Monday, July 30, 2012

The Harbinger wars continue

Inevitable I suppose that Howse and DeYoung would answer Joseph Farah. I'm going to agree with them this far, that personal speculations ought to be kept out of such discussions, meaning Farah's speculations about pride and envy as the motivation for Howse and DeYoung's criticisms of The Harbinger, keeping to the theological contentions instead.

Right off the bat Jimmy De Young brings up what is still their central objection to the Harbinger, that
Cahn's fundamental error... is his hermeneutic.
He is quoting from an email sent to his associate David James by Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Roy Zuck, affirming James' criticism which is soon to come out as a book. The email continues, explaining what Dr. Zuck considers to be wrong with Cahn's hermeneutic:
Isaiah 9:10 has nothing to do with the United States. Verses 8 to 11 are all addressed to israel. Having taught hermeneutics for years at Dallas Theological Seminary and havinh written a textook on the subject, I'm greatly bothered to see people like Cahn take a passage totally out of context. These verses don't even apply to the United States. [7:00-8:00]
De Young goes on to say that neither Joseph Farah nor Jonathan Cahn have dealt with this hermeneutical issue, which he and Brannon Howse have been questioning. As a matter of fact Cahn has addressed this allegation about his supposedly faulty hermeneutics many times, and covers it pretty thoroughly in his Response to David James:
D. James claims that The Harbinger departs from a biblical hermeneutic in that Isaiah 9:10 in context concerns Israel, not America. This claim, that he brings up several times in his critique, is based on an underlying confusion – specifically, that the book is claiming that Isaiah 9:10 is a prophecy about America. The problem is The Harbinger does no such thing. It does speak of a connection between America and Israel (not exactly a novel idea) and it does speak of a mystery from the Scriptures which has an amazing application to America. But this is light years removed from claiming that a certain Scripture is prophesying of America.

...Further, the reappearance of such ancient patterns of judgment revealed in a particular Scripture does not in any way affect the original understanding, meaning, or interpretation of that Scripture in its original context - not in any way, shape, or form..

...Further, the book includes quotes from the most respected and classical of Bible commentaries. In The Harbinger, the hermeneutic of Isaiah 9:10 is not taken one inch away from its historical and contextual bearings, nor from its original, proper, and traditionally understood meaning – not an inch, not a millimeter. The critique is groundless – based on an apparent inability to distinguish the realm of Scriptural interpretation from that of Scriptural application. The Harbinger’s hermeneutics remain absolutely sound.
[my bolding]
It's been answered again and again: The Harbinger does NOT see America somehow buried in Isaiah 9:10. The Harbinger does nothing more than recognize that God has applied Isaiah 9:10 TO America, as He so often applies His word to us as we read it. In this case He applied it in a way that could make your hair stand on end, but nevertheless it's nothing more than the usual application of scripture outside its original context. The original context REMAINS the original context, God merely making use of it for another purpose, which is STANDARD EVERYDAY BIBLE HERMENEUTICS THAT EVERY BELIEVER EXERCISES WHENEVER WE READ THE BIBLE.

Howse and DeYoung go on to address some side issues that Joseph Farah brought up about DeYoung's end times theology. I've posted on the one allegation Farah mentions that I consider to be a serious error on DeYoung's part, the belief that it's possible to take the Mark of the Beast and then change your mind, but otherwise his dispensational theology isn't the issue in these discussions about The Harbinger. No doubt it explains something about how the criticisms of the book are arrived at, since most of the critics are dispensationalists, but then so are some of the book's defenders.

So I don't want to get more into that part of the discussion because it's mostly highlighting the differences between the theologies of DeYoung and Farah and gets away from the criticism of The Harbinger, but I do have to say it was very funny when De Young finished his lengthy exposition of his own dispensationalist pretrib theology by saying [27:28]
So that is biblical information. I gave no opinion, I gave no interpretation, I simply kept a view to the locations in God's word...
And it's quite true that all he did was refer to various verses of scripture and explain them, but he both chose the verses and explained them completely from within his own interpretive scheme as if there were no other possible way of understanding them, and that IS interpreting them. It was nothing BUT interpretation.

But again, that's a side issue. Then they go on to the issue of Cahn's being interviewed by Glenn Beck, and unfortunately I haven't heard that interview so I can't comment on it. The accusation that Cahn in any way gave the impression that he agrees with Beck's religious views hasn't been demonstrated, but I can't judge it. The idea is that it's OK to appear on a purely secular program because there isn't going to be a religious conflict, but I have to say that by their own standards Brannon's appearing on O'Reilly could be criticized in the same way appearing on Beck could be, since O'Reilly is a Catholic and why wouldn't it look like Brannon was endorsing Catholicism by that appearance? The Catholic God is not the same as the true God either; he's either the Pope or Mary or the wafer since all receive the worship due to God alone.

Then -- glory be! -- It turns out Brannon has finally read the book, or is reading it, so now he brings out some more "concerns" he has based on his reading.

On page 54 [39:47 on the audio counter] he takes issue with The Prophet's asking "Is God not able to speak through such things [meaning a Bible commentary]?" To which Brannon declares, "Dr. DeYoung, the commentaries are not inspired!" Dear Brannon: NEITHER WAS BALAAM'S ASS! Or was she, perhaps, at the moment she spoke? Meaning, God is certainly ABLE to speak through a commentary OR an ass. This is not the same thing as saying that either the commentary or the ass is inspired. Do you really think Cahn is teaching that commentaries are inspired? Do you really think any reader out there is going to get that message from that bit of dialogue? In any case all he means is that a commentary can bring out the true meaning of the scripture, he really doesn't mean any more than that. As usual Brannon and Company are oh so fastidiously straining out gnats.

But it gets worse. It gets positively blockheaded, pun more or less intended as the next complaint is from page 68 [40:00] about the Israelis' vow to rebuild their fallen buildings with hewn stone. "I don't believe that any of the towers that are being rebuilt are being rebuilt with hewn stone, are they, Dr. DeYoung?" No, me bonny lad, they're being built with steel and etc.

Isaiah 9:10 is about the INTENTION of the nation of Israel to rebuild. The intention is what reveals the spirit of defiance as they don't plan to seek God about it, aren't feeling chastened by God's judgment through the Assyrian attack, and aren't anywhere near a repentant spirit. The INTENTION is the point, not the rebuilding itself, and that intention WAS echoed after 9/11 as a twenty-ton block of hewn or quarried stone was brought in to be the cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower. Words of defiance meant to express patriotic zeal were spoken over that stone, too, rather than brokenheartedness for the sins that brought about the calamity of 9/11, rather than a call to repentance. And then it turned out they weren't going to use that stone after all so they took it away. Which it seems to me gives the whole thing even MORE of a connection with Isaiah 9:10. God had to have a hewn stone in there whether it was needed or not, so we couldn't miss his clear message that America was defiant of His judgments in exactly the same way Israel was.

Brannon, Dr. DeYoung, with all due respect, maybe, you guys are missing it completely.

Then he takes on the sycamore tree on page 83 [40:45]. "It's a TOTALLY DIFFERENT TREE!" Well, uh, yeah, but they are BOTH called "sycamores" and the American version was named after the Middle Eastern version. Isn't that kind of maybe just a little bit uncanny right there? I mean, the Middle Eastern version simply doesn't grow in America but a tree called a "sycamore" certainly fills the Isaiah 9:10 bill wouldn't you say, considering that God is using it to speak to America and it works beautifully to draw the parallel with Isaiah 9:10? I mean why do we need a lesson in botany to make that connection? It's a "sycamore," the ones in Isaiah 9:10 are "sycamores." They even look similar, growing quite tall with widely spreading branches. How hard do you have to work at missing this simple point anyway?

And of course it's even worse when we get to the "cedars" that in Isaiah 9:10 are the Israelis' choice to replace the downed sycamores. At Ground Zero the sycamore was replaced by a ...a ...a SPRUCE! Hey, that's not a cedar! DeYoung says if it's really from God "it will be fulfilled in absolute detail, not a variance here or there" and Howse adds that Cahn is "stretching things." But this is, as Jonathan Cahn wrote, quoted above, to confuse the exegesis of the passage as it was written to Israel with the application of the passage to the current situation in America. We don't expect such exactness in application, how could we? They seem to be going out of their way to avoid the obvious similarity, which can be simply seen with your own two eyes: conifer trees with needles and cones. And if you do get into botany you'll find that they even belong to the same family, in Hebrew the erez, in Latin the pinaceas or the pine type trees, which include pines, firs, cedars and spruces. Imagine that! Why didn't they replace the sycamore with another sycamore or an oak or some other leafy type tree that grows in that part of the country? Why such a DIFFERENT type tree? Clearly ONLY because it is the same type of tree that was used to replace Israel's sycamores, and who could have made that choice but God Himself?

Really, this should not take all this explanation. The average reader gets it right away, it's the whole point of the book that these harbingers, as Cahn calls them, are such unavoidable pointers back to Isaiah 9:10, which is what God wants us to notice --the attitude of defiance we had about 9/11, the lack of contrition for our sins, the lack of repentance, which was the same attitude described there of Israel. They all point back to Isaiah 9:10. We had the same spirit and God is putting up signposts to to emphasize it by planting all these harbingers, the fallen bricks, the hewn stone, the sycamore, the pine type tree to replace it, all the elements of 9:10. So we'll see that we deserve God's judgment just as Israel did, and that if we don't repent and change our ways we may expect a more devastating judgment just as God brought against ancient Israel. No, He probably won't scatter us throughout the Middle East as He did Israel. Sigh. Really, guys, you do have to be a bit dense to miss this. Or afflicted with some kind of theologically induced myopia. Can't see the forest for ...

Well, I guess at least they did finally address the harbingers themselves. And of course there is no illusion here at all, the harbingers are as uncannily eerily something only God could have brought about as we simple people knew they were from the beginning. The harbingers are the message, all the rest of it is packaging!

There's more but I've got to stop so I'm going to put this much up for now.

Oh brother, and David James' book is going to come out soon and repeat this same kind of nonsense!