Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Criticism of the Harbinger: Douma, Pt. 3 Patterns and Signs

I want to respond to just a couple of points here made by Douma that typify the strange forced pedantic thinking of all the critics.

First, again, they're all clearly dispensationalists who disallow the application of Old Testament messages to Israel to any other nation.  At least when Cahn does it.  They're all in favor of Pastor Lutzer's doing it.  I haven't yet sorted out what they think the difference is.

That benighted theological system dispensationalism underlies everything they say about the book in one way or another.  Douma makes much of Cahn's supposed misuse of the idea of a "pattern" in Isaiah that applies to America.  Cahn has already objected to the critics' strange inability to grasp this idea, pointing out that they are failing to distinguish between the interpretation of a passage as it was given to Israel, and its application to other contexts, such as America in this case, and that is true.  But Douma agrees in the abstract with that statement while also failing to notice that very error in his own argument.

Around 29:40 on the counter Douma says Cahn distorts BOTH interpretation and application.  He goes on to make the damning remark that this pattern
"exists only in Cahn's mind.  It is not a pattern that is revealed by Isaiah nor any other prophet.  It is just simply not there."
Later [31:05] he embellishes this with 
Cahn is replacing inspiration with his imagination.
Side note:  Do these critics have any idea just HOW damning their statements are?  Does one normally accuse other Christians of this degree of error?  Well, perhaps they doubt that Cahn is actually a Christian?  These remarks are scorchingly condemnatory no matter how politely or matter-of-factly  they are spoken.

Aside from that, the expectation that a pattern in order to be a pattern must have been revealed by the prophet himself, is missing the way Cahn means it is a pattern.  It is a pattern BECAUSE it applies to America.  Once you see that it DOES apply to America (and even without the harbingers it applies to America) THEN it can be seen as the pattern for America.  America WAS and IS in defiance of God about 9/11 as God's judgment and Isaiah 9:10 HAPPENS TO DESCRIBE AMERICA'S DEFIANT ATTITUDE ALL TOO WELL.  Once that is recognized what is the problem in referring to the original description of Israel's defiant attitude as the PATTERN for America's?

He goes on to claim [30:35]  that Cahn is "distorting an actual biblical pattern" as well, which turns out to mean that the prophecies in Isaiah can't refer to America because they all refer to the Day of the Lord.   Now, this piece of wild nonsense just about makes me want to throw in the towel on this boxing match.  When the terms of the argument get this bizarre what can you do?  You're dealing with an opponent who doesn't recognize any of the known rules that I'm aware of, and he's actually got people cheering him on.  Brannon Howse??  Would Erwin Lutzer agree with him about this?  What on earth are these people thinking?  Supposedly the prophecies refer ONLY to the Day of the Lord, therefore Cahn is "distorting an actual biblical pattern?"  Since when are we not allowed to apply an Old Testament passage to our own time, situation, nation or whatever no matter WHAT ELSE it applies to?  Please, someone tell me there's a way out of this Twilight Zone.  Is this to be put down to dispensationalism, and if so, where does THEIR usual application of Old Testament principles of judgment to America come in anyway?

The condemnatory terms just go on escalating: 
"The "pattern" is reader-derived, that is, by Cahn, not author-derived, and so herefore he is like a postmodern who says the Bible can mean whatever I say it means and to me that is a great danger."
Now Cahn is Postmodern?   Basically because Douma insists on his own pedantic formulaic misreading of the word "pattern" and not because there is anything the slightest postmodern about Cahn or The Harbinger.  Cahn is applying perfectly standard reasonable rules of interpretation in his use of Isaiah.  I'm beginning to think the only "danger" is with this sort of irresponsible criticism.  THIS is what needs to be condemned, in no uncertain terms. 

I have to suppose that the critics believe their own stuff, that is, they are sincere, but they are so hideously destructively WRONG they shouldn't be allowed a platform to do the damage they are doing.  Not just to The Harbinger but to normal standards of Bible interpretation, and to the poor beleaguered human beings who have to try to make sense out of this stuff and may actually take it as authoritative and pass it on.  Somebody who has some clout in the Christian world, which is certainly not I, needs to give them a helpfully abrupt hand down from their soapbox before they do more damage. 

Douma gets pedantic about the meaning of "signs" as well, as he objects to Cuah's claiming that the elements of Isaiah 9:8-11 are harbingers or signs to Israel as well as to America.  
God's not saying these are signs of judgment, they're just judgment.
Actually I'd say it's a description of how God brought a first judgment, then of how Israel defied that judgment by determining they'd rebuild what was destroyed without acknowledging the destructon as judgment, followed by God's saying THEREFORE He's going to bring even MORE judgment (verse 11.)  The elements that Cahn identifies as signs or harbingers are events that the Israelites SHOULD have recognized as God's hand in judgment and since they didn't but defied them, then, along with their statements of defiance as well, they become signs of the threat of future judgment to anyone who knows how to think biblically -- or think at all. 

Cahn is NOT using the concept of the harbingers or omens or signs in the sense Douma points to in Isaiah 7:14 and the births of the oddly-named children of Isaiah, all of which are clearly called signs to Israel.  Douma insists on his pedantic definitions of words and misses the context completely and this kind of misbegotten thinking becomes the basis for another excoriating attack on Jonathan Cahn and The Harbinger.

I'll have to save the other topic for the next post. 

Blessings in the Lord to those who RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD OF TRUTH.

Lord, please bring sanity to this dispute.

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