though it was the papacy itself, pope after pope after pope, who were recognized as THE Antichrist until all these new theories took over.  Interestingly, Preterism also has the same effect of taking the heat off Rome and is also a new invention by Jesuits.  If they don't get you one way they'll get you the other and the Church falls for it.

Lord willing, and if He tarries, and I live long enough, I want to pursue all these connections, learn more, and be part of the Counter-CounterReformation.

Are the Harbingers merely meaningless Coincidences?

Near the beginning of his book critiquing The Harbinger, David James has a short section on Coincidences, intending to suggest that even the most uncanny coincidences aren't to be taken seriously, of course implying that's also true of the harbingers of judgment, that they are merely the same sort of meaningless coincidences.

He gives two main examples of extremely uncanny coincidences.  The first was the uncanny correspondences between the Presidencies of Lincoln and Kennedy exactly a hundred years apart, including the names of their Vice Presidents, secretaries and details about their assassinations. 

The other was a novel written fourteen years before the Titanic disaster, which describes an almost identical sinking of an almost identical ship and it was called The Wreck of the Titan

There is no doubt that those are two examples of extremely uncanny coincidences that are clearly without any useful import.  All you can do is say "Wow, that's amazing" but also "What's the point?"

But the problem in comparing this kind of coincidence with the harbingers, which so uncannily correspond with a verse in the Old Testament, is that these are not meaningless useless coincidences but highly charged with meaning that carries the weight of the Bible and God's warnings of judgment on a nation and even without them the Bible verse clearly describes America after 9/11.  We're clearly being given a warning and the harbingers set it in stone as it were.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Some more background on Dispensationalism

I'll never master all this theological stuff, I can hardly keep most of it in mind for any length of time.  But once again I feel a need to TRY to get a better understanding of this pernicious doctrine called Dispensationalism, in this case because it's the main source of the criticism of The Harbinger.  If it weren't for this sort of discovery, of how a theological system can so unfairly assault other Christians and bring suspicion on valid biblical reasoning from another theological system, I'd so much rather just forget all this stuff.

But anyway, as I'd heard many times but never really checked out, it's fair to call Dispensationalism a JESUIT PLOT.  The link above gives a historical sketch, and includes this summation:
Through the espousal of Jesuit Futurism by J. N. Darby and his followers, some one thousand five-hundred years of orthodox Christian prophetic history was discarded. Rome wants everybody to believe that the interpretation placed on Bible prophecy concerning anti-Christ has nothing whatever to do with the Roman Church. The Papacy wants us to believe that when Rome fell prophetic fulfilment halted, and will continue to be fulfilled from the time of the supposed Rapture
Some quotes from some anti-dispensationalists from that same site:
"My brother, I am a constant reader of my Bible, and I soon found that what I was taught to believe did not always agree with what my Bible said. I came to see that I must either part company with John Darby, or my precious Bible, and I chose to cling to my Bible and part from Mr. Darby." George Müeller (1805–1898)

I am quite convinced that all the promises to Israél are found, are finding and will find their perfect fulfilment in the Church. It is true that in time past, in my expositions, I gave a definite place to Israél in the purposes of God. I have now come to the conviction, as I have just said, that it is, the new and spiritual Israél that is intended. G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945)

Dispensationalism is a device of the enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation. A. W. Pink (1886-1952)

It is mortifying to remember that I not only held and taught these novelties myself, but that I even enjoyed a complacent sense of superiority because thereof, and regarded with feelings of pity and contempt those who had not received the "new light" and were unacquainted with this up-to-date method of "rightly dividing the word of truth." For I fully believed what an advertising circular says in presenting "Twelve Reasons why you should use THE SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE," namely, that: "First, the Scofield Bible outlines the Scriptures from the standpoint of DISPENSATIONAL TRUTH, and there can be no adequate understanding or rightly dividing of the Word of God except from the standpoint of dispensational truth."

What a slur is this upon the spiritual understanding of the ten thousands of men, "mighty in the Scriptures," whom God gave as teachers to His people during all the Christian centuries before "dispensational truth" (or dispensational error), was discovered! And what an affront to the thousands of men of God of our own day, workmen that need not to be ashamed, who have never accepted the newly invented system! Yet I was among those who eagerly embraced it (upon human authority solely, for there is none other) and who earnestly pressed it upon my fellow Christians. I am deeply thankful, however, that the time came (it was just ten years ago) when the inconsistencies and self contradictions of the system itself, and above all, the impossibility of reconciling its main positions with the plain statements of the Word of God, became so glaringly evident that I could not do otherwise than renounce it. Philip Mauro (1859-1952).
Ex-Catholic-Priest Richard Bennett is a great source of knowledge about the history of Catholicism and its plots against Protestantism.  In this talk he only mentions Dispensationalism briefly, as one of Catholicism's plots so it's not a study of that theology itself, just a confirmation of how it serves Rome. 

Roman Catholic Counter Reformation, Antichrist, Dispensationalism, Jesuits, Islam ...

The following links are to a series of teachings by Pastor Borgman I may have heard when he gave them though I'd forgotten most of it if so.  It's very thorough but although he mentions that it was a Jesuit who invented it to get Rome out from under the label of Antichrist, he doesn't pursue the implication that Rome is still plotting against the Reformation and succeeding.

The Origins of Dispensationalism

The Spread and Influence of Dispensationalism

The Teaching of Dispensationalism

Of particular interest to me in the third of this series was Pastor Borgman's observation that Dispensationalism engenders an attitude of suspicion toward those who don't believe as they do, which is what I've been noticing about the attitude toward Jonathan Cahn.  And again, it's not that I'd be completely in favor of Cahn's theological system either, as I have my own objections to elements of the Messianic movement, but overall he's completely within orthodoxy as far as I can tell from his book and information at his site, and the suspicion creates doubts that are undeserved and unfairly poison people's minds against him.

You can find arguments against all this of course, even calling this point of view a conspiracy theory and so on. 

"Heaven" stories believed because the Bible is undermined?

I got this message today on that same post on the Heaven stories that still attracts so much attention:  "Counterfeit "heaven" stories deceive even Christians...":
I disagree about the author of this articles position about ' scripture being enough' for true Christians. I work hard to stay in the word, but there are often times I am challenged or am unable to interpret the meaning of a passage or a chapter. There are numerous translations which change meanings slightly. If a good person is motivated to pray more, to accept Christ or to perform works for others, then why is it impossible to believe that God is using it as a tool to reach people. The bible is a collection of historic stories written over hundreds of years. Why cannot the 'stories' be continuing to evolve? I don't think you can believe Jesus Lives and say that his word is unchanged since his death?
I don't know what branch of the Church this person belongs to but if he/she is in a standard evangelical/Bible-believing church this is a very sad message.

I didn't say God can't use these stories to reach people, I'm sure they can be used for that purpose just as so many other things can be, but that doesn't make them true in themselves.   The problem is that these stories teach a false Christ so you can't say that they lead people to "accept" the true Christ. 

But what is most distressing about this comment is the way the Bible is treated as something that could continue to evolve rather than the foundational truth it is.  Truth can't "evolve" in the direction of something that contradicts it and that's what these stories do.  Yes I certainly CAN say His word is unchanged since He lived on this earth.

This comment also suggests exactly what I've been trying to get across on my blog about the Bible versions, The Great Bible Hoax of 1881 It is only too clear that at least for some people the many different "translations" only lead them into distrusting God's word, and I suspect they have some of that effect on all of us even if we don't go as far as this writer does.

I feel a terrible sadness when I hear a good sermon preached quoting from one of the newer Bibles, because of the lack of sensitivity to the problem of confusing the listeners among other things. 

In Isaiah 9 just for an example, "But His hand is stretched out still" in the KJV becomes "But His hand is still stretched out" in one of the newer translations and nobody recognizes that that simple little change, so inoffensive, so merely more in our own style, contributes to the undermining of trust in the Bible, and to the problem in the churches of a confusion of tongues, and the very fact that such a LITTLE change was made is an affront in itself to God and to His people.   

I had to live in this problem for a while before that became clear to me so I can't expect anyone to recognize it just on the basis of my say-so, but how I wish I could.  This is the biggest most destructive Trojan Horse within the Church there has ever been, and its armies are devastating the people of God and hardly anyone notices.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another "Heaven" Lie

Yikes, more of this out-of-body stuff that supposedly proves the reality of "heaven."  This is one from Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who had such an experience and of course wrote a book on it, Proof of Heaven.  It's not out yet but Amazon has a page on it started.

The demons are working awfully hard promoting this particular deception these days. 
If you know and believe the Bible you should be able to spot these reports as false, but those who reject the Bible may fall for them.

Notice that they NEVER give the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He is God incarnate who died for our sins. They give an otherworldly experience and often a false idea of God and Jesus -- that is, false according to the Bible.

As a Bible-believer I know these stories are deceptions.  I believe they are real, however, in the sense that they are actual experiences of a real spiritual realm these people are having, and not hallucinations or tricks of the mind. But Heaven isn't the only spiritual realm, and demons are very clever at deceiving people.

Jesus died for your sins and ONLY those who are saved by believing in Him, saved by the blood He shed on the cross to pay for our sins, saved by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone, can expect to see Heaven or the new earth.

These illusions are all designed to deceive unbelievers into thinking they, and everybody else, will go to heaven. It's an evil lie concocted by the demons, or fallen angels.   Unfortunately some Christians believe this stuff too and contribute to the deception.  Really depressing. 

A teaching on Hermeneutics from the Reformed perspective, specifically opposing Dispensationalism

Since I've identified Dispensationalism as the source of so much of the craziness the critics of The Harbinger are bringing against it, in an effort to get a better grip on the theological issues I've been listening to a series on hermeneutics from a Reformed perspective and skipped to the two parts that clearly apply to this question. 

This is a series by a local pastor, in fact the pastor of the church I'd be attending if I were attending church, and I have to give lots of caveats here because he doesn't agree with me about some things so I don't want to make it appear that there's some kind of accord that doesn't exist.  I simply strongly appreciate this particular teaching and am learning from it.   I'm already basically Reformed in my thinking, but this particular teaching deepens that perspective a great deal.

As for The Harbinger I have no idea what Pastor Borgman thinks of it, if he even knows about it, and it could well be that he would have many objections to it.  

I'm also aware that a Reformed perspective probably doesn't accord with Jonathan Cahn's theology either, which I've felt all along even as I've been defending his book.  But this isn't a problem with The Harbinger's interpretation of Isaiah 9:10, which is pretty simple and straightforward.  The only reason Dispensationalism is an issue is that it is apparently the basis for some of the objections of this particular camp of critics that I've been arguing against, who fault Cahn's interpretation for supposedly denying the state of Israel its biblical preeminence according to their theological system. 

This elevation of Israel as the main object of the Old Testament is precisely what the talk linked below answers.

Hoping that covers all necessary caveats, I want to recommend listening to these talks at the links, the first one titled

Hermeneutics: Apostolic Exegesis - How the NT interprets the OT

Toward the end of the talk [about 1:07:40], he says this: 
So what do you have [referring to Luke 24]?  You have Jesus interpreting the Old Testament in a way that pointed to ... Israel? 
To who?  To Himself!

You should be really thankful that I'm completely out of time because this is a soapbox issue for me.  To read the Old Testament as if it points us to the nation Israel, either in the past, the present or the future, is to miss the divinely appointed purposes of the Old Testament.  Jesus said the whole thing was about Him.  It all points to Him.
And here's the following talk that continues the same theme:

Hermeneutics: How do Jesus & the Apostles Interpret the Old Testament

Pastor Borgman did a series on Isaiah some years ago, and this is the sermon on Isaiah 9

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why this discussion cannot be cordial

I'm realizing the Harbinger critics are dangerous.  They are branding Cahn as pretty much a heretic -- everything from false prophet to mystic -- based mostly on their own false Dispensationalist assumptions, and anyone who defends him comes under the same suspicion.  There is no way to have a theological discussion with respect on both sides because failure to meet their standards brands you a heretic.  If by their standards you are supporting "extrabiblical revelation" although their judgment of what this amounts to is false, you won't be able to escape being convicted of that charge, and the charge of violating Sola Scriptura along with it.  Their arguments are NONSENSE but they are far from seeing their error and they have a fair amount of influence.  Listen to the call-ins on Brannon Howse's show, go read the comments at Dave James' site.  Their fans just ape their conclusions and accuse their opponents of all manner of serious doctrinal deviations without justification.

 The divide between the supporters of The Harbinger and its critics is astonishing to say the least.  Just about every single point James makes that he thinks shows serious doctrinal issues in The Harbinger hits me for one as an outrageous twisting of truth, an absurdity, a piece of insanity.  Yet, again, I keep realizing these guys BELIEVE what they are saying.  I'd never have guessed it was possible to have such adamantly entrenched positions among Christians on both sides of an argument like this.

As I discovered some time ago, much of the difference is due to the critics' Dispensationalism.  How much I haven't quite figured out yet, but the major argument that Harbinger doesn't give the right weight to Israel and the Old Testament comes from that theological camp.  I don't know what theology Cahn follows, but I consider my own to be basically Reformed and nothing in his book is a problem for me theologically. 

Maybe the most offensive attitude of the critics is that they pronounce judgment from the standard of their own system as if it is THE biblical system and there is no other.  THAT is REALLY offensive.  Cahn just IS commiting hermeneutical error, period, although there are conservative biblical hermeneutical systems other than theirs that wouldn't judge his as error.  There is something rotten to the core about that way of dealing with a fellow Christian who is following another theology.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supernatural Manifestations met with a Skepticism gone too far?

Let's try to be clear about this:  The Harbinger makes an extremely unusual claim, something unprecedented as far as I know, a claim that God Himself has acted to bring about certain signs or harbingers in America, that carry the message of judgment to come unless the nation repents. 

This is a claim of supernatural intervention that simply does not happen in this world according to our usual expectations.  As I say, I don't think something like this has happened before.  We have to acknowledge that this is extremely unusual.  Therefore it would only make sense if people are skeptical of such a claim.

Yet as the facts are presented I also don't see how they can be denied.  The efforts to deny them by the critics come across as trumped-up to my mind.  They are trying to MAKE the facts fit their theology, and it is apparently a theology that denies the possibility of such a supernatural intervention by God in our world.  At least since apostolic times.  If it isn't that then I don't know how to explain their determination to interpret the harbingers in such a way that they become illusions, mere meaningless coincidences.

This is beyond cessationism.  Cessationism says that the gifts of the Spirit to individuals are no longer in operation.  It doesn't necessarily deny that God may intervene in this world supernaturally, or even that individuals may on occasion receive a supernatural power.  I posted a quote here some time back by the early Protestant reformer Jan Hus saying that God had told him that in a hundred years' time He would raise up a "swan" who could not be silenced as he, Hus, "the goose" was silenced in his day.  This was clearly a prophecy of the future Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and I don't see how even a cessationist could deny that Hus did in fact hear from God in this way.

Let's be clear about this too while we're at it:  There is NOTHING in The Harbinger that attributes supernatural powers or acts of any kind whatever to any human being.  "The Prophet" does not prophesy anything, he simply passes on information about Isaiah 9 and its relation to America in our time, bringing the biblical message and its manifestation in real events in America to the attention of Nouriel the journalist and therefore to the reader of the book.  He's called a prophet but he doesn't DO what prophets do, and for the critics to take him as some kind of apologetic for the gift of prophecy today is to be peculiarly blind to what is actually going on in this book. 

As for the harbingers, there is no way any human agent could have planned to bring them about, so there is no apologetic there either for any of the supernatural gifts.  If you believe that God is sovereign over all things, that nothing happens without Him then you MUST believe that He brought about these harbingers. 

What's the alternative?  Chance?  Then you don't believe in an all-sovereign God.  Satan?  He'd have had to scramble mightily in order to deploy his armies to bring about all these harbingers but I suppose it's possible.  But if it's Satan, 1) he can't act unless God allows it, which means God is in charge here too; or 2)  what would Satan accomplish by assembling all these harbingers to prove that America is under God's judgment?  I wouldn't put it past him if it would serve his purposes but I can't think what purposes it could serve.

Certainly, God's planting a collection of visible documentable signs in our world that clearly reflect an Old Testament verse IS a very unusual occurrence in our time.  Of course if they are merely illusions that's something else and the critics have worked quite strenuously to prove that this is all they are,  that the signs or harbingers don't even really exist, it's all a mirage. 

I've worked through these arguments and keep coming back to their undeniable material reality myself.  One problem is that even if some of it is an illusion the fact is that Isaiah 9:10 only too perfectly describes America's attitude of defiance instead of repentance, just as it describes that of ancient Israel in similar circumstances, AND American political leaders actually quoted that verse, all of which along with the bricks and stones and trees amount to a mutually-confirming set of events.  If some of it's illusion the rest of it isn't, but since some of it is undeniable that to my mind supports the whole picture, all of it coming together as a whole.

But the critics try to minimize all this.  It's all "coincidence."  Or the verse was ONLY to Israel, they say.  Or it doesn't apply because our leaders weren't intentionally being defiant and so on (however, they were defiant in exactly the sense meant in Isaiah 9:10, as were the leaders of Israel). 

Well, I've answered all this and will probably go on answering it, but I did want to acknowledge that we're talking about something supernatural here and skepticism has to be expected.

Sometimes it seems that the critics are like the anti-Christian skeptics who simply refuse to consider for a moment that supernatural claims could have any reality whatever, and they are very adept at multiplying arguments to "prove" that they don't. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Gazit Stone According to David James

I've already answered this subject in general, the bricks and stones, the sycamore and the conifer.  The objection that for the harbingers in America to BE harbingers they must be more similar than they are to the originals in Isaiah doesn't hold water.  You can't expect as much similarity as is being demanded between cultures and times and climates as far apart as ancient Israel and modern New York City. 

There must be very clear similarities, of course, so that the connection between the contemporary circumstances and the passage of scripture is inescapable, but it is equivalence as defined by the different circumstances that makes for the necessary similarity, and as I argue in a recent post, the harbingers that occurred in America are really perfect in that respect as they are the best 21st Century American equivalent in each case of the event in ancient Israel. 

But James objects to the hewn stone or Gazit Stone on another ground as well. 

He starts with the usual ridiculous requirement that the new skyscraper must be BUILT WITH hewn stones, that the single twenty-ton quarried cornerstone
has the feeling of yet another stretch in the author's attempt to demonstrate a parallel that simply doesn't exist.  In Isaiah's prophecy, it is clear that in place of clay bricks being the primary buiding material, hewn stone would be used.  However, the new Freedom Tower was never to be build with stone any more than the original structures were built with bricks [p. 95].
This is New York City 2001, Mr. James, you aren't going to build skyscrapers with clay bricks or hewn stones.  Does the lack of a correspondence between their methods and ours mean God can't talk to us at all through Isaiah 9:10?  Funny, the attitude expressed in that verse so perfectly describes America's after 9/11 it seems a shame to tell us that we can't heed its so specific description and warning of judgment because skyscrapers aren't built with bricks and stones.

And then too, it is already amazing that the WTC rubble was described as looking like a pile of bricks and that a quarried stone was brought in to be the start of the rebuilding, actually part of the new structure.  Both those facts tie 9/11 to Isaiah 9:10 quite well really, and the wonderful cultural equivalcnce between the trees and the even more wonderful fact of the speeches quoting that verse really seal the deal.

But he even goes on to suggest that the fact that the cornerstone didn't get used after all somehow makes it even less of a harbinger.  Kind of totally misses the point, I'd say, as the mere fact that it was intended for the purpose and dedicated for the purpose -- with a speech said over it and all -- makes it even more of a harbinger than if it had been used, because it shows that God wanted it to be in the picture here, wanted us to notice it, record it. 

And Isaiah 9:10 is not about actually rebulding, it's about the INTENTION to rebuild, that's the attitude of defiance itself right there.  Even if nothing is built at all this defiant intention to do so is the whole point, it's what the harbingers point us back to.  That's the function of the harbingers, to show us our own defiance just as it is described in that verse, and show it to us in an unforgettable way.  

That verse would describe America's attitude even if there were nothing that could have been called a pile of bricks or a hewn stone nor any trees involved at all in the destruction of the WTC, but the fact that there were, and such literal equivalences too, really ought to show God's hand in making this connection to even the most skeptical.  The parallel is there without all the signs and harbingers, but with them it ought to be a really LOUD wake-up call even to the hard-of-hearing.

However, I'll agree with James that Cahn's explanation that the removal of the cornerstone was part of the judgment isn't a very effective answer.  I've given my own which I think is better:  the mere bringing in of the stone is the necessary equivalence with Isaiah 9:10, as it expresses the intention to rebuild as described in the verse, and it's something only God could have done.

Then James goes on to object to Cahn's way of dramatizing the hewn stone as The Gazit Stone with capitals, which he says would lead the average reader to
assume that a "Gazit Stone" was a specially named ceremonial stone that was laid when Israel embarked on a building project [p. 96].
I agree that this way of describing it assigns a special quality to it but I don't see that it does so for Israel, although it does for America, where since it is one gigantic quarried stone it seems to deserve the special designation.  This is just Cahn's love of dramatization taking over here, and I don't see it as a problem myself. 

James says, 
...[A]ncient Israel did not lay a 'Gazit Stone.'  They built or rebuilt with gazit -- it was simply the building material.
True, but nothing he quoted from The Harbinger suggests that Israel used this specially designated stone, only America, and in America where it was a single gigantic symbolic stone it seems appropriate enough to me to give it that special ceremonial title. 

It is simply not a harbinger
says James.

Why, because Cahn gave it a noble title befitting its noble role?  It's a quarried stone.  The parallel with the quarried stones of Isaiah 9:10 sure occurs to some of us, if not David James, and that's what makes it a harbinger.  For some of us at least.  If you spend all your time making the visible invisible and the material nonexistent I guess you'll have to do without the signs from God.

Cahn's Message Brings Many to Salvation

Got a report this morning from someone who was at Jan Markell's Understanding the Times Conference this weekend, that Jonathan Cahn's talk on Saturday was a great success and that possibly as many as a hundred came to salvation through it. 

I'm reporting this because my source is credible and respected but I do have to add that I don't generally trust reports of "altar call" conversions either in church or at conferences.  You can't tell from a show of hands or people going forward what their motives are, whether they are Christians in a state of doubt desiring a renewal of their faith, nonChristians getting the message for the first time, people with a temporary pang of conscience that won't last long, people with a wrong idea of the gospel or what. 

While it is always the ultimate aim to bring people to Christ, Christians have many secondary callings such as to be salt and light in the culture and The Harbinger is that sort of message more than it is an evangelical message.  Restraining evil in our world by calls to national repentance for the sins that are destroying the nation would no doubt bring many to conversion but if it merely stirs up people's consciences so that they turn against the sins of the nation that's the work of God too. 

Did the repentance of Nineveh mean mass conversion to the God of Israel?  I don't get that message, I get the message that God had mercy on them in a temporal way as the city repented for their idolatries and other sins.  This kind of work in the world shouldn't be denigrated even if salvation is the ultimate most desirable outcome.  Improving the moral climate of a nation in this fallen world and therefore the peace and wellbeing of that nation is not something to be despised.

The Isaiah 9:10 Effect According to David James, Part 3

James goes on to what he calls "a historical problem" if there "really is such a thing as the Isaiah 9:10 Effect": 
What if "the breach" and "the terrorist" had been observed in 1812 or 1861 ot 1941?  In theory, could sojmeone have discovered the 'hidden ancient mystery' of Isaiah 9:10 in 1949?  And if it had been claimed that Pearl Harbor was a breach by an enemy who persistently used terrorist tactics throughout the war in the Pacific (which the Japanese did), then could it not be argued that God's hedge of protection had been withdrawn prior to December 7, 1941?  And if the hedge of protection had been removed long before 9/11, had God put yet another hedge of protection in place since WWII?  The questions are truly endless. 

This is not an attempt to mock the author.  This is a very serious issue because  if he is correct about the Isaiah 9:10 Effect, then it could have happened at any time in the past or it could happen again at any time in the future.  On the other hand, if it could only have happened one time on September 11, 2001, then there is no such thing as the Isaiah 9:10 Effect as a principle [p. 130].
Well, there is no such thing as James' straw-man version of The Isaiah 9:10 Effect which he persists in making into a general biblical principle apart from its application to 9/11, that's true, but that's not what Cahn means by it.  Even in its own specific context as a description of Israel at that particular time you can say that the attitude of defiance DID set in motion further judgment so that it's right enough to speak of an Isaiah 9:?10 Effect in that context alone. 

Beyond that it functions as an effect BECAUSE of its application in America.  IF it had applied to America at an earlier time then one has to assume that it would have been a principle and an effect at that time just as it is now, but it DIDN'T apply then.  God sovereignly disposes these things, the events, the discovery of the events, in this case by Cahn, and so on.  In His will it applies NOW and it is in its applying now that it becomes a principle and an effect from which further events can be expected to follow, just as they followed for Israel.

This is the usual problem the critics have of getting the cart before the horse and imputing their mistake to Cahn.   Isaiah 9:10 is a principle and an effect AFTER we see that it is being repeated in America.  As it concerned ancient Israel alone it is simply a description of what happened to Israel, with of course the obvious message to the reader that it's not a good thing to ignore God's judgments. 

But once we see that the message to Israel in all its parts also applies here, even to the manifestations of the harbingers that so uncannily echo Isaiah 9:10, then we can expect that the implication of further judgment to Israel also applies to America.

But James finds more problems to bring up:
If Cahn is right about the Isaiah 9:10 Effect, this raises another very important question:  Are there any other prophetic passages in the Old Testament that also function like the Isaiah 9:10 Effect?  How many other prophecies that were directed to israel can also be correlated to historical events in the United States?
Short answer:  Only those that APPLY to the United States. 

And again we have the situation of the cart before the horse.  The critics keep locating the effect, the principle and now the prophetic import of Isaiah 9:10, along with America itself, back in Isaiah, when none of these things become effect, principle or prophecy UNTIL they apply to America. 

He asks if there is
also a Genesis 12:2 Effect?:  I will make you a great nation;  I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.
Or a Joshua 1:2 Effect?: 
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you , as I said to Moses
Are there dozens of others?  Or is Isaiah 9:10 the only such passage in the entire Bible?  If the Isaiah 9:10 Effect really exists, then it seems remarkably unlikely that it would be the only such principle in the entire Old Testament.  But if not from the context, how could it possibly be known whether any given passage is supposed to functon in this way:?  And yet there is nothing whatsoever in the context of Isaiah 9:10 that would suggest the existence of such an effect.
Quite true.  The Effect is not IN Isaiah 9:10 or its context.  James keeps making the Effect INHERENT in the verse, but Cahn does not make it inherent in the verse, same as he doesn't treat America as inherent in the verse as the critics so persistently and mistakenly do.  Again, the Effect BECOMES the Effect in its application to America. 

There is no way that I can see that Genesis 12:2 or Joshua 1:2 would or could ever apply outside their specific immediate context,* and there also don't seem to be any implications of those verses that could become a general principle anyway.  But Isaiah 9:10 embodies, even in its context as a message to Israel alone, a principle that we can also take as a warning to us: that God does not overlook defiance of His judgment but "His hand is stretched out still" in further jugment.

Then beyond that, we can see that it clearly and specifically applies to America's response to 9/11 as it describes America's own defiance of the attack on the WTC as God's judgment, and then beyond that we have Cahn's revelations of the appearance of all those harbingers or signs that SHOULD tell anyone with any biblical sense at all that America is on the same course to much more severe judgment that Israel was on as described in that passage in Isaiah.

James has missed it entirely, got it all as wrong as it can be got, and yet he's so sure of his analysis of the situation he concludes the chapter with this: 
If a proposed theological or spiritual idea is not found in the Bible, or if it cannot at least be supported by the text in some way, then someone made it up.  This is exactly the nature of the Isaiah 9:10 Effect -- someone made it up [THFOF p. 131].
Well, somebody sure did make up a whole lot of stuff about The Isaiah 9:10 Effect that completely turns the meaning backwards, stuff that's certainly unsupported by the text to say the least, and it wasn't Jonathan Cahn. 

* Except as "Israel" MIGHT refer to the Church as it often does in the OT, but I'm not arguing that one here one way or the other.

The Isaiah 9:10 Effect According to David James Part 2

So David James has made the absurd accusation that
In the author's mind, Isaiah's words in the alleged Isaiah 9:10 Effect actually cause things to happen.  This is clearly affirmed in the following exchange at the end of chapter 16: 
[The Prophet] ...In this mystery the connections are evcn more beyond the realm of the natural. ... [Kaplan] And they connect 9/11 to the economic collapse? [The Prophet]  Not only do they connect them ... they determined them ... down to the time each would take place .... Yes, an ancient mystery upon which the global economy and every transaction within it was determined, a mystery that begins more than three thousand years ago in the sands of a Middle Eastern desert. {Sorry, I can't figure out the new Blogger formatting}
Now, I know what is meant by this, and I think most people reading the book don't have a problem with it, but if you are of a certain critical mindset I suppose you could get hung up on the word "determined" and think it SEEMS to be saying that the words of Isaiah 9:10 are MAKING something happen. 

Jonathan Cahn seems to have certain habits of mind that are unique to himself and may rattle some people who have different habits of mind. It's just the way he thinks, and he writes his book the way he thinks. He is apparently fascinated with the fact that scripture is supernatural, that it contains mysteries that no one would have known had it not been written straight from the mind of God, that it relates across three thousand years of time in a supernatural way, reaching into the future and judging our own time just as pertinently as it judges the time in which it was written.

Perhaps this comes mostly out of his Messianic frame of reference.  He seems to delight in the Jewishness of the scriptures the way many Messianics I've known do, and he extends that delight into all the Jewish writings, enjoying digging out their own unwitting affirmations of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, mysteries of God's truth being revealed even in the context of writings that reject Jesus Christ. This is how he uses the Zohar for instance, not as a mystical tool but as a revealer of the gospel. All of it serves the gospel of Christ and that is his purpose in making use of these other writings.

But his habits of thought may cause a problem for some who let their own unfamiliarity with his style lead them into unfair judgment of it. David James for instance, later on in his book, lists some of the titles of Cahn's sermons from his website, particularly picking out those with "mystery" in the title or description, or extrabiblical references of various kinds, and gives the very stern warning: 
The titles and descriptions of just a few of his messages should serve as a warning to any serious student of the Scriptures [p. 193].
Certainly makes one stop and shudder for a moment.  But there are hints even in the titles he lists that it is biblical truth, the gospel itself, that is the central concern in all these sermons.  Apparently James hasn't heard any of them and is allowing himself to draw conclusions from the titles and bare descriptions alone in the context of his own presuppositions.  I haven't heard any of the sermons either, but I know already from a previous discussion of how Cahn uses the Zohar that his aim is most likely to be to bring out BIBLICAL truth from these extrabiblical sources. 

And there's nothing unusual about that aim, especially in the Messianic Jewish context.  We should all be familiar for starters with the many studies of the Types in scripture that reveal gospel truths -- let's call them gospel "mysteries" to show how Cahn is using that word -- the picture of Jesus Christ that is to be found in the scriptural description of the plan of the tabernacle for instance. The Old Testament is full of such types and the New Testament reveals them fulfilled in Christ.

The Messianic movement has added to these scriptural "mysteries" the pictures of Christ in the Jewish Holy Days as practiced by today's UNbelieving Jews -- in the Passover meal for instance.  I suspect this is really all Jonathan Cahn is doing with the other extrabiblical writings mentioned in the list of his sermons, showing how they point to Christ in spite of themselves.

Again, most readers have no problem with Cahn's style, but the critics are stubbing their toes on every slightly unusual wording and instead of doubting their own understanding they're getting carried away into unjustifiable excesses of condemnation.

So David James finds serious problems with The Isaiah 9:10 Effect that come out of his own preconceptions and distort the meaning intended by Cahn.  
... even if he were discussing only the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:10 in ancient Israelk, this would not be a good way to explain how prophecies work.  The reason that prophesied events happen is ecause God caues them to happen, not because the prophecy itself somehow Yet Cahn seems to be suggesting that as a principle the Isaiah 9:10 Effect can cause these same events to happen anywhere at any time once it is triggered.  [p. 129].
As I've already discussed, this is an absurd misreading of the concept.  The Isaiah 9:10 Effect is nothing more than the content of the verse, which describes Israel's defiance of God's judgment in the Assyrian attack, being the obvious cause of the further judgment to come, as described in the very next verse.  Ignore God's warning, expect further judgment. 

David James himself even seems to suspect this is what it means when he goes on to say
Of course, if it were simply a general principle such as that of 'sowing and reaping' or like the many principles found in Proverbs, it wouldn't necessarily be as problematic.  Even this would disregard the fact that Isaiah 9:10 does not appear to be a principle in context.
Well, it does amount to a general principle such as "sowing and reaping" as I've argued in the previous post, because it gives the CONDITION for further judgment to come, the defiance of God's warning judgment in the Assyrian attack, so that God's hand is "stretched out still" meaning further judgment must come because of their defiance.  Defy God's warning, more judgment will come.  THAT's The Isaiah 9:10 Effect.  It's obvious to most of us, it SHOULD be obvious to David James and the other critics, who instead are letting Cahn's somewhat unusual wording hang them up.  Instead of judging their own misreading the critics harshly judge Cahn for what is really their own error. 

Their assumptions lead them to crazy-making rejection of Cahn's own attempts to correct them:
As noted before Cahn strenuously argues that he has been misunderstood by those who believe he is saying that Isaiah 9:10 specifically applies to America.
Cahn has over and over tried to explain that this IS a misunderstanding, and over and over the critics deny him the right to speak for himself.  Reminds me of the Inquisition where there's no way to be innocent once they've decided you're guilty.  Even "strenuously" defending yourself can't allay this entrenched suspiciousness.  Everything you say on your own behalf only confirms your guilt and the more "strenuously" you say it the guiltier you are.  Is this the way Christians should deal with other Christians?  Whatever happened to benefit of the doubt, to extending grace? 
However, if that is not what he is saying, then the only other possible explanation is that the Isaiah 9:10 Effect is an independent and formulaic principle that operates in a mystical way through the power of the words themselves.
One could almost admire the jesuitical cleverness of this logic -- if you can't get 'em one way you'll get 'em the other.  Oh I'm sure James is quite sincere, however, and believes what he is saying.  I don't know if that makes it better or worse.

Please, Mr. James, consider that it is NEITHER that Isaiah 9:10 specifically applies to America in the sense that it was written TO America at the time of Isaiah, NOR that there is some kind of mystical power of words involved.  It is quite simply and biblically that Isaiah 9:10 describes the attitude of defiance that INEXORABLY LEADS TO further judgment by God, as expressed in the very next verse, as "His hand is stretched out still," AND that it applies to America because it describes America's attitude just as it describes Israel's.  There is nothing mystical about this, it's standard application of the biblical text.   It describes America EVEN WITHOUT the harbingers, but the harbingers, those uncanny appearances of the very literal elements of Isaiah 9:10 in America, nail it down with a special emphasis that OUGHT to cause the most sceptical to snap to attention.

So yes, certain things MUST happen as a result of this defiance, all in keeping with what we all SHOULD know about what God has said about blessing for obedience and punishing for disobedience.  As I said before, scripture is saturated with this BIBLICAL principle. 

And there's more yet.  Sigh.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The BIBLICAL "Isaiah 9:10 Effect" and the UNBIBLICAL attempts of David James to turn it into something mystical

As I said somewhere in this voluminous series of postings on The Harbinger (sometimes wish I'd started a new blog just for the purpose, too late now), the very STRANGENESS of the attacks on the book does have to make you wonder what the devil has against it.

I often feel this way as I consider an argument by just about any of the critics.  Sometimes they are truly jesuitical in their bizarre logic, conjuring objections on the flimsiest of excuses, taking words completely out of context and imposing a formulaic definition on them that they then shoot down as a straw man.  I'm sure they aren't conscious of being so manipulative, but nevertheless I have to think that just a LITTLE benefit of the doubt, a LITTLE grace extended to a brother in Christ, could have spared us all such confusing, useless, wearisome and destructive exercises in fallacious logic and wooden pedantry.

All this as preamble to my next task, David James' chapter on The Isaiah 9:10 Effect. 

This one has all the nonsense of the whole critical enterprise rolled into one.   Cart before horse:
Just as the theory of the nine harbingers was developed to demonstrate the connection between Isaiah 9:10 and America...  [THFOF, p. 127]
There is no "THEORY" involved here that was "developed" to demonstrate the connection.  The observation of the harbingers that appeared in America that so uncannily repeat the elements of Isaiah 9:10, alone dictates the connection that carries the whole meaning of The Harbinger.   There's no THEORY here, there's straightforward inescapable FACT.  Too bad to have to keep repeating that.  But he finishes his sentence:
... the Isaiah 9:10 Effect is crucial to understanding God's second round of warning to America... [Kaplan] Which is what?
[The Prophet] This: 'The attempt of a nation to defy the course of its judgment, apart from repentance, will, instead, set in motion a chain of events to bring about the very calamity it sought to avert.'
It would never have occurred to me in reading The Harbinger to suspect that there could be a problem with such a statement, so consistent with scripture does it read to my simple mind.  But David James perceives depths of nefarious meaning that most of us simpletons miss.

He prepares us for the revelation thusly: 
Before going any further, the first question every reader should be asking about The Prophet's degfinition of the Isaiah 9:10 Effect is, 'Where did this definition come from?'  *It cwertainly didn't come from Isaiah 9:10.  Neither did it come from any of the verses in the vicinity of Isaiah 9:10.  The importance of this matter cannot be overstated because the rest of Cahn's entire theory depends on this theory -- that there really is such a thing as the Isaiah 9:10 Effect.  This is immediately apparent as the dialogue continues: 
...[Kaplan] Behind the collapse of Wall Street and the American economy was...  [The Prophet] Isaiah 9:10.
In the author's mind, Isaiah's words in the alleged Isaiah 9:10 Effect actually cause things to happen.[THFOF pp. 127-8].
Are you curled up in the fetal position pulling your hair out and muttering to yourself by this point?  No?  Then you're either party to this schizophrenogenic distortion of critical thinking or you haven't read The Harbinger.

I exaggerate, I dramatize.  I hope.  But that's what The Harbinger is doing too.  Dranatizing I mean.  This is what the critics fail to see time after time as they "discover" doctrinal issues where there are nothing but literary stylistic choices. 

IN WHAT SENSE IS ISAIAH 9:10 "BEHIND THE COLLAPSE OF WALL STREET?"  Certainly NOT in the sense that Jonathan Cahn thinks that WORDS "cause things to happen."  Oy.  Oh groan.  Oh yeah, James will go on to try to prove this and I'll have to say more against the idea. 

But ALL CAHN MEANS IS THAT THERE IS A SPIRITUAL CAUSE-AND-EFFECT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DEFIANCE OF GOD AND JUDGMENT.  He's saying it poetically or metaphorically, using "Isaiah 9:10" to STAND FOR the defiance that was the harbinger to the judgment in Israel's case and is now also a harbinger of further judgment on America -- to those who have ears to hear, that is.

This OUGHT to be standard biblical understanding.  It doesn't NEED to be STATED in Isaiah 9:10 or nearby because scripture is SATURATED with this message.  If you read the law in Deuteronomy and Leviticus you will see that the enumerated laws and failure to obey them are followed by blessings or cursings.  Disobedience is punished by the enumerated cursings.  If the nation obeys they will be blessed, if they disobey they will be cursed, and the specific blessings and cursings are described. 

"You will reap what you sow," says scripture elsewhere. 

"The wages of sin is death" says scripture elsewhere. 

The Book of Proverbs is another place where you can find out how you will be blessed if you pursue Wisdom but suffer punishment if you follow Foolishness instead.  The Psalms too, as the psalmists are always lamenting the unhappy circumstances their sins have gotten them into and appealing to God for mercy and so on.  But even the historical writings document over and over the obedience and disobedience of the kings and the people and the consequences that followed.  The Book of Judges is one story after another of the disobedience of the people followed by God's giving them a leader who obeys and sets them back on the right path after which they fall away again, over and over and over.  And all the Prophets are after all enumerating the sins of the people and warning of the consequences God is going to bring upon them for their sins if they do not repent.  That's the ESSENCE of the message of ALL the prophets.  Isaiah has brought that message quite clearly in his very opening chapters.  Why should he need to repeat it in the context of chapter 9?  Alas, My people, a people laden with iniquity...

Defy God's Warning of Judgment, Expect More Judgment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Buildings and Trees Update: The Critics Demand a Perfect Match; how close does it have to be?

In his book criticizing The Harbinger, David James objects that the fallen bricks and the hewn stones that were their intended replacement in ancient Israel are not matched at all by the fallen Trade Center and the one quarried stone brought in to be the cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower.  To his mind that cancels out any claim to their being harbingers or signs at all that reflect Isaiah 9:10. 

He also says the sycamore tree that was destroyed by the falling World Trade Center is not enough of a match to the sycamore trees destroyed by the Assyrians as reported in Isaiah 9:10 to qualify as the harbinger Cahn makes of it;  nor that the Norway spruce brought in to replace the sycamore in New York was enough of a match to the cedars of Lebanon with which the leaders of Israel intended to replace their sycamores.

Because the American building materials don't match those of ancient Israel, and the American trees are not similar enough to Israel's, not a close enough match in James' mind, they don't qualify as harbingers at all. 


We don't build with clay bricks or quarried stones any more, especially not skyscrapers. So it ought to be regarded as uncanny indeed that anything at all could have been found in New York City in the 21st century to suggest or imitate those materials that are described in Isaiah 9:10.   Even the description of the rubble of the WTC as "a pile of bricks" makes the connection, as does the fact that a quarried stone WAS brought in with the intention of making it the cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower.

Remember the verse doesn't say they actually built anything, what it says is that they intended to, and that is what has reappeared in America, that intention to rebuild that is the expression of defiance of God.


When scripture is applied to situations in the present it's going to be adapted to the conditions of those situations. That ought to be obvious.

It occurred to me to look up the various trees that grow in the US to see if a better match could have been found for either the sycamore or the conifer and I've concluded that it couldn't.

The fig-mulberry tree does not grow natively in North America and is not a desirable enough tree to be transplanted here, but we have a tree we named after that Middle Eastern tree because of its general similarity of appearance.

Likewise the cedar of Lebanon, which turns out to be an endangered species, requires specialized conditions to grow well and is not a desirable candidate for transplant in North America. 

Both the Middle Eastern ficus sycomorus and the cedar of Lebanon are cultivated here in special nurseries*

The North American tree named after the Middle Eastern sycamore or fig-mulberry tree is the absolute closest match that could have been found, a "perfect" match.  It's the tree that would have been planted in a churchyard in New York City and along Wall Street.  But of course, beyond that, its choice was made ultimately by God Himself which is why it IS a harbinger that echoes the sycamores of Isaiah 9:10. 

As for the Norway spruce, the criterion for an appropriate match ought to be what is most likely to be planted in America and this tree is probably the most popular.  It IS an "erez" tree as Jonathan Cahn points out, making it enough of a match to satisfy all but the obsessed critics, but beyond that the best match has to be the one most suited to its particular location.  The choice of a conifer at all to replace the sycamore of 9/11 is uncanny, something only God could have done, but in America the conifer of choice would have been the Norway spruce.  In my own neighborhood I'm aware of two Norway spruces in people's yards.  I conclude that the Norway spruce is the PERFECT match, the perfect AMERICAN match for the cedars of Isaiah 9:10 to replace our AMERICAN version of the sycamore.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the Norway spruce:
The Norway Spruce is one of the most widely planted spruces, both in and outside of its native range, and one of the most economically important coniferous species in Europe.[7] It is used in forestry for timber and paper production, and as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It is esteemed as a source of tonewood[8] It is also widely planted for use as a Christmas tree. Every Christmas, the Norwegian capital city, Oslo, provides the cities of New York, London (the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree), Edinburgh and Washington D.C. with a Norway Spruce, which is placed at the most central square of each city. This is mainly a sign of gratitude for the aid these countries gave during the Second World War.  
It is naturalised in some parts of North America, though not so extensively as to be considered an invasive weed tree. It can grow fast when young, up to 1 m per year for the first 25 years under good conditions, but becomes slower once over around 20 m tall.[9]
A very likely tree of choice if you're going to choose a conifer in North America.

I suppose it MIGHT have been a "white cedar" which is really a cypress and is also used for ornamental plantings and is native to North America, especially the northeast:
but I don't see anything that would make it preferred over the Norway spruce.


The best match between elements of different cultures, times and climates -- in fact the PERFECT match -- is the equivalent match, not exact identity.  You can't have perfect identity and to demand it is to impose an impossible standard and make it impossible to understand The Harbinger at all.

It has to be close enough to be situationally equivalent with the buildings and trees of Isaiah 9:10 so that we can see that God IS talking to America through Isaiah 9:10.  Equivalence we've got, and that does amount to perfect matches.

*Notes on Trees in America:
There is a place that grows cedars of Lebanon, Trees of Joy:
They call it "the RARE cedar of Lebanon" tree.'''

They also have a page on the Middle Eastern sycamore, Ficus Sycamorus:

Pictures of Ficus Sycomorus:

"North American Sycamore grows in NY":