Has anyone else noticed how many Christians are talking about what is and is not God’s will with regard to the recent election? Some people insist that God is in absolute control and so Barack Obama’s election was indeed God’s will. Of these some say he was the best choice (and therefore God’s choice) and that conservative Christians have too narrowly defined issues like being pro-life. The opposition argues that he was God’s choice as a sort of punishment for our nation’s immorality. The most extreme in that group claim Obama is the anti-Christ himself and his rise to power, while God‘s permissive will, was not His moral will. (I guess these folks do not believe the president-elect when he confesses Christ as his savior rather than claims to be the savior). Of course others in the debate lean more toward the idea that God created everything and is letting it take it’s course knowing how it will all turn out because He is good at predicting that sort of thing especially since He is the one who created it all to begin with and therefore knows how it works (and does not work and breaks down and needs to be fixed). These people are a little shaky as to how exactly God’s will is accomplished in the end but they are never the less confident it is.
Quite obviously the whole God’s will stuff can be incredibly confusing. I means we have His permissive will, His moral will, His perfect will, His spoken will, His exhaustive will, His sovereign will, His passive will, His deterministic will, His express will, His hidden will, and His decreed will. It starts to sound like a different will to answer every nuance. But, seriously folks, if we were limited to God’s absolute will (decreed, determined, express, exhaustive, spoken, and perfect) then we would pretty much have to do away with man’s free will. Of course then man becomes a puppet in the hands of God and cannot justly be held accountable for any of his choices, including whether or not he responds to God. This incidentally poses another problem. If man cannot be held accountable then God is actually the one who made the “bad choices”, sort of like the fire-bug that returns to the fire he started in order to rescue the people from the burning building which would pretty much turn God‘s solution of sending His son to take away our sins into a sadomasochistic answer to a self induced problem. (As a bit of an aside, we run into the same problem when we buy into the doctrine of predestination–if God chooses who responds to Him and who does not respond to Him then no one can justly be held accountable for not responding to Him).
The idea of God’s permissive and passive wills gets God off the hook, so to speak. It allows God to know everything that is going to happen without causing it to happen so that the end can turn out the way He has decreed it would happen. Otherwise how could He be omniscient? Or all powerful? Of course this brings us right back to God’s absolute, sovereign, deterministic, etc. etc. will.
Mixed into the issue of God’s will are the concepts of love vs. justice, heaven and hell, free will, and total depravity. The more we try to explain the more convoluted the doctrines surrounding God’s will seem to become. I have written before on several of these topics so I will not belabor them here. I do want to say, however, that man’s hunger for the fruit from the tree of knowledge is no less intense today then it was in the garden. Our desire to know has even caused us to create philosophies, theories, and doctrines in order to prove that we do.
The election discussion is an example of just such philosophizing. Before the election all sorts of Christian blogs reported on how it was God’s will that Senator McCain be elected president. Their greatest evidence was the difference between the two candidates on the issue of abortion. Since the election, the Christian blogs have been just as vocal about Obama’s election being God’s will. Champions of end times prophecies are using the election to promote their predictions and others are using it as a call for repentance.
For me the bottom line is free will. We elected Senator Obama to become our next president. We did so for a whole variety of reasons. Some of our reasons were spiritual, some emotional, and some rational. People prayed and then voted. People listened to the debates and then voted. People looked at their life situations and then voted. People registered for the first time in their lives and then voted. People voted their bank accounts. People voted their healthcare needs. People voted their religions. And, people voted their prejudices. They voted using the freedom guaranteed us by our constitution and granted us by our Creator.
Was God surprised by the outcome of the election? I guess not, but my theology would not be ruined if He was. Honestly, I do not need God to be bored with His whole creation in order for Him to be God. But, that is just me. His ways are not my ways and I am fine with that. What I am less fine with are all the hoops religion has created for us to jump through. Personally, I am quite confident that God is fully capable of accomplishing His will without me having to figure out how He is going to do it. I am also certain that if we had elected Senator McCain God’s plan would not have suddenly been thwarted nor is it thwarted by the election of Senator Obama. Believe it or not, His WILL is much less focused on who is elected president of the United States then ours is.