Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 3

This is part 3 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here


 In this section of the book, Cahn starts to write about abortion in the United States. He accurately states, “The biblical view that all are made in the image of God and that all human life is sacred and of immeasurable worth was absent from paganism” (37). He also writes, “When a nation or civilization begins emptying itself of God, there is ultimately nothing left to protect it weakest and most helpless, its children, from being abused or murdered” (38). So far, so good.

Cahn makes reference to President Lincoln’s linking the blood shed by both Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War to the blood drawn from slaves by the lash of the whip. He goes on to write:

So in view of the fact that the Scriptures identify the killing of children as among the most grievous of evils and one that especially invokes national judgment, and in view of the fact one of these judgments is that of a plague or disease—we must apply Lincoln’s question to the plague that came on America and the world. Could it have come in the context of judgment? And as in the case of ancient Israel, could such a judgment be linked to the blood of its children? (40-41) 

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 2

This is part 2 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here


The first "Jubilee" Cahn writes about concerns Felix, the leader of the Spanish-language ministry at Cahn’s New Jersey congregation, Beth Israel. Cahn had invited Felix to be his interpreter on a ministry trip to Cuba. The theme of the meetings Cahn was to lead was “¡El Jubileo Viene! The Jubilee Comes!” Cahn writes that it was only after they were on the Caribbean island that he discovered Felix himself was of Cuban descent. He had been born on the island, and his family had fled to the United States following Castro’s takeover of the nation. As they traveled across the island, they ended up on a farm, which they discovered was owned by Felix’s grandfather. Cahn writes, “In the ancient law of the Jubilee, God ordained that each shall return to his own possession. And now Felix had returned to his own possession….As was ordained in the Jubilee, he had come back to that which he had lost.” (19)

Was Felix’s visit to the farm that once belonged to his family a modern-day example of the biblical Jubilee? According to the Jubilee as outlined in the Torah, the person or family who had been forced to sell their lands out of economic necessity was supposed to actually take possession of the land again—to begin to live on and farm that land again. But Felix did not return to live on his ancestral land in Cuba. He was just there for a visit. So while in one sense he may have “returned to his possession”—the property that once belonged to his family—this was not an example of the Jubilee as set forth in Leviticus.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 1

This is a review and critique of a long book, with lots of errors to discuss, so this will be a multi-part series. Rather than waiting to start publishing the review after completely finishing writing it, I decided to go ahead and start releasing it in sections as I finish writing the review of each part of the book, using the author's own major section divisions. 

Since 2011, with the publication of The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn has been a popular author within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Part of his appeal seems to be that he is a Jewish believer in Jesus (a Messianic Jew), and many people seem to believe that his being a rabbi gives him some special insight or authority when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture that Gentile scholars of the Bible lack. Cahn has not been without his critics and detractors over the years, though many of the criticisms against his books have come from cessationists and others who generally attack any and all things Charismatic. This may lead those within the Pentecostal/Charismatic camp to dismiss the criticisms out of hand due to the sources from which they come.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Never Trust a "Prophet" Who Lacks Basic Reading Comprehension

The following was posted on social media on November 20, 2023, by the resident "prophet" at a well-known California church:

The Law of Faith

Everything in the spirit realm works by the law of faith whether someone is operating from the dark side (the second heaven) or from God’s Spirit (the third Heaven). In fact, what gravity is to the natural realm, faith is to the spirit realm. The Hebrew writer described it like this, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) He went on to say, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
This is profound; the invisible became visible by the force of faith. This means that the way we transfer things from the third Heaven to the visible world is through the law of faith. This is spiritual intelligence – the revelation of the way things transfigure from spiritual hypotheses to tangible dynamic realities.
Faith is the foundation of spiritual intelligence! We have all heard the idiom, “That guy is so heavenly-minded that he is no earthly good!” Actually, the reason some spiritual people are of no earthly good is that they are dreamers with no faith. It’s faith that actualizes dreams, on-ramps visions, and overcomes visible obstacles!

First, I don't know where this person gets the idea that the second heaven is "the dark side." According to the study resources at Blue Letter Bible, the second heaven is the celestial heaven, or outer space, where the sun, moon, and stars exist. (The first heaven is the earth's atmosphere, and the third heaven is the realm of God and the angels.) Anyone who has taken a basic biblical survey class should know this simple fact about ancient Israelite cosmology.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Why Determinism -- Whether Theistic or Naturalistic -- Leaves Us in an Epistemic Vacuum

Here's how this works out.

If God is determining everything--not only actions, but also the beliefs we hold--then we have a significant problem with being able to determine whether the beliefs we hold are true.


If God is determining everything, and someone believes that God is determining everything, then that person's belief conforms to reality. No problem so far.


If God is determining everything, yet someone believes that God does not meticulously determine all things, then that person holds a false belief. However, that false belief was itself determined by God. Additionally, the false beliefs of the Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, atheist, and Satanist are also held by them because God so determined things. 


As well, the idolatry and apostasy of OT Israel was also determined by God, in direct opposition to YHWH's explicit commands to NOT go astray after idols. Israel and Judah were punished with exile for their idolatry. But if God determines ALL things, then He is punishing people for being disobedient, when in reality they are actually obeying His "decretive will" instead of His will as revealed through the prophets and holy writ.


This makes God out to be duplicitous. This sounds more like the two-faced Roman deity Juno than it does the God of Israel revealed in inspired Scripture. It actually flies in the face of the scriptural witness, because if God meticulously determines an individual’s interpretation of Scripture, and causes someone to interpret Scripture in a way that is not correct, then we cannot even trust God’s revelation of himself, because we cannot have any level of confidence in the veracity of our understanding and beliefs.


If I am determined to hold a certain belief -- whether by exhaustive divine determination or by naturalistic determination (the automatic, mechanistic responses of the atoms in my brain cells to certain stimuli and chemical reactions at the cellular level) -- then there is no epistemic confidence in that belief. It might be true; it might be false. I cannot even know whether it is true or false, because even my thought processes in analyzing my beliefs are themselves determined by another force, whether natural or divine.


Granted, there are passages in Scripture about God turning people over to a reprobate mind, sending them a strong delusion, even putting a lying spirit in the mouths of the false court prophets of the northern kingdom of Israel. But these were all acts of judgment against individuals and groups that had already rejected YHWH’s prior entreaties to turn from evil and idolatry and return to true worship of Him. Those particular-case examples of God judicially hardening someone as a means of punishing their rebellion are not grounds to build a case that God causes ALL false beliefs people may hold.