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).

Next, Cahn tries to equate former president Trump with the character of Jehu in the northern kingdom of Israel (something I understand was his premise in The Paradigm). He says that Joram, the king who preceded Jehu, “had been in power on the national stage for twelve years when Jehu came to power” (73) and then builds a parallel that Obama came to the national stage in the 2004 Democratic national convention, and Trump came to power in the 2016 presidential election. But note how Cahn plays with the numbers to make Obama/Trump line up with Joram/Jehu. Joram was in actual power as the nation’s ruler for 12 years when Jehu took his place. Obama came to the national stage twelve years before Trump came to power, but had only been “ruling” as president for eight years. Cahn shows a repeated pattern of manipulating the historical events and numbers to fit the pattern he wants to establish. This is deceptive, and inappropriate for anyone who claims to be a leader in Christ’s church.

Cahn also calls Jezebel, who was actually queen of the northern kingdom, the “former first lady” of Israel in order to parallel her to former first lady (and later Senator and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. There is a vast difference politically between a queen, who exerts actual power by nature of her position as the wife of the king of a nation, and a first lady who is the wife of a president. While a first lady may have influence because of her marital relation, a queen has an actual position of authority as the wife of the king.

Cahn also claims that Jehu had come to the capital city of Samaria “with one agenda—to drain the swamp” (75). Talk about anachronism! Now, in addition of taking a story from the Old Testament and trying to apply it to modern American politics, he is taking phrases from modern American politics and imposing them on the biblical text. This is highly irresponsible, and I would dare say possibly blasphemous.

He provides several quotes where different people call the Capitol a “temple to democracy” and a “sacred place” (79). Cahn mentions an unnamed English scholar who, in the years before the Capitol was built, traveled the Middle East and wrote a book with detailed descriptions and drawings of ancient temples, including the temple of Baal. According to Cahn, it is “believed that his book influences those designing the United States Capitol and that part of the Temple of Baal is actually embedded into the Capitol Building” (83). Conveniently, Cahn does not provide the name of the “English scholar,” nor does he provide any source citation for said scholar’s actual influence on the designers of the Capitol or the supposed embedding of a part of Baal’s ancient temple within its construction. How are we supposed to take Cahn’s claim seriously, when he gives no concrete details that can be verified or shown to be false? Are we just supposed to take Cahn’s word for it, even though throughout the book so far he has shown a serious lack of trustworthiness as he cannot even properly interpret the simple text of Leviticus 25 about the Jubilee?

Next, Cahn tries to draw parallels between Jehu destroying the temple of Baal in Samaria, and the attack by Trump’s supporters on the U. S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. He talks about how the “ancient template” tells of both Jehu and his ally Jehonadab entering Baal’s temple. The modern-day Jehu, Trump, was prevented from going into the nation’s “temple” by his security team, but Mike Pence, whom Cahn likens to Jehonadab, did enter the temple (80). One major problem with this supposed parallel is that Pence entered the Capitol to perform his constitutional duty to preside over the unsealing, counting, and certifying of the electoral votes from the states (which would end Trump’s time in power); Jehonadab, in contrast, entered the temple of Baal in Samaria as part of Jehu’s plot to consolidate his power.

Cahn writes:

The tenth chapter of the Book of 2 Kings records that Jehu called for an assembly in the capital city. So President Trump called for an assembly in the capital city, Washington, DC, on January 6. Jehu’s gathering would ultimately be directed at the national temple in the capital city. Trump’s gathering of January 6 would likewise be directed on America’s national temple—the Capitol Building. (80)

If we take a look at the text of 2 Kings 10:18–27, we see that the assembly Jehu called for was to gather all the prophets, priests, and worshipers of Baal into the temple in order to massacre and eliminate them. Jehu tricked them, claiming that he was going to be the biggest Baal worshiper ever, and once he had gone through the motions of offering a sacrifice, he sent eighty of his supporters in to kill all those who followed Baal. The assembly Trump called for, on the other hand, was of his own followers. If we try to apply all the parallels Cahn tries to say are part of the “paradigm,” are we to then conclude that Trump called these people together as a trick to get them all killed? That would be the logical conclusion if the events of ancient Israel were actually supposed to be some kind of predictive pattern about modern American politics. But I’m pretty certain that is not the parallel Cahn is trying to present. He only uses the bits and pieces of the biblical accounts that fit the case he wants to build. But

In chapter twenty-one, Cahn says that abortion was “America’s form of Baal worship” (87), and that the Roe v. Wade decision was the modern-day temple of Baal that allowed child sacrifice. He then says that the modern-day Jehu was the one working to bring down the modern-day temple of Baal. This raises the question: was Roe v. Wade the temple of Baal, or was the U. S. Capitol the temple that “Jehu’s followers” attacked on January 6? Cahn is all over the place in his attempts to connect Scripture to current affairs. The only thing missing is a wall covered in index cards and newspaper clippings with red yarn strung every which way. 

UPDATE ADDED JUNE 13, 2024: My Bible reading this morning included Hosea chapter 1. Hosea 1:4 says:

And the Lord said, "Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence.” (New Living Translation)

Cahn wants to make Jehu out to be a great hero, and cast Trump as a modern-day Jehu. But he completely ignores God's prophetic judgment of Jehu's actions in this passage in Hosea. So much for "Rabbi" Cahn being a careful student and interpreter of Scripture.  

Read part 5 here

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