Jul 1 2013
David James, author of The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? , was asked the following questions [Excerpts]:
I read Jonathan Cahn’s book The Harbinger last year and gave it to my pastor to read. He read it but was very skeptical. He gave me your book, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? I have a couple of questions. First, you were talking about false teachers, and it seemed like you lumped Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer into that category. Is that true? Second, you refer to the Old Testament passage in 2 Chronicles:7:14: “If my children will humble themselves…” as not being applicable to today’s people but only for Israel. If we are not to apply that somehow to today, how can we apply any scriptures for today? For instance, Jesus was speaking to the church at Laodicea when He said that they were lukewarm. Are we not to apply that to ourselves in this generation either?
David James responds [Edited for length]:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful email. I’m glad that you were able to see that there really is another side to the story presented by Jonathan Cahn in The Harbinger .
1. Concerning Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer: There are ways in which I can see that they are very different and there are ways in which they are similar. The most significant difference would be that Benny Hinn is far more radical in the way that he applies what he believes—and to be honest, I believe that in many ways he is an intentional deceiver. On the other hand, I don’t know that Joyce Meyer is intentionally deceiving people,...nor have I heard her make the false prophecies made by him. I should have been a bit more clear about my reason for connecting them.
Theologically, Joyce Meyer has a long history with the Word Faith movement, which is filled with false teachers and some of the most extreme examples of heresy, from the holy laughter of Rodney Howard Browne (which is essentially identical to the Kundalini spirit of Hinduism), to Jesus’ “descent into hell” to pay for our sins, to false healings, among other errors. The following site has some important information that I think will help explain some of the concerns with Joyce Meyer: http://carm.org/joyce-meyer. Lately she appears to have become more focused on self-esteem/self-worth teaching and isn’t talking as much about the other things, but these are problematic from a biblical standpoint as well.
2. Concerning the passage in 2 Chronicles:7:14, there are a number of things that need to be kept in mind when studying the Scriptures. First, there is the technical interpretation, of which there is essentially only one for any given passage. Then there is the practical application. In my book I presented the problem with that passage when it is applied to America. First, “my people” always refers to Israel in the Old Testament—and the Lord is specifically talking about His special covenant relationship with Israel as a nation that is unique and cannot be applied to any other nation. This means that the passage cannot be applied to America as a nation in any sense.
However, behind this passage is a principle that can be applied (and one that is seen throughout the Scriptures) for individuals who have a personal relationship with the Lord—and it is that God will bless them as individuals . Of course, if a nation were to be filled with people who have a personal relationship with the Lord, then the blessings that those individuals experience would have a cumulative effect and thus a relative blessing on the nation.
However, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way, and few there be that find it,” which means that it’s unlikely that any nation will ever be made up primarily or even largely of born-again believers in Christ. So the generic call for America to repent as a nation will never, ever be answered because, according to Christ’s own words, most unbelievers will not repent—and the majority of the nation will always be unbelievers. Beyond that, The Harbinger doesn’t even give a clear gospel message, nor does it explain what this repentance for which it is calling looks like.
Let me give another example that might make this clearer: Romans:4:3, Galatians:3:6, and James:2:23 all tell us that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. We know that Abraham was called by God, who made specific promises to him. We can’t apply those promises directly to ourselves because that would mean that everyone who believed God as did Abraham would not only have it counted to him as righteousness but that everyone would also be the progenitor of many kings and nations—and we know this won’t happen because the promise in this technical sense isn’t to anyone but Abraham. However, the application of the part of the OT concerning Abraham is that just as he believed God and was therefore counted as righteous, so, too, is everyone in every generation who believes and turns to the Lord. So, we just need to sort out the intent of the passages and find the timeless principles that are applicable in every generation to every person.
Going back to 2 Chronicles, whoever humbles himself before God will find himself in a place of blessing, but if it is a farmer, for example, and his land is going through a drought, we can’t apply the OT passage to say that seeking God’s face will cause the drought to end for that farmer—or even for 10 or 100 farmers who do the same thing. It might be that God would do that in answer to prayer, but in the case of ancient Israel (being the people of God), this would have been a guarantee that it would happen for the nation because of their covenant relationship with God, and this promise of blessing was in connection with the covenant. America has no such covenant relationship with God—and cannot have, because Israel is unique in this regard.
3. Concerning the church being “lukewarm,” Jesus was speaking to the church of Laodicea, the last of the seven churches in Revelation 3. Yes, of course we can apply this at the level that the Lord intended it—but we need to understand the specific context. In this case, Jesus was speaking directly to a specific church in what is now western Turkey that had grown lukewarm as a group. As part of the warning, Jesus said that because they were neither cold nor hot but lukewarm, He would spit them out—and of course, today, that specific church no longer exists because they didn’t repent.
The principle behind this is that the Lord is very displeased with people who are lukewarm in their faith—but this doesn’t mean that He is pleased with people who are cold toward Him. Because He is displeased, the Lord can remove His hand of blessing from both individuals and churches. However, unlike the church in Laodicea, the direct application of going out of existence is not for any other church. It could happen—but it was guaranteed to happen in Laodicea because He was speaking to them. At the same time, we both know churches and individuals that are lukewarm or cold yet continue to exist, with the churches growing in attendance and with bigger and bigger facilities.
So, once again, we look at passages to see how they were intended to be understood in their literary and historical context—then we look for the eternal principles that are embedded in the passages and see how those can be applied today to ourselves.
All of the Bible is completely relevant. It is literally and inerrantly the inspired Word of God. The question regarding any passage is not “Is it applicable?” but rather “How is it applicable?” Jonathan Cahn misapplies the passage in 2 Chronicles, just as he does with Isaiah:9:10, which is the foundation for The Harbinger . Sadly, millions have been misled by those teachings and interpretations of the Bible found in Cahn’s book.