Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brannon Howse's attack on another discernment ministry: Just how should we think of a state's legalization of gay marriage?

UPDATE June 11.  Really more of a P.S.

Forgot to note that one of Howse's jibes at Jan Markell was against her apparent expectation of a dramatic sort of judgment from God for Minnesota's legalizing of same-sex marriage, which he characterized as on the order of expecting a tornado although I don't recall her saying that.  His answer was that weather is cyclical, meaning of course unrelated to God's judgments.  Can he really mean such a statement, is he thinking?  Is there any such thing as something that escapes God's sovereignty? 

Whether tornados or any other weather phenomenon is a particular judgment for a particular offense is difficult if not impossible to know, but to deny that weather is one of God's instruments of judgment is a denial of God's sovereignty over all things.   Some Christians may claim to know more specific reasons for a particular weather pattern than it's possible to know, but the basic idea can't be wrong.  God's judgments come in many forms and that is surely one of them.  For just one scripture reference, consider the famine in Elijah's day, the withholding of rain for the idolatries of Israel.

This was one of the errors made by the critics of Jonathan Cahn's Harbinger too.  All the harbingers he identifies the critics dismiss as meaningless coincidences.  Is there really such a thing as a meaningless coincidence?  I find all kinds of small and apparently meaningless coincidences in my own life and others have had the same experience, odd patterns of names or birthdates among family and friends and that sort of thing.  They are truly meaningless as far as I can tell, but this is God's universe and He probably has a reason even for those little strangenesses.  But when it comes to the harbingers that so CLEARLY reflect the scripture verse Isaiah 9:10, how can they be dismissed as meaningless?  How can Christians even believe in meaningless coincidences in a universe ruled by God?

======Original Post======

When I got back from my enforced vacation due to computer problems I had some emails waiting for me related at least tangentially to Jonathan Cahn's book. 

Brannon Howse on his May 22 radio show specifically targeted some recent comments made by Jan Markell suggesting that Minnesota's legalizing of gay marriage invites God's judgment on that state.  Brannon seems to go out of his way to target Jan, and it must be at least partly due to her support of Jonathan Cahn's book The Harbinger, which he sums up in this radio broadcast as "promoting mysticism." 

I didn't want to listen to his show but found myself obliged to.  I didn't hear both parts, however, only the first part.

Apparently Jan said that many Christians are now worried about Minnesota's coming under judgment for the legalization of same sex marriage, and Brannon quotes her saying "Now with homosexual marriage as a reality many Christians, solid pro-family type people -- we don't know where to run to."  And Brannon felt some need to criticize her for that, something that is really a common feeling many Christians have these days as we see the nation around us, and indeed the whole world, coming under judgment.  "We don't know where to run to."  Brannon felt some need to say that this isn't what Christians are called to, we're to expect persecution and tribulation in this world and so on and so forth. 

Well, he's right about that of course, but is he right to pillory Jan Markell for merely expressing something that so many of us are feeling these days?  I might point out a couple things that contradict his view: one, that God did allow the Waldensians to escape persecution for long periods by hiding away in the valleys of the Alps, and two, there is a proverb that says the prudent man foresees calamity and hides himself.  God also promises to hide the faithful from His wrath.  Sure, maybe in this case, in these last days, it may simply be impossible to find any earthly place to hide, but that's another subject.  We may be approaching a time when all we have is God Himself as our hiding place and that has to be a good thing for our spiritual health and growth.  Yet as we see judgment coming great numbers of Christians these days quite naturally cast about for a place to be safe from it, and it seems to me a lack of charity and grace to take a person to task for such a feeling. 

The main point Brannon keeps hammering away at, again specifically targeting Jan Markell but also "the religious right" in general, is the specific focus on gay marriage itself.  He is at pains to argue that homosexuality is only one of many sins that God judges, and that America is under judgment for a whole slew of sins, also that homosexuality itself IS God's judgment.  And again, he's right about all that, but I'd say he's also wrong in spirit in his focus on Jan Markell.  For one thing I seriously doubt she isn't aware of all the other sins the nation is being judged for, and I know she is aware of the sins of the church in particular because many of her own radio broadcasts focus on those.  Brannon's needling refrain about "discernment ministries that don't discern" is again, a lack of charity and grace toward another Christian, utterly undeserved that I can see.   There isn't any Christian or discernment ministry that we can expect to be perfect, we are all going to have our own blind spots and make mistakes to one degree or another, and there's nothing wrong with disagreeing with each other on such points that I can see, in fact it's necessary.  But Brannon has gone over the line here.

Beyond charity, Brannon is just wrong in his judgments of this issue.  Seems to me the reason so many of us focus on the gay marriage issue is that it IS the last offense on that list in Romans 1 that Brannon makes so much of, it's kind of the straw that broke the camel's back.  For two reasons:  one because it is the end result of the list of sins mentioned in that scripture, showing we've reached a sort of state of perfection of sin as it were, and two, because in this particular case it is an OFFICIAL sin, a sin officially committed by the State of Minnesota itself.   In this it compares with the nation's legalization of abortion, for which we've been under judgment for years.  The fact that there are many practicing homosexuals in the state or the nation does not necessarily amount to the level of God's judgment on the state or nation, but when it is LEGALLY legitimized by the State itself THEN I think we are quite right to see that as an invitation to God's judgment in a more direct and immediate way than any accumulation of the sins of the people themselves at least up to a certain level.  I have to suppose this is what Jan is responding to.  It's not, as Brannon keeps putting, it, uh oh homosexuality is in itself some special sin that invites judgment, as if we're ignoring all the other sins of the nation or state, but uh oh now we've gone and OFFICIALLY waved this violation of God's law in God's face and He's not going to be able to overlook that for long. 

Oh yes, America is under God's judgment, has been for years, and the growth of support for homosexuality as per Romans 1 clearly demonstrates that we've reached the end of the trail of judgments from God, and oh yes, homosexuality is in itself God's judgment, as is the proliferation of sins of all kinds.  But because it IS the end of the trail of an accumulation of sins and judgments over years, and because it is now officially endorsed by the State of Minnesota, discerning Christians have very good reason to expect a more dramatic expression of God's judgment.  There is nothing wrong with such an expectation. 

Brannon's broadcast is a good compendium of the sins for which we can expect judgment, it has that virtue, but I have to say that it comes off as some sort of nitpicking vendetta against Jan Markell and that is reprehensible. 

He also slams her in passing for her support of Jonathan Cahn's book, The Harbinger, which is probably the main reason for attacking her as he does, but I'm planning another post on that subject so I'll leave that for now.