Credit Credit. By Sam Kestenbaum.
America’s Microwave Christianity—The Heart of the Present-Day Church Must Change
Photographs by Andrew White. Stage lights shifted from blue to white as the backing band played a drifting melody. Cahn said, pacing behind a lectern. Then he spread his hands wide. Sitting at the end of a sleepy drive an hour from Manhattan, Beth Israel may look like any common suburban church.
But the center has a highly unusual draw. He has dedicated an entire book to this very thesis, an insight he claims to have received from God.
In it, Mr. Cahn likens Mr. Trump to the biblical king Jehu, who led the ancient nation of Israel away from idolatry. With his growing stature, Mr.
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Cahn is also a rising figure in some quarters of conservative politics. In an email to congregants, Mr. He is set to address a small gathering of activists and advisers. After worship on a recent Sunday, in a roped-off section flanked by security guards, Mr.
Cahn signed piles of his books before a small crowd. At 59, Mr.
Cahn cultivates a refined demeanor, rarely appearing without a signature all-black suit and tie. Gail Greenholtz, an elder member, stood near the end of the line. Michael Cooney, 58, had driven an hour to hear the pastor teach on politics and prophecy. The tale is also a step into a controversial and burgeoning layer of American religion, where commerce, supernatural belief and patriotism blend freely. The son of a Holocaust refugee, Mr. Cahn was raised in a nominally Jewish family in the New York suburbs.
But from an early age, he was drawn to the more esoteric corners of belief. He devoured the writings of Nostradamus, the Virginia psychic Edgar Cayce and far-out conspiracy theories about ancient astronauts. Cahn bought the book thinking it was about UFOs; instead he was given a crash-course in Christian eschatology. Cahn said. On his 20th birthday, after a near-death experience — and to the dismay of his Jewish father — he became a Christian. By the s, Mr. Cahn was leading outreach for a hippy-style church in New Jersey.
His hair and beard grown shaggy, he led services with a guitar slung around his neck. Cahn later broke off to lead an independent congregation, Beth Israel, and built his following through a slot on Christian radio, where his messages took on an end-times flavor. After the terrorist attacks struck Manhattan, Mr. Cahn adopted a sharp, even more apocalyptic focus.
In sermons, he began comparing the attacks to the ancient warnings of the Bible, drawing largely from the book of Isaiah, where God vows to punish the disobedient nation of Israel.
Cahn said abortion, gay rights and the perceived retreat of religion in the public square were all troubling signs that America, like ancient Israel, had lost its way. Once rolling with this comparison, Mr. Cahn began seeing patterns everywhere.
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As the Israelites turned away from their God, they were attacked by Assyrians; America, in modern times, was also attacked by a foreign army from the East, Al Qaeda terrorists. After the ancient siege, the Israelites vowed to replant a destroyed sycamore grove with new trees; near ground zero, a huge sycamore tree was also destroyed, as the towers fell. The supposed connections go on. Tenuous as they may seem, Mr. Cahn saw the links as compelling.
His flock did too. A charismatic preacher inveighing against imminent devastation is nothing new. America has long been fertile ground for would-be doomsday prophets, stretching back centuries. Cahn fits a unique American mold. Sutton said. Among several of Mr. Cahn brings the tradition fully into the social-media age: many of his fans first saw him on Facebook; hundreds of posts and reposts of his sermons are uploaded on YouTube, slipped into the corners of the web where esoteric religion and conspiracy theories overlap.
Into this mix came Mr. Cahn says, who have a unique relationship with God. He then argues that all sorts of figures in contemporary politics have biblical counterparts. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, for example, are the modern-day analogues to wicked Ahab and Jezebel.
Trump is the warrior-king Jehu, who took control of the nation and cast idols out of the capital. Cahn goes on. Cahn casts Trump as a heroic figure. He also has political aspirations. Cahn speaks at events in Washington alongside conservative standard-bearers like Michele Bachmann and James Dobson, where his portrayal of America as a cultural battleground falls on sympathetic ears. In , he even addressed a United Nations gathering.
Are There Prophets Today?
Cahn likes to say he is surprised by his own success, preferring supernatural explanations. When speaking, he begins slowly but picks up pace, almost falling over his words with excitement. He also has a flair for the theatrical tale. Lounging in a back office at the church, surrounded by framed paintings of biblical landscapes, he sprinkled enchanted anecdotes in conversation.
How did he raise money for his first church? They called him Wahoo.
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God instructed him to come to me. How were his books received? For the release day of the new one, my appendix exploded. People called it spiritual warfare. He even presents his family life in magical terms. As Mr. Churches who actively invite non-believers to the meeting of the saints have, in many cases, have turned church into an evangelism outreach event.
In the Bible, the preaching of the Gospel is recorded as an outside work for the lost while the church gathering is as an inside work for the found. Having said that, every church should participate in the fulfillment of the Great Commission Matthew In doing so, let us avoid the emotional presentation that has been adopted by many churches and instead preach the raw, soul-saving Gospel:. If you believe in Jesus and that God raised Him from the dead and you make Him Lord over your life, you will be saved.