Friday, December 15, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 11

This is part 11 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, Part 8 here, Part 9 here, and Part 10 here


So at this point you may be asking, “Brian, why did you take all the time and effort to read this book, and then write a detailed critique?” Good question.

As I mentioned in the first installment of this review, when pointing out errors in doctrine, teaching, and interpretation of the Bible, I usually opt for simply dealing with the erroneous teaching itself, and leave names out of it. After all, discernment is about much more than simply having a list of approved and disapproved authors and preachers. It’s about being able to tell when even a normally sound and reliable teacher is off on a particular subject. But in this case, since the first nine sections of Cahn’s book were all based on a faulty interpretation of the biblical Jubilee, and since I have seen Cahn’s works recommended more than once in the Pentecostal circles I am part of, I felt it imperative that I address this particular book head-on. When the error is this basic in its failure to exegete the Scriptures correctly, and is this pervasive in the book in question, it is time to name names. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about Alexander the metalworker who had caused much harm, and called out Demas for loving this present world (2 Tim. 4:10, 14–15), and names Hymenaeus and Alexander who rejected the faith (1 Tim. 1:19–20).

As Dr. Vic Reasoner says in his review of The Josiah Manifesto posted on Amazon, “I agree with Cahn’s concerns about our culture, but not with his mishandling of Scripture.” I cannot in good conscience recommend Cahn as a reliable source when it comes to interpreting Scripture. To recommend his books to others, without substantive warnings about the problems his interpretations present, would be tantamount to tacitly approving of his hermeneutic, implying to others that Cahn’s methods are a proper way to read and interpret the Bible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 10

This is part 10 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, Part 8 here, and Part 9 here


I must admit, I was greatly surprised when I got to this part of the book. For the most part, the speculative language of sentences that start with “Could…” or “Is it possible…” that pervade the earlier sections of the book are absent from this seven-part manifesto. It literally felt like this part of the book was written by a different author.

In the first part of the manifesto, Cahn writes:

So too as American and Western civilization have turned away from God and monotheism, in its place has risen a form of revived paganism. The metamorphosis can be seen in its worship of nature, its deification of the material world, its desanctification of life, its religious syncretism, its moral relativism, its sexualization of popular culture, its abuse of life, its fragmentation of reality, its worship of images, its embrace of alternate spiritualities, and its overturning of biblical standards, values, and precepts. (190)

I can shout a hearty, “Amen!” to that statement. And while it is saddening and perplexing to see this downturn in Western society, we shouldn’t be surprised by it. Jesus himself told us to expect such things as the time of His return draws closer. Also, if we look at the Greco-Roman world of the first century, we can see that in spite of facing all of these same difficulties, the early church “turned the world upside down” through proclamation of the gospel and faithful embodied witness (Acts 7:6). Many in the church today say they want to experience the power the early church saw. Maybe it will take facing what the early church faced (which is strikingly similar to what believers in the majority world are facing presently) to make us dependent on the Holy Spirit again.

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 9

This is part 9 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, and Part 8 here


 This section of the book focuses on the announcement of the Dobbs decision that actually reversed Roe v. Wade. Cahn first makes a claim that the New York Times, in its reporting on the matter that mentioned Ginsburg’s death and Barrett’s joining the Supreme Court, “unwittingly connected the overturning of Roe v. Wade with the two Hebrew holy days, the two Days of Awe, and the two soundings of the trumpet” (158)—with the two trumpets being the start of the Feast of Trumpets when Ginsburg passed, and the blowing of the shofars at The Return at the same moment “the Trump” was sounding Barrett’s nomination to fill Ginsburg’s position.

He then talks about the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple by the Jews returning from exile. According to the prophet Haggai, after a period of neglect, they returned to work on the rebuilding of the Temple on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Hag. 1:15). Cahn calls this “the pivotal day, the turning point, the day of breakthrough and victory, when the strategies of the enemy were nullified, when the obstructions and war against God’s plans were overturned, and when the purposes of God prevailed” (161). He then goes on to talk about how the Dobbs decision was handed down on June 24, 2022—the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. Elsewhere in the book, Cahn makes the effort to translate between the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars. Yet here, he just takes the numbers of the month and day from the Hebrew calendar uses them as a direct correspondence. He wants to “have his cake and eat it too,” using whatever calendar math will fit the conclusion he wants people to draw. This is numerology, not sound biblical interpretation.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 8

This is part 8 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, and Part 7 here


 In this section of the book, Jonathan Cahn writes about an event in Washington, D.C., that he helped to plan and organize. The event was called “The Return,” and was scheduled to take place on the National Mall on September 26, 2020. Cahn writes:

There were signs of something unique concerning The Return. The sacred assembly called for in Joel takes place against the backdrop of a plague that had come upon the land. So The Return would take place against the backdrop of a plague on the land.


The context of the most famous of verses on national repentance , 2 Chronicles 7:14, is this: “When I...send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray...” Again, the conte4xt specifically mentioned a plague. We were now in that context. The plague had come. Now it was time to humble ourselves and pray. (136)

I certainly believe that God wants His people to humble themselves, pray, and turn from wickedness. But Cahn here seems to be equating the people of God with the modern nation-state of America. This is something he does in all his books, according to what I have seen others write in reviews of them. But the people of God is represented in the New Covenant by the Church—by those who literally are called by the name of Christ—Christians, as I wrote about here several years ago.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 7

This is part 7 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, and Part 6 here


 In this part of the book, Jonathan Cahn continues to do what he has done previously in this book (and, from what I understand, in his previous books): make the United States out to be a “new Israel,” taking events from the Old Testament and forcing parallels to historical and contemporary events in America. He begins by talking about Moses, the first great national leader of ancient Israel, who was born at a time when the Hebrew boys were being slaughtered under orders from the Pharaoh. “So it was a child born in the midst of the Egyptian slaughter who, years later, would be used to break the ancient powers that carried it out. Is it possible that a child born of the American slaughter would be used to break the modern powers that carried it out?” (126)

Cahn then proceeds to point out that Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s final appointee to the Supreme Court, was conceived and born in the middle of the “critical three-year window” between the introduction of legislation to legalize abortion in New York state and the Roe v. Wade decision. He claims that “without her coming onto the court at that exact time and without the casting of her vote as she did in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson, Roe v. Wade would never have been overturned” (127). He speculates that she was “likely conceived in the same month the case that would overturn Roe v. Wade would also arrive at the same court” (128). As for the month of Judge Barrett's conception, there was a 1 in 12 chance of her being conceived in the same month (but decades earlier) that Dobbs arrived at the Supreme Court. It is also interesting that since the month of her birth didn't line up nicely to fit Cahn's penchant for patterns, he had to go and guesstimate the month of her conception, so he could pin one more piece of red yarn on his wall connecting the events. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 6

This is part 6 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here


 In this part of the book, Cahn tries to draw parallels between the events of spring 2020 and the Passover, the Jewish celebration of liberation from slavery in Egypt, which is celebrated in the spring. He writes, “One of the unique aspects of Passover is that it focuses on the coming of a plague. So in April of 2020, the ancient holiday that tells of the coming of a plague fell in the midst of the coming of a plague” (108). He then goes on to state that Passover involved a lock down, and in fact was “the first recorded national lockdown in world history” (109).

There are a few things we should note here. First, the death of the firstborn in Egypt wasn’t so much a plague like the previous judgments. Those took place over a period of time, after which Pharaoh had a chance to entreat Moses to pray to YHWH and ask Him to take away what was tormenting the Egyptians. , which took place over time, and . The death of the firstborn was an immediate, all-in-one-night, event, which could not be lifted afterward through an entreaty by Moses to YHWH. To compare the COVID pandemic, which grew in impact over time, to the death of the firstborn, which happened all in one night, is really not valid. As for Passover involving a lockdown, the “lockdown” in Egypt was only for the children of Israel, who were commanded to stay inside the homes marked with the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts. It wasn’t the whole nation of Egypt, and it wasn’t for an extended period. Again, Cahn picks broad things that at first glance may appear to support his narrative, but he conveniently ignores the finer details that cause his analogies to break down.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 5

This is part 5 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here


 This is one of the book’s shorter sections at only fourteen pages (though somehow Cahn manages to make six chapters out of those pages, which gives you some idea of the organizational of his writing style, which we will address further in a later part of this review). Cahn is still discussion abortion in America (a theme that weaves its way throughout the book due to the weight of the topic), this time focusing more specifically on the courts and Roe v. Wade, rather than the legislative legalization of abortion discussed in previous chapters.

Cahn puts the initial meetings of Norma Leah McCorvey (AKA Jane Roe) and Texas attorney Henry McCluskey as happening sometime in late January 1970, and then links that to the plague of COVID-19 arriving in late January 2020 (with language of a “Jubilee month”). He then goes on to link the initial filing of Roe v. Wade in the Texas court system in March 1970 with the March 2020 “state of emergency, lockdown, and paralysis” caused by COVID (92). I realize I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the Jubilee was not about one event happening fifty years after another event. It was at the bottom of this page that I made a note that Cahn’s fixation on cycles sounds much more like a Far Eastern or Buddhist outlook on time than it does a Judeo-Christian one. (After I had read this section of The Josiah Manifesto, I read where Dr. Vic Reasoner points out the same thing in his article “The End-Times Theology of Jonathan Cahn” in the fall 2023 issue of The Arminian, Vol. 41, Issue 2. Reasoner writes, “Parallels do not prove that history is replaying. The circular view of history is pagan.”). And by this point, one begins to realize how much of this book must be discarded due to this repeated error. Even though some of the social issues Cahn deals with are certainly concerning and worthy of attention, his repeated abuse of the biblical idea of the Jubilee destroys any shred of credibility he may have possessed.

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 4

This is part 4 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here 


 In chapter seventeen, Cahn starts to discuss what I understand (from reviews of his other books) to be the case he presents in The Paradigm. He writes:

In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul writes of the fall and judgment of the ancient Israelites. Then he adds, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…”

Behind the English word examples is the Greek word tupos. Tupos can also be translated as a pattern, a model, a template, a prototype. In other words, what happened to ancient Israel as recorded in the Scriptures happened and was recorded as examples, as patterns for future generations. (69)

First off, the standard transliteration of the Greek word τύπος is typos, not tupos. The Greek letter upsilon, unless it is followed by another vowel, is transliterated with the English letter y in every standard textbook of biblical Greek I am familiar with. Secondly, according to most books and articles about biblical interpretation, typology is about persons or events in the Old Testament foreshadowing persons or events in the New Testament (and usually the inspired NT writers point out the correspondence between the OT type and the NT antitype). But the use of typology is restricted to the biblical canon. We are not free to look at an Old Testament person or event and say that it was a pattern or template for something happening in our modern age, in a nation that is not God’s covenant people (no matter what Cahn and others try to claim about the geopolitical United States being in some sort of covenant relationship with God).