November 4, 2008

The U.S. Presidential Election: Is God really in control?

This morning I received a spam email from the Christian Business Daily (not sure how I got on their mailing list in the first place) but nonetheless this piece of spam was telling me that regardless of how today’s election turns out it’s all a part of God’s providential plan for the United States. Really? I felt like saying “Gee whiz I’ll just sit at home then and not waste an hour and half of my time standing in line to vote”. I find we as Christians can be such people of double speak. On one hand my email In-box over the past year and half has been bombarded by Conservative Christian Groups, begging me to not vote for Obama and then this morning I get an email that essentially tells me it all really doesn’t matter because regardless of the outcome – it’s all part of God’s providential plan.

Personally, I have a real hard time thinking God is going to be overly pleased to see Barack Obama elected into one of the most powerful positions on the face of the planet. Given Obama’s unbiblical stance on taking from the haves and giving it to the lazy and apathetic or better yet his position on murdering both the unborn and the born whom are considered unwanted or meaningless.

If this world is nothing more than some divine plan that God has preordained from the beginning of time then I have a hard time reconciling how an all holy God would be that thrilled when Hitler was elected into power in 1933 and subsequently murdered 6 million Jews? Was God sitting from his throne thinking how well his plan had come together when Lenin or Stalin took power in Russia, whereby millions would be enslaved or murdered all for the sake of their idol motherland? It is quite evident that God’s will is not being accomplished on our tiny planet. Since the fall, man has been subverting God’s will and therefore this is the very reason need a Savior. Anyone who can fog a mirror should be able to tell this world is not how God expected his crowning creation to behave and act. The state of our world is not natural, but highly unnatural. I always like to ask people “Is God’s will being done here on earth”? Of course there are those who adhere to fatalism or determinism who will gladly be the first to raise their hands like Horseshack and cry “Ooo, Ooo, Ooo”. However, their response is neither biblical or rational for that matter. For me the clearest example of how God truly feels about his creation is in Gen 6:5-7:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (7) And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Personally, I take these words literally and not some abstract anthropomorphic expression of God’s heart. If indeed our wickedness is some providential plan, then I am not sure why and how a Holy and Perfect God would first want to convey to his creation His personal heartbreak, when it never really existed in the first place. I am sorry, when it says God was heartbroken over what he saw occurring on the face of the earth, I have a real hard time reconciling how this is somehow is his providential plan? Again, if God is Holy and Perfect in EVERY WAY, then God can not be the author of his own unhappiness and yet blame man for the very unhappiness he is experiencing. It would be unjust and unloving.

As for these elections, I truly believe God has given us freewill to choose either good or evil. It is God’s great expectation that we choose to do what is right before the eyes of the Lord. Therefore, this is why it is so important that we do what God rightfully expects of us. Regardless of what happens God is still in control and can still bring about his sovereign plan, but it his desire that we obey from the heart and do what is good and just.

9 comments:

Chris said...

Preston,

I know that we do not agree on this issue, but I am not trying to be antagonistic here; I really would like to hear how, in light of what you said in this post, explain verses like the following:

Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
Daniel 2:20-22

The sentence is by decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.
Daniel 4:17

It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.
Jeremiah 27:5

So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" But Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you from above..."
John 19:10-11a

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Romans 13:1

Each of these verses teach that it is God who sets our rulers over us. He may do it to bless us, or He may do it as a judgment against us. But the Bible is clear that every authority is instituted by God.

As Christians our job is not to try to question what God is doing, but to accept by faith that what He is doing will work out for our good and His glory.

Looking forward to your response,
Chris

Preston N said...

Chris - the simple explanation here is these scriptures are not necessarily saying that God sets up every known ruler in the history of the world or that he has preordained every ruler, king, president, mayor or city councilman into power and position. But I would say that God has ordained the very "office" of government (ie John 19 & Rom 13). God has ordained man to be governed.

As for the Jer 27:5 a better or proper translation is I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. NASB

Is one to actually believe God is going to give the entire world to to an individual? Or is there more to the verse. V6 says God will give the lands to Nebuchadnezer. This is not a verse I would use to claim all rulers are ordained by God.

I would say that any Government is better than no government at all (ie Anarchy). However, I do agree that I that God has brought about certain rulers into power for various reasons, but this is the exception and not the rule. If you believe in the preordaination of every ruler, then how does one explain King Saul (1 Sam 8-10). Here we see it was never God's will that Israel have a King, but yet God relents and gives them a King.

Preston N said...

Chris - let me ask you this. Was Hitler a part of God's eternal plan or was it a result of the choices of freewill individuals?

Chris said...

Preston,

Thank you for the answers; I don't agree with your interpretations but I do appreciate your taking the time to respond.

To answer your questions about Hitler I would say yes, he was part of God's plan. I don't know what God had in mind (and that doesn't matter) but that someone like a Hitler could come to power without God's approval is a scarier proposition than him being a result of random chance and freewill.

All I can say is this, God is sovereign and He is good, and Romans 13 says that there is no authority except from God, and those which are established by God (Rom. 13:1 NASB). Therefore every government in the history of the world has been established by God including Hitler, and Husein, and any body else you want to name.

God can set up (or tear down)a government to bless or judge a nation, or even an individual if that is what He wants to do. He is God and we are not, and we are not in a position to question what He does or doesn't do. I don't know why Hitler came to power (and neither do you). Someday God may reveal to us why He allowed Hitler (or any other "evil" dictator) to come to power, but then again He may not - He doesn't have to, He's God.

The Bible tells me that God is good and I trust that He is. And because goodness in one of His attributes everything He does is good. Just because we don't understand what He did in some situation doesn't mean that God is not good - God doesn't do something because it is good; it IS good because God does it.

For a more in depth explanation see my post "All Things For Good."

Chris

Preston N said...

Chris - I think your explanation of God's holiness is an interesting one. Your concept suggest that its God's power that makes him holy and not his attributes of character or nature. You seem to promote a concept that because God is all powerful that its somehow praiseworthy. But I see God a little differently than you do. When God says he is holy its not because of his power, but of his nature and character - more importantly his demonstrated character we see in the bible. According to you God could lie, murder, commit unholy acts and yet because he's the biggest "bully" on the block that somehow equates to holiness. God never desire man to worship God simply on the basis he's the biggest guy on the block, but because he is holy, just, kind and merciful. Again, I go back to Jesus. Jesus is the God the bodily - in otherwords God manifested in human form to demonstrate the very nature and character of God. Jesus NEVER promotes the idea that he or the Father are to be worshiped because they are the most powerful being in the universe. Remember, Jesus said - "When you see me you also see the Father"......

Chris said...

I'm sorry, but when did I ever say we were to worship God because He is he biggest guy on the block? I have NEVER said that God could sin (lie, murder, etc...) and have never presented God as a tyrant. The Bible says that God is love, therefore everything God does is love; the Bible says that God is good, therefore everything He does is good; the Bible says that He is holy, therefore everything He does is holy. Where we disagree is in that you equate goodness and holiness with your human definition of those terms and I say that since we are not God and cannot see the whole picture that we do not have the ability to say if something is good or bad.

A good example of this is Paul being imprisoned in Rome. I'm sure that Paul would not have expressed that everything that led up to that situation was pleasant, but he rejoiced that what happened to him caused to gospel to go where it had not yet been preached, and it strengthened the faith of those who believed. Therefore everything that happened to Paul: the shipwrecks, the beatings, etc... we all for good - the spread of the gospel.

God is not a tyrant and He is not a bully. He does, however, know what is best and He will always do what is best for His glory whether we think it is "good" or not - it's not about us, it is about Christ!

God's purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ, and sometimes that takes an evil dictator to drives us back to Him. Does this make God evil or the author of evil? Not at all. He is simply allowing men to do what they want to do - sin - and as a result of their action He is glorified and we are molded into the image of Jesus.

Preston N said...

Chris - I based my statement off of what you said in the previous post:

"And because goodness in one of His attributes everything He does is good. Just because we don't understand what He did in some situation doesn't mean that God is not good - God doesn't do something because it is good; it IS good because God does it."

The very last part of your statement is illogical. Your assumption here Chris is that whatever God does automatically makes it good. On what premise do you make this assumption? Something is not considered "good" based upon who the person is. God is voluntarily good, that is His holiness is the sum total of the choices which He makes, rather a constitutional attribute outside His control. In other words, God is not some holiness robot. God is free to make right or wrong choices just as we are. If not, God is imprisoned by his very nature and is not truly free.

We see this concept of man's will in both the Calvinist's definition of man's will and that is he is trapped to do none other than evil. We then also see this in the Calvinist idea of God and that he too is trapped and autonomous to do only good. God then is not truly free to make moral choices. But yet, we see that from our own life experiences that mankind is better off living in freedom than under tyranny or total constraint. But yet, Calvinist deny this observation and say that man nor God must have the ability to choose right or wrong, but must be trapped by their very essence or constitution. This again, is nothing more than ancient Gnosticism.

Glenda, saved by grace said...

Daniel 4:35-And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Romans 8:28-And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
Romans 9:20,21-Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Preston N said...

Glenda - First your doing somethign that I ask most who come to my blog not to do "Proof text". This is whereby you take verses out from their context and isolate them to match up with your particular worldview or doctrine. This is neither condusive to searching for truth, but to try and essentially prove your view of scripture is right by twisting and proof texting scriptures.

Now lets look at each of these scriptures in their context:

Dan 4:35 - This verse essentially speaks of the soverieghnty of God. It in no way says that God has predestined every molecule or event from eternity past. If it does, then I think you reading far more into the verse than what it actually says. Are you saying that if man has freewill then this will thwart God's soveriegnty? All this verse says is regardless of what choices we make as moral agenst it can not prevent God's plans coming to fruition. It does not say "all events and man's actions have been preordained from "eternity past".

Romans 8:28 - Again, Glenda I think your bringing your presuppisition into this verse. I read nothing in this verse that says God foreordains or predestines all events, or that God has meticulous control over all things?? All it says is that God can take "all" things and work it to his glory. But more importantly it says "to them that love God" - not the entire human race is predestined by eternal decree.

Ahhh Romans 9:20-21 - Actually this verse is denying the very doctrine your trying to promote here. Paul is giving a dissertation primarily to the Jews. Why? Because the Jews were promoting a form of "election" because of their election as a nation. Essentially Jews were trying to say they were in no need of Christ because they had been "elected" by God. Paul is not at all stating anythign to do with predestination or determinism here, but showing Jews that God is God and he will decide who is worthy to be called his chidlren.

BTW - Glenda, I see your title is "Glenda saved by grace". f what your tring to put forth here is that the elect are those whom God has chosen from eternity past, then I would say your not saved by grace nor faith. If in fact God determined your eternal destiny before you were ever born, then whether you have personal faith in christ is relevent only to the historical unfolding of what God intends to do in your life in any event. According to you the door to salvation was open or shut before you ever drew your first breath, much less even heard the words beleive or faith. Therefore, your neither saved by faith or grace, but you have been saved by eternal decree or fiat!