Potential Lawsuit Takes Shape Related to The Harbinger

February 7, 2013 at 4:02 PM 4 comments

From the “this is tragic” news desk, apparently, all the brouhaha over many disagreements related to Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Harbinger, is moving toward a potential lawsuit.

We’ve written articles here related to Cahn’s book and like many, have received interesting responses to it.  Those who agreed with our position wrote to tell us that.  Others who disagreed (usually vehemently) with our position, also wrote to tell us that.

Now however, the folks at Charisma Media are talking in terms of filing suit against the publishers of David James’ book, which critiques Jonathan Cahn’s book. I’m pretty certain – according to the Apostle Paul – that Christians should not be suing one another over these types of matters (cf. 1 Corinthians 6).  He’s not saying that we might never have to use the courts, but it seems to me after reading the press release that there is a good deal of hullabaloo over nothing.  Just one more reason given to the lost of this world to laugh at Christians.

Frankly, I’m not sure how the claim can be proven by Cahn’s team that David James’ book has caused them (Cahn and his publisher) financial harm.  How do you prove that?  If anything, I would think more people would be inclined to read Cahn’s book possibly because of James’ critique, to see for themselves.

Then there is the issue related to the number of quotes in James’ book.  Obviously, a copyright attorney will have his/her say in the matter and the courts will decide – if the lawsuit progresses.  The reality is that it is difficult to critique something without quoting it.  By not quoting enough, one does a disservice to the author of the book being critiqued.  Therefore, in order to provide as much information as possible about what Cahn is attempting to say, more quotation may be required so as not to appear biased in the research.

Again, this whole thing is tragic as far as I’m concerned.  It should not be happening.  It reminds me a bit of the apostle Paul’s attitude when dealing with people with whom he disagreed.  Did he take them to court?  Did he call down fire from heaven?  No, his response was essentially to let God deal with it.

This was his attitude we see in Philippians 1:15-18 where he states, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

People were jealous of Paul and wanted to “outdo” him, taking any “glory” away from him and gaining the glory for themselves.  They wanted to stir up problems for Paul and instead of dealing with it himself, Paul simply let go of it emotionally, and allowed God to deal with it.  In fact, Paul rejoiced over the situation because he knew and understood that Jesus and the saving gospel was being preached.  In my estimation, this should have been what both the publisher of Cahn’s book and Cahn himself did and yes, I’m assuming they have not.

In my opinion, this should be happening.  The publisher of Cahn’s book – Charisma Media – obviously feels wronged as Cahn may himself.  They should give it to God for Him to deal with, rather than doing what they are threatening to do.  This makes me question their motives in this.  They are threatening to sue.  Obviously, since the “financial harm” question is part of the allegations, then it becomes clear that there is the question of money here and how much may have been allegedly lost because of James’ book.  I find that fascinating that Cahn’s attorneys actually believe they can connect any supposed “loss” of sales directly to James’ book!  How absurd is that? But I guess stranger things have happened.

Nonetheless, if it all goes back to money, then that really tells us what we need to know about why this lawsuit is being threatened in the first place.  I think the apostle Paul would say, “Brothers, this ought not to be.”  Of course, those who fully (and blindly) support Cahn will probably be glad when they hear this news.

I’ll let the press release information below speak for itself.  In the meantime, we will – at some future point – review James’ book called The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? so stay tuned for that.

Yeah, I like opening up a good can of worms…

Press Release:
Lawsuit Threatened by Attorney Representing Author and Publisher of ‘The Harbinger’

Contact: Sally Oppliger, The Berean Call, 541-382-6210 ext 119

BEND, Ore., Feb. 6, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — The attorney for Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and his publisher, Charisma Media, has threatened to sue a Christian missionary and his publisher, whose research questions the historic and biblical veracity of Cahn’s New York Times bestseller, “The Harbinger.”

In a letter addressed to David James, author of “The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?” and his publisher, the attorney for Cahn and Charisma Media (formerly Strang Communications) have alleged that the biblical critique authored by James not only infringes upon copyright but has damaged sales of Cahn’s book, which in spite of controversy has recently surpassed one million copies.

Many Christian leaders have praised Cahn’s work as a prophetic message from God, even to the extent of declaring that Jonathan Cahn is a true prophet for our time, and that “The Harbinger” is “the word of God.”

David James, founder of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity, explains why he has taken issue with this claim in his published refutation of Cahn’s “prophetic” bestseller: “Many of the author’s views and ideas as presented in ‘The Harbinger’ are misguided, having both significant exegetical and theological problems. Cahn appears to…see prophetic fulfillment where arguably none exists.”

James, a former missionary with Word of Life Fellowship for 21 years, elaborates: “Not only does ‘The Harbinger’ fail to reveal a ‘mystery’ in Isaiah 9:10, but in spite of the much-needed call to repentance, the book presents a danger to believers and unbelievers alike.”

James’s publisher, The Berean Call (TBC), revealed details of the threatened litigation in the ministry’s February newsletter. TBC Executive Director, T.A. McMahon, announced:

“The complaint is that [David James] used too many quotes from the New York Times best-selling book, ‘The Harbinger,’ without permission from author “rabbi” Jonathan Cahn and publisher Charisma Media Publications (Charisma). The complaint further states that our use of the quotes has inhibited the sales of ‘The Harbinger’ and has thus financially damaged Cahn and Charisma in an amount yet to be determined.”

Concerning the threat of legal action against his book, David James adds, “This has actually happened twice. The first was concerning the cover of my book, which, though similar, was legally substantially different from ‘The Harbinger’s’ cover — and we had no intention of people confusing the two — and I don’t think they possibly could have. But as an act of good faith and to keep this from getting my book tied up in the courts rather than into the hands of people who need to read it, we simply redesigned the cover.”

But after publication of James’s book with a new cover, the attorneys for Jonathan Cahn and Charisma sent yet another letter to The Berean Call. As James recounts,

“They threatened us again, claiming that we were causing them financial harm of as-yet-undetermined amount, because of the amount of ‘The Harbinger’ that I quoted in my book. A very experienced copyright lawyer has responded to them on our behalf, concluding that I was well within ‘fair use’ — and that I had only quoted enough to establish context for my critique in every instance. We have not heard back from them in about a month since they received this, so we don’t know what their plans are at this moment.”

The Bible proscribes the now-common practice of Christians suing other believers, but McMahon explains his shock and dismay — not for this breach of protocol but for another reason:

“This is the first time in my 35 years of [ministry] addressing nearly every major religion, religious cult, aberrational Christian sect, unbiblical trend, religious publication, book, media production, etc., that any organization or individual has even hinted at suing us.”

Charisma Media is operated by publishing magnate Steve Strang, whose holdings include Charisma and Ministry Today magazines. Named as one of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by TIME in 2005, Strang’s empire includes multiple book divisions which crank out hundreds of titles by dozens of authors popular among charismatic denominations, and specifically, the Latter Rain movement (deemed heretical by the Assemblies of God more than 60 years ago).

Coincidentally, it is this segment of the church that has long been under doctrinal scrutiny by the ministry of The Berean Call. Founded by bestselling author and noted cult researcher Dave Hunt, the mission of TBC (through print and broadcast media) has consistently encouraged Christians with the biblical exhortation to “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

This was the spirit and intent behind the publication of David James’s critique, “The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?” Playing off of the premise set forth by Jonathan Cahn, James encourages readers to exercise biblical discernment in order to answer the question: Does Isaiah 9:10 really contain, as Cahn asserts, an “ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future?”

In a pre-broadcast discussion with an investigative journalist from Christian radio, James explained the reason for his delay in announcing the threats of litigation, “I only mention this because Tom McMahon, with the full approval of the TBC board, has just made this public in an article that is now on their website and which will be in the February issue of their newsletter.

“We believe it is necessary for it to be known within the Body about this unfortunate (and unbiblical) course of action. I do not know to what extent Jonathan Cahn is involved with this personally — so I am still not impugning motives, but it seems reasonable to think he would have the power to have prevented this from happening.”

McMahon, who heads the ministry under legal threat from Cahn and Charisma’s attorney, elaborates, “For decades we at TBC have been exhorting and encouraging believers to be Bereans (i.e., to check out everything they are being taught) by searching the Scriptures every day” (Acts 17:11).

“More critical than the unbiblical action of a brother threatening to take another brother to court (1 Corinthians 6) is the issue of preventing the biblical evaluation of a work that is influencing hundreds of thousands…. In effect, we are being told that we must limit our documentation in warning the body of Christ of the biblical errors in ‘The Harbinger.’ In other words, we cannot be Bereans or like the watchman of Ezekiel 3:17-19.”

Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon have stirred controversy before. In 1985, they co-authored “The Seduction of Christianity,” a groundbreaking book that exposed unbiblical teachings and practices of dozens of Christian leaders — most of whom were popular in the Word of Faith and Charismatic movements.

“Seduction” was a controversial bestseller, and was blamed for creating “division” in the body of Christ. But many readers believed it to have been biblical division, in accordance with the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to keep close watch on “those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

An industry observer remarked, “Ironically, the tables have turned in the past 25 years. Today, books warning of heretical doctrine and false prophets are no longer profitable for mainstream Christian publishers, and would never, ever make the New York Times bestseller list. Instead, false claims and questionable teaching are their stock and trade.”

Some believe that God’s Word prophesied of this very trend in Christian publishing: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:4-5).

In light of the threatened legal action against the ministry that Dave Hunt founded, T.A. McMahon wrote, “We have hired a copyright attorney to address the legal issues and have responded to the attorney for Cahn and CMP. Even so, we covet your prayers that the Lord will be glorified throughout the process.”

McMahon’s entire remarks may be read in his February article, “The Demise of Biblical Discernment,” now posted on the ministry’s website at www.thebereancall.org. David James’s report is posted at www.biblicalintegrity.org.

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  • 1. Lester  |  February 8, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Whenever there is $$$$$ involved things get squirrely! As for Christian watch dog groups, we are not perfect overcomers to judge many groups that get lumped together with real heretics as in the new age movements and Gnostic groups. I have come to a conclusion about Gnostics and after reading two thick books I am of the opinion they are satanic! The general doctrine of all Gnostics is that Jesus is a false messiah and an evil god created the universe and Adam! The rest of their doctrine is Persian, Hindu and Egyptian.

    Anyway, I digress! There are deep spiritual Christians that are thrown in with the circus of charismatic errors.I get slightly judgmental of many groups but I know that God uses us all. However too many groups use God for $$$$$$$.

    • 2. modres  |  February 8, 2013 at 7:59 AM

      You make some great points, Lester.

      Yes, I also believe Gnostic groups are fully satanic. This “secret knowledge” they think they possess is simply satanically-inspired error.

      Your last sentence is one I could not agree with more! Too many people and groups use God to raise as much money as possible and it stinks to high heaven! With few exceptions, I literally hate going into most “Christian” bookstores because of all the trinkets they sell in Jesus’ Name. Apart from that, I am fed up with all the TV preachers who use God to line their wallets. It’s a sham and a disgrace.

      As you say, God uses all of us and for His purposes and glory. That is absolutely true. God used Judas. He uses Satan. He used Pharaoh of old. There is nothing that will not – in the end – bring glory to Him.

      Out of curiosity, what are the names of the books you read. I’m always looking for good reference material to add to my library.

      • 3. Lester  |  February 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        I tossed the one already to a thrift store,but I kept the reference sections for posterity. The Other Bible by Willis Barnstone and I’m just finishing The Gnostic Bible by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer. I really wanted to give Gnostics a chance since they were persecuted by Rome. I had a romantic notion about them and do respect knowledge over just surface belief. Gnosis of course is the Greek for knowledge and knowing. We must KNOW Him not just believe and join a club.The Journey through Mani and Manichaeans with their literature left me in confusion and sealed me in this negative opinion of them. Another group that is even with us today from southern Iraq and Iran is the Mandeans of the book The Ginza.

        There were so many sects of Gnostics they would make our denominations look unified! The Mandeans have come to America from these war torn areas recently. Even the Islamics call them heretics! The dead sea scrolls are good but some of the scrolls are questionable. Of course the Gnostic stuff was found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. The Coptic churches in Egypt are called christian but full of this error.I should have kept the Other Bible but was so turned off I acted in hast. Oh well………..

      • 4. modres  |  February 8, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        The larger problem with Gnosticism is their quest for “secret” knowledge, which is often based deeply within the occult.

        It was what drives the New Age movement, which has its roots in Theosophy, begun by Madame Blavatsky and then Alice Bailey. From Alice Bailey’s works, the entire “Plan” of the occult is gleaned. Many – including myself – believe that the global elite have been following the “Plan” to the letter and it is supposedly going to fully in place by 2025. In my view, we are certainly getting there and I discuss a good amount of these things in a book I’m finishing up about the UN.

        Yes, you should have saved the book. They are always good references.

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