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.