Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brannon Howse gets it wrong again

I appreciate most of Brannon Howse's work in calling out false teachers and movements within the Church, but when it comes to The Harbinger he's just wrong over and over and over. 

His program of October 1st is a comment on Jan Markell's Understanding the Times show of Saturday the 29th,  It's Not Too Late for America, in which she interviews Jonathan Cahn again and presents some clips in support of The Harbinger as well as clips teaching that judgment is coming to America.

Brannon Howse has been a major promoter of the criticisms of The Harbinger and today he feels he's found confirmation of a major criticism of the book in something Jonathan Cahn said on Jan Markell's program.

First let me say I also heard Jan Markell's show and thought it a good presentation of the case for The Harbinger overall.  It can be heard at the link above. She is hosting a big conference this coming weekend, the 5th and 6th, which includes Jonathan Cahn, and that is the occasion for Howse's presentation of first the Douma criticism (discussed in previous posts) and today his discussion of last weekend's show by Jan Markell -- to poison the atmosphere for the conference?  Intentionally or not that's what it does, although the actual motivation is no doubt to warn the church of a false teacher.  Sad that there can be SUCH a difference among true Bible believers, even discernment ministries, who usually agree on who the false teachers are.  This is truly an amazing divide among true Christians. 
In her latest emailing, Jan included links to two articles defending The Harbinger, from the site Rapture Ready, one by Terry James and one by  Grant Phillips.  Both strong defenses of the book.  Thank God for sane people!

I had a disagreement of my own on a peripheral point in her last show, and a question on top of that, that I'd really like to see answered, which I'll put in a footnote at the bottom of the post.* 

As for Brannon Howse's response to Markell's broadcast, there is one major argument he is determined to make:  that The Harbinger promotes the idea of extra-biblical revelation through prophets today, which is considered by most orthodox Christians to be false doctrine as the Biblical canon is closed, and the supernatural gifts are believed to have ceased with the apostolic generation. 

Cahn himself is not a cessationist, believing that the supernatural gifts continue to operate.  But as far as the book The Harbinger goes, Howse is wrong:  It does NOT promote any idea of extra-biblical revelation.

But here's Howse:  He's concerned about the character of The Prophet in the book, "Is he forthtelling or foretelling?"  He suspects he's foretelling, which is the big no-no.   All who preach the Bible "forthtell" the truth and that is today's form of prophecy.  We don't "foretell" any more.  That's what the Biblical prophets did.
[5:00]  And that was my concern, that this book, which I have read, has a prophet in it and I thought 'Maybe he is a prophet that is foretelling.'  Well, that office is closed.  We don't have people getting extra-biblical revelation.  But you heard him [Cahn] say the book is written as a fiction but it 8is true ...  But listen to what Mr. Cahn says himself: [he keeps repeating the clip of Cahn saying the following] 
[7:18] I put a narrative of a man, a man who's called a prophet.  He's really representing the Old Testament revelation  of the prophets of judgment giving warning to a nation. 
I've strongly emphasized Cahn's statement because Howse repeated the clip a number of times and it's what he hangs his comments on. 
[6:39]  Notice that Cahn in this interview from last week says that the prophet in his book is one like the Old testament.  Well, an Old Testament prophet, folks, could do signs and wonders, an Old Testament prophet got extra-biblical revelation.  That is what ...I thought might be represented in this book to begin with [7:04] but could never really get it nailed down.  Listen to his words again [and he repeats the clip]. 
So where is that revelation coming from, folks?  [7:39]  It's coming from God.  Would that not then be, if you have a prophet in the modern age ... as the book is set [in the modern age] a prophet much like the Old Testament prophets, isn't that again confirming what we've been saying all along?  Remember the book is a fiction...but...it is true.  Is this not affirming the idea that people receive revelation, like an Old Testament prophet, to uncover these mysteries ....
In his blurb describing the show at his website Howse tries to defend his point of view this way:
Brannon believes this clearly involves extra-Biblical revelations or mysteries and thus opens up a serious theological issue. While some would say the "prophet" is revealing the revelation given in the Old Testament; that would not be an accurate assumption if the "prophet" is also revealing new mysteries that are for us today. There is nothing in the text of Isaiah 9:10 that would suggest it forms a repeating pattern of judgment or a mystery that could be applied millennia later. That is completely new revelation.

A mystery is something that was in the mind of God that was not revealed in the Old Testament but was revealed in the New Testament through the writers of the Bible. Thus, if Cahn’s prophet is revealing mysteries then that puts him in the category of the kind of prophet that we see in the Bible.
Howse goes on emphasizing this point for a few more sentences. Well, is he succeeding at making a case that The Harbinger teaches extra-biblical revelation through Old Testament type prophets even today?  He himself is apparently completely convinced that this one statement by Cahn is smoking-gun proof, confirmation of what he's suspected all along.

My answer is of course a resounding No, he has proved no such thing. 

What in Howse's mind is the "new revelation," the "extra-biblical revelation?"  Is it the message of Isaiah 9:10?  But that's Biblical, that's not extra-biblical.  He mentions this in his blurb but goes on to say it isn't accurate
...if the 'prophet' is also revealing new mysteries that are for us today.
So, what new mysteries has this prophet revealed for us today?   Is it the message of Isaiah 9:10 as applied to America?  But again, even in being applied to America it's not new revelation, it's the Bible itself being applied, an ancient text written by the true prophet Isaiah. 

He insists it is new revelation because 
There is nothing in the text of Isaiah 9:10 that would suggest it forms a repeating pattern of judgment or a mystery that could be applied millennia later. That is completely new revelation
THIS is his "new revelation."  But this is nothing but his misuse of the word "pattern" that so many of the critics have been misusing, which I discuss in my response to Douma below.  Cahn never suggested a "repeating pattern of judgment."  He merely referred to Isaiah 9:10 as the pattern for America, and why?  Because it so well describes America's response to 9/11.  That is what makes it a "pattern," as any scripture that is applied to another time than it was written for becomes the pattern for that future time.  It COULD be repeating if it applies to more than one future situation as most scripture usually does, but in this case it's a pattern just because it applies so America.

THE SUPPOSED "NEW" or "EXTRA-BIBLICAL" REVELATION IS NOTHING OTHER THAN THE PERFECTLY STANDARD APPLICATION OF AN OLD TESTAMENT VERSE TO OUR OWN TIME.

Nothing the Prophet has said is either new or extra-biblical, it's merely the transmission of the message of Isaiah which can be found IN the Bible as Howse himself recognizes --or should.  The "revelation" in the message of Isaiah 9:10 is the revelation that since the verse describes America's attitude toward God's judgment in the attack of 9/11 the nation is under judgment just as Israel was when that passage was written to them.  It's the verse being APPLIED to America.  What's extra-biblical about THAT? 

Howse is letting words trip him up by insisting on definitional or formulaic meanings or meanings of his own that have nothing to do with anything in the book.  He's concerned that The Prophet is revealing "mysteries."  But WHAT mysteries is The Prophet revealing?  Nothing more than the BIBLICAL message of Isaiah 9:10 as it is being played out in America.  A standard application of an Old Testament verse to a current situation.  The Prophet didn't make it play out in America, he OBSERVED it playing out.  The Prophet is merely bringing that fact to the attention of the character Nouriel. 

Jonathan Cahn says The Prophet "represents" the Old Testament prophets, he doesn't say he is LIKE them, as Howse misrepresents his statement, or that he does what they do.  He is STANDING FOR them, for THEIR messages, for BIBLICAL truth, and this is borne out in simply READING THE BOOK, where it is clear that the only prophecy is the one in the Bible and the only mystery is the one in the Bible and the only revelation is the Bible's application to our time.  The little clay seals all refer to elements in the Bible, so they also direct the reader back to the BIBLE, not to some new revelation, except, again, the revelation of the APPLICATION of that verse in today's America.  

So in what sense does The Prophet "represent the Old Testament prophets of judgment giving warning to a nation" in Cahn's words?   By passing on the message of judgment given by one of those prophets in the spirit of all the prophets of judgment who gave warning.   He is passing on THEIR message, he is not giving a NEW message from God that he received himself.
  • There is nothing extra-biblical going on here, it is ALL biblical. 
  • There is no  new revelation, what is revealed is the meaning in applicaton to America of a passage in the Bible. 
  • There is no new mystery that is being revealed, only this same meaning in its application to America.
 The Prophet is not presented as receiving anything the way the Old Testament prophets did, by direct impartation from God.  ALL he is doing is passing on KNOWN BIBLICAL TRUTHS and showing their application to America in our time.  What he passes on of their application is something that theoretically anyone could have observed because it's all out there to be observed, though it did take someone to draw our attention to it.  That's the function of the book and The Prophet is the character who presents the information.

How to explain this complete misrepresentation of the book by Howse?  Clearly he is jumping to conclusions on the flimsiest of evidence.  A lack of care to really think it through?  A lack of prayer to protect against such obvious error?   Too much eagerness to have his own opinion vindicated?  An allergy to certain words that makes him along with his fellow critics itch to falsely brand a fellow Christian as a purveyor of false doctrine?

===========================
 The disagreement I had with Jan Markell's show was about their insistence that the American founders, especially George Washington, were true Christians.  One reference given was to a Prayer Diary attributed to Washington that expresses the very Christian concept of being washed in the blood of the lamb.  The problem is that Washington's authorship of that diary is in dispute.  Beyond that, what IS known about Washington's beliefs is rather scanty because he was extremely reticent to talk about his beliefs, an attitude amply testified by his contemporaries.  This in itself ought to raise some doubts just because there is no reason for such reticence in someone who holds true Christian beliefs, in a nation which was as predominantly Christian as America was at that time.   And there is also the equally well testified fact that Washington refused to take Communion at his Anglican Church but would walk out at that point in the service, and when chided by the pastor for setting a poor example for others his response was simply not to attend church at all on Communion Sunday after that.  

The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders, A recently published book by Gregg L. Frazer, a scholar connected with John MacArthur's Masters College, concludes that the big name founders were neither Christians nor Deists but something Frazer dubbed Theistic Rationalists.  They believed in Providence, in a God who oversees His world, who answers prayer, which is not the Deist concept of God as having created the world and then left it to operate on its own, but they all denied the deity of Christ, which certainly defines them as nonChristians.  It's easy to find statements by Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Paine against the deity of Christ, some quite blasphemous statements as a matter of fact as they ridicule the concept, while Washington's belief in this regard is generally hard to pin down.  But I checked in the book by Frazer at Amazon and found in his chapter on Washington a description of him as denying the deity of Christ as well.

The nonChristian and in fact even anti-Christian beliefs of the American Founders has been a bitter pill for many to swallow and it is still denied by many although the evidence has been mounting.  I found it hard to accept when I first encountered the idea too, but the evidence is just too strong to ignore.  So my position now is that we need to get these facts straight no matter how bitter the news.  The nation is still nevertheless founded on a very strong Christian base, we just have to look further back to our Pilgrim and Puritan forebears, and the Christian influences in the nation all along until the last half century or so had been very strong in all areas of the nation's life.

The beliefs of the founders comes up in relation to The Harbinger because the book puts some weight on Washington's prayer for the nation in the chapel that happens to be located right at Ground Zero, as one of the founding markers of the nation as dedicated to God.  That's a whole discussion in itself and all I'll say here is that I believe God would have honored our first President's dedication of the nation just because he was our first President, the "father of the nation," but I'd also suppose that there must have been true Christians praying along with him as the nation WAS overall a Christian nation in those days, despite the Enlightenment thinking of the major Founders.  In any case Cahn also refers back to the first generation of Pilgrim and Puritan settlers where the Christian foundation is uncompromised.

That was my disagreement with one position stated on Jan Markell's broadcast.  The question I also had is about the fact that they claim that The Harbinger is bringing people to salvation, and they mentioned that even Catholics and Mormons are coming to salvation.  Nothing could make me happier if so, but I have to confess scepticism about that.  I can certainly see that Catholics and Mormons might be drawn to the message of the book and to a renewal of their belief, but since I know that converting either of those groups is far from easy I have my doubts that they are converting FROM their respective churches to true Christianity.  I hope it is so, but the evidence one way or the other has not been given, and it should not have been implied that they are in fact converting without such evidence.

2 comments:

Mick Rynning said...

Finally! A voice of simple reason in a sea of contrived doctrinal in-fighting that does nothing more than swell the coffers of the merchandisers of God's Word and people.

May God continue to bless you and your ministry!

Mick in Atlanta

Faith aka Connie said...

Well, thank you, Mick, and thank you for commenting here. I'm very happy to think I come across as a voice of simple reason.

Got to say, though, that I think the parties on both sides of this dispute are sincere and not contriving anything from ulterior motives. At least I WANT to believe that.