Was God’s will done in the US election result?

Like many, I’m still reeling from the US election result. Right now, and from right here, the world’s future looks more uncertain and more troubled than ever.

God clearly didn’t answer my prayer not to let Trump be elected president, nor the prayers of millions of others asking the same thing. But did God actively answer the prayers of those who wanted Trump in, or was the decision effectively out of his hands – or one he washed his hands of?

Was God’s will done in the US election result? And more widely, how much is God’s will done on earth? To what extent do world events and events in our lives reflect his plans and purposes?

Of course there’s a full spectrum of Christian views on this, from complete divine non-involvement all the way through to complete divine control…

No involvement…

For the true deist, God watches and judges human affairs ‘from a distance’, never intervening in this world. Some feel that for God to get involved in our messy business would be to sully himself, or would inevitably mean some form of partisanship (like favouring the nation of Israel for example), which they feel would be incompatible with his perfection.

So by this view, God leaves us entirely to determine our own fates. The US election result is therefore purely and solely human, with no divine involvement – a view for which I find I suddenly have some sympathy.

Sometimes it does feel very much as though God is absent or far-off, that he does not heed our desperate cries for help and change, that he is not involved or even interested in the mess and muck of our lives and situations. We see thousands dead, starving or displaced by conflicts and disasters, we see evil rulers and regimes prospering and good people oppressed, and it’s easy to believe that God has simply abandoned humanity or remains aloof, emotionally as well as physically uninvolved.

Yet I simply cannot and will not accept that this is the reality. I’m not sure whether God has entirely human-like feelings, yet I am convinced that God is passionately involved in this world, that he cares hugely about us, what we do and what happens to us. And further, I believe that he is actively involved – but that often his hands are tied, or that he plays the long game.

…or completely in control?

For the true determinist or extreme Calvinist on the other hand, God is utterly sovereign and everything that happens, for good or ill, does so because he has willed it – or at the very least has allowed it to happen for his greater purposes.

By this view, Trump’s recent victory must have been God’s will and plan. Though some might say that God had brought it about to punish humans rather than to bless them – a view which would chime slightly more with how I feel, though I can’t really accept it.

For if the extreme determinist view is correct, then all wars, famines, rapes, murders and other atrocities are in some way the result of God’s will. Proponents argue that God has the right to do whatever he chooses with his creation, and that all humans are sinful and deserving of punishment; or else that suffering is often our only route to redemption.

I can’t logically refute this view – I can only say that it does not look like the God I think I know a little in Jesus.

Is God’s will always done?

So is God’s will always done on earth? No, I absolutely do not believe so. I don’t think that Jesus would have instructed us to pray ‘Let your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’ if that were already and automatically the case. God’s will is not and will not be perfectly done until his kingdom comes fully and his reign is complete over all the Earth.

In the meantime we must live in the messy in-between space of the ‘now and not yet’. God’s kingdom and life keeps breaking through the cracks in our old world order, but for now that old order still dominates and mostly does not reflect God’s character or purposes. Instead the old cruel laws of entropy, gravity and inertia reign, and by grace we endure and resist them as best we can.

A limited sovereignty?

But isn’t God sovereign? Yes, but he has chosen to delegate some of his authority and responsibility to us his creatures. He lets us make real choices with real consequences for good and ill. He may warn us but he does not step in to prevent us choosing badly, nor bail us out every time things go wrong.

You could perhaps say that God’s hands are tied by his love, which cannot coerce but can only woo and persuade. And his hands are also tied by his desire for our development, our maturity and character, which can only be formed by the long, slow and often painful processes of real life in the real world; of taking responsibility and overcoming adversity.

So there is much that I believe God will not do to intervene. But what I believe he does do is work redemptively on the material we present him with. I believe that he also works incarnationally, in and through us as far as we let him. We are his hands and feet, his body on Earth; we are his flawed image-bearers and kingdom-bringers – God help us.

God of the small and hidden

So I believe that we see God at work not so much in the great powers of this world but in the small and hidden things, the slow quiet changes unnoticed behind the scenes; the gradual transformations within each of us.

And I also think God plays the long game – he is focused not so much on quick solutions for today or tomorrow as on long-term goals for years or even centuries ahead.

I also wonder, tentatively, whether sometimes God may not allow evil to prosper for a limited time for reasons we can only guess at. Perhaps it’s because adversity strangely seems to bring out the best in humans, uniting us and growing our characters. Or perhaps it’s to give us an opportunity to stand for light and against darkness; to meet cruelty with kindness, and brutality with humanity; to overcome evil with goodness, and show that in the end love wins. Perhaps.

Light in the darkness

To my mind, Trump’s election represents a victory for the bad old order of things that will one day be swept away by God’s kingdom. I don’t believe it was God’s good and perfect will. I feel that there are dark days ahead for the world, and for many in America.

But God is with us in our darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not – and will not, ever – overcome it.

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About TheEvangelicalLiberal

Aka Harvey Edser. I'm a web editor, worship leader, wannabe writer, very amateur composer and highly unqualified armchair theologian. My heroes include C.S. Lewis and Homer Simpson.
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11 Responses to Was God’s will done in the US election result?

  1. Daniel says:

    My only thoughts on this (and being in the US during the election are that he probably isn’t actually that much worse than the other choice) are that unfortunately God has given us freedom of choice!

    How can God give us freedom of choice ad then decide a democratically elected position for us. (Nothing I have seen really believes the election is rigged).

    In reality has God not really tied his own hands by giving us free will? If you actively make a choice good or bad can God intervene without braking his promise to give us free will?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree, mostly! I don’t think the election was rigged either – though the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton in the final weeks of campaigning really wasn’t brilliant timing. And of course Clinton did win the ‘people’s vote’ – she had more actual votes than Trump, but no electoral system is perfect.

      And I’m really not sure how good or bad Mrs Clinton would have been – certainly far from ideal and perfect, but from the fairly little I know, nowhere near as dismally awful as Trump.

      But yes, I do think God’s hands are a bit tied when it comes to free will and democracy. That doesn’t mean he can’t ultimately get what he wants, but he has to play the very long game and go all round the houses to get there. And what he wants may not look very much like the kinds of things we want – i.e. our immediate happiness and convenience! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daniel says:

        Difference between Democracy and Dictatorship springs to mind. Anyone for Anarchy.

        Also does anyone want God to be a Dictator. However much it would be a much better world if he was there couldn’t be free will only the illusion of free will. If everyone was made to think exactly as they should they could also be made to believe this was due to free will but would it be!

        Lots of the good in the world comes out of people wanting to do what is right. The only downside is everything bad also comes out of free will!

        You win some you loose some!

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        • Yes, I guess the trouble with democracy, dictatorship, anarchy and any other system are simply human nature. And it’s the same problem with free will. Perhaps we do mostly want to do the right things, but we have a pretty good track record of failing dismally! Power corrupts, people put self-interest before the common good… and if we look at ourselves, we probably can’t say in all honesty that we’d be any better. So whichever system of government we end up with, we generally make a mess of it and end up with different kinds of inequality and injustice.

          Still, on the whole I think I’d still settle for free will over the alternative – though just occasionally I’m not so sure…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. And for the alternative perspective, here’s a piece by some Christians who genuinely believe that prayer during election night turned the result around to bring Trump in. No, seriously.
    https://hellochristian.com/5180-michele-bachmann-shows-how-prayer-changed-the-course-of-the-election.

    “Already we know that the glory goes to the God Almighty,” [Michele Bachmann] said, “the God of the Universe, the Sovereign Lord. He is the one who did this for us. He did, because His people got on their knees and cried out to Holy God and said, ‘We can’t go down this road any more, Father, we ask you for your mercy.’ And this is the proof positive of what the Lord did. The Lord did this!”

    They’ve got a graph and everything – must be true. 😉

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  3. Thank you for your concern, belief and knowledge. You did shed some light on this baffling situation in U.S. Politics, 2016. Though I avoid using Darkness as a continual Symbol for Evil, as Darness of night is also a time of great rest and Peace for most of Yah’s Creation. True there are some horrific, violent acts committed at night, in the Dark, however for the most part, it is a time of rest and regeneration for the physical world. A Creation beyond communication. (Note: I prefer the name “Yah,” for the “Vast Ocean of Love and Light.”) rather than the German-English word God, which was derived during the Dark Ages). For me, “Yah!” Or “Ah!” Is the first sound most people make when they experience the miracle of newborn life; be it that of a child or fawn, puppy or a fresh, new blossom of a flower. We also say this “Yah” or Ah! without ever thinking, on seeing a glorious Sunrise or a Sunset, Rainbow, other miracles in Nature, or the tender care of a giant Blue Whale for its young. Then there is the Famous Ahhhh! Oooooooooh! Ahhhhhhhhh! We all give out on seeing Pyrotechnics in all their glorious colours.
    Now, back to G.O.D.
    Based on my trials and tribulations over a brief 70 years, it seems that Yah is allowing us to “Test Our Metal.” See how close we can work with the Fires in the Forge of Creation, while learning to create, without harming ourselves. Though sometimes we do err and pay for it, in physical or psychological, spiritual pain. The Game of Life is Real and sometimes carries serious consequences. Perhaps not immediately for some, though eventually for everyone, over time. Yah’s Time. Something that the finite Mind and Soul have no concept of. We are still learning. Smile.

    We are as yet less conscious, to understand the horrific cruelty experienced by innocent newborn life, at the hands of hungry predators. Ocean Krill consumed in the billions by Squid and Whales, which are then eaten by other Whales, which are then consumed by People. Or the newborn calves of Deer or Wildebeest, scarcely out of the womb, ravaged by hungry Lion or Wolves. Even Wild Deer when starving for lack of Tree-buds, Bark and Grass to eat, will consume Rabbits and Mice, if pressed. This I only learned of recently, as formerly I had no idea.

    Life goes on, within you and without you. Perhaps on rejoining the Vast Ocean of Conscious Love and Light, as we each pass on, we will finally Know. However for the present………………………….., let’s try to Love One Another. A whole Lot!
    It’s really all that’s missing when we see pain and misery in this World. Just a little Love. Start with Our Families. Friends and Neighbours next. Then everyone, and really Everyone we meet. Smile.
    Smile because you mean it. Good will for everyone.
    Less tha 1% of Global Industrial Production will feed Every Hungry Person on the face of the Earth. This is common knowledge. You can Google it.
    We can use this Magnificent Internet Technology to finally communicate to Feed the World.
    Let’s do it. And remember to sincerely Smile.
    Kindly,
    Charles
    Linked In, Carmen Charles Rudd, Global Humanitarian Relief Worker.

    Like

    • Hi Carmen Charles, thank you for your response – a lot to think about there.

      I take your point about using darkness as a metaphor for evil, and I agree that night can be a wonderful and healing time. I suppose Light to me is such a powerful symbol of goodness and reality, and it’s in this sense that I use darkness metaphorically for the absence of (or opposition to) goodness. But all metaphors are flawed and partial, like all language. Which is why I particularly like your phrase ‘creation beyond communication’.

      I also like the name ‘Yah’ for God, though I slightly prefer ‘Yahweh’. But again, I think language starts to break down when we try to speak of God, or of ‘ultimate reality’, so all the words we use are just glimpses and shadows of the reality. And for me the best understanding I have of God is to look at Jesus, who I believe to be the perfect incarnation and representation of the divine reality.

      I suspect we have slightly different approaches to the Spiritual/divine – yours sounds a little more Buddhist or Eastern-influenced than mine, which is essentially Christian with some mystical leanings! I’m very glad to hear your insights and will think about what you say.

      And it’s good to hear your passion for caring for the world, its creatures and people, and for feeding the hungry. These are things which I hope all people of faith can unite around.

      Bless you,
      Harvey

      Like

  4. I’ve heard from some people that they voted for Trump because they believe certain prophecies that were (supposedly) made about him. Have you heard of that? I’m interested because I think that some Christian believers are strongly influenced in their citizenship and voting by (1) certain kinds of Biblical prophetic interpretations or (2) dreams, visions and prophetic “words” or (3) both. I’ve been searching for some analysis of the election and other aspects of current politics that is either analyzes or at least starts asking about what political influence these prophetic or charismatic leanings have in the USA and beyond. I’m sure that American politics is influenced by these things, and not only in relationship to the USA’s uncritical support for the present state of Israel. Maybe you yourself have written about this. I haven’t read more than this one post on your blog. Peace to you in Jesus’ name.

    Like

    • Thanks – interesting, good questions and I don’t know the answer! I didn’t know that some people voted for Trump because of prophecies or dreams, but I’m not surprised. What would surprise me more would be if those prophecies were genuinely from God – but I might be wrong of course!

      I certainly believe that the USA’s uncritical support for Israel stems from a fundamentalist (and I believe mistaken) religious ideology, which I’m sure is promulgated via many a conservative evangelical and charismatic pulpit. But being a Brit that’s just my guess based on what I’ve seen and heard.

      I know that a good number of evangelical Republicans firmly believe that their prayers saved America from a godless Democrat government, and that God sovereignly brought about Trump’s victory as a result of their heartfelt intercessions. Though I have to say that sounds pretty unlikely to me!

      Do let me know if you find out more.

      Peace to you as well,
      Harvey

      Like

      • Harvey, like you, I’d not heard the prophecies/dreams thing either, but it’s definitely feasible given the mentality of so many and the exxxxtremely sloppy way prophecy, both in the Bible and in “real time” (esp. among American charismatics and Pentecostals), is treated.

        As to God’s intervention FOR Trump, another distortion of simple, should-be-crystal-clear understanding of godliness gone awry. Oh, what pretzels some people allow their minds to get twisted into!! I’ve studied both depth and cognitive psychology and often I can’t really make sense of it myself. It’s not a good sign for the near future in America. But, just possibly, it may serve to further help us “progressives” clarify and push foundational issues over against (sadly, I must use “against” language, I feel) supposed “fundamentalists” (who should probably be labeled “peripheralists” or something).

        And, on that note: Have you read “The Uncontrolling Love of God” by Thomas Jay Oord? It might be a good book to review here. I MAY do a very brief review on my blog, as I’m about thru the audio version of it. Probably won’t be getting the book itself, tho the content is good! He had a free offer to at least his mailing list for the audio, which I got. But I do think the book, in print, is worth having for any serious student or teacher of biblical and philosophical thought on the nature of God, esp. in relation to the problem of evil, and of understanding miracles and how God is able to be active affecting the world and lives without any suspension of free will, “laws of nature” or any form of coercion.

        This is necessarily in the realm of careful argument-building, definition of terms, etc., so not light reading. Thus, I expect it to have limited reach, though it seems about as readable as a strong work on this topic can be, if it is thorough. And Oord is nearly unique in being generally within the “Evangelical” camp (broadly defined) and also a Process thinker. He refers some to the late Pinnock, who was an “open” theologian, leaning toward though not fully “process”, and others generally where Pinnock was (and who ALMOST got kicked out of the Evangelical Theological Society for his views). Tho I couldn’t see footnotes, his audio reference to them and the in-text use of citations is very strong, so this might appeal to you and serious readers of yours (if you’ve not yet read it… fairly newly out). But Oord’s position, I’m presuming without extensive knowledge of the related literature, is a bit different than what else is “out there”, either among more known and fully Process people like Cobb, Griffin, Epperly, etc., or among “open theology” people beyond Pinnock. I did find his careful use of terms and categories impressive, and nothing I’d clearly disagree with, tho some implications about authority of Scripture might be an exception. However, if Oord were pressed re. how “Scripture” came about and got its authority, I can imagine he’d be fairly standard “Process”, and is positive on “higher criticism” in general.

        Like

      • I agree that, as you said, “the USA’s uncritical support for Israel stems from a fundamentalist … religious ideology.” I also agree that that ideology is off base, even though I’d probably label myself as a theological conservative.

        Like

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