(In the May / June issue of Lamplighter magazine)
By David James
My original article begins below the two updates, with the most recent update first.
Dr. David Reagan has posted an article to his website in response to mine. I have included the entire text of his response below, after which I have made a few observations:
Introductory note: Over the past year and a half, many things have been said to us and about us, both publicaly and privately, to which we have responded very little. I have never desired to engage in an escalating war of words, or to get into an endless cycle of unprofitable battles. Neither do I wish to be perceived as becoming defensive and blindly defending an indefensible position.
One reason I have chosen to begin discussing some of this recently is to help our readers more fully understand the serious nature of The Harbinger controversy. Another reason is to provide some insights into how to respond to those who vigorously defend The Harbinger and find themselves facing harsh criticism.
In my article I had expressed concern that Dr. Reagan appeared to be relying on hearsay rather than first-hand knowledge of the real issues surrounding The Harbinger controversy. If he has not heard of me, his article validates those concerns. And, if true, it would be unfortunate for a well-known Bible teacher with a national platform to speak authoritatively about a subject of this magnitude, yet with little personal knowledge.
Since I mailed a copy of my book to Dr. Reagan for review, it probably would have been better if he had gone through it prior to responding as he has. Dr. Reagan’s article also suggests that besides not reading my book, either he hasn’t carefully read my article or he has simply dismissed both its content and tone. Again, given the significance of this issue, it is disappointing that someone would fail to take our biblical concerns seriously enough to respond in kind.
Rather than reconsidering his unnecessarily harsh and personal comments, Dr. Reagan has instead refered to concerned discernment ministries as having an “attack-dog, mean-spirited attitude” and as “legalistic, judgmental and condemnatory in nature.” He continues with inflammatory remarks, calling ABI, “one more of the reckless discernment ministries.”
I had hoped that both my article and email would have persuaded Dr. Reagan to at least reconsider the way he has characterized us—and perhaps even consider the fact that he may have been misled. Unfortunately, he seems to miss the irony of what he has said and how he has chosen to say it.
And finally, it is difficult to understand why someone of Dr. Reagan’s stature would resort to insults such as the one in his last statement, while ignoring the substance of our biblical concerns. There is never a place in the Lord’s work to use insults to discredit and demean those who disagree with us.
I sent Dr. Reagan a personal email within about 12 hours of posting this article, to let him know that it was now on the ABI website, and assurred him that my intention was to focus on the issues and not to harm him or anyone else. I also wrote:
My intent is not to get into an escalating war of words, but rather to bring some balance and reason to a situation that has become far too emotional and characterized by quite a bit of harsh language, accusations and ad hominem attacks.
Thanks for sending me a copy of your article. I have nothing to say in reply to it except that I stand by what I wrote in my article.Have a blessed day in the Lord.Dave ReaganLamb & Lion Ministries
Over the past year, The Harbinger and its author, Jonathan Cahn, have experienced an almost unprecedented rise to prominence, influence and fame in America by a Christian book and author. Its status as the #1 Christian book for 2012, with over 75 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and one million copies sold is impressive by any measure.
The Harbinger has struck a chord with many Christians because of its call to repentance in the face of present or impending judgment by God. Cahn claims this judgment is evidenced by a series of events which began with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and which have continued since then, following what he says is a “template” found in Isaiah 9:10. The case the author presents for parallels between events in ancient Israel and present-day America has persuaded many that it is impossible for this correspondence to be mere coincidence and therefore it must be a message from God, making it a “must-read.”
Ultimately, the level of The Harbinger’s success can be attributed largely to the support and promotion from a wide array of ministry leaders who have also become convinced that God is using Cahn as a prophetic voice and who have combined constituencies numbering in the millions. Jonathan Cahn has been interviewed countless times, with one writer referring to him as “one of the most interviewed Christian in America.” (( http://sonomachristianhome.com/2013/05/interview-with-jonathan-cahn-proclaiming-details-of-god%E2%80%99s-judgment/)) and has appeared (sometimes multiple times) on some of the most highly watched programs on Christian television such as The Jim Bakker Show with Jim and Lori Bakker, The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth, Prophecy in the News with Gary Stearman, This is Your Day with Benny Hinn, Praise the Lord on TBN and many others. Last year he was interviewed on two consecutive days by Glenn Beck, and within the last few weeks he has been interviewed on the radio by former Gov. Mike Huckabee of FoxNews and also by Dani Johnson (Secret Millionaire).
However, there has also been a significant amount of controversy within the Body of Christ over The Harbinger and Jonathan Cahn as not everyone has shared this enthusiasm for the book. That such a book would generate at least some controversy isn’t entirely unusual in today’s theological climate. However, what is unusual regarding this particular controversy is the sharp division within the evangelical community.
Although I wrote The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? as a critique and response to The Harbinger, I am definitely not alone in my criticism of the book. A good number of conservative Bible teachers, pastors and theologians have also expressed their deep concerns about various issues related to the message of the book and its author. The critics of The Harbinger include many respected men and women in the conservative evangelical community such as (the late) Roy Zuck, Gary Gilley, T.A. McMahon, Jimmy DeYoung, Larry DeBruyn, Ken Silva, Danny Isom, Paul Barreca, Sarah Leslie, Gaylene Goodroad, Chris Lawson, Brannon Howse, Tommy Ice, Keith Gibson, Berit Kjos, and Susan Puzio to name a few.
Compounding the controversy has been the deep division caused by some very emotional articles aimed at critics of The Harbinger, with very little response to the actual substance of our critiques. One example of just how personal this has gotten at times is the following from a blogger who says of The Harbinger’s critics:
…you fit the bill as the modern version of the Sanhedrin, the Catholic Inquisition, and every man-made religious construct of destruction that the human race has ever erected against the face of God to obstruct His purposes and persecute His servants in the name of God and now in the last two thousand years – in the name of Christ.
Despite this, we have tried to stay focused on The Harbinger and deal exclusively with the teaching and views of Jonathan Cahn as presented in his book, interviews and messages. In doing so, we have chosen to say very little about those who have so strongly supported and promoted The Harbinger and its author, and who have also leveled some serious personal accusations against those with concerns. However, with The Harbinger phenomenon showing few signs of letting up, it seems that the time has come to begin to address not only the specific issues at hand, but also some of what has been said about those who have been critical of the book because in many ways it has just gotten out of hand.
On the front cover of the latest edition of his magazine, Lamplighter, Dr. David Reagan suggests that Jonathan Cahn is “an end-time prophet to America.” This cover is consistent with the fact that he has been repeatedly referred to as a prophet in many interviews, articles and promotions. And although Jonathan Cahn denies that he has ever personally called himself a prophet, I am not aware of any time when he has denied he is a prophet or corrected someone who has introduced him as a prophet. Rather he has always accepted that appellation the many times it has been used of him.
Then, in an article titled “In Defense of a Prophetic Voice,” Dr. Reagan launches a fairly serious attack against the critics of The Harbinger. This is a response to that article (although this response could be generally directed to many who have supported The Harbinger and defended Jonathan Cahn and have said many of the same things.)
NOTE: The section titles are from Dr. Reagan’s article
As I have followed The Harbinger controversy, I have tried to read everything that has been written about the issue, both positive and negative. What I have found is that theological liberals have been almost uniformly silent about The Harbinger. Although one might expect that it would provoke a response from some in mainstream denominations or from some emerging church leaders, I don’t recall reading anything specific from them. This makes the opening quote in Dr. Reagan’s article both puzzling and troubling:
People love pillow prophets. They hate true prophets. Pillow prophets tell people what they want to hear. They cry, “Peace and safety!” when danger is imminent. True prophets warn of danger and cry for repentance.
Since the normal “pillow prophets” have said virtually nothing about The Harbinger, to whom, then, could Dr. Reagan be referring except the theologically conservative evangelical critics of the book?
Comparing Jonathan Cahn to the biblical prophet Jeremiah, Dr. Reagan further writes:
In like manner, Jonathan Cahn has been the victim of irresponsible and vicious attacks. He has been accused of “parading as a prophet.” Others have branded him a “false prophet.” These charges are reckless, unwarranted and un-Christ-like.
So, apparently anyone who has criticized The Harbinger falls into the category of “pillow prophet” (or at least in the category of “those who love pillow prophets”). However, anyone who has followed this controversy knows that no one could reasonably suggest that The Harbinger’s critics are the type of “pillow-prophets” he describes. This is a very hollow charge that has no basis in fact.
Another problem is the accusation that these “pillow-prophets” have subjected Jonathan Cahn to “irresponsible and vicious attacks.” With few, if any, exceptions the vast majority of critiques have focused only on the issues and have purposefully avoided personal attacks. I don’t think any of the primary, more well-known critics have said or written anything that could be characterized as anything close to “irresponsible” or “vicious.”
These charges raise the question of whether Dr. Reagan has actually read some of the more significant critical reviews of The Harbinger. Has he actually considered the substance of our concerns? Has he read The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
Dr. Reagan goes on to say:
Jonathan Cahn’s message is thoroughly biblical. It is not based on any new revelation from God. Rather, it is based on the biblical principles that govern God’s relationship with nations.
This is quite a gloss that overlooks a number of serious issues.
For example, the most important principle of biblical interpretation is to never lift a verse from its context. If the context is not considered, it is impossible to understand a passage correctly. However, this is precisely what Jonathan Cahn has done with Isaiah 9:10. Tthe nine verses which precede Isaiah 9:10 represent one of the most important Messianic Kingdom passages in the entire Old Testament, yet they are completely ignored in The Harbinger. Neither are the following verses considered. How is it that a single verse in the middle of a chapter with twenty-one verses is a template for events which have happened in America and the other twenty verses have no connection whatsoever? If just 9:10 is a template, why not the entire chapter? And if not the entire chapter, why 9:10? Surely a Bible teacher like Dr. Reagan realizes just how serious this problem really is. It is difficult to understand how he can suggest that The Harbinger’s message is “thoroughly biblical.” And this only begins to scratch the surface.
Another issue is Cahn’s speculation concerning the Sh’mitah (Israel’s Sabbath year). He claims that America experienced a judgment (or at least a warning) from God in both 2001 and 2008, tied to the Hebrew Sabbath year in the form of stock market crashes. To suggest that God is using the Sh’mitah as a basis or principle of judgment against any nation except Israel is thoroughly unbiblical. What about 1994, 1987, 1980, 1971….? Why did it begin in 2001 and without any warning that we, as a Gentile nation, were obligated to the Sh’mitah?
This isn’t the way God does things. And beyond this, in terms of percentage, neither of these even rank in the top ten crashes—that they were the largest in absolute numbers means nothing more than saying gas was so much cheaper in 1976 at only 60 cents per gallon.
There wasn’t anything approaching a total collapse as happened in ancient Israel. Neither was there a “wiping out of debt” as Cahn claims in his book. How is it that he is being given a pass on these claims by those who are normally critical thinkers?
Besides this, there isn’t even any indication that God imposed judgment on Israel related to the Sh’mitah specifically on 29 Elul as Cahn says happened in America. The only element of judgment against Israel which was connected with the Sh’mitah involved the length of the Babylonian captivity, which at seventy years was one for each of the Sabbath year cycles Israel had failed to observe. And yet, a substantial part of The Harbinger is built exclusively on this completely unbiblical premise and conjecture that God judged America in this way, at this time and for this reason. This is just factually wrong on innumerable counts as I demonstrate in my book.
It would also be difficult to overstate just how serious this is in terms of misunderstanding and misapplying the Old Testament. It is equally difficult to overstate just how puzzling it is that Dr. Reagan has overlooked this issue (as have so many others), especially when it makes up such a significant part of The Harbinger.
Then there is the serious problem of the unbiblical “Isaiah 9:10 Effect,” which also forms a major theme in The Harbinger. Jonathan Cahn contends that the Isaiah 9:10 Effect actually caused a series of events to inevitably happen once the effect was triggered. (All emphasis in quotes below is mine.)
[Kaplan] “And this all has to do with America?” I asked.
[The Prophet] “Seven years after 9/11,” he said, “the American economy collapsed, triggering a global economic implosion. Behind it all, and all that followed, was something much deeper than economics.”
[Kaplan] “Behind the collapse of Wall Street and the American economy was . . . .”
[The Prophet] “Isaiah 9:10.” ((The Harbinger, page 136))
In the author’s mind a repetition of the Lord’s words as recorded by Isaiah, the alleged Isaiah 9:10 Effect, actually causes things to happen. This is clearly affirmed in the following exchange at the end of chapter 16:
[Kaplan] “As in the Isaiah 9:10 Effect?”
[The Prophet] “Yes, but in this mystery the connections are even more beyond the realm of the natural.”
[Kaplan] “They’re supernatural?”
[The Prophet] “You could say that.”
[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.” ((The Harbinger, pages 151-152.))
Surely it is obvious that this is a thoroughly unbiblical, entirely made-up principle that has no scriptural foundation. How did this slip by Dr. Reagan?
But beyond being unbiblical because it isn’t found in Scripture as a principle, another extremely unbiblical idea is the very nature of the Isaiah 9:10 Effect itself. The way it is used here is more like an occultic spell or incantation than a biblical principle. The idea is that once the words were said by a couple of American leaders, they set into motion and determine a whole cascade of specific events. Nothing like this mystical power of words is ever seen in Scripture and it is surprising that Dr. Reagan has missed such an extremely serious problem.
Yet another example of the unbiblical ideas in The Harbinger is the assumption that in some way Isaiah 9:10 must be connected to the United States because of events the author believes parallel events in ancient Israel. Although he has tried to mitigate the implication by calling it a “template,” this doesn’t solve the problem or make it any more “thoroughly biblical” at all. No such template is identified or described in Scripture either before or after Isaiah 9:10. It is a unique prophecy concerning Israel’s response to God in the face of judgment that has no precedence and is never repeated. There is no biblical (nor historical) basis to call it a “template”—especially to the degree that it determines or causes specific events to happen.
And finally, one of the most serious examples of a thoroughly unbiblical aspect of The Harbinger is the supposed presentation of the gospel in the chapter titled “Eternity.” Tragically, the author does not explain how to be saved at all. He does present some important principles and could have made the gospel clear with nothing more than a few key sentences. And yet, the words “faith” and “believe” are nowhere to be found, being replaced with very ambiguous ideas about what needs to happen in one’s heart and mind. The following is the essence of how Cahn explains what someone must do to in order to be saved:
[The Prophet] “By receiving . . . by letting go . . . by letting the old life end and a new one begin. By choosing . . . by opening your heart to receive that which is beyond containing—the presence . . . the mercy . . . the forgiveness . . . the cleansing . . . the unending love of God.” ((The Harbinger, page 233.))
And this is put in the mouth of a prophet of God?
The idea that Christ died in our place for our sins is very much obscured—to the point that only someone who is already familiar with the gospel would understand what the author is getting at. And the complete absence of any mention of the resurrection of Christ, which Paul says must be believed, renders Cahn’s presentation of the gospel incomplete, ineffective and unbiblical. How would a prophet of God not include the resurrection in what is supposed to be a clear presentation of the gospel? This is not just nitpicking. I would encourage Dr. Reagan to examine this chapter carefully and read the corresponding chapter in The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
Concerning Cahn’s message not containing “new revelation from God,” it must be pointed out that even the subtitle of The Harbinger is designed to make the reader think that the author has discovered a never-before-seen “ancient mystery.” In more than one interview, Jonathan Cahn has said it was as if The Harbinger had already been written. At the very least, this statement is ambiguous enough for a lot of his readers to think that God had revealed it to him (as evidenced by what so many have said in the positive comments on Amazon.com).
It must also be noted that it has been strongly suggested and implied that The Harbinger is, in fact, based on new revelation from God. In September 2011, the program It’s Supernatural aired shows produced around interviews with Jonathan Cahn. The following are excerpts from an advertisement for a DVD set featuring those shows:
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s new book gives a fresh prophetic Jewish perspective and insight that clearly shows the future of America. . . . And is it possible that God is now sending a prophetic word to America, a word of warning that the nation lies in danger and unless it returns to Him is heading for impending judgment?
The same promotional ad says the following of the author:
Jonathan Cahn is a Jewish believer in Messiah and leader in the Messianic movement. His teachings and messages are known for their profound and prophetic nature and for revealing the deep mysteries of biblical truth.
The following is from another website that exclusively promotes The Harbinger and an accompanying DVD set:
Listen as Jonathan Cahn shares the revelations, the details, and the significance that lie behind and within the mysteries and prophetic message of The Harbinger.
In a promotional video for the DVD set, Cahn affirms the prophetic nature of his message (and not simply in the generic sense of being a “forthtelling” of God’s Word from Scripture):
[Jonathan Cahn] Could there exist an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future? And could this mystery touch everything, explains everything from 9/11, to the global war on terror, to Wall Street, to your bank account, to your future, to your well-being? The answer is yes.
[Voice-over] Call now and receive Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s two-part prophetic audio CD revelation….
On Amazon.com the book description includes the following:
Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretold recent American events down to the exact days. The revelations are so specific that even the most hardened skeptics will find it hard to dismiss or put down. It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller with one exception…. IT’S REAL.
A promotional article by WND (formerly World Net Daily) quotes Jonathan Cahn as saying, “There’s nothing natural about this book!” ((http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/runaway-bestseller-sets-christian-world-abuzz/))
However, the real elephant in the room is the character of The Prophet himself. Of course, his presence in the story is a fictional literary device, but the problem is that Cahn uses him to reveal things about supposed connections between events in ancient Israel and America that no one has ever seen before—and that no one could ever see because the “mystery” is not in the text nor is it supported by the evidence alone (as I show in my book).
It is The Prophet who reveals the never-before-seen “ancient mystery.” The Prophet makes the connection with America’s founders. The Prophet reveals the proposed Isaiah 9:10 Effect. The Prophet reveals the nine harbingers in Isaiah 9:10 some of which are not at all obvious in the text. The Prophet uses the Septuagint to add an idea that is not found in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 9:10. The Prophet reveals the supposed connection between the Sh’mitah and America.
This is all new information and suggests that at some level Jonathan Cahn has received this message from God that no one else has ever received.
It is very troubling that Dr. Reagan has come to the conclusion that there is nothing unbiblical about The Harbinger when there are so many substantial problems. Given that he is a respected Bible teacher, it would seem that either he hasn’t carefully analyzed the book himself or he that is not familiar with the reviews of The Harbinger which have pointed out these issues over and over again.
It is also troubling that Dr. Reagan is not more familiar with the facts concerning what has been said about The Harbinger being promoted as prophetic in a revelatory sense. Given the intense controversy surrounding the book, it would probably have been helpful for Dr. Reagan to take some time to find out exactly why these things are being said—and it would not have been difficult to do because of the extensive documentation in The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
The question of whether or not Jonathan Cahn’s message is biblical continues in this section of Dr. Reagan’s article as he begins with the following question:
The charge that he is a “false prophet” is downright ludicrous. His message is that America is in rebellion against God, that God has placed remedial judgments upon us, and that if we do not repent, God will deliver us from judgment to destruction. I ask you, “What part of that message is unbiblical?”
Of course, as Dr. Reagan knows, there’s nothing particularly unbiblical about this part of the message (except that we don’t know for certain that God has already placed remedial judgments upon us—perhaps He has, perhaps He hasn’t). But none of The Harbinger’s critics have suggested that this is what is unbiblical. I find it very unfortunate that Dr. Reagan would try to set us up to look bad in this way. If he really has listened to what we have all consistently said, then he would know that we generally agree with Jonathan Cahn on this point—at least with the fact that America as a nation is deserving of judgment and that broad repentance is in order.
I have no doubt that Dr. Reagan does not wish to mislead his readers. Unfortunately, he seems to be relying on hearsay and secondary sources who are being somewhat misleading. Based on what is said later in citing Jonathan Cahn, it would seem that it may well be Cahn himself who is the source of some of these misleading notions. This would be consistent other times Jonathan Cahn has elsewhere misrepresented his detractors and then mocked the misrepresentation with classic straw man argumentation.
Dr. Reagan goes on to define a false prophet:
Furthermore, the Bible defines a false prophet as one who prophesies events that do not come to pass. If Rabbi Cahn prophesied that a specific event would take place on a specific date and that date were to come and go without the event happening, then he could legitimately be labeled as a “false prophet.” But he has done no such thing.
Unfortunately, this is a case of Dr. Reagan himself using a straw man argument because no one has suggested that Cahn is a false prophet on these grounds.
On the other hand, as a prophecy expert himself, Dr. Reagan is certainly aware that this is an incomplete definition of a false prophet. Prior to the test to which Dr. Reagan refers in Deuteronomy 18:22, we read the following:
And the LORD said to me: “What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.” (Deuteronomy 18:17–20, NKJV)
The Lord’s warning involves more than just prophesying things that don’t come to pass (or encouraging people to follow other gods). He also says to mark the man who claims to speak out what God did not say. The way Jonathan Cahn has handled Isaiah 9:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14 and other passages of Scripture, as well as the issues of the Sh’mitah, the Isaiah 9:10 Effect, the harbingers and even the gospel all make it clear that he is misrepresenting what God has really said in His Word—and this is no different from saying that God has said things He has not said.
So, while it may be unnecessarily harsh to assign to him the label “false prophet,” it has been clearly demonstrated over and over that Jonathan Cahn does engage in teaching many false things by mishandling Scripture and misrepresenting historical events and facts. This then raises the question of just how much significant mishandling of Scripture is necessary for someone to be considered a false teacher—and what is the difference between a false prophet and a false teacher?
Even if one is reticent to say that he is a false prophet, it can be said with a high degree of confidence that Jonathan Cahn is most assuredly not God’s “End Times Prophet to America.”
Misuse of Scripture
Dr. Reagan further clouds the issue and engages in straw man argumentation when he refers to Psalms, Proverbs and the churches of Revelation along with Isaiah 9:10. Does he really think that The Harbinger’s critics would suggest there is nothing applicable to the church in these parts of Scripture?
Whether it is Isaiah 9:10 or Psalm 23 or any other passage, the question is never “Is this relevant and applicable?” but rather “How is this relevant and applicable?” This is the task of the Bible interpreter—to determine how a passage is to be understood and applied correctly to those who were not the original recipients. In the case of Proverbs, much of what is said is general truth and so a given passage and the timeless principle are often equivalent.
However, this is not always the situation. For example, in the case of Psalm 23, the timeless principles must be extracted from the shepherding imagery (i.e., the Lord isn’t literally comforting us with His physical staff). Concerning the churches of Revelation, not many modern-day churches eat food offered to idols as in Thyatira. We understand from basic Bible study methods and hermeneutics that not every detail is equally and as directly applicable to us as it was to the original recipients. We just have to keep these principles in mind—which leads to the next point.
Dr. Reagan then discusses the frequently misapplied passage of 2 Chronicles 7:14:
Incredibly, Rabbi Cahn has been criticized for applying 2 Chronicles 7:14 to the United States. It reads as follows: [If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Are we actually going to contend that this scripture applies only to Israel? Are we really going to argue that if the professing Christians of this nation were to sincerely repent of their sins and the sins of our nation, that God would ignore it? This particular scripture contains a timeless principle about repentance that even applies to pagan nations.
Of course, Dr. Reagan certainly understands that for any passage there is the technical interpretation and then there is the general application. While it is true that evangelicals have long used this passage as a call to America to turn to God, this is neither the proper interpretation nor application.
One would think that as a dispensational Bible teacher, Dr. Reagan would not make this mistake of failing to distinguish between the way God deals with national Israel and the way He deals with individual believers. The promise of 2 Chronicles was given specifically and exclusively to Israel. They were God’s people as a nation. America is not God’s people as a nation. God’s people, Israel, had a geographical piece of land to restore that had been ravaged by His judgments through human agency. Christians living in America do not have a land that is God-given in the way the Promised Land was given to Israel.
The “land” in the promise would, of course, mean the nation as a whole and not just the physical land itself. However, in context, “my people” refers exclusively to national Israel and the promise is to heal the nation—which was made up of both believers and unbelievers. Therefore, God’s people were called to turn back to Him collectively so that the nation as a whole would experience His blessings. As a theocratic kingdom, everyone (believer and unbeliever alike) was obligated to obey and observe the externals of the Law (even though no one could be saved spiritually by observing the Law). If such obedience to the law given through Moses were to characterize the nation as a whole, the nation would be saved from destruction and the Lord would heal their land. This was God’s promise to “my people.”
Such a promise has not been made to America as a nation—and any attempts to make such an application of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to any nation except Israel is arguably a form of Restorationism or Dominionism or Kingdom Now theology.
Of course, if individuals in America would begin to turn to the Lord in large numbers (and they would need to be very large numbers), there would be ripple effects throughout society. However, none of The Harbinger’s critics would deny this either. But God’s people in the sense of believers in the church are not the “my people” of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and there is no Scriptural promise that God will heal any nation other than Israel in this sense.
Dr. Reagan contends that the 2 Chronicles 7:14 principal works for pagan nations as well—and some might argue that what happened in Nineveh is a clear example of this. However, careful examination of the book of Jonah shows that this is not the case. And there are several important differences that must be observed:
- Nineveh initially had no one in it who could be called “my people” by God.
- Jonah was called to preach against Nineveh, only warning them of the coming destruction.
- Jonah was not called to preach a message similar to 2 Chronicles 7:14, with a call to repentance accompanied by a promise of restoration.
- The repentance rate in Nineveh was 100%.
- In His mercy, God relented and did not destroy them, but because there was no promise, there was no obligation to do so.
- There is no record of the withholding of judgment being accompanied by restoration and blessing.
It must be noted that America is a Gentile nation like Nineveh, not God’s nation of “my people” like Israel. So, if the principle of 2 Chronicles 7:14 did not apply to Nineveh, then there is no Scriptural basis for attempting to apply it to America. Conversely, any attempt to apply it to America is to suggest that this country is more like Israel rather than Nineveh, which takes us back to the problem of some sort of covenant between America and God—the very thing Cahn is now denying.
So, to specifically reply to Dr. Reagan’s questions and statement:
Dr. Reagan: “Are we actually going to contend that this scripture applies only to Israel?”
Reply: Yes, because in context it does apply only to Israel which is exclusively “my people” as a nation.
Dr. Reagan: “Are we really going to argue that if the professing Christians of this nation were to sincerely repent of their sins and the sins of our nation, that God would ignore it?”
Reply: Unfortunately, Dr. Reagan has made at least a couple of serious mistakes in this question. The first mistake is that he has introduced a straw man argument, because no one is suggesting God would ignore believers in the church who would repent of their sins. The second mistake is that although Christians may repent for the sins of the nation in one sense, since the nation as a whole is not going to actually repent (i.e., turn from sin), then we can’t expect that God is going to relent and exchange judgment for blessing. He could do that, but that is not the nature of the promise in 2 Chronicles. Even if everyone in the church were to begin to live perfectly godly lives, as long as the major sins of the nation continue among unbelievers, God is not going to ultimately withhold judgment and restore this nation.
Dr. Reagan: “This particular scripture contains a timeless principle about repentance that even applies to pagan nations.”
Reply: Dr. Reagan is correct, but only to the degree that the “timeless principle” is understood and applied correctly. As has already been shown, the entire verse as it stands is not a timeless principle because it refers to the restoration of the nation that is “my people.” No pagan (i.e., Gentile) nation fits that description. The only way it could be applied directly to America is if it is assumed that this country is also in some way understood to be “my people,” which is precisely the mistake that Jonathan Cahn makes (at least the way he has stated it in The Harbinger). In other words, the timeless principle is contained within the verse, but is not the entire verse itself.
To illustrate, let’s consider the Abrahamic Covenant, which also contains a timeless principle. We understand that the timeless principle is the idea that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” However, the entire Abrahamic Covenant as a whole can only be applied to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, i.e., the nation of Israel. To attempt to apply the whole covenant directly to anyone who believes God would mean that every believer could expect that they would also be the progenitors of “many nations” and that through each one “all nations would be blessed.”
Obviously, these conditions are not part of the timeless principle. This goes to the heart of how to correctly interpret and apply the Bible and in this case, with all due respect, Dr. Reagan gets this wrong—and in the case of The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn gets it wrong.
Jumping to Conclusions
Dr. Reagan writes:
Many of the criticisms of Rabbi Cahn’s message are based on unwarranted conclusions that people have jumped to in an effort to find something to criticize. For example, he has been accused of teaching that America is in a covenant relationship with God. The fact of the matter is that he has never said that. He simply notes that America’s founding fathers believed that, and therefore they consecrated the nation to God.
The first problem with this statement is the apparent underlying assumption that The Harbinger’s critics have some sort of agenda and are just looking for something to criticize. However, this overlooks the obvious fact that Jonathan Cahn was largely unknown at the national level prior to writing The Harbinger. It’s not as if we were just waiting for him to produce something so we could pounce on it. He started with a blank piece of paper as far as we were concerned—and we would have welcomed a biblical book with the message he is bringing. Therefore, if anyone is guilty of drawing unwarranted conclusions, in this case it would have to be Dr. Reagan.
Concerning the matter of America being in a covenant relationship with God: In spite of Jonathan Cahn’s denials concerning this, there are statements made throughout The Harbinger that reinforce the idea that the Founding Fathers were successful in actually entering into a covenant with God. The following exchange between the two main characters in the book is just one of many specific examples that indicate this:
[The Prophet] “Those who laid America’s foundations saw it as a new Israel, an Israel of the New World. And as with ancient Israel, they saw it as in covenant with God.”
[The Prophet] “Meaning its rise or fall would be dependent on its relationship with God. If it followed His ways, America would become the most blessed, prosperous, and powerful nation on earth. From the very beginning they foretold it. And what they foretold would come true. America would rise to heights no other nation had ever known. Not that it was ever without fault or sin, but it would aspire to fulfill its calling.”
[Kaplan] “What calling?”
[The Prophet] “To be a vessel of redemption, an instrument of God’s purposes, a light to the world. It would give refuge to the world’s poor and needy, and hope to its oppressed… And, as much as it fulfilled its calling or aspired to, it would become the most blessed, the most prosperous, the most powerful, and the most revered nation on the earth—just as its founders had prophesied.”
[Kaplan] “But there’s a but coming, isn’t there?”
[The Prophet] “Yes,” he replied. “There was always another side to the covenant. If ancient Israel fell away from God and turned against His ways, its blessings would be removed and replaced with curses.” ((The Harbinger, pp. 18-19.))
The point of this exchange is obvious—the entire premise of The Harbinger is that America is facing imminent judgment for precisely the same reason God judged ancient Israel, namely that they broke their covenant with God. This is not a matter of unfairly jumping to conclusions. We’re simply observing and commenting on what Cahn has repeated throughout his book.
Again, it makes one wonder whether Dr. Reagan has seriously interacted with either The Harbinger itself or with any of the critical reviews.
In the next paragraph Dr. Reagan writes:
Another unwarranted conclusion is that he teaches Isaiah 9:10 was a prophecy about the United States rather than Israel. Again, Rabbi Cahn has never made such an assertion. What he teaches instead is that the ancient pattern of judgment that occurred in Israel is now recurring in America, and in “a stunningly precise way.”
Unfortunately, in the first sentence above, Dr. Reagan has mischaracterized what we are saying and his statement is simply not true. No one has ever said (to my knowledge) that Cahn is teaching that Isaiah 9:10 is “about the United States rather than Israel.” We all understand that the author believes the passage was specifically to Israel. However, our concern is that he has consistently made it sound as if it was not exclusively to Israel—and there is a big difference between the two.
The following exchange from the The Harbinger once again seems to make it clear that the author is saying exactly what we have reported and why we are concerned:
[The Prophet] “In the wake of their calamity, the leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, ‘We will rebuild’—the first sign of defiance. If the mystery holds and has now applied to America, we would expect to hear the same vow, the same three words, in the wake of 9/11, now proclaimed by American leaders.”
[Kaplan] “And did it happen? Did they say it?”
[The Prophet] “Yes. They said it.” ((The Harbinger, p. 61))
[Goren] “How could an ancient mystery possibly have anything to do with September 11?”
[Kaplan] “An ancient mystery behind everything from 9/11 to the economy . . . to the housing boom . . . to the war in Iraq . . . to the collapse of Wall Street. Everything in precise detail.” ((The Harbinger, p. 3))
In an interview on The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, Cahn put it this way:
[The mystery] even has determined the actions and the actual words of American leaders. A mystery that goes back two and a half thousand years and is a warning of judgment and a call of God—a prophetic call of God. ((Beginning at the 2:15 minute mark: http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=
“A prophetic call of God.” But to whom? Not just to Israel, but also to America. This is Cahn’s entire point and one he has made over and over again.
Again, even if The Harbinger’s critics are wrong, it is not because we are jumping to conclusions without warrant, making this a very unfair statement by Dr. Reagan.
Concerning the recurring of parallel events in a “stunningly precise way.” I have to wonder if this is another case of Dr. Reagan only being familiar with one side of the story. In The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? I demonstrate that few, if any, of the supposed harbingers even rise to the level of being interesting coincidences let alone exact matches. And as a significant number of other conservative Bible teachers (with no agenda) have examined my work, they have also agreed.
In reality, who has jumped to conclusions?
A Book and A Sermon
Dr. Reagan then discusses Jonathan Cahn’s message at one of the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfasts. I would readily admit that it was a powerful message and there were a number of important things that were said that he was exactly right about. No one has ever suggested that everything Jonathan Cahn teaches or believes is wrong. We’re only saying that the way he has put everything together in The Harbinger is wrong, even though some specific elements may be right.
And at the prayer breakfast, he was doing pretty well and was on-target for the most part until he started discussing details from his message in The Harbinger. At that point he simply repeated all of the problems in the book. (For those who are interested, Chris Rosebrough has provided an excellent commentary on this particular message.) ((Beginning at about the 54:00 minute mark: http://podbay.fm/show/268985402/e/1359204642))
However, Dr. Reagan says of the message:
The message presented a stark, bone-chilling indictment against this nation for thumbing its nose at God. It was a hardhitting prophetic message that took great courage to deliver.
Christians should be giving Rabbi Cahn a standing ovation, and many have. But some leaders of discernment ministries have tried, instead, to crucify him.
A few questions are in order:
- Should Christians really be giving Jonathan Cahn a standing ovation for this message when it was based almost entirely on a book that is built on a mishandling of Scripture and the misrepresentation of historical events?
- This is not to take away from Jonathan Cahn at all, but why would Dr. Reagan seek to bolster his argument that Jonathan Cahn is a prophet by claiming that it took courage for him to deliver his message at the prayer breakfast? Cahn was invited to speak in that venue because the organizers were already familiar with what he would say and wanted him to preach that message, knowing it would be well-received. The response of the audience confirms that he was in friendly territory and not in a hostile environment. There was no risk, danger or downside that would have made it courageous. (Again, this is not about Jonathan Cahn, only about Dr. Reagan’s argument.)
- What exactly have discernment ministry leaders done to “crucify” Jonathan Cahn? (There have been no personal attacks and ad hominem arguments against Jonathan Cahn that come anywhere close to what these same leaders have experienced by supporters of The Harbinger, of which Dr. Reagan’s article is a clear example.)
Then, Dr. Reagan attempts to defend Cahn by referring to David Wilkerson as an example of someone who was vilified as a false prophet because of his strong message of repentance—a message now being echoed by Jonathan Cahn. While David Wilkerson didn’t make friends with some because of his direct style, he was also loved by many. He did deliver some powerful messages that undoubtedly made a difference in many lives. On the other hand, it is well-documented that Wilkerson also claimed that God had shown him a number of things that he formulated into predictions, but which did not come to pass.
Therefore, based on Dr. Reagan’s own definition of a false prophet, David Wilkerson is an unlikely person to be used in a defense like this. And, because Dr. Reagan defends someone with numerous failed predictions this also raises questions about the following statement he makes about Jonathan Cahn:
I know a genuine prophetic voice when I hear one, and as I watched Rabbi Cahn deliver his powerful message, I realized he was a prophetic voice raised up by God to warn this nation of its impending doom and to call us to repentance.
How does Dr. Reagan reconcile his belief that Jonathan Cahn is a “prophetic voice raised up by God” with the fact that he misapplies Isaiah 9:10, claims there is an Isaiah 9:10 Effect, argues that America is experiencing a Sh’mitah-type judgment from God, creates an illusion that there have been parallel harbingers in ancient Israel and America, issues such a generic call to repentance and so poorly communicates the gospel? Is this consistent with the message of a prophet raised up by God?
This is where Dr. Reagan takes what feels like an unnecessarily mean-spirited turn, following a pattern characteristic of many who have denounced The Harbinger’s critics. He resorts to a style and uses an appeal that is long on emotion and generalities and short on facts and specifics.
The current unbridled, petty and vicious attacks on Rabbi Cahn smack of what I would call “Christian McCarthyism.” For those of you who might not be familiar with what I’m referring to, let me explain.
After giving some historical background, Dr. Reagan gets to the point of his illustration, which is obviously aimed directly at those who have expressed concern about The Harbinger:
When McCarthy resumed his attack, Welch interrupted him: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
This was one of the first Congressional hearings ever to be televised, and it exposed the Senator for what he was — a shallow, irresponsible, arrogant power-seeker who was willing to destroy other people in order to gain the limelight.
In like manner there are hyper-critics within Christianity today who are yelling “Apostate! Apostate!” over matters that really amount to nothing. If a person speaks to a group they disapprove of, they label him an “Apostate.” If he has a different viewpoint from theirs about a non-essential doctrine, he is branded an “Apostate.” If he compliments someone they don’t like, he is relegated to Hell as an “Apostate.”
This very unfortunate use of the McCarthy illustration compels me to ask several questions:
- Hasn’t Dr. Reagan just engaged in the very thing that he appears to decry?
- Is Dr. Reagan actually suggesting that, like McCarthy, any critics of The Harbinger are “shallow, irresponsible, arrogant power-seekers who [are] willing to destroy other people in order to gain the limelight?” Doesn’t this radically cross the line into judging motives and intents of the heart? I am not aware of anyone who has done this with Jonathan Cahn, yet it is precisely this sort of personal attack that has characterized much of what has been said about those with concerns about The Harbinger.
- What are some examples of specific unwarranted vicious attacks upon Jonathan Cahn, the man?
- Exactly where are we wrong in the details of our analysis of The Harbinger?
- Who specifically has called Jonathan Cahn an “apostate”? Is it one person? Many? Any?
- Exactly what are the matters that “amount to really nothing” that we have challenged Cahn on? Does he mean the mishandling of Scripture, the misrepresentation of historical facts, and faulty conclusions based on those, along with a failure to communicate the gospel? Is he suggesting that these kinds of things “amount to really nothing?”
An Appeal for Sanity
Dr. Reagan quotes Grant Philips—and I don’t disagree with what he is saying in principle:
Look folks, many of us need to . . . stop nitpicking everything the Lord is trying to tell us and just listen to what He is saying in whatever manner He chooses to say it. Even in my own experience of writing articles, every now and then, someone emails me who just wants to nit-pick at something I wrote while missing the message of the article. The phrase comes to mind, “They’re so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good.” We need to humble our hearts and stop being so self-righteous.
I have given a lot of thought to this and similar admonitions (which in some cases have included some of the nastiest communication I have ever witnessed from professing believers in Christ). Nonetheless, these criticisms have not fallen on deaf ears. This past year has been one of prayer, introspection, contemplation, Bible study, and much communication seeking wisdom from a multitude of counselors. Only a fool would take lightly the matter of challenging the #1 Christian book of the year.
And one of these question that I have had to consider, as Pastor Philips points out, is whether or not we are “nit-picking.” But after carefully evaluating this for a long time, I still have to conclude that, no, we are not nit-picking.
At the same time I would ask if Dr. Reagan (and others) have carefully considered our claims, especially as documented in The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? We are not talking about a poor choice of words here and there. Jonathan Cahn has clearly stated what he meant and in every one of the dozens of interviews since the book was released, he has reaffirmed over and over that he is saying exactly what we have consistently claimed he is saying—and we still believe he is wrong on significant issues. If he is being so consistently misunderstood by good, solid Bible teachers, then he needs to consider revising some of what he has written and continues to say.
Unfortunately, Jonathan Cahn’s responses below, as noted by Dr. Reagan, serve to demonstrate that he is neither listening nor taking seriously what his critics are saying. Although his responses are attributed to his sense of humor, they seem to reflect more of a mocking tone (which I have also seen in a video of him addressing these same issues at a church). It is one thing to disagree with our conclusions, but it is entirely another to mock and use straw man arguments against those who disagree—particularly when responding to men who are respected for their knowledge of the Scriptures and their defense of the faith. And it is even more troubling that a respected man like Dr. Reagan has chosen to incorporate this type of response into his own.
Jonathan Cahn’s response #1
In response to crazy allegations that he is somehow involved in advocating the prosperity message of the Word of Faith Movement, he wrote: “I not only speak against those doctrines regularly, but my author’s photo [shown on the cover of this magazine] was taken at Sears Budget Photo!”
To my knowledge, not one of The Harbinger’s critics has ever suggested that Jonathan Cahn was advocating a “prosperity message.” Our concern has only been that he and his message have consistently received some of the strongest support from those in the extremes of the Word Faith movement, namely Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn and others. Furthermore, his publisher is Charisma Media (and Steve Strang), a media empire which is responsible for producing what is perhaps the greatest volume of heretical teaching by false teachers of this generation.
Although we have been taken to task for making a “guilty-by-association” argument, the fact is that his associations in this case run so deep that he is guilty. These are not simply incidental acquaintances. Rather, they are meaningful, ongoing and deep ministry partnerships—at least in the case of Jim Bakker and Steve Strang.
While his comment about his picture being taken at Sears is humorous on its own, in this context it really tends to demean and mock those who would dare challenge these deep ministry associations.
Jonathan Cahn’s response #2
In response to an assertion that he is advocating Replacement Theology, he wrote: “I’m Jewish and a believer. In order to subscribe to Replacement Theology, I’d have to replace myself with myself. I’m open to trying, but it just strikes me as a lot of work to end up no better off than when I started!”
This is an example of a good sound bite that just keeps getting repeated, but which is rather pointless. The matter of Replacement Theology (which says that the church has replaced Israel in God’s program) came up in the first interview between Jimmy DeYoung and myself, the week of The Harbinger’s release and was based on some initial concerns I had after reading only the first few chapters in the book. However, either in that interview or the next (or perhaps both), I noted that I had set aside this concern after finishing the book (and I may have made that point in subsequent interviews, as well). And unless Jonathan Cahn has not read my book, he must realize that I also clearly stated in my book that I completely accept the fact that he doesn’t hold to classic Replacement Theology. Although perhaps a good talking-point in the attempt to discredit The Harbinger’s critics, it is really nothing more than that. It is difficult to understand why Dr. Reagan would join with others who continue to try to make this an issue because it simply lacks merit and has never been a significant part of the discussion.
Jonathan Cahn’s response #3
In response to the nutty charge that he is espousing principles of Mormonism, he wrote: “Okay, I was once into Donny and Marie Osmond, but when they started singing ‘I’m A Little Bit Country, And I’m A Little Bit Rock and Roll,’ I drew the line. You see, I don’t believe in mixing doctrines.”
My first request of Dr. Reagan would be for him to provide the name of even one person who has made “the nutty charge that he [Cahn] is espousing principles of Mormonism.” It would seem that Dr. Reagan is once again relying on second-hand caricatures of what we have said. And given Jonathan Cahn’s witty response, it would seem that he himself is likely the source of this misleading caricature.
As to the issue of Mormonism as I dealt with it in The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?, either Jonathan Cahn has completely missed the point in my book—or he is intentionally misrepresenting what I wrote as a distraction. No one, including myself, has ever thought or implied that the author has Mormon connections or remotely holds to any aspect of Mormon theology. However, our contention has been that Jonathan Cahn has stated things in The Harbinger in such a way that it surely sounds like he holds to some sort of American covenant view, no matter how ill-defined.
The proof that The Harbinger’s critics are not just making up another “nutty charge” is that even Mormon theologians and historians have appealed to The Harbinger on multiple occasions to support their thoroughly unbiblical doctrine of Anglo-Israelism (which holds that America was founded by descendants of the “ten lost tribes of Israel”). If a cult is able to use someone’s primary thesis to undergird one of their heretical doctrines, then the burden is upon that writer to rework the relevant material so that it cannot be misappropriated in this way. This is particularly true since Jonathan Cahn contends that he is not promoting the idea that there is an American covenant in the first place.
In summary, I don’t think and never have thought that Jonathan Cahn is espousing principles of Mormonism, and I’m not aware of anyone else who thinks so either. At the same time, because the entire narrative of The Harbinger gives the distinct impression that there is some sort of covenant between God and America, Mormons have added the book as further support for their heretical doctrines. This isn’t a “nutty charge.” It is a fact.
Jonathan Cahn’s response #4
In response to the absurd allegation that he is involved in some way in Masonry, he replied: “It’s true. I once had involvement with Masonry. It happened when I appeared as a guest on the Jackie Mason Show. But he’s the only Mason I’ve been involved with. And I renounced his comedy soon after the show.”
Does Dr. Reagan have first-hand knowledge of anyone alleging this or is he relying on what he has been told? Who has suggested that Jonathan Cahn is involved in Masonry in some way? It is possible that someone has said this, but I’m not aware of it and it is definitely not a widely held view among critics of The Harbinger. Unfortunately, this is another caricature that misses the point of the concerns that have been raised about Masonic issues and Jonathan Cahn’s book.
Cahn’s response, though once again humorous on one level, also feels deeply sarcastic and mocking in tone as response to a very real issue—while also completely missing the point (or diverting attention).
The concern of some regarding his book is due to his heavy dependence on George Washington as an example of one who was part of invoking (or affirming) a covenant between America and God. In The Harbinger’s well-known dream sequence King Solomon morphs into George Washington. Without assigning nefarious motives to Jonathan Cahn, given that some trace Freemasonry back to Solomon, it is a very strange literary device when combined with the fact that Washington is a celebrated Freemason, was sworn into office on a masonic Bible in the presence of masonic leaders, was part of a masonic procession to St. Paul’s church, was the charter Master of the Alexandria lodge, is depicted in several paintings as well as a famous statue in full masonic regalia and was buried with a masonic ceremony. Furthermore, there is the troubling matter of the interior of the dome of the nation’s capitol building which depicts Washington’s ascension to godhood (“apotheosis”).
These are our concerns and they are well-founded. They are not “absurd allegations” and should not be misrepresented as suggesting that he has any direct masonic connections—nor even that he intentionally included a masonic connection in his book.
My Personal Stance (Dr. Reagan’s)
Dr. Reagan concludes his article:
The nit-picking, Pharisaical hyper-critics of Christianity need to be reminded of the wisdom of Gamaliel which he shared with the Sanhedrin Council when they arrested Peter and the apostles and desired to kill them (Acts 5:29-33). Gamaliel stated that if what the followers of Jesus were teaching was false, nothing would come of it. “But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” He then added, “You may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39).
The pit bulls of Christianity can growl and yap and snarl all they please, but anointed messengers of God like Wilkerson and Cahn will prevail because they are speaking the truth. I stand with them, and I am proud to do so.
Together with them, I cry from the depths of my heart, “Wake up America! You are blaspheming the very God who blessed you. He has sent prophetic voices and remedial judgments to warn you and call you to repentance. What will be your choice? Repentance or Destruction?”
Although Gamaliel’s observation turned out to be correct concerning the gospel and Christianity, it isn’t a universal truth. Not everything that is not from God “comes to nothing”—at least for a time. This is obvious when one considers that with one billion adherents each, neither Islam nor Hinduism have “come to nothing.” That the vast majority of the world’s population believes things that are patently false is a sober reminder that truth is not decided by popular vote. Similarly, that The Harbinger was the best-selling Christian book of 2012 does not necessarily demonstrate that it is from God. The only determining factor is how it compares to Scripture—and The Harbinger doesn’t meet this test very well.
But even beyond this, why has Dr. Reagan felt it necessary to launch a personal attack and characterize those with concerns about The Harbinger as “nit-picking, Pharisaical hyper-critics of Christianity?” Doesn’t this put us in the same category as those outside the faith—those who are skeptics, scoffers, mockers and unbelievers?
And how does Dr. Reagan explain the fact that many of The Harbinger’s critics have a long and consistent history of being respected Bible teachers and firm defenders of the faith? Why would those who have been trusted for so long now suddenly become numbered among the worst of God’s enemies?
Why would Dr. Reagan characterize those with concerns about The Harbinger in such a pejorative way as to describe them as the “pit bulls of Christianity” who “growl and yap and snarl”—and who by implication are not “speaking the truth?” And he has done so although neither the issues addressed nor the methodology of exposing and responding to error have changed. While it is true that historically much of the focus in apologetics and discernment has been on the dangers of philosophy, world religions and Christian cults, errors coming from within the church have also been the subject of much work from this same group over the years—and rightfully so.
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3–4, NKJV)
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” (1 Timothy 4:1–2, NKJV)
It has always been our shared responsibility to deal with error, not just outside the church, but inside it—which is arguably the greater problem. When error arises from within the church it is generally more insidious—and as this controversy has shown, it is often more difficult to deal with. And in fact, many of The Harbinger’s supporters have dealt with exactly these kinds of things within the church themselves over the years.
So, the question that begs to be asked in relation to The Harbinger is, “Who changed the rules?”
Although all would agree with Dr. Reagan’s plea, “Wake Up, America!” it must be recognized that realistically The Harbinger’s generic call to repentance to a multi-cultural, multi-faith nation largely made up of nominal Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists is not going to cause America to turn to the God of the Bible. That likelihood is further lessened when one considers the unclear and confused presentation of the gospel in The Harbinger’s chapter on “Eternity” (where there is no mention of faith or belief, Christ’s sacrificial death in our place on the cross, His shed blood, or even His resurrection).
Dr. Reagan uses the article to launch a personal, emotional, ad hominem attack against The Harbinger’s critics. He collectively describes those with concerns about The Harbinger as:
- “pillow prophets”
- “hysterical critics”
- “nit-picking, Pharisaical hyper-critics”
- Being like Senator Joe McCarthy who was a “shallow, irresponsible, arrogant power-seeker”
- “the pit bulls of Christianity” [who] “growl, yap and snarl”
Dr. Reagan accuses leaders in the discernment community of:
- Irresponsibly and viciously attacking Jonathan Cahn (although nothing has ever been said about his character, motives, or him as a person)
- Making reckless, unwarranted and un-Christlike accusations (although everything that has been said comes directly from the book and well-documented research)
- Wrongly attacking Jonathan Cahn because of his misuse of Scripture (although he has demonstrably misused Scripture in multiple ways)
- Jumping to unwarranted conclusions (although almost every conclusion has been based directly on quotes from The Harbinger and what has been said by the author)
- Just looking for something to criticize (although the types of things that have been criticized have always been concerns of serious students of the Bible)
- Trying to “crucify” Jonathan Cahn (although this is a radical overstatement that also has implications concerning the hearts of those who have criticized The Harbinger)
- Launching unbridled, petty and vicious attacks on Jonathan Cahn (once again, although nothing has ever been said about his character, motives or him as a person)
- Being comparable to Senator Joe McCarthy “who was willing to destroy other people in order to gain the limelight” (although this in itself is judgmental character assassination made with no personal knowledge of the character of those accused)
- Calling Jonathan Cahn “an apostate” over matters “that really amount to nothing” and “non-essential doctrines” (although it is questionable whether this term has ever been used by a critic of The Harbinger and the matters of concern hardly amount to nothing)
It would seem appropriate for Dr. Reagan to carefully reconsider his approach and much of what he has written in his article as it includes provocative, inflammatory and judgmental statements, as well as startling accusations. The article is filled with dramatic overstatements that appear to heavily rely on caricatures and misrepresentations of what the critics of The Harbinger are saying and hasn’t fully considered their legitimate concerns.
Apart from the accusations, the following are just some of the more serious problems in The Harbinger that Dr. Reagan has either missed or disagrees that they are anything more than matters that “amount to nothing.” These include the fact that Jonathan Cahn:
- Takes Isaiah 9:10 completely out of context, never discussing any of the preceding or following verses.
- Applies Isaiah 9:10 to America suggesting that the verse contains a mystery that has determined a whole series of events in America in detail, beginning with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.
- Builds a significant part of his story on the theoretical “Isaiah 9:10 Effect”—a concept which is never found in Scripture, but which rather has characteristics more of an occultic incantation in that once the words have been spoken, it sets in motion and determines a cascade of subsequent events.
- Misapplied 2 Chronicles 7:14 to the United States as a general principle and promise, although it is exclusively to Israel.
- Argued that God has imposed a Sh’mitah (Israel’s Sabbath year) judgment on the United States, even though it was strictly a part of the Law and exclusive to Israel.
- Never mentioned that national Israel still has a future because of God’s unconditional promises.
- Never mentions the church as the Body of Christ, which is at the heart of God’s program in this era.
- Identifies what he contends are nine harbingers in Isaiah 9:10, several of which are completely made up (i.e., “the breach,” “the terrorist,” “the tower”) and others which identify as parallels things that have no historical or other connection whatsoever (i.e., “sycamores,” “cedars,” “hewn stone,” “the vow”).
- Develops his story based on the idea that America has some sort of special, covenant-like relationship with God as a nation.
- Creates a character who is supposedly like a biblical prophet, but who is nothing at all like the biblical prophets (appears to teleport, quotes commentaries to support unbiblical theories and interpetations, provides clues to a massive “scavenger hunt” to reveal mysteries, etc.).
- Presents a very generic call to repentance, but fails to clearly explain the gospel, saying nothing about faith or belief, nothing about Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, or the resurrection.
- Gives the impression that he is a prophet to America due to very precise parallels between the main character and himself, while consistently accepting the title of “prophet” when introduced in many interviews.
Are these significant issues really characteristic of someone who is a genuine prophet of God or even a prophetic voice?
If he has not done so, it would seem appropriate for Dr. Reagan to actually take the time to carefully read The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? as well as other thoughtful reviews critical of The Harbinger. And in the process perhaps he will reconsider his view of The Harbinger and his identification of Jonathan Cahn as an “End Time Prophet to America.”