Monday, December 11, 2023

The Problematic Manifesto of Jonathan Cahn — Part 9

This is part 9 of a multi-part review and critique of Jonathan Cahn's latest book published in 2023. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, and Part 8 here


 This section of the book focuses on the announcement of the Dobbs decision that actually reversed Roe v. Wade. Cahn first makes a claim that the New York Times, in its reporting on the matter that mentioned Ginsburg’s death and Barrett’s joining the Supreme Court, “unwittingly connected the overturning of Roe v. Wade with the two Hebrew holy days, the two Days of Awe, and the two soundings of the trumpet” (158)—with the two trumpets being the start of the Feast of Trumpets when Ginsburg passed, and the blowing of the shofars at The Return at the same moment “the Trump” was sounding Barrett’s nomination to fill Ginsburg’s position.

He then talks about the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple by the Jews returning from exile. According to the prophet Haggai, after a period of neglect, they returned to work on the rebuilding of the Temple on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Hag. 1:15). Cahn calls this “the pivotal day, the turning point, the day of breakthrough and victory, when the strategies of the enemy were nullified, when the obstructions and war against God’s plans were overturned, and when the purposes of God prevailed” (161). He then goes on to talk about how the Dobbs decision was handed down on June 24, 2022—the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. Elsewhere in the book, Cahn makes the effort to translate between the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars. Yet here, he just takes the numbers of the month and day from the Hebrew calendar uses them as a direct correspondence. He wants to “have his cake and eat it too,” using whatever calendar math will fit the conclusion he wants people to draw. This is numerology, not sound biblical interpretation.

Next, Cahn talks about how when the Israelites were seduced into worshiping the Baal of Peor (Ps. 106:28–30; Num. 25:1–9), and how that resulted in a plague coming among the Israelites and killing 24,000 of them. He writes, “Baal of Peor was connected to child sacrifice. They turned away from God to worship a god of child sacrifice, and plaque broke out among them. I thought of COVID, the plague that had come upon America” (166). Trying to make parallels out of Numbers 25 and the COVID-19 pandemic is a big stretch. First, the plague on the Israelites for their idolatry was sent by God immediately, not fifty years later. Second, COVID-19 was a worldwide pandemic, not targeted only at the people or countries that approved of abortion on demand. In the Bible, when God judges sin with a plague, it generally comes very quickly and in a targeted manner, so there is no mistake that it is in response to that particular violation of His commands.

Closing out chapter forty-three, Cahn points out that Samuel Alito was the “American Phinehas” (referring to Aaron’s grandson who rushed in to kill offending Israelites and end the plague in Numbers 25). He writes:

We have noted the centrality of breath with regard to the plague. The nation’s sin had taken away the first breath of its unborn children before they could draw it in. Fifty years later came the plague that took away the breath of the old. Both the sin and the plague were linked to breath. Alito sought to roll back the sin and, by so doing, rolled back the plague. The name Alito means breath.


The decision that Alito drafted would represent the answer to the prayers of fifty years. The answer would bear his name. His name would be foremost in the ruling. His name, Samuel, is Hebrew. It comes from the Bible. Samuel means God has heard. (168)

The name thing is very interesting. But does this mean we are to now look into the linguistic background of the names of every person involved in politics or government in order to divine some hidden purpose or meaning for their lives and positions in society? There are plenty of people who have names taken from heroes of the Bible, but who live anything but godly lives. Cahn here seems to be trying to link a person’s name to his destiny, which is just another example of mysticism.

In chapter forty-five, Cahn once again attempts to tie his own work to the “Jubilean” overturning of Roe v. Wade. Writing about his book prior to the one under review, he says:

The Return of the Gods was finished on the morning of June 24, 2022. It was finished on the day the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. I remembered the vision that was shared with me. I was told to speak to the altars of the gods. When I finished bringing forth the word, the altars began breaking apart. That morning, I had finished bringing forth the word concerning the gods and their altars. And as I did, something had broken, something colossal. (173)

Apparently Cahn wants to convince us all that his work of “bringing forth a prophetic word” through completing his book manuscript was instrumental in the Supreme Court’s decision sending the issue of abortion back to the state legislatures (despite the fact that a leaked copy of Alito’s draft opinion had been circulating in the press for a couple of months). Rather than simply rejoice that God had brought about that for which so many had been praying during the last five decades, Cahn feels the need to write his own actions into the story, to give himself supernatural significance.

He goes on to say that “the biblical sign of revival is the broken altar. And now in the overturning of abortion, the broken altar had appeared” (174). First, in the Bible, the sign of revival is repentance and changed lives. While demolishing a physical structure may have provided an outward sign of an inner change in the Old Testament, simply tearing down the publicly used altar did not mean that everyone had abandoned their idols; it simply meant there was no more official idol worship endorsed by the authorities.

But there is also the fact that the reversal of Roe did not automatically undo or remove abortion. It simply sent the decisions regarding laws protecting or prohibiting the murder of unborn children back to the elected legislatures of each state. Now, there were many states that had pro-life laws still on the books (just unenforced because of Roe), or that had passed legislation specifically stating that if at some point federal court rulings permitted more stringent restrictions on abortion, then the legislation limiting abortion in that state would be triggered to go into effect. Those states did see a significant drop in the number of abortions in the year following the Dobbs decision. But other states, such as Ohio, moved to enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions since Dobbs was handed down. Voters in Kansas, a historically red state, rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have explicitly stated there was no right to abortion recognized in the state. Nationwide, the overall abortion rate is statistically unchanged for the year following Dobbs compared to the twelve months prior to the ruling. So, while Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion itself was not. Pro-life workers still have a long road ahead of them.

All of which raises a question that deserves reflection and discussion. What if the church had never divided over whether to emphasize evangelism and the salvation of individual souls, on the one hand, and working to improve society on the other hand? Could a compassionate church, willing to help the “least of these” by demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways alongside the preaching of the gospel call to repent and be saved from one’s sins, have possibly prevented Roe from ever even becoming a thing?

In the final chapter of this part of the book, Cahn writes concerning ancient Israel, “The nation’s fall from God and its worship of foreign gods was so pervasive that it had even infiltrated the Temple of God” (177). We could say the same thing about the modern-day church. Idols of material success, fame, and secular political power are found in many professing Christian churches of the twenty-first century. Cahn seems to ignore those idols (some would even suggest that Cahn himself has been compromised by the idol of temporal political power). But at their core, they boil down to the same issue that underlies abortion: selfishness and a desire to fulfill one’s own wants without regard to what is actually the right and godly thing.

Closing out the chapter, Cahn says, “But when a nation or culture turns away from the chance God has given it, things get worse, it descends, and its descent accelerates. It is, either way, a critical time. And it is, either way, America’s Josiah moment. That is the choice confronting America and any nation so called of God” (180). I agree that when people turn away from God’s gracious gift, things get worse. But Cahn again seems to be claiming that the United States had, at some point, some sort of special covenant relationship with God. While it is true that in the Old Testament, God had a special arrangement with the nation of Israel, we do not see any such covenantal relationship with a geopolitical nation-state in the New Testament. God has not called any earthly political entity to be His representative and carry out His plan. He has instead called the Church, the Body of Christ—a multi-ethnic, trans-border, international holy people who bear the name of Christ. When the Apostle Peter writes “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9), he is not talking to a geopolitical nation, but to the followers of Christ, without regard to ethnicity, race, language, or country of origin. Suggesting that any one modern country is an essential piece in God’s work in the world flies in the face of the teachings of Scripture. 

Read part 10 here

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