Monday, August 13, 2012

More on why I'm defending the Harbinger

This "Harbinger" controversy is beginning to wear on me.

Still need to finish my response to Brannon Howse's radio show of August 6th which I started in a previous post. Finally they are trying to address the central point of The Harbinger which I've been yelling about for a while now, the fact that there doesn't seem to be any way to dismiss the "harbingers" themselves as coming from any source other than God. They can't be explained away as mere coincidence or explained on the basis of any particular theological position. They exist in reality, and to discuss all the supposed theological objections to the book without acknowledging that is like pointedly ignoring the elephant in the living room as they say.

First, it's not the book itself I'm defending as much as the message I get out of the book, which I'd already gotten out of speeches and interviews before the book came out, that is, the meaning of the "harbingers" in America that echo Isaiah 9:10. I could have all kinds of objections to how the book is put together, various word choices and phrasings, but to my mind all that is not the point. It's the harbingers that are the point.

To say it again, I share the theological objections of the critics to the publisher of the book (Charisma House subsidiary Front Line), and to many of the personalities who have interviewed Jonathan Cahn, such as Jim Bakker, Sid Roth, and Pat Robertson. I don't know enough about their theologies to know how seriously out of line I would regard their views if I knew more but I know enough to know they are off in an area of the Christian community that I generally reject. I also gather from Jonathan Cahn's talk to a Messianic convention in 2005 (at You Tube) that he's more accepting of the idea of prophecy in the church today than I am, describing his messianic congregation or the messianic movement as a whole as "a prophetic people" and referring to certiain experiences as "prophetic" that I might see differently.

And I should also say that I don't regard any of this as insignificant either. Associations DO matter, of course. The Charismatic Movement promotes the idea that the supernatural gifts God gave to the Church in apostolic times continue today, a position which is rejected by most of the rest of the churches who say the gifts have stopped. Sometimes this rejection extends not only to the gifting of persons, with which I -pretty much agree, but also the occasional working of supernatural phenomena within the body of Christ, and that I don't agree with.

Such phenomena do occasionally still happen, and that to my mind could include isolated prophecies (See my post on Jan Hus) or visions or dreams from God, miraculous healings or other miraculous events, again not as the specific gifting of a person but at least as an occasional event for a specific purpose (It would have to have a specific purpose for the good of the body of Christ, it seems to me, to even be considered as authentic).

Nevertheless I realize this is also a problematic issue and I'm open to being convinced I should reject it all without reservation -- not yet convinced but open to it.

Most of such phenomena I've come to regard as something Watchman Nee and Jessie Penn Lewis identifed as "soul power," that is, as abilities related to the original endowment of the human race that were suppressed as a result of the Fall but still occasionally manifest as psychic powers, clairvoyance and that sort of thing. Such abilities are cultivated in various religions through meditation and physical disciplines and shamanistic rituals, and much of it involves demonic communications and influence as well. I used to regard the counterfeits as completely the work of the satanic hordes but I find Penn Lewis and Nee's explanation more realistic.

It's not always easy to tell the difference but I think it's very clear in some cases that this is what is really going on in charismatic circles but getting wrongly attributed to the Holy Spirit. I have no doubt this is what is behind Benny Hinn's "powers" and his predecessor Kathryn Kuhlman's, also William Branham who had an "angel" following him around and thought he was the Elijah of the last days. Also this is clearly what is manifesting in Rick Joyner's church, which I've discussed in earlier posts (examples of which are at You Tube), and in "prophetic readings" by Jill Austin, which I also discussed earlier, and the rest of the doings of those who make up the New Apostolic Reformation. It is no doubt also what's going on in Pat Robertson's "word of knowledge" segment of his show, and it seems to me that Sid Roth (who accepted Rick Joyner as a true prophet on his show) is deceived about these things and that the vast majority of the charismatic community are also taken in by them. The "revivals" such as the Toronto Blessing, "Holy Laughter" (Watchman Nee describes this counterfeit phenomenon back in the 30s in the Chinese churches, so it was far from new when it came to America in the 90s), the Brownsville Revival, and certainly Todd Bentley's bizarre carryings-on.

Calling out all this stuff as part of the Great Apostasy is the righteous work of the discernment ministries, but sometimes they do it with a heavy hand and not true spiritual discernment.

So here I've given a pretty broad indictment of the charismatic movement in general, and sometimes I wonder why I don't go all the way and reject everything that seems to have a supernatural origin.

It's just that I can't account for ALL such phenomena this way.

Can people be deceived by such phenomena, wrongly attribute it to God, and still be true Christians? I have to hope so because there have been many, including me, who have come out of the charismatic movement after gullibly accepting it for some time.

SO, after all that, given that The Harbinger has such associations, WHY DO I CONTINUE TO DEFEND IT?

Simply because I can't account for the appearance in the real world of what Cahn calls the "harbingers" by any such reasonings as the above, as mere coincidences, as anything that humans or demons could have concocted, as any kind of illusion, or as anything other than something God Himself must have done.

Also, the accusations of the book ARE predominantly a matter of associations and don't hold water as indictments of Cahn, such as for thinking himself a prophet, such as for equating God's covenant with Israel with America's godly consecrations from the past (by Winthrop for instance, or even Washington's prayer of consecration of the nation).

I can see that the book raises suspicions by some of its associations, by some of its terminology, and probably because it was written without adequately anticipating how some of its phrasings might be heard in some theological camps, and I'm not completely happy with some of Cahn's ways of conceptualizing his material either.

But nevertheless I cannot account for the "harbingers," particularly the ones based on Isaiah 9:10 (I have yet to fully grapple with the concept of the "shemitah") as anything but something only God could have brought about.
I can't. And so far none of the explanations anyone has given to account for them convince me.

Such as the explanations David James is giving on this radio show.