Monday, October 8, 2012

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.

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