The utterance as a biblical vowI don't see any need to go into this in depth. First I want to object to James' frequent reference to Cahn's "theory." This shows just how far he is from getting what The Harbinger is about. There is no theory involved, this is all a matter of Cahn's having made observations of events in the present and recognized their uncanny reflection of a verse in the Old Testament, in the context of that verse's happening to describe the attitude of America just as it described Israel's 1500 years ago. This is all observation and biblical application, this is not "theory."
Cahn brings yet another concept into his argument that lacks both biblical and historical support when he refers to Isaiah 9:10 and Edwards's words as a vow. The idea that both include vows is a crucial part of Cahn's theory -- so much so that he uses the word 100 times in the book.
As with his other ideas, concepts and theories, Cahn presents this one in such a way that most readers will probably never give a second thought as to whether or not the author has used the term vow biblically. He has not. And because of this, he has wrongly concluded that Isaiah 9:10 and John Edwards's speech both contain a vow. They do not.
...In English, vow can be used as a synonym for any type of oath or promise.
Beyond that, what is going on here is that James claims that Cahn is using the word vow in the biblical sense of a formal vow taken before God, but in fact he isn't and there is nothing to suggest that he is except something in James' own mind. Isaiah 9:10 is a vow in the sense that it is a declared intention to rebuild, it is not a biblical vow taken in God's sight for some religious purpose. Since it is a statement of defiance against God Himself it is very odd that there could be any question about its being such a vow anyway. How do you vow before God to defy God? James is simply once again rigidly insisting on one particular meaning of a word, and in this case it doesn't even fit the context.
Neither is Edwards' that sort of vow. James makes much of Edwards' not even talking about literally rebuilding but about how people were coping with their losses since 9/11 as if that means he wasn't making a vow at all. Missing the point that simply reading Isaiah 9:10 as a statement meant to bring comfort to the nation by a promise to rebuid is a statement of the vow whether he elaborated on that promise or not. A promise, a statement of intent, a nonformal sort of vow.