Did God Choose Barack Obama as President?

by Dave Miller on November 8, 2012 · 129 comments

Habakkuk was confused, frustrated, and evidently just a little bit ticked at God.

“Oh, Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence” and you will not save?”  (Hab 1:2)

His concern was focused on the wickedness that was so prevalent among God’s people, in his nation.

“So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” (Hab 1:4)

Read between the lines. “Where are you, God? Why are you allowing this wickedness to prevail?”

Then, God answered Habakkuk, but it was not an answer that the prophet wanted to hear. He expected God to say, perhaps, that he was going to restore Judah’s fortunes with a sweeping revival and bring them back to obedience that the blessing that would accrue to the obedient nation.  That is not what God said. You can almost see Habakkuk’s jaw drop as God says to him,

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians), that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth to seize dwellings not their own.” (Hab 1:6)

God goes on to describe the fierce and cruel Chaldeans, intimating that he would raise them up as a scourge to punish Judah’s wickedness. Habakkuk is nonplussed by this answer, asking God how he could possibly consider raising up an even more evil nation like the Babylonians to punish his own chosen people. He is irate now (it is fascinating how honest the prophets are when they are upset at what God is doing!). In Habakkuk 2:1, he issues an ultimatum to God to defend himself and his actions in punishing sinful Judah with uber-sinful Babylon.

“I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

God drops the boom! In Habakkuk 2:2-20, he gives the answer Habakkuk requested. He makes it clear that he is using Babylon as a tool to accomplish his disciplinary purpose. Once that purpose is over, he will then judge the Babylonians as their sins deserve.

Habakkuk, in chapter 3, stops questioning and starts glorifying God. He begs that in God’s wrath he would remember mercy. He determines to rejoice in in the Lord and in the salvation he brings to Judah.

Habakkuk is a great little book, and I would draw the following preliminary conclusions from its chapters.

  • God is in charge of the affairs of nations, even those that are evil. Here, God is using the most powerful nation on earth to accomplish his purposes. God in his sovereignty uses even evil for his glory.
  • Habakkuk learned to trust God even if he did not completely understand all the sovereign God was doing in world affairs.
  • God’s decision to use Babylon to accomplish his sovereign purpose did not imply an approval of Babylon and their actions.
  • The fact that God used Babylon’s evil to accomplish his purposes did not abrogate their responsibility for the evil they  did. They could not say, “God made me do it.” The evil came from their hearts but was used in God’s sovereignty to further his work.

Conservative Confusion

It is safe to say that the vast majority of conservative Christians in America did not cast their votes for the victor in this election, Barack Obama. Nor do most of us see this as a good thing that he was elected. We assume that he will continue to promote abortion which Christians find heinous, to promote gay marriage, which Christians find perverse, and to promote the fiscal policies and foreign policies which have led to unprecedented debt piling up that threatens to take our nation down the path of bankruptcy that several European nations tend to be following.

But where was God in all of this? Why did he allow a man who advocates that which the Bible condemns to be elected as president? Does God not intervene in such events? Does God just hold back and allow us to “make our bed and lie in it?” Does Obama’s reelection imply the divine imprimatur on the president and his policies?

We are asking ourselves what happened and why!

Living in the Mysterious Middle

Anytime we humans delve into the realms of the divine, we find our intellectual inadequacy fully revealed. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God tells us that we do not think like him and our ways are not like his. His ways are higher and his thoughts are higher and we, as mere mortals, have as much chance of understanding the full-orbed wisdom of God’s sovereignty as my dog has of understanding my explanation of the rules of baseball.

There is a fundamental mystery throughout the Bible, one which I generally call an antinomy. There are two truths clearly revealed in God’s Word which cannot both be true at the same time. First, the Bible is as clear as expensive crystal that God is in charge, from beginning to end. The affairs of nations and the lives of those in it are governed by his sovereign hand. He is the author of history and writes every page to accomplish his eternal purposes, to glorify himself, to redeem a people from among this world’s sinners, and to bestow his good on us.

But the Bible also makes it clear that human beings are morally responsible agents who make real choices that have real consequences. Our actions, our reactions, our decisions and our purposes matter. I have written several novels. The characters in those novels only do what I tell them to do. I am the writer and they can only do what I direct them to do. That is not the picture the Bible gives of humanity. We are morally responsible agents who determine the direction and quality of our lives by the choices we make.

I am amazed at those who claim to have full understanding of this conundrum. One commenter here said that maybe the rest of us weren’t smart enough to figure out the confluence of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, but he did. I believe that arrogance is contrary to the Bible. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours – beyond our understanding. At some point, like Job, we are called to trust a God we cannot fully understand.

But, fortunately, there is a portion of God’s will and his ways that we can understand.  I would like to make the following reflections that I believe to be biblically sound.

1) God chose that Barack Obama would be the president of the United States.

Some have resisted this, probably because of their visceral reaction to Obama and their disdain for his policies. But the Bible couldn’t be much more clear on this one, folks.

Romans 13:1-2 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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Paul did not say this concerning a godly government, but one perhaps more perverse and corrupt than ours. And he stated that all authority that exists has been instituted by God and that we are to be subject to that authority. Teasing that concept out requires more time and space than I have here. But the base concept is clear. God instituted the administration of Barack Obama in America.

Daniel knew a lot about working within the constraints of a pagan government.

Daniel 2:20-21 Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21  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;

Daniel 4:17 The sentence is by the 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 kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.

Who removes kings (governors, presidents, etc)? Who sets them up? God does according to his sovereign plan. Is there another interpretation of these verses?

Psalms 75:6-7 gives a broader view of this.

No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another.

God brings one down and lifts another up.

2) The fact that God chose Barack Obama does not imply divine approval of him. 

God uses both the righteous and the evil to accomplish his purposes. In the Bible, God raises up some leaders to bless his people. Sometimes, he raises up leaders as a judgment on a people. Whether Obama is a blessing or a judgment is not in the scope of this article. But when I say, “God chose that Barack Obama would be president” it does not mean that God thought Obama was the better man, the godlier man or that somehow God endorsed his administration.

God has used wicked men like the Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and a host of others for his purposes. This does not mean he blessed them or excused their wickedness.

3) God’s sovereign choice does not excuse human sin.

This is one of the greatest of mysteries. If God raises up Babylon to accomplish his work, how can he still judge them for what they do? If God raised up and used Judas, how can the Bible still hold him accountable. Again, we dwell in that area of mystery here and there will certainly be questions that cannot be answered.

God is not evil nor the author of evil. But God does order the course of evil and use it for his glory. That is clear throughout the Word.  That does not abrogate the responsibility of the one who does evil. God works all things in this world for his glory and our good, but that does not excuse the perpetrators of evil.  They still stand guilty before God and must account for the evil they have done (or find grace and forgiveness in Christ!).

4) God’s sovereignty does not negate the importance of our choices and actions.

One commenter, the day after the election, said (rightly, I believe) that we had to trust God and his sovereign plan. In a sarcastic retort, another commenter said,

I just do not know any reason at all for me to keep voting as the elections come up. Just sit back and let God place the people where he wants them. You know, it is also crazy for us to have a military. If God is our defender then we just need to sit back and let God defend us. How silly of me to have enlisted to put my life on the line in order for people to retain the freedom to vote for their leaders. Dr. Tim Lee is an absolute idiot for going to Vietnam and getting his legs blown off defending the right for us to vote.

Yea, after thinking about it voting is a waste of time, money, and manpower. We could probably save the country millions, even billions of $$$$’s by stopping the elections and just sitting back and letting God set into place government officials.

This sarcastic comment evidences a misunderstanding of the confluence of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.  God is responsible for world affairs, but we are still called to pursue righteousness, justice, and the rule of Christ in this world. It is a typical and thoughtless approach to the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty. “If God is in control then what I do doesn’t matter.” Why evangelize? Why seek justice and righteousness? Why work for the cause of Christ?

But we must maintain both streams of truth if we want a biblically balanced world-view. We must remember the sovereignty of God and trust that ultimately it is his will that is being accomplished on this earth. But we must also remember that we will stand before him and give account for the lives we have lived, the choices we have made and the impact have had in his name. God’s sovereignty empowers our work, it does not render it null and void. We are called to be light in a dark world and salt in a world decaying because of sin’s effects.

Conclusion: The biblical evidence seems incontrovertible to me: God decided that Barack Obama was to be the president of the United States. In that, we must respect the office, pray for the man, and remain subject to the authorities God has placed over us. We must give thanks to God that he is working out his sovereign plan in this world through Obama, even though many of us did not want what God determined. We can remain advocates of righteousness, opponents of the slaughter of the innocents known as abortion, promoters of racial reconciliation, fiscal responsibility and whatever other political views we have. We cannot abdicate our role as salt and light.

Job was confused, even angry at what God had permitted. There is no evidence in the Book of Job that he ever came to understand why he suffered. But he learned to trust God in spite of his confusion and hurt – and that is what brought the healing. Am I happy that Barack Obama is getting another four years? I am not. Do I support his policies and politics? I do not and unless he changes dramatically, likely will not for the next four years?

But I am called to trust the actions of a sovereign God whom I do not understand. God was not defeated when Barack Obama was elected. I may not understand it. I may not like it. But I trust the sovereign God and he is doing what is right, what is best, and what will ultimately produce his glory and our good in this world.

 

 

1 Steve Martin November 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm

No. God didn’t choose him. The ignoramuses that reside in this country did.

God didn’t choose Hitler or Lincoln, either.

But He does let it all happen. And He works His will through it all…for His purposes.

We have to trust that is so. Or try to.

2 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I’m going to let your comment stand, but I am giving a warning that we are not going to have a comment stream filled with insults! Please do better in future comments than calling voters “ignoramuses.”

So, you do not believe, Steve, that God is sovereign in this world?

3 Joshua Breland November 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Yeah, stop calling Dave an ignoramus! The cat is out of the bag, Dave. :)

4 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Go shave!
You are looking like a hippie.

5 Steve Martin November 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Thanks for letting my comment stand, Dave, but I do believe that the vast majority of the people voting for Obama are ignorant (hence the plural of that word I used originally) of the issues of economics, the Constitution, and the role of government.

God is sovereign, but that does not mean that He is directly involved in the choices that sinful men and women make. But He does use those choices, poor or not, for His purposes.

6 Dwight McKissic November 9, 2012 at 12:52 am

Steve,

Can u give any supporting evidence that the vast majority of President Obama’s supporters are “ignorant”? Can u provide any supporting evidence that President Obama’s supporters were less intelligent, or lacked less knowledge than Gov. Romney’s voters?
Thanks for your answers.

7 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 3:13 am

Steve’s name-calling was ignorant, Dwight. Hopefully, he will do better.

8 Jim Pemberton November 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

For what it’s worth, unless we are able to claim omniscience we are all ignorant. The word simply means that someone doesn’t know something. Unfortunately, we treat it like an insult although it’s true. Truth should never be regarded as insulting. When it is, then whoever feels insulted is thinking more highly of themselves than they ought.

9 Tim November 12, 2012 at 8:34 am

At least we have to agree with Steve that those who say it is no big deal for an administration to run up a six trillion dollar debt in four years isn’t smart. The economy/debt issue was central in the election. However, admittedly Romney’s policies were only slightly better so voting for him doesn’t exactly show economic intelligence.

10 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 1:07 am

Steve, are you Lutheran?

11 Matt Svoboda November 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Yes. Great post, Dave!

12 Dwight McKissic November 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Dave,

What a prophetic, powerful, and particularly timely word. May your tribe increase!!! God has brought you into the Kingdom for such a time as this. After reading so so many less than well thought out responses from SBC Circles, it was refreshing and therapeutic to read your response to the election. Thanks again.

Evangelicals need to take a serious look at Jeb Bush for 2016. He may be the one who can reach Hispanics and a higher percentage of Blacks, as his brother did.

13 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Thank you so much for that word.

Right now, though, I’m just glad this election is over and I am not ready to start thinking about 2016!!!

God bless you.

14 Lee November 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Dave, I appreciate your wisdom, I believe we are experiencing Romans 1: 18-32.

15 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Dwight,

I think you are right about Jeb (like the way it rolls off the tongue, especially being a hillbilly).

However, do you think that Obama so vilified Bush II that it would make a Bush III near impossible?

Add to the vilification of Bush II the fact that neither Bush I nor Bush II were considered by most to be “great” Presidents.

I think 2016 would be the time if there ever is a time.

16 Dwight McKissic November 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Frank L.,

The answer to your question is, No! President’s Obama’s opinion of W. Bush or his dad, won’t hurt Jeb Bush’s chances at being elected.

17 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Dwight,

What I was thinking is that so much “negative” attack ad material has entered the collective conscience that people will have that lingering and will associate it with the last name, not necessarily the first name.

But, then again, that is four years away so perhaps you are right.

18 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I have heard more than one person say that Jeb seems to be the strongest of the bunch.

19 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I always heard it was Barbara.

20 cb scott November 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Maybe by 2016 Jeb Bush will have grown from being a Bush to a Tree. Maybe a Hickory Tree.
Then we can call him Ole Hickory.

That name worked pretty well for a former POTUS.

21 Christiane November 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

Everyone loves Barbara Bush!

22 Matthew Newman November 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

I agree on Jeb. Jeb Bush was an excellent Governor of Florida and, much like their Junior US Senator, is able to talk about the things we all value (life, marriage, etc) without alienating or scaring voters in the middle of the road. Additionally, Jeb has been a champion on issues which resonate among Latino voters as well as being a champion on school choice / reform issues, the latter may be critical in the coming years.

23 myj58 November 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm

NO Way!!!! No More Bushes and No More Texan lol They need to pray, seek God and walk in the Holy Spirit and not in the flesh…

24 Dale Pugh November 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm

And what is it that indicates to you that Obama does any of that?

25 jacky November 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Thank you! Wonderfully said, biblically and honest!

26 Marshall November 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Many questions have I.

Is is a Saul kind of thing? God did not want Israel to have a king. Very clear, but he allowed it, and picked one for them. Against his desire (will), but in his will. Go figure this….

Is it a judgement thing, let America, an appointed Nation come to judgement and ultimately repent? Or even come to an appointed end?

Is it something else completely?

The thing I do know is this: (Ps 62:11, 12 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”) What he did do was out of love.

27 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

“He marked out their appointed times in history..” Good verse.

Good questions.

28 Marshall November 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Probably should have proofed it first, forgive the misspell and left off comma. Forgive especially the Yoda syntax…

29 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Forgive you we will.

30 Don November 9, 2012 at 2:58 am

I am not a biblical scholar, or even well read. I am a man of my years and the learning of a lifetime.

I can not quote line and verse, I can not prove any of my moral beliefs.

Having said that, my upbringing and life have taught me these basic rules.

1. It is my responsibility to find my natural (God Given) talents, then learn to use them for the betterment of mankind. Including the earth that I have been charged responsibility of health, safety and protection.

2. I have been given a gift or a curse that no other animal on earth has been given. I have been given the gift of “Free Will”.

How does that play into what you are discussing here. It is my thought to look at the many gifts mankind has been given, these two will always prove to act in his name.

No person, be it man, woman or race has a corner on following the word of God. Be that the case, the only thing that is important, is that these things that God gave each and every person, when used to control and manipulate others, it is not in his name, it is in our own vanity that any one of us dare say, this is or is not what God intended.,

Realting back to the story, we should never forget that the “Dead Seas” hold the result of when man makes a decision and there is only one true judge. Lest us judge with the laws of man, let God render judgement in his kingdom forever more.

My beliefs or judgements of this or your opinion would only be flaud. I have shared my thoughts, once again it would be you that either choose to understand my thoughts or dispell them. I can not take responsibility for your decisions. I can only present with the information you need to make those decisions.

We are all children in the eyes of our Lord.

31 Les Prouty November 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Dave, great post and I agree fully.

I remember a little story I heard a few years ago that relates to this. I wou’t tell the whole thing. Some of you have probably heard it anyway.

An evangelical man awoke one morning to hear on the radio that all brothels, pool halls, alcohol brewers and distributors and such suddenly and inexplicably collapsed in a heap and were all out of business! he yelled, “Praise God for what He has done!”

The next morning he awoke to hear on the radio that all churches had suddenly and inexplicably collapsed in a pile of rubble. He yelled, “Look what the devil has done!”

I’m afraid that’s how many evangelicals view events. if it’s good for Christians, it must be from God. If it’s bad for Christians, it cannot be from God and must be a satanic attack.

32 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I had a Christian friend who told me, “God gives us the good things and Satan gives us the bad things. It is up to us to choose whether we will receive the good things from God or the bad things from Satan.”

I am glad the Bible presents a different cosmology than that.

33 Christiane November 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

DAVID, would you share the ‘different cosmology’ that you think the Bible presents, please? (If you wish to and have time)

34 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Read the article.

35 John Wylie November 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Dave,

I am amazed at people who deny clear biblical truth that anyone who is authority is in that position because God placed them there. President Obama is president because God put him there. There I said it, I don’t like it, but it’s true and God didn’t ask my advice.

36 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

John,

I feel your pain. Fact is, God may have put him there, but he has asked His people to “pray him to a straight course.”

If Obama succeeds, the nation succeeds. I pray for success.

37 John Wylie November 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Amen to that brother.

38 Jess Alford November 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Dave Miller,

Brilliant as usual, Keep up the good work.

39 RG November 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Yikes friend!!! You just accused one person of the very thing you are now doing: assuming to understand God’s purposes.

Again, you are guilty of the very thing which you criticize – presuming to know God’s will.

Dave, your definition of sovereignty is treading on a form of fatalism, (do I smell reformed theology?). No matter what happens, that is exactly how God wanted it to happen. We can try to do what is right, but in the end, things will always only play out in the way God meant. Dave, are you really ready to defend that?

Dave, perhaps God did appoint Obama. That is completely possible. It is possible that God appointed Obama expressly for the reasons you detail – I can in no way say that it would be inconsistent with what is revealed in Scripture. His ways are higher than our ways, and I cannot say that for reasons which I do not comprehend, God chose for this to happen.

But Dave, what applies to one, applies to the other. Inasmuch as I do not know that Barack Obama’s presidency was foreordained by God, I ALSO do not know it was not. And with respect, I submit, neither do you.

40 Les Prouty November 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

RG,

“Dave, your definition of sovereignty is treading on a form of fatalism, (do I smell reformed theology?).”

Well first, Reformed theology and fatalism are not the same thing.

“No matter what happens, that is exactly how God wanted it to happen.”

The scriptures state it this way:

Ephesians 1:11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of ***him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.***

41 John Wylie November 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm

RG,

The only problem with your argumentation is that it’s absolutely at odds with what the Bible teaches. Romans 13 tells us that all authorities are appointed by God, Nebuchadnezzar discovered in Daniel 4 that God “reigns in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever he wills”. In 1 Kings God told Elisha not only who to anoint as king of Israel but also who to anoint king of Syria.

1 Kings 19:15-16 “And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. (16) And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.” (ESV)

I am not a Calvinist and I believe that.

42 RG November 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I do not believe that EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has ever held any public authority, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME, to have done so specifically because God appointed that specific person to hold that office. This would include EVERY police officer, EVERY military officer, EVERY civil authority, etc.

I am making two distinctions The first is that there are some statements in the Bible which are generalizations, and not meant to apply in ABSOLUTELY, EVERY instance, without exception. Since we are on the subject, I will gladly point to I Peter 2, contrasted with Acts 4. To put it bluntly, there are exceptions when we are NOT to obey the authorities, despite the Biblical injunction to do so. Accordingly, I submit that while the Bible adjures us to obey authority, there are exceptions. Or shall we condemn the very revolution which gave rise to our country?

The second distinction I am making is that it is authority that has been appointed by God, and not each individual. Romans 13:1 says, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists WHAT God has appointed.” I note that it says that the offender resists WHAT God has appointed, not WHO. (I do not know what the Greek says here, and so I accept the feedback of someone who knows more.) I am choosing to make a distinction here, that it is the POSITION of authority that God has instituted. Therefore our submission is to the fact of authority, knowing that authority was appointed by God, NOT NECESSARILY THAT THAT VERY PERSON was appointed by God.

This is why I believe, for example, that a wife should submit to her husband, regardless of who her husband is, because God called her to submit regardless of whether or not the Him in question is a good leader (and yes, Men need to love their wives, etc). Because the point is that God has instituted marriage in such a way as to accomplish certain purposes, REGARDLESS of who is the man or the wife. I do not believe that God has arranged EVERY SINGLE marriage since the beginning of time so that the “God-appointed man” would marry the “God-appointed woman”. Again, this is a variety of fatalism.

We can keep going on down the list. When I am pulled over by a police officer, I submit, because I believe that God has instituted law enforcement as an authority over me, REGARDLESS of who the person is. If he gives me a ticket, then God expects me to pay my fine, regardless of whether or not the officer or judge are corrupt persons, because I respect their authority, regardless of whether or not they as individuals have earned my respect.

I am not willing, even on the basis of the passages which have been cited through this discussion, to say that EVERY police officer and EVERY judge who has ever existed was BY NAME appointed by God. I understand that the force of the wording of the scripture implies this. On the wording itself, some verse seems to imply that EVERY INDIVIDUAL in authority was appointed by God. But I am arguing that this is not the case, that it is the AUTHORITY that was instituted, and not necessarily the SPECIFIC PERSON.

We can leave fatalism for another discussion. And yes Les, I understand that reformed theology does not imply fatalism – I just note that where you find one you often find the other.

You guys are awesome!!! Thanks for interacting with me, this is how we sharpen each other!!!! I welcome your feedback, as I dialogue through understanding my own beliefs and reactions to our world.

43 Steve Martin November 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I do not believe that God elected Hitler, or Stalin or Mao, or Pol Pot.

If I did believe that, then I would probably would have had a tough time justifying going over there to kill him (Hitler) and stop his government.

God lets it all happen. He does not give cancer to little children so that they will suffer and die. But in this fallen world, crappy things happen to all of us. God lets it all happen and He uses these evils and tragedies for His purposes.

44 John Wylie November 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Did God appoint the Pharoah in Moses’ day? Did He appoint Nebuchadnezzar, a man who killed well over a million people? In both cases the Bible says yes God did appoint them.

45 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Preach it.

46 svmuschany November 10, 2012 at 12:28 am

If Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were all to do the horizontal mambo together and create a baby…That baby still would not be half bad as Nero. Yet most scholars agree that when Paul wrote Romans, Nero was Emperor. Yet it was to and about Nero that Paul wrote Romans 13. And for the further, Peter also wrote his first letter (and specifically vs 2:13-17) during Nero’s reign as well.

47 William Thornton November 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I’m leaving this one to the Calvinists who have all this worked out.

He is the president. That’s all I need to know.

48 Tom Parker November 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

William”

Amen. The folks that know God’s will are never able to prove it. It is always too easy to say something is or is not God’s will.

I like the part about he is President. That is indisputable.

49 John Wylie November 9, 2012 at 1:50 am

William,

You don’t have to be Calvinist do know that God sets whomever He wills in positions of authority you only have to be biblically literate.

50 Steve Martin November 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

In one sense, yes, of course God is in all things. But the question (Did God elect Obama?) is really a bad one. It is delving into areas where we have no right to delve. The things above. And when we go there we bring up issues that would certainly make God look like an ogre. I could not imagine telling someone that I was trying to witness to that God gave all those kids in the cancer ward, cancer.

These types of questions are best left alone. Don’t kick the bee hive.

We make choices and God somehow folds these into His plan. For me, these types of questions are best left at that.

51 Chris Roberts November 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm

The things revealed are for us. God has revealed that he is the one who establishes authorities.

52 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm

On this one you aren’t wrong.

53 Chris Roberts November 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I’ll try not to let it go to my head.

54 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 12:55 am

If the suffering of cancer leads me to God, is this not a blessing? Which is worse…cancer or hell?

55 Ron Hale November 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Dave,
I do not believe that Satan is the ultimate authority – God alone is sovereign!

However, the Bible does reveal that the evil one has a plan and a will, for instance:
2 Timothy 2:26 (ESV) … and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

This verse speaks of men being snared by the devil and captured to do his will.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) … In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

This verse speaks of men being blinded to the truth.

1 John 5:19 (ESV) … We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

This verse speaks of power of the evil one … in the world.

The Bible speaks of Satan as the “god of this world (or of this age) indicating that he has a major influence on people – their views, ideals, patterns of thought, hopes, decisions.

Dave (and readers), by now you realize that I am playing “devil’s advocate” … what role did the devil play in the election of our president(s) and other offices … across this land?
Blessings!

56 Chris Roberts November 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I don’t think we can know with any specificity what Satan’s role was. We are told he is in the world actively opposing the work of God, but we’re not given all that many specifics as to how he is at work. If I recall correctly, the only specific accounts of his activity are in the gospels and Revelation. We are taught about him in the epistles, which includes being taught how to wage war against the spiritual forces opposed to God, but are not told just what his influence and work are. On the other hand, we are explicitly told God’s role in the establishment of presidents and princes.

57 Ron Hale November 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Chris,

So did oue forefathers have any right to write (declare) the following words to their king on July 4th, 1776:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Quote began with 2nd paragraph in the Declaration of Independence

58 Ron Hale November 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Chris, Dave, Anyone,
I’ll ask it another way … based on the portion of the Declaration of Independence (above):

Did our early American forefathers … sin… by defying the sovereign king of Great Britian on July 4th, 1776 by declaring him a despot?

59 Frank L. November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Ron,

They tried to live in harmony, but when our devotion to God and our submission to kings meet head on, we have no choice but to change course.

Our devotion to God is absolute. Our submission to kings is contingent. They can often be in conflict.

I think that when that conflict becomes so great that one side must give — it must be man’s side.

60 Dean November 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Ron, two of my favorite days in seminary were spent on this question. It serves to illustrate how we read Scripture through our culture’s influence. We see 1776 as a move of God but will have to jump through many hoops to say we did not violate Romans 13. My opinion, we are to be civil disobedient only when authorities mandate we sin.

61 Jared Moore November 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Ron, the argument goes that the government(s) of the colonies declared war against the governing authority over them. Governments can rebel against other governments. That’s how this country was founded. I’m sure the same argument was made when the South rebelled against the Union. Governments are free in Christ to rebel against other governments. Christians, however, are not free to rebel against the government unless they force us to disobey Scripture.

62 cb scott November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Personally, I am just glad we won our freedom.

Does that mean I believe the end justified the means?

Maybe so, but again, I am just glad we won. For I would certainly hate to call any man king.

63 Frank L. November 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Jared,

That’s a good point: “government vs. government.”

Governments have options that an individual Christian does not, like “wielding the sword, setting taxes, declaring war, etc.”

Good point.

64 Paul thompson November 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

There is no comfortable way to say it, but if God is sovereign (and He is) then even when he gives us a choice, he rules from sovereignty.

Joshua chose to ‘serve the Lord’. The Lord told him… “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, (Deut. 30:19-20) a

The angle of the Lord (through the prophet) gave David three options and told him to choose one of them. ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you; choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’ (1 Chron 21:10)

In these few examples (there are many many more) there is a sovereign God commanding a people to choose His will for them. That is an amazing reality and a sober one at that.

I am at great peace that God choose President Obama to be our president for four more years. Not because I like his policies, they awaken an anger in me that causes me to choose to fix my hope on Christ. Not because of his morality, It causes me a sickness on the inside. Not because of his risky arrogance on abortion, biblical marriage or reckless spending, I find myself more bold for truth and biblical obedience.

Not much has been said about the very fact that the two main candidates that were offered to Americans could have likely been a judgement in and of itself (I think it was.) God put before us a man who is cult leader (why are so many pastors and SBC denominational heads afraid of the word cult?) and a man who is murderer of babies and proponent of those who want to indulge their sexually deviant flesh.

God spared us an idol worshiping leader of a cult religion. And we have largely ignored this offence to God. Bless the LORD, we have been spared. Now, cry out to the LORD for help as His wrath boils. And may the gospel banner advance as the gospel-light pushes the darkness away. Now, may the Lord raise up more like Habakkuk who will not leave their posts until we hear from the LORD as the LORD puts his glory on display for the nations.

(Good post Dave!)

65 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

“”””leader of a cult religion””””

He’s no more a leader of Mormonism than you are of Southern Baptists.

That’s just an incorrect statement. Making such an exaggerated statement hurts one’s credibility.

And, why are so much more gleeful to be spared from a “cult” than you are from a outright critic of Christianity? I personally don’t see Obama as morally superior to Romney.

Quite the opposite.

66 Paul thompson November 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Do you have any support that Romney is not a “leader of Mormonism?”

-and-

I was not saying that I see either one more or less morally superior. A supporter of a woman’s right to murder an unborn child and an idol worshiping leader of a cult. There is no room for better or worse. There was no lesser of two evils as many wanted to persuade.

There is no glee in my spirit apart from joy in the Lord and the opportunities to advance the gospel. It is a good day to be the church.

67 Jess Alford November 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Paul,

I think you are 100% correct. Romney is as much a cult leader as Dave Miller is a Baptist.

68 myj58 November 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Romney have been ordained as a high priest, he is not a layperson.

http://www.mormonthink.com/mittromney.htm

I believe God have put President in the White House for a reason and it not what most you think it is… There more to governing than abortion and homosexual. There are many issues to be concern about. Romney had the same policies and advisors as Bush, which would lead us into a depression.

President Obama did not legalized abortion, it because a law when he was 10 :/ He promised in 2008 and 2009 to reduced the need for abortion. The free contraception have reduced abortion at a very high rate, 62% to 78%… Making abortion illegal will not reduce abortion, it will just make it unsafe. No president I know have tired to reduce abortion and included it in their policies. abortion have decreased under President Obama.

President Obama must obey and protect the constitution, that mean he can’t discriminates against homosexual. It is his job to protect the constitution and the law. He can not defend Biblical marriage and discriminate against homosexuals. He can’t legal SSM, that is done on the states level.

69 Dean November 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I have not read the thread so forgive if this has been answered. God chose our president-how? Did we have a choice in who we elected? Did God make the right # push His button in the booth? Did He just change the results as they came in? Blessings, Dean

70 Dave Miller November 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Well, I think I answered those in the article.

71 Dean November 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Dave I have now red the article three times. Maybe mine did not load on my phone correctly. I see no where in the article describing HOW sovereign God puts our president in place. Did He harden hearts to vote for The president.

72 Byron Polts November 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Dean,

You are right to question Dave here. It does not make logical sense that 1) we have free will, and 2) god chooses the president.

God selecting the president and human free will are mutually exclusive, regardless of what the Bible says. If the Bible says apples are the same thing as oranges, would you believe that? No, you could not possibly, truly believe that. And what Dave is suggesting cannot truly be believed either. Bless your heart for questioning it, though.

73 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Potts, since I am aware of your hostility and disdain toward theism in general and Christians in particular, I would not expect you to see the wisdom of an argument based on the sovereignty of God.

74 Frank L. November 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Dave,

You are absolutely correct in calling out Potts in regard to his anti-theistic bias.

Also, as an instructor in logic Potts either misunderstands the use of logic, or he is being intentionally misleading.

Logic deals with validity, not truth value.

It proceeds in perfect logic to state that an infinite God who has necessary being would not be fully comprehensible in all aspects to a created being whose being is contingent on that Creator.

If one rejects the fundamentally basic premises of the the Bible, the only alternative is a relative truth system in which no premises can be established as absolutely true — including an apple is not an orange.

Aristotle fought against the skepticism of sophists over this very issue. Aristotle, thank God (though he may not) won the day.

Potts simply continues in the worn out tradition of sophism that leads to abject skepticism.

Thanks for your response, Dave.

75 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Dean, my key point was that the interactions of divine sovereignty and human responsibility are a mystery that is beyond our understanding.

Then, you come on and petulantly demand that I explain what I said in the article could not be understood.

We trust a God we cannot always understand. I don’t know how much more clearly I can make that point.

76 Dean November 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Dave, I am not annoyed and certainly hate you are aggrevated. I see no mystery in God placing His man on the throne in the OT. It’s pretty clear who He chose and rejected. I simply was curious of that process today. I do believe it is a shame that Romans 13 which deals with submission is used to focus on sovereignty. At the risk of sounding petulant, my first question was a question addressed to no one. You answered that the answer was in article. The how is not addressed and that was my curiosity.

77 Les Prouty November 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

It’s pretty clear:

” Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever 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;
(Daniel 2:20-21 ESV)”

Of course He didn’t manipulate our hands to a spot on the ballot. God does not have to resort to such. He is so much bigger than that. Nowhere does the scripture indicate He is the 1st cause or everything.

78 Christiane November 10, 2012 at 11:52 am

Hello LES,

I love that scripture quote. And it is or should be comforting to many to see it this week.

I think you may have misunderstood something about the term ‘First Cause’ . . . it is a Catholic term used to help people understand the existence of God. The classic argument for the existence of God by St. Thomas Aquinas had five points, each one understandable through reason . . . ‘First Cause’ is one of those points, but it did not refer to God as the ‘puppet-master’ controlling all that men do, no

take another look at the classic arguments of Aquinas, and I think you will notice the difference in how that term ‘First Cause’ is used

79 Bob November 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Excellent Dave. I am preaching about this whole thing on Sunday morning. People are asking questions everywhere asking how God could allow this? My message will deal with that in addition to encourage them to continue to trust Him! Thanks for the article.

80 Frank L. November 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I’m just wondering if we often confuse the term, “sovereignty,” with the term, “determinism?”

You can have the former without the latter. In other words, God is sovereign over the choices we make, but that does not mean He made them or even approves of them.

If determinism is what one means by “absolute sovereignty,” then there is no such thing as free choice and God is morally, as well as judicially responsible for ever instance.

81 Dean November 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Thank you Frank.

82 RG November 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Frank, thank you so much for putting this into the discussion. I have also noticed the strain of determinism/fatalism in the discussion. I believe this stems from a faulty understanding of sovereignty. For God to be sovereign simply means that He can do whatever He wants. That is what it means to be sovereign. God answers to no one.

Sovereignty does NOT mean that God is the immediate cause of everything that happens.

83 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

If God is sovereign and sovereignty means “He can do whatever He wants” does that mean that God can predetermine a comprehensive plan for history?

Can I put a kink in his plans carve my own way? Am I his counsel?

If God chose to leave us to our own god-hating ways from the start, does that make him responsible for our god-hating ways?

84 RG November 9, 2012 at 1:37 am

For the purposes of this discussion, I propose that there are roughly two types of events which occur: those which God causes in order to accomplish His purposes, and those which He allows in order to accomplish His purposes.

There is NOTHING which happens which will not be used to accomplish God’s purposes. Is it possible to thwart the realization of God’s purposes? No. Is it possible that God allows things to happen which, though He did not immediately cause, He allows in order for His own good purposes to be realized through His supervision of events in ways that we cannot see or comprehend? I propose the answer is yes. At any rate, all things that have ever happened, are happening, and will happen, ALL of them, have been and will be used by God to accomplish His purposes, be they immediate or ultimate.

It is the contention of the original author of this post that God caused the election of Obama. It is my contention that while it is completely possible that God caused it, it is also possible that He merely allowed it. In either case, we all agree at least on the latter, that at the very least, the election of Obama was realized only because God has allowed it, and not in any way because any party was able to trump God; we may be certain that God will use the presidency of Obama to accomplish His purposes.

As to the question, I personally believe that while God has allowed us to sin, He has not caused us to sin, nor arranged events so that sin is our only inevitable choice.

What do you think?

85 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

I essentially agree. Your wording makes it hard not to.

What about the Cross? Did God “allow” that to happen or was that part of his predetermined plan? Could “allowing” it be part of that predetermined plan?

86 RG November 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I would say it like this: there are any number of events in life which are optional. Today for example, I believe that God has granted me the option of lunch. Because I have the day off, I can take lunch when I choose, and I can eat lunch at a number of different places. These are all options that I believe God has allowed me.

It may very well be that God specifically orchestrated this day off, and that while I don’t realize it, God will cause me to eat lunch at a specific place and specific time for reasons of which I am unaware. He may even have a specific sandwich for me to eat. Not only is this possible, there is Biblical precedent to suggest these kinds of scenarios actually happen.

However, it is my opinion that in all likelihood, these are all merely options which God has granted me today, who has allowed me to exercise a limited degree of autonomy with respect to my lunch, because He so pleases. Accordingly, I personally believe at this moment that where I eat lunch today, or if I eat lunch at all, is an optional event in the course of human history which may take one of several optional paths.

The cross of Christ was not an optional event in human history. God determined that it would happen, and therefore, there was zero chance of it not happening. I believe the Bible supports this.

It is my opinion that the realization of Calvary was a confluence of trillions and trillions of events in the course of human history, some of which God specifically caused in order to obtain this end, and some which He allowed in order to obtain this end. However, there is no way for me to speak dogmatically to this point.

87 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 12:46 am

Do you mean God can “ordain” evil? If so, couldnt this “ordination” be in his predetermined comprehensive plan for history?

88 Adam G. in NC November 9, 2012 at 12:52 am

Well, I guess i just dont have a problem with “determinism” at the hands of a merciful and just God.

89 John Wallace November 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Thanks, Dave, for the timely post. As you say, God is sovereign yet we are also responsible.

At the risk of becoming a lightning rod, I believe that we as Christians need to take a hard look at our collective responsibility in allowing a social moderate to become the Republican nominee. Whether we like it or not, we are a crucial voting block without whom a Republican cannot be elected. I believe that Romney would not have been the nominee if Christians had made it clear that we would not vote for him. Instead, we had prominent Evangelical leaders going to unprecedented lengths to convince us that we should vote for him. I believe that this was a serious tactical error that is going to hurt us in the long run.

Why do I say this:

One reason: Romney’s caveats on abortion completely ceded the debate to the Democrats. By saying that he supported abortion in cases of rape and incest, he allowed the abortion debate to become a debate about women’s rights rather than about the lives of unborn children. Romney is not pro-life, he never was. He is against some abortions. I agree that his position is preferable to Obama’s but it is not a pro-life position. If Romney were to become our standard bearer on abortion, I fear that we would loose the debate. The Supremes can only overturn Roe vs. Wade based on a presumption that unborn children have a right to life; Romney’s position gives them no such ground and tends to reinforce the notion that Americans just don’t have the stomach for granting rights to unborn children. Anyone who thinks that Romney would appoint justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade is stretching. I don’t think the evidence supports that presumption. This is why I’m willing to wait another four years and pray that the conservative justices hang in there. I’m also praying that evangelicals will commit to a real conservative in 2016.

I could give other examples but I’m out of time.

90 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I think you raise a point, John. Many of us are going to be upset by the policies and actions of the president, but at least we know what to expect – more abortion, more gay marriage, more taxes, more regulation.

Had Romney been elected, we might have been in that place where we assumed that he was going to support those things that matter to us (social/moral issues). We might well have been very disappointed if he reverted to his Massachusetts governor style.

91 Tom Parker November 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Dave Miller:

Do you really believe that if Mitt Romney had been elected he would have reduced abortions? How?

Do you think Mitt Romney would have stopped more gay marriage? How?

92 cb scott November 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

Tom Parker,

Obviously I am not Dave Miller, but I will make an observation.

Had Romney been elected, he may not have reduced abortion, but he would not encourage an increase in abortion worldwide.

Had Romney been elected, he may not have stopped more gay marriage, but he would not shout: “eat, drink, and be married” at the wedding ceremonies either.

93 Frank L. November 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

CB. That’s exactly right.

In not voting for Obama I was voting FOR my biblical values.

Contrary to all the straw men set ablaze by Tom I was not declaring Romney to be any kind of Messiah.

No matter how bad the left painted Romney it could never change or improve Obama’s record. Obama’s record was ignored and embraced by nearly the same percentage as those dependent on the government.

That’s what swayed the election. It’s not that Romney was necessarily a bad choice but more that Obama had the best supporters money (our money) could buy.

Tom and others can gloat all they want but that does not fix our problems. We are all in the same boat, the Titanic. We are all going to get wet when it sinks.

94 Benji Ramsaur November 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

The God of the Bible is not merely able to do whatever He wants, but actually does whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3).

If one says He is merely able, but does not exercise His power concerning humans comes across to me as semi-Deism.

God appointed Obama as the next president via the voluntary decision of the American people.

God did not vote, but brought His purpose to pass through the voting of people.

God saved people via the selling of Joseph through the voluntary decision of his brothers. (notice the language of intent in Gen. 50:20 ascribed to both the brothers & God).

God did not sell, but sent Joseph to Egypt through his brothers’ action of selling (Gen 45:7-8).

God had Christ put to death via the voluntary actions of wicked folks (Acts 4:27-28. Explicit mention of determinism here).

Comprehensive exercise of sovereignty in Eph 1:11.

The mystery is that God necessarily brings to pass what He has determined to bring to pass via the voluntary actions of man.

Not libertarian free-will actions (since the Bible explicitly mentions slavery & inability), but voluntary actions (i.e. actions springing from the fountainhead of what man wants to do).

Southern Baptist John L. Dagg is good & concise on Sovereignty in his Manual of Theology IMO.

95 RG November 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

Obviously, no one is saying that God does not act. The point is the fact of God’s sovereignty does not mean that He immediately causes all things.

I am not familiar with John Dagg, nor his definition of sovereignty. But regardless of his definition, THE definition of sovereignty, like it or not, is the ability to exercise autonomy. When a country refers to itself as a “sovereign state”, for example, the Sovereign State of Poland, all this means is that Poland is its own entity and governs itself according to Poland’s rules. No other state is able to govern Poland, because Poland is sovereign over Poland. Sovereignty itself is not concerned with action, it is a description.

God’s sovereignty does not determine outcomes. It means that God is able to act supremely without answering to anyone, without anyone to impede Him.

God does indeed work through the voluntary actions of others. What is at question is if God ALWAYS work through the actions of others, or to state it differently, that ALL voluntary actions are immediately supervised by God so as to render any other outcome impossible by way of God’s express fiat.

96 Frank L. November 9, 2012 at 3:30 am

“”””The God of the Bible is not merely able to do whatever He wants, but actually does whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3).””””

Of course, that verse is true. But the Word also says God “wants none to perish,” and of course, many do.

Sovereignty not only involves the power to act, but the power NOT to act. The Bible is full of examples where God allowed calamities to befall people–sometimes through action, sometimes through choosing not to act.

A sovereign God also has the power, not to act.

97 RG November 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Yes!

98 Benji Ramsaur November 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

While not agreeing with all Reformation theology, I do think it makes a biblical distinction between God’s will of decree (which necessarily comes to pass–such as instituting governing authorities) and God’s will of command (which Jesus alludes to by saying “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” in the Model prayer).

Also, when it comes to definitions, it is important that we allow the Scriptures to define our terminology. For example, when people speak about America as a “Christian nation” it is different than the definition of 2 Peter 2:9 (which presupposes an exclusively Spirit-indwelt people).

If we want to get technical about it, the word providence, if I’m not mistaken, means “pro-video”. However, when the word is used it does not merely include the idea of God “seeing all” but of “governing all” as well.

While God has the right to refrain from execising His power, I do not see Eph. 1:11 teaching this.

99 Benji Ramsaur November 11, 2012 at 1:40 am

Southern Baptist John L. Dagg is good & concise on Sovereignty in his Manual of Theology IMO.

Here is where you can find it in his book:

Book Third/Chapter III. #7. Designs of Providence & #8. Providence over Sin

100 Jim Lockhart November 9, 2012 at 12:01 am

So God is sovereign and Barack H. Obama is President.

So what?

So what if our parched lips are touched by the filthy lucre of the unrighteous rich?

So what if we are herded into finer and more demanding particles of need and greed and the plowshares of charity are beaten into the swords of right?

So what if the price of power is painstakingly measured in little pills?

So what if suffering is defeated by affordable healthcare,
Mathematically quantified and sanctified by precise and careful application?

It must be okay because the price of an Obamaphone has just gone down.
Good news because the number of Hate is no longer unlisted.

And, yes, God is sovereign.

What have we gained?
What have we lost?
Where does love now wander?
Who now holds the lantern aloft?

Where is the hope?
Not to worry: he has made the change.

In times like this T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland makes perfect sense:

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.”

I will trust in God and please forgive me as I despair for goodness.

101 Frank L. November 9, 2012 at 3:31 am

Nice post, Jim.

102 Greg Harvey November 9, 2012 at 9:22 am

My favorite verse is Joseph telling his brothers “what you intended for evil God intended for good”. God’s redemptive purpose is so strong that he repurposes evil intentions for his purposes. Truly amazing if you think about it. Roughly equivalent in human terms to a chess player sacrificing a piece in order to win the game.

The only difference is that in chess, if you sacrifice the King, you lose.

103 Jess Alford November 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

Greg Harvey,

That was a Masterpiece.

104 Greg Harvey November 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

Jess,

Thanks. I’m an amateur (which means I do it because I love to) theologian and philosopher. This is my best way of expressing the mystery Dave is referring to while not undermining either theme of God’s sovereignty or human responsibility. It also thrills my soul how God intentionally subverts evil intentionality.

From personal experience it often occurs while the person seems to accomplish his purposes. But that is from the limited perspective of us human beings. The book of Revelation is–while somewhat confusing to those looking forward towards its message–an assertion that God’s plan will be fully realized in spite of both human and diabolical agency.

I’ll offer as an example of my previous paragraph that Joseph’s brothers succeeded in getting their annoying brother out of their hair. It was at tremendous cost to Jacob because of the favored status of Rachel and her sons. But it was also a reminder that sometimes God’s purpose doesn’t flow clearly through the most visible personality. Joseph and his kin did not provide the Savior. Judah’s tribe did.

The interaction between Judah and Joseph in that story seems, in retrospect, more ironic than intentional: Judah saved the more limited, temporary deliverer Joseph only to lead to slavery for the entire nation for 400 years. But Jesus–Judah’s descendent and the final deliverer–frees everyone who looks to him for eternity.

105 Bill Mac November 9, 2012 at 10:07 am

The following comment is in no way a commentary on Jeb Bush himself, about whom I know little.

No, no, no, no. For crying out loud. Whether you liked him or not, being associated with GWB will be the death knell for any GOP candidate. We simply cannot sell another Bush to the electorate. Do you really want the Democrats to be in power forever?

For the record: I think GHW Bush was a great president and a good man. I thought GW was a disaster. It is a backhanded tribute to the current president when I say I didn’t think I could like a president less than GWB but BO achieved it.

106 Jim Pemberton November 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

Good article, Dave! Spot on. The thinking that God doesn’t choose evil men to do His will means that he doesn’t call any of us to minister in his name. In the scale of all things, all of us deserve hell just as much as the most evil people we can think of. And if God didn’t do anything about it, we would reject him any day. (And that’s as much an Arminian statement as it is a Calvinist statement.)

107 John Wylie November 9, 2012 at 10:14 am

Bill Mac,

I agree totally with you. I think Jeb Bush would be a fine president but he would go down in flames in a national election. Now I would have really loved to see him run against Bill Nelson for Florida U.S. Senator.

108 Paul Mahaffie November 9, 2012 at 10:42 am

Dave, I do agree for reasons you stated & more. We have heard that if the election was before the storm Romney would have won. I believe God allowed the storm to hit when it did, because God knew the outcome. As I stated in an earlier post, I truly feel we are in the cycle of Israelites or maybe a better example is Romans 1:18-32. God is allowing the United Sates to drown in its own sin, to the point we see the damage that lifestyle brings.
Many Christians feel it is very dark & as if God has left them. But I feel it will become much darker. We still have great religious freedom here, but that will change. If we look at what is happening around the world, some of the strongest true Christian growth is in countries where being a Christian can cost you your life. We are looking at this election through OUR eyes & see the United States turning its back on God. But God has another plan. As it says in Isaiah, his ways are not ours. So often it must become so very dark, before man will seek the light of this world.
We have a great opportunity given to us as Christians. The Lord is making the fields ripe.

109 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Good thoughts, Paul.

110 Benji Ramsaur November 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Greg,

Genesis 50:20 speaks of the brothers & God intending the same thing…the selling of Joseph into slavery.

Yes, they had different purposes, but it was not that God did not intend Joseph’s slavery, but merely takes the bad the brothers do (as if He did not indent it) and “uses” it for a good purpose.

Instead God meant Joseph being sold into slavery all along. In fact, the selling into slavery was the means by which Joseph’s dreams were fulfilled.

His brothers did not like their destiny in those dreams. Joseph liked his. But no matter whether one liked their destiny or not, God brought it to pass.

111 Benji Ramsaur November 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

In fact, I think the basic pattern of Joseph’s life (suffering preceding exaltation) foreshadows Christ’s pattern (suffering preceding exaltation).

And the image of Joseph’s brothers bowing to him being pictorial of not the subordinate, but ultimate end of predestination (the honoring of the greatest Brother by the lesser brothers. Rom. 8:29).

All of this presupposes the strong providential hand of God working to bring this about.

112 Greg Harvey November 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm

My comment wasn’t specifically making the claim that God acted after the fact, so i think we essentially agree. It was that evil cannot triumph because God in his sovereignty takes evil intentions and converts–redeems them–for his purposes and to accomplish his will.

In my life some specific examples have been:

1. A miscarriage early in our marriage being turned immediately into an opportunity for ministry and friendship.

2. An extended period of unemployment making my wife and myself more sensitive to very specific other needs that we might not have noticed before.

I’m sure each person on this board can think of at least one example where something happened that was really difficult but in retrospect they can see how God used it to bless them. And through that blessing we come to understand God better and are more willing to endure future difficulty–or evil if you prefer–in part because we trust God to deliver us from evil and to redeem the harm for good.

My main point is exactly that the two wills are superimposed on the same event and God’s intentions defeat the intentionality of those committing evil.

113 Don November 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I have read this for two days now. I have never seen so many speak of what they know so little. There is a great deal of understanding content and intent.
The intent… who are these people that dare to question the word of the Lord?
The content… who are these people that pretend to sit at the right hand of the Father?
I can see why so many are so confused, it seems that many no matter the name are trying to judge and pass judgement on others and using quotes to prove their point, the same scholars would easily disprove by using other sections from the bible.
You may study and you may be able to quote.

I would suggest that many here have forgotted the word that God gave and so many have forgotten.

“I am the lord, thy God” I have given Ten Commandents for which to guide you. We have all learned that those Ten Commandments have been modified. The Ten Comandments are the basis of which all must make decisions. The bible is stories relating how this has taken place in the making over the many years.

So once again, I would leave you with, Thou shalt not place false gods before me.

Quote all you like, there is no place that allows for manipulation of those commandments, I do not care what anybody says when they try to tell me, “This is the “Intent” of God. How dare anybody presume they are the mouth piece of Jesus Christ.

114 Dave Miller November 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Fortunately, I guess, we have the voice of truth, the “mouthpiece of Jesus” named Don to straighten us out.

Honestly, the arrogance of this comment is a little overwhelming.

115 Jake Barker November 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Betcha $10 that he is either a jw or 7th day adventist.

116 svmuschany November 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

“How dare anybody presume they are the mouth piece of Jesus Christ.”

Is not that what you yourself are doing in coming here to condemn people? You condemn those here for falsely interpreting and manipulating God’s word as if we were “the mouth piece of Jesus”, yet by condemning us, you claim to have a higher knowledge of what the word of God, that is to say Jesus, teaches. Does that not make you a “mouth piece of Jesus”?

BTW…your words seem to be a bit…Gnostic. You might want to check yourself on that.

117 Frank L. November 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Tom. Your words as typical display your contempt for the SBC.

That’s the only denomination you demonize.

It’s a volunteer organization. You are free to leave.

I wonder if those being fed, clothed, and housed by SBC workers after Sandy feel marginalized?

Not that facts appear important to you but the SBC does not have any political affiliation as you keep implying.

I find your contemptuous bias offensive and it makes it hard to converse with you when you make these constant, unfounded attacks. I personally know SBC members who voted for Obama.

Again I do not think you care much about the facts but I feel better having stated them

118 Jess Alford November 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Frank, you said the sbc has no political affiliation, What do you think most of these blogs are about. They showed who was for the President and who was against the other guy. People make up the SBC.

119 Frank L. November 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Jess,

That was my point: people make up the SBC. Individuals have a political view, not the SBC.

120 Dave Miller November 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Tom, could anyone say anything critical about the SBC and you would not rejoice in it?

Your anger and hatred for the SBC grows wearisome.

121 Jess Alford November 10, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Is this really you Lord?

122 Bill Mac November 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm

One interesting point that has come out of the election is the blow to the credibility of Rasmussen polling. Let’s face it, the MSM had their polling pretty much dead on and Rasmussen was more of wishful thinking. I don’t think conservatives would have been surprised at the election results at all if not for Rasmussen polling.

123 Frank L. November 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Good point.

124 Jess Alford November 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

SBC Voices,

Through it all, I have never communicated with such a fine bunch of Godly men and women. This even goes for Dave Miller, (yea, I know), but it is true. Even though we have different points of view, There isn’t a one of the people who wouldn’t try to help anyone with a problem. I thank God for each of you.

125 Frank L. November 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Jess,

That’s the second thing you said that I agree with.

It becoming a problem.

126 Jess Alford November 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I know frank, strange isn’t it.

127 Don November 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

SBC Voices
Saturday, November 10, 2012 3:03 PM

Tom, David and all the rest. I never said that the SBC was out of line or in line. I simply spoke of the tone and use of many of the verses. I wonder when a child walks into the den of the so called scholars, did they ban, make fun of or belittle that child?

We are all children of Christ. When we overstep that role, then, perhaps it is time to take a look at faith.

What kind of faith of man does it take to simply state, “The Lord is my shepherd…” My conversation was only a reflection of the tone. Jesus Christ and God the father are not of this earth yet bestow all the riches we need.

The politics have nothing to do with God or the Devil with regards to pre-selection. That is of no consequence within the bible. The only place politics and religion overlapped, not joined, is in the defense of humanity and the protection of the Earth we have been given in trust. That trust that we will walk forward and create the best life possible for all the creatures he had created.

Speculation of the documents used in this discussion are easily taken out of context. The life of Jesus did not happen in just one story at a time. Many of the stories told in the Old Scrolls have been shown to explain the background of many of these stories that are used even in the examples you have been using here. I don’t mind going to the Ancient Scrolls but, the translations could only happen with my own level of understanding and point of reference. That is where objectivity is lost.

This discussion began with a premise defined rather than neutral. That is why I stated in my first post, I was following your logic until you got to the conclusion. Many of the references were used to justify the conclusion rather than clear implications showing the balance of power God has given us in our lives. I did not feel that the gift of “Free Will” was and is a part of the baseline discussion. Then the talk went to cults and such, that is just plain wrong.

The Lord is my Light and my Life. I will live with the life and love I have been given. To use this host to deliver anything other than love and respect for my fellow human beings is one of the worst things I could do.

As to my faith and worship, how sad I was characterized and dismissed not only once but twice. I wonder if that is the word and work of God.

I wish you well, and as you have stated, I asked to attend this group, I have no problem leaving this discussion.

Thank you all for the opportunity to understand the process of your group discussion. Like someone said, SBC is made of people. I personally, feel that walking with all mankind is part of my life. I hold no malice toward SBC, simply is not what I had hoped. I was asked to check this out from a very dear friend of mine that thought open discussion was welcome. I had so looked forward to open and fair exchange in an adult environment.

I have no problem as was suggested, I check myself. I take great pleasure in knowing the path I walk in life is in his name in deed and word.

Be well,
Don

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