Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How God Votes

My first response to the posting How to Vote Biblically is to acknowledge the good points summarized therein. They first of all call upon Christians to embrace their providential opportunity (nay, duty) to vote. Then the authors clearly call Christians to hold politicians' feet to the fire of God's Law. This is something that is easily lost in this day and age of political pragmatism. They also clearly prioritize abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage as important issues to consider when voting. To purposefully misquote the old miscreant, Bill Clinton, "it's morality, stupid."

However much the note of hope and activism is trumpeted in this posting, at root it has a major theological flaw: that man's vote counts more than God's vote:

"The Bible tells us that God appoints all leaders, well in the United States God has set it up so that the government depends on the people's free will to vote. God has people that he desires to be in office , but he won't buck the human spirit. He doesn't buck the human will to save us even though the bible tells us it's His will that all be saved. (2 Peter 3:9). That means that it is up to us to vote in Godly people into office, the kind of people that will stand up for righteousness. They aren't going to make it in if we don't vote because he has given us the power to do so.

After asserting a biblical truth, “God appoints all leaders,” the author retracts the statement both explicitly and implicitly. Explicitly, he allows that America is an exception to this rule. Implicitly, the rest of the explanations about the “free will to vote” and how God “won’t buck the human spirit” equally apply to any other political model. Monarchs are usually chosen by birth, or more precisely, historically, many times they are chosen by the previous king on his death bed or by the political powers that work behind the scenes of any political machine. Oligarchies simply have more human interaction, not focusing on one particular leader. In all cases, “free will” and the “human spirit” are at work, just not in a democratic way. In other words, God, under this author’s understanding, could not appoint those leaders either.

2 Peter 3:9 is the justification for this thinking. The text reads: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:3, 4 gives the subject of this context: people were scoffing the Christians, asking “where is the coming of the Lord?” And the answer is multiple, but one in particular is in verse 9: The Lord is not tardy (slack), but is patient (longsuffering) toward the readers of 2 Peter & Peter himself (us, cp. 3:1).

One question (among many) will show that quoting this text is insufficient: where in this verse does it actually state that God cannot act through free will?

At the end of the day, proof-texting is a limited tool. Other verses need to be used, verses more clearly in line with the political questions. For instance, Proverbs 21:1 succinctly declares: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” God's vote does count! 2 Peter was not written with the political question in mind. Proverbs was. The plain reading of this text is the most offensive, I know, but it is the most comforting as well. Why? Consider other verses about the political situation of old:

Gen. 20:4-6: “But Abimelech [king of Gerar]…said, “Lord, will you slay a righteous nation also?…And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her [Abraham’s wife]” (cp. Ezra 1:1).

The obvious cannot be avoided: a king has greater power than a president, senate or judicatory, therefore the present day application is clear: “the president’s heart is in the hand of the LORD.”

These two verses alone demonstrate that our current American political scene is not outside of God’s sovereign control. Is that not a comfort, dear reader? Would you rather gnash your teeth and chew your nails over another unrighteous man in office? When Bill Clinton reigned for eight years, was that the end of God’s reign? God forbid!


stuart said...

It seems what this person is missing is an understanding of how God works out his sovereign decree. God's decrees (as I'm sure you know) are worked out in creation and providence . . . and in his providential working out of his decrees, God normally works through second causes or means. Thus while no one is elected president of the United States apart from God's decree and his working out of that decree providentially, God works through the means (our votes) to place the decreed person in office.

Of course, God is free to work without, above, or against those means . . . and in an election year like this one, some of us hope he will.

polymathis said...

"Of course, God is free to work without, above, or against those means . . . and in an election year like this one, some of us hope he will."