Apostasy # 28 Can A Religious Pluralistic Society Please God? | thebereancall.org

McMahon, T.A., Dave James

Tom: Welcome to Apostasy Update. I’m T. A. McMahon, and in this program we are following up with our addressing two separate prayer gatherings in Washington, DC. They took place the last weekend of September, and their professed goal was to pray for the United States. Both were led by individuals who claim that their efforts involved praying for America, that America would repent and turn back to God, and that He would bring about revival. Franklin Graham was the main figure in one group. He’s the son of Billy Graham and heads up the Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Leading the other program was Jonathan Cahn, bestselling author and pastor of Beth Israel Worship Center. 

My guest to discuss what took place at the Washington gatherings is Dave James. He’s an author and Bible teacher as well as a longtime contributor to The Berean Call.

Dave, welcome back to Apostasy Update.

Dave: It’s great to be back with you again this week, Tom, in discussing these important topics.

Tom: Yeah. You know, Dave, as you know, last week we talked about huge prayer gatherings, National Prayer Breakfast, and prayer marches, and what they might accomplish. Could we say that there are pluses and minuses biblically?

Dave: Well, I think a plus would be that prayer is certainly a biblical thing and something that we take very seriously. In fact, we prayed before we even began our discussion today, and as we always do, so that’s important. Praying for our country, praying for our leaders, that’s biblical. First Timothy 2: “Pray for those in authority.” So that’s all well and good, but as we discussed last week, there are a lot of other things that we need to take into consideration. It’s not just isolated to the idea—is prayer important, praying for our government and our country important?

Tom: Yeah. Dave, there were some concerns—certainly there were some good things. I remember you mentioned last week, and I think we should address this a bit, many people like to use 2 Chronicles:7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I have a concern about that, and I think you do as well. What do you think about using that verse?

Dave: Sure. Well, as I recall, I think maybe we just barely touched on it. We really didn’t dive into the idea behind what’s going on. So the context is a warning concerning what is going to happen when God’s covenant people are in rebellion against Him. That would be the nation of Israel, and it was preceding the—in the context with Ezekiel, it was in the context of the Babylonians bringing…God using the Babylonians to bring judgment against His covenant people because of their unfaithfulness to Him, beginning with worshipping other gods and making idols and all the other things that flow from that. 

The problem is that that verse is being used quite frequently—you even see it on billboards, you hear it on television and radio programs, you read it in books and blogs and all kinds of things where people are using that and trying to apply that. And I think that was used as sort of a justification, at least in part, for this idea of a prayer gathering. It certainly was on the part of Jonathan Cahn’s gathering, The Return. And it’s based upon, the usage of that and the application of that to the United States, is actually based upon a false premise. One: it’s taking the verse out of context; it’s specifically to God’s covenant people, the nation of Israel. The church is not Israel. We don’t have a land that will be restored after it is destroyed, and we are not in the context of a captivity under a foreign power and all that. 

But beyond that, there’s something even deeper than that, and that is Jonathan Cahn, in his group, would be rooting this in the idea that America is sort of a second Israel based upon what the Puritans, the original founders, the Puritans and the pilgrims thought as they came to the shores of this continent: that they were establishing a new Israel. And Jonathan Cahn and others would say, beyond that, that the founders intention was to establish a covenant with God, and they made a covenant with God. And the problem is man does not initiate a covenant with God. God initiates the covenants with Himself, and man accepts the terms of those covenants and enters in. So there’s no reason to think that America as a nation, one, is the second Israel. It’s not a replacement theology, it’s a parallel theology, thinking that God is dealing with America the way that He did with Israel, and things that are said to Israel alone can be in many ways applied to America, and that happens with 2 [Chronicles] 7:14 and a host of other passages that are used by Jonathan Cahn and others.

Tom: Mm-hmm. The issue that we find in that verse, “humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, turn from our wicked ways”? Hey, individually, absolutely! I mean, these are things that—there are many things in the Old Testament that, certainly, the law was given to Israel and so on, but there are moral issues that we can identify with, that we can relate to, that we can even take heed to. But not in terms of a national…you know, and country. You know, as you pointed out, America, even though we love it, it’s not a country that was given by God, okay, to us as His people. 

Last week you mentioned pluralism. We have a country that’s made up of many religions. I remember Dave Hunt saying it’s difficult, maybe even impossible, for a biblical Christian to be the president of this country, because you have to move into the realm of many religions, and you have to—not identify with them, necessarily, but you have to encourage people to support people that have a belief system that’s diametrically opposed to our, his… You know, if a true biblical Christian would become president, that he would have to basically compromise his beliefs. You feel that way?

Dave: I do, and that has me concerned. Even as we’re entering into the last week, from the time we’re recording this, the election is just—not even a week away now, or just over a week away now. And, you know, thinking about, for example, what’s going to happen in 2024, not even thinking about this—if President Trump is elected, then you have Mike Pence, who is actually from my hometown. He’s a year behind me in high school. He grew up Roman Catholic, as far as I know, became a believer. And I’m concerned that what will happen to him—one, could he even get elected if he runs? Because he is a biblical—at least, a more biblical Christian than a lot of people in Washington! And if he were to be elected, what would that mean for his testimony, the things that he says, and things that he would have to say and positions he would have to take if he’s in that position? So it’s—you’re right: it’s a tough, tough situation.

Tom: Right. The other thing is, you know, talking about—let me jump to the two leaders of the prayer march, the prayer events that took place. I only watched Franklin Graham. I didn’t get to watch any of Jonathan Cahn, so—but I, you know, I watched it for about an hour and a half, got the sense of what was going on, heard many of the speakers that came up to pray very brief prayers, and so on. So I want to discuss the leaders—you know, as I said, I can’t judge their hearts: Franklin Graham, and I know much about Jonathan Cahn, which we’ll talk about when I pass this over to you. But I can evaluate their actions and teachings by holding them up to Scripture. Again, I can’t judge their hearts. 

I watched—well, regarding Franklin Graham, I followed, to some degree, his ministry through the Samaritan’s Purse, and he’s also the head of the, you know, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Well, at the Washington prayer event, he certainly gave a clear gospel. That blessed me. A few of those that he had to pray, however, really gave me some concerns. Their prayers may have been sincere, but I don’t believe they were prayers that God would hear. 

Well, what am I talking about? Some of them were, in effect, telling God what to do. For example, having God send His angels to do what the person praying decided He should do. I doubt Franklin Graham would have approved of some of those prayers, but inviting them to contribute, however, made me wonder if he was reflecting the ecumenism that was a chief flaw in his father Billy, especially regarding Billy’s involvement with Roman Catholics, as you know, Dave. 

Ecumenism always involves some degree of biblical compromise in order to make a show of unity, sometimes in order to increase the number of participants. It may start out as biblical, but soon slips away from biblical truth to accepting false doctrines, and even condoning false religions. 

Last week we mentioned the example of the National Prayer Breakfast that takes place in Washington year after year, and for the most part, Dave—well, not even for the most part: it was stated in one of the years that using the name of Jesus was not the way to go about it. It could offend some of the participants. 

Now, Dave, what were your concerns about Jonathan Cahn and his leading their prayer event?

Dave: Well, there were a few people that I saw. I wasn’t able to watch the whole program. I didn’t watch any of Franklin Graham’s prayer rally, but I watched quite a bit of the one with Jonathan Cahn. There were a few people who I would consider fairly solid Christians—maybe I would have theological disagreements with some of them, and their prayers were good, and I would even go so far as to say biblical in certain respects. 

But on the other hand, I don’t know the percentage of those working with Franklin Graham who were way, way out there theologically, but certainly Jonathan Cahn had his share of those. You mentioned the one who—Franklin Graham group—who prayed about, you know, angels taking charge and all that kind of thing. It went beyond that with Jonathan Cahn, and on multiple counts some very—what I would consider, very obviously, quite extreme charismatic people speaking, that even their style and…and I don’t want to get hung up on style, but the style was just really hypercharismatic. The idea you, you know…one of the things in the extreme charismatic movement is the idea of a “kingdom now” theology and dominionism that is mixed in—that we’re establishing the kingdom, and we’re taking authority. And, you know, you hear about the seven mountains, and the fivefold ministry, and all those kinds of things. These things were permeating a lot of what was said there in Jonathan Cahn’s meeting.

Tom: So the question is (and this is why we’re bringing this up, folks), you had lots of people there, and the influence, I think—Franklin Graham’s was on TBN. I’m not sure how the Jonathan Cahn presentation, how that was presented, what was the network or where that was coming from. But nevertheless, is God hearing these prayers? Well, many of the things that you just mentioned, and some of the people that were at the Franklin Graham [even] were given the microphone to pray. I don’t see God hearing those prayers. 

Now, the other problem is, and this is a huge one for me, Dave—you remember 2014, we did a couple of programs on Jonathan Cahn and on his books and so on. And, folks, if you’re interested in reviewing some of those, they can be found on our website, thebereancall.org, and just search Dave James Part 1 and Part 2 in which we laid out the details with regard to his books. 

Now, I’m mentioning this, because there’s a theology that’s being presented, and is represented by the man Jonathan Cahn, and the question is, is what he’s talking about biblical? Is it something that he could stand before—I don’t know how many people watched the program that he was involved in, but this, in our view, and I can speak for you, Dave, based on not only our conversations, but we had you publish a book. Here’s the book—The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? by Dave James, published by The Berean Call. The reason we had you do that was because we were greatly concerned about what he was promoting: “Is this biblical?” It had to do with—which we talked about, and we don’t have to go over it again—but these were things that were contrary to the Word of God. These were things that forced prophecy (so-called prophecy on his part) to relate it to America. 

Dave, my concern here is that you have two individuals speaking to the nation, right? And in that, they’re representing the Lord, and they’re praying to the Lord to hear what they have to say along with many of the others who prayed. My question is: Will God hear the prayers of somebody, especially in the case of Jonathan Cahn, who is a false teacher? I would even go so far as to say because of his corrupting and misusing prophecy, taking Isaiah:9:10 and taking these verses and—you called it “paralleling” America, that these things are parallel with 9/11, what took place in the United States.

Well, and then it goes on beyond that. In his other books, The Mystery of the Shemitah, again, corrupting the Scripture, imposing his own ideas on things and then saying, “This is the way God is working.” Will God hear a prayer, a prayer group even, led by an individual who’s obviously—I would say obviously in my mind and in your mind, I know, Dave—a false teacher? He’s corrupting, he’s abusing the Word of God.

Dave: So yeah, Tom, that is—it’s a huge issue. And as you said, I documented a lot of this in my book The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? which came out in June of 2012, six months after The Harbinger came out in January of that year. I further documented it in my second book, which was a response to his third book, actually, The Mystery of the Shemitah, which was based on chapter 17 of The Harbinger, an expansion of that. 

And since then, he’s written other books—The ParadigmThe Oracle, and now The Harbinger 2: The Return. The pattern is the same. Nothing has changed. He…concisely, I put it this way: he mishandles the Word of God, he misrepresents historical information, and he manipulates statistical data in order to make it appear that America fits into this historical paradigm—a biblical paradigm (a biblical template, as he calls it) that is projected forward and is being fulfilled on American soil (actually being triggered by 9/11, but going back before that). 

If you go back to the book The Oracle, which is a previous book, he was going back to 1867 and Mark Twain’s visit to the Promised Land. And jumping forward—in fact, I was just looking at The Harbinger 2: The Return just a little bit before we got together today for this discussion, and he had mentioned that the Babylonian attacks on Israel, they began in 606 BC, where it was a 20-year siege culminating in 586 BC with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. And so, when he brings it forward to America by saying 9/11 happened in 2001, here we are in 2020, next year will mark the 20thanniversary, and so we are about to be shaken again, and so this is why the call for the return.

So the entire undergirding, the entire foundation for everything he does is based upon a radical, a radical mishandling of the Word of God, and conveniently misrepresenting historical data in order to fit his purposes. And I did huge amounts, dozens, maybe hundreds of hours of research to uncover this, but the average person isn’t going to realize. And there’s what I call the “wow” factor of what he says and what he does, and it’s that wow factor that causes people to just kind of check their minds at the door, because they’re so overwhelmed by this avalanche of information and these coincidences that he supposedly reveals, and this revelation from God that he reveals. Plus, he’s a Jewish rabbi, or he’s ethnically Jewish—calls himself a rabbi. There’s this mystique that evangelicals have now assigned to Jewish teachers, so all of this comes together to set the stage for what I would say is a massive deception.

Tom: You know, we’re Bereans. I hope—hopefully we’re encouraging others to be Bereans. Caveat emptor—the buyer beware. Don’t buy into it because it’s out there and it’s become popular. Search the Scriptures to see if these things are so! That’s what the Bereans were all about. And by the way, the Bereans were not Christians, right? The Apostle Paul goes into a synagogue in the Greek city of Berea, and then they’re commended because they listened to what the Apostle Paul had to say. Again, these are Jews in the synagogue, and they’re commended because they listened to what he had to say, but then they searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. 

Folks, you have to do that with us, with Dave James, with T. A. McMahon, anybody who’s out there—your pastor, what he’s preaching from the pulpit. This is God’s instructions to us, because we’re going to be held accountable for what we believe, and then those of us who have stepped out to be teachers, hopefully called of God to teach, we’re going to be held accountable for all those things. So it’s a weighty thing, but it’s something that we have to conform to the Word of God, to the teachings of the Scriptures, okay? 

So, Dave, how can we wrap this up? What would be your comment about what we’ve been talking about?

Dave: If I could just wrap up with a comment touching on what you were talking about earlier about messianic fellowships and this mystique that I mentioned, because I think it’s very important that our listeners understand—one, we have a love for the Jewish people, and two, we know that God has a plan for them in the future, but He’s not dealing with them the way He was ancient Israel during this present time until the Rapture of the church. Then things go back and God is doing that. 

But in this time, this influence of the Hebrew Roots Movement, the messianic movement…we know that in Ephesians 2, that God started doing a new thing on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and now Jews and Gentiles come together in one new man—that is, the church. And there is a movement, a broad movement, within evangelicalism to get back to our Jewish roots, get back to the first century church, which is said to be Jewish, very Jewish, have a Jewish flavor. That’s really not true. 

Ask yourself this question: if you only had the letters to the churches, what would you know of Judaism? Almost nothing. You would know almost nothing of the law, you would know almost nothing of the feasts, the practices, the worship, any of that. 

So, Tom, as you mentioned, Paul went to the synagogues, and he went to the synagogues everywhere he went. That’s where he went first. So the first leaders, the first elders, were ethnically Jewish, and yet they said nothing about Judaism. Paul said nothing about it. We don’t see a practice, correction, anything. 

So what does that tell us? It tells us that the Jewish leaders, the new believers in the first century, the elders of the churches, they knew that God was doing something new that had not been done before, and that there was an almost clean break from Judaism and those practices. And so to get back to the first century church is to get back to the idea, not of building on Judaism, but to realize that God is doing a new thing in His program, and we need to be a part of that. And we’re reaching the world with the truth of what God did in the past with the Jews in terms of being faithful to them. He’ll be faithful to us, and He’ll be faithful to complete His program. But in order to put all of that together, we have to handle the Word of God correctly. If not, we will do things like placing the church back in the Old Testament. We will do things like saying America is being dealt with by God in a way that parallels Israel and the Old Testament, even though there is no biblical reason to think that is so. 

Tom: Right, and that’s our concern. It has to do with—yes, we mentioned the individual Jonathan Cahn and what he’s about, to the point of writing books addressing his misunderstanding the Scripture. I mean, I think I’m being kind here. He’s got an idea about it that’s not biblical, and he’s promoting that. And because of—call it the mystique, whatever you want to call it, Judaism today is not biblical Judaism, as you’ve articulated. And certainly, as the leaders of the church were all Jews at the beginning, now we have a fascination with that that’s based more on the Talmud—the idea that, for the Jews to reconstruct or regather their ideas and their teachings, but not according to the Scriptures. That’s why we have so many traditional things that have entered in, and they’re appealing! 

You know, Dave, I was born in Brooklyn, New York, okay? I worked for the movie studios, which were mainly, well, started by Jews. I have a Yiddish vocabulary that, you know, it’s…it makes me identify more with the Jewish people. 

So this isn’t—this isn’t something to get on their case. This is something to get us back to what the Word of God says. Whether we be non-Jews or Jews, we want to go according to the Scripture. “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word…” and I would apply that to Jonathan Cahn or to anybody else out there, that if they speak not according to God’s Word, there’s no light in them, particularly in the area that they’re addressing that’s not scriptural. 

So, Dave, thanks for being with me. I’m hoping, you know, we’re going to carry on some more conversations. As I mentioned before this program started, we’re going to deal with hermeneutics, we’re going to deal with how you study the Bible, because that’s incredibly important.

So, brother, thanks for being with me, and the Lord willing, we’ll get to do some more of this.

Dave: I’ll look forward to it. Thanks, Tom, appreciate the opportunity. 

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