THE END OF BIBLICAL DISCERNMENT? (Perhaps In This Case)  Jonathan Cahn Setting The Record Straight Regarding The Berean Call

By Jonathan Cahn

I’ve been asked to respond to the latest controversy surrounding The Harbinger.  Up to now, I’ve refrained.   I could not expect The Harbinger to have the kind of impact and influence it’s had and then be surprised that there be controversy.  The Harbinger has overwhelmingly been hailed across the broadest of Christian spectrums, from Baptist to Charismatic.  Controversy is unavoidable.  I should be getting used to it by now.

I generally seek to avoid using names, but in this case, it’s been impossible.  The latest controversy involves an article written by T.A..McMahon of The Berean Call  entitled ‘The Demise of Biblical Discernment, warning of those things which threatened his discernment ministry, an article into which he somehow managed to include my name.  Though it’s an honor to receive such front-page coverage, the picture painted is far from accurate.   His continual attacking have led some to observe that McMahon has become increasingly obsessed with The Harbinger.  People have written to us asking that we set the record straight.  

So what is it all about?   McMahon told his readers that biblical discernment was being threatened and attacked by, among others, Charisma Media and, of course, me.  He spoke of my having part in threatening a lawsuit, of my attorney being involved in all these things, and that we were somehow trying to prohibit him from exercising biblical discernment and keep him from being “the watchman of Ezekiel 3,” or, as he put it, “without Cahn’s permission” (!) (the emphasis is mine).

This was sent out to thousands of readers.  The truth is I’ve never been involved in issuing any such threat, nor have I known what was said between the two organizations, nor have I had any attorney involved in any such thing.  And the truth is that the issue has nothing to do with any threat on discernment.  The issue had to do with intellectual property law.   It began when The Berean Call, as most saw it, in effect, took the cover design of The Harbinger and basically appropriated it for its own book, down to the use of virtually identical backgrounds, colors, font styles, text placement, etc.  Whatever the motives, the effect of this would be deceptive as people seeking for The Harbinger could be misled.  Charisma thus wrote to The Berean Call and they complied by correcting the problem and changing the cover.

A second issue arose also concerning intellectual property law and what is known as “excessive use” of copyrighted material, in this case, publishing a book using a large amount of material directly out of The Harbinger.   Thus Charisma again contacted The Berean Call in the hope of resolving the issue as had been done in the first case.  But unlike the earlier situation, The Berean Call refused to provide Charisma with requested information that would allow the parties to deal with it. In all this, Charisma apparently (apparently, since I still haven’t seen the actual correspondences involved) mentioned the alternative of dealing in the legal realm.  I do know that Charisma’s intent was not that it go into this realm, but the very opposite – to avoid this by pressing for a solution between the two.

McMahon then decided to present the issue publicly on the front page of his newsletter and portray it as if it were an attack on biblical discernment and righteousness.   Some might liken it to a man being issued a speeding ticket and then claiming to the public that he’s being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  He has the right to contest whether or not he was speeding, but to portray the speeding warning as persecution for righteousness’ sake would be considered, at best, misleading. 

The story that has not appeared in The Berean Call is perhaps, more revealing.  A good brother in the Lord asked me if I’d be willing to meet with McMahon to resolve these issues.  I told him “yes,” I would be willing to do so and would take whatever steps I could that things be resolved for peace.  After some time, McMahon contacted me to inform me, with much regret, that the director had no interest in pursuing it and would refuse to meet or talk.   The brother was very discouraged.   Unfortunately, this is not an exception to the rule.  I and others have made several attempts a long while back, when this first began, to reach out to McMahon, to address any question or concern.  He has continually refused any discussion, any communication.   I wish the best for all involved.  And my offer to talk still holds.

In the larger picture, the name of “discernment” has, in many cases, become something of a blank check by which some self-described “discernment” people have felt free to launch all kinds of public accusations, knee-jerk condemnations, guilt by association attacks, innuendo, and the maligning of reputations with no accountability, and worse, against good men and women of God.  In the past year, I’ve learned  how such things have hurt many good ministers, including some prominent names in discernment ministry itself.

My point in all this, aside from setting the record straight with regard to misconception, is to bring up a concern.   I have no complaint.  I know this is par for the course.  My concern is not for The Harbinger.  It doesn’t need it.  The Lord is fully in charge of it as He has been from the beginning.  The Harbinger  has continued to go forth, to spread across the nation, to break records, and now is even reaching Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.  We continue to receive reports of repentance, revival, and salvation which have come through the spreading of this message.   My concern rather is for the deterioration  that has affected some in this camp - and that, in the end, it may be discovered, and perhaps too late, that the most dangerous forces threatening to bring about the demise of biblical discernment were, after all, not waiting from without – but lurking from within.