Excerpts from a letter by a former pastoral staff member at Pastor Cahn's church

Behind the Harbinger

 July 20, 2012  -  The entire letter is available HERE

What's Wrong with The Harbinger's "Ancient Mystery"?


Dear Berean Call,

As one who attended the congregation of Jonathan Cahn for over 13 years, serving in a pastoral position there for several years, I heard a good number of sermons that were not based on a sound use of God’s Word. If one attended there for an extensive time, he may have noticed an unhealthy focus on "mystery busting" and Jonathan drawing attention to himself as a "special end-time vessel of The Lord" in a manner that gave him and the congregation where he taught an air of superiority over other leaders and churches. This involved an unsound usage of GOD's eternal WORD with a focus on connecting various events to other events and/or Scripture.

It actually struck me how T.A. McMahon, having not attended the congregation of Jonathan Cahn, seemed to have picked up on the same type of thing that others, who have known Mr. Cahn for years, have also been concerned with....

In his response to you, where Jonathan appeals to the good reviews and popularity of the book, he overlooks the fact that the way to life is narrow, and the way to destruction broad (Matthew 7:13-14), and that the deception in the end times would be so great that even "the very elect" would be deceived if possible (Matthew 24:24). The popularity of the book is something which should make us concerned, not more confident regarding its accuracy. ...

Having known Jonathan, I'm aware of his tactic to give half-truths and to lead someone to come to a certain conclusion (like his being a prophet) without directly saying it. He would say certain things that would lead you to one conclusion, and others that could lead to the very opposite one. He operates in a lawyer-like fashion. Is he a prophet or not? Is the book prophetic or not? Putting together clues is not prophesying, is it? Prophets got direct revelation from GOD. We must be very careful to not use the word "prophet" or the concept of something being prophetic in a loose, sloppy, undefined, or unclear manner.

It seems like what Mr. Cahn is doing is, in essence, saying he’s a prophet. It’s like he’s giving a different variation of prophecy, and because of that variation (implying he’s gotten revelation regarding the future of America, appealing to “connection signs” rather than being in the more typical style of modern-day professed prophecy) he’s flying under the radar with some who are generally discerning....

As far as similarities, sure, there are parallels between what happened between ancient prideful Israel and modern prideful America. But there have been recurring patterns [This cycle has been a major theme in our series on Spiritual Warfare] that span all nations and individuals from the time of the fall. Since the fall, man has always been prideful, and so there has always been the recurring theme of man's pride followed by God's judgment. (Please note the truth of Proverbs 16:18.)

This has happened in nations aside from Israel and America. For example, in the very chapter that follows Isaiah 9, in 10:5-16, we see judgment on prideful Assyria, the very tool used to humble Israel and Judah. And what about the same pattern seen with Edom as recorded in Malachi 1:4:

 "Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever."

What has Jonathan Cahn revealed in The Harbinger that any Christian who knows their Bible couldn't know anyway? Again, just from the above referenced verses of Isaiah 10 and Malachi 1, we could know that any nation (including present day, rebellious, proud America) that is sinful is in danger of potential judgment. If The Harbinger were never written, a believer could see in Scripture the pattern of pride followed by God’s judgment.

But Mr. Cahn has had a history of taking such things and putting a spin on them that "wows" you, when in reality he hasn't really taught anything that a Bible-knowledgeable believer could not have already known from the truths already revealed in God's Word. If anything, there may be a subtle, yet very dangerous undermining - a subtle drawing attention away from The Word of God towards Jonathan Cahn's so-called prophetic message and connections (and really Jonathan Cahn himself).

Let me share a true story that illustrates the point of my concern. A woman I know was invited to Beth Israel (the congregation where Jonathan pastors) and began attending regularly, getting a diet of Jonathan Cahn’s style of teaching. I personally had spoken to her about salvation. At one point it seemed like she may have believed the gospel and I spoke to her about water baptism, which the Scriptures clearly command for a new believer. But she was resistant and not giving proper recognition to the Scripture’s authority.

But one day she more or less told me that decided to get baptized. But in explaining what brought her to this conclusion, she did not refer to Christ’s command of Matthew 28:19, but rather told me about her having seen a truck with a rainbow on it (I don’t remember all the details now, as it was several years ago, but she may have connected the truck with the rainbow with some other event). So, she decided to do the right thing (if she truly was saved) for the wrong reason. It was not the Scripture she referenced when giving her reason after finally deciding to be baptized, but a sign – a truck with a rainbow that she saw. This is not the thinking of a disciple.

I am not saying that there aren’t some valid “connections” that exist. For example, Scripture links the Hebrew holy day of Passover to Christ. But there is a sound Scriptural basis for making this connection. There are types within Scripture that point to future things. God does amazing things and His Word and works are amazing. But we need to have a sound Scriptural basis for any such connection we are making.

The type of teaching that is being set forth in The Harbinger can really be destructive in subtly drawing people’s attention away from The Scriptures. It promotes the kind of thinking of the woman who was led by the truck with the rainbow on it rather than The Scriptures. The serpent in the garden, in subtle manner, got Eve away from God’s Word rightly divided – the command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I have observed the same type of shallowness seen in the above-mentioned woman in other regular attendees of Jonathan Cahn’s teaching. I share this to help people to understand in case they are wondering, “What type of danger can come from a book like The Harbinger, which calls people to repentance?”

At times, Scripture is used, but not in context, but rather as a sign. I can take an isolated word or sentence of Scripture out of context and think, “God is speaking to me through this”. One can read and use the actual individual words of Scripture as signs in the same way people use tea leaves or other divining objects.

I can read, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors” (Psalm 24:7) and think, “God is telling me to remodel my home and to get rid of the old gates and doors that I have and to replace them with new ones”.

The point is that it’s a correct usage of Scripture that is important, and not merely a usage of Scripture. In 2 Timothy 4:3 it doesn’t say that they will not endure doctrine, but that they will not endure “sound doctrine”. Scripture can be misused and twisted (2 Peter 3:16).

I’ve seen people in Beth Israel who seemed “connection crazy” at times. But there was an apparent wall – a disconnect when trying to simply discuss and apply Scripture in context with those same people. There certainly was a form of godliness in being interested in what “the hand of God” was doing, but a lack of submission to His Word, rightly divided. Such is a danger of not using Scripture – The Holy, inspired Words of GOD, properly.

I don’t think that I can rightly say that Jonathan Cahn is responsible for all of the unsound usage of Scripture that I witnessed at Beth Israel. There is so much Scripture-twisting among the professing church. But I do think that Jonathan’s manner of making connections contributes to the problem and accords with such unsoundness.

I did discuss this sort of issue with Jonathan personally, and he didn’t seem to be very concerned about it. ...

...let's not miss the most critical issue. ...Does The Harbinger bring about a clear enough understanding of the person and work of Jesus The Messiah?

In his response, Jonathan said that his job is to sound the warning. And in answering the questions he asks towards the close of his response, "What if God were to sound warning to America of judgment? What might such a warning sound like?" he says, "Believers, pastors, ministers, Bible expositors, and Christian leaders across this land believe it would sound identical to The Harbinger".

Identical? Do you realize what’s being implied here? Has anyone actually used the word “identical” in expressing their judgment of how much The Harbinger reflects what God would say? Does Mr. Cahn believe it’s identical? Who else represents God’s communication in an identical manner to God’s except a true prophet or Messiah, the incarnate Word Himself....

Let's ask, "Is The Harbinger's presentation of the gospel in accordance with the gospel presentations recorded in the book of Acts?" "Is the gospel message clear enough in it to clarify who the true Jesus is and what the true gospel is as opposed to the false gospels and false Jesus'?" Does it properly confront the multitudes of nominal, lake of fire bound "Christians".

Even many unsaved, non-gospel believing "conservatives" who don't regard the Scriptures don't like the way that America is going now and might agree that it needs to "repent" (according to their unscriptural understanding of repentance). But remember, many will say, "Lord, Lord," to whom The Lord will say, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23).

Our nation abounds with nominal Christianity. We are to "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). If the gospel is not crystal clear (and what a need for it to be clear with all the false Jesus', false gospels, and with all the nominal Christianity out there) then all the warning and calling to repentance in the world will avail nothing. Muslims, Catholics, and other lost people have the concept of the need to repent in their systems which don't save.

If Mr. Cahn were called by GOD to bring the revelation of the harbingers to America in a prophetic, or in any sense, would the true gospel message and a clarification of who the true Jesus is not be more central and highlighted in the book? In the past I, and not I alone, have discussed concerns with Jonathan about an unclear gospel presentation and related matters (and other issues as well) on multiple occasions. He gave a not-so-clear presentation of "the gospel" to many on numerous occasions.

Repentance is important, and necessary (Luke 13:5); but apart from the true gospel, there is no salvation. Yes, there certainly is a need for America to repent. And part of the repentance that is needed is to turn from preaching an unclear gospel and using the Bible in ways that don't clearly center on Christ and the gospel of grace. We need to repent for chasing after every wind of doctrine and get back to Christ and The Scriptures rightly divided (not just referenced, and used how anyone wants to use them).

Repentance should be demonstrated by taking into account the multitudes of nominal Christians in this nation and not preaching in a vague way. If one supports the idea that they are giving a message in a manner that is "identical" to the one God would present it in, and they are wrong - if it is not perfectly and completely identical in any manner, then everything he does, says, and writes, as well as his motives, comes into question, as he has implied that he is an gave an identical (exact) representation of GOD and was wrong. This is no small matter.

A word to those who have posted Jonathan Cahn’s response to T.A. McMahon. I realize that for some of you, behind the reason for posting it was a sincere desire to be fair. Fairness is good. But if judgment is made that someone is using Scripture in an unsound manner, or doing anything else that is contrary to the Scriptures, which could be damaging to God’s sheep whom he purchased with His own blood, then don’t fall for any appeal for fairness that Mr. Cahn may have given.

I do want to be fair. But I must make a judgment as to whether or not something is sound; and if it truly is not, then I don’t want to give it a platform, and a potential to affect the minds of others. It’s not fair for people to be exposed to things that can subtly, perhaps very subtly, lead them away from a sound use of Scripture in context. Yes, there is Scripture’s meaning, and its application which can apply to events of today. But isn’t The Harbinger going beyond that? ...

In Messiah,

Robert Scarpati