O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Does God Care Who Wins our Elections?

As recently as last Tuesday, out-of-nowhere Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell was saying that she was running for Senate because God told her to, and that her polling numbers would go up in response to people’s prayers.

Yesterday, she lost to Democrat Chris Coons. And it wasn’t even close.

I live in Texas, so voting for Christine O’Donnell and, apparently, God’s plan for Delaware, wasn’t an option for me. But I know a couple of people in that state, and last night I had a brief email conversation with one of them, Ken Grant — who’s a faithful reader of this blog, a well-connected person in Delaware media and politics, and a former political reporter. Ken’s also a thoughtful Christian and an acquaintance of Representative Mike Castle, whom O’Donnell beat in the Republican primary.


In light of O’Donnell’s “calling” and subsequent loss, Ken asked some good questions:

What does it say about God’s calling when the “divine” candidate ends up losing?

And more importantly: is there any evidence at all that God cares who wins an election?

I think the first question says more about the candidate’s arrogance and theology than anything else, and announcing that God wants you to be in office is a good way for me to stop taking you seriously. But it only applies to those few people who end up on a ballot.

The second question is a bigger deal, especially in our religious nation. If we believe in God, do we really believe that God has a particular candidate he wants to win? If so…then why do the “wrong” candidates sometimes win?


There are plenty of go-to verses about kings and leaders in the Bible. The book of Daniel says that God “deposes kings and raises up others” and that their power, might, and glory are God-given.

Prior to the crucifiction, Jesus famously told Pilate that any power the ruler had was given “from above.”

In Romans, Paul writes that the existing authorities “have been established by God.”


The Bible says it, but do we really believe that God appoints our rulers? Because if we believe all authorities are established by God, then we have to believe that God raised up great leaders like Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill…as well as the not-so-great world leaders like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Right? That means God gave us both George W. Bush AND Barack Obama (some Christians love one and hate the other, regardless of how you order it). It also means that God raised up some big-time failures in the Bible — because some of those kings of Judea and Israel were horrible.

Living in the Bible Belt, I hear a lot of talk about how we need to be praying that the right people get elected on Election Day, and that the outcome is “all in God’s hands.” But do the results ever really show that? Because sometimes God’s candidates (and I use that phrase as loosely as possible, and with my fingers crossed) appear to win. But just as often they lose. In O’Donnell’s case, they lose big. If we’re honest, do we really see any evidence of God’s hand at work at all in appointing world leaders?


This is how Ken put it last night (and he’s given me permission to use the quote):

If I were to honestly believe that God determined the outcome of our elections, I would have to seriously question the very nature of God.

This is one of those issues I don’t have a good opinion on. I know what some passages in the Bible say about it, but I don’t see those passages matching up to the world as I know it.

What do you think? If you believe in God, do you think he’s really in charge of who gains power? Why or why not?

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posted November 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I’m pretty sure God despises the juvenile self-righteousness with which evangelical “Christians” cloak themselves, but I doubt He thinks they deserve smiting but rather hopes they’ll lean into His grace and experience His presence.

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Keith Brenton

posted November 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

In the Old Testament, God often gave Israel and Judah the kings they deserved. (Having a king over them, as near as I can tell, was not His idea, but He knew they would beg Him for one … Deut. 17:14ff.) Perhaps we in America make that easier for Him by electing the leader we want, rather than recognizing the One we have ….

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posted November 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Ken’s point is convincing, and should remain convincing when it’s generalized:
If I were to honestly believe that God could determine the outcome of anything, I would have to seriously question the very nature of God.

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Cory Jones

posted November 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Great discussion fodder. I struggle with this as well, especially when America, in my opinion, runs so counter to the gospel of humbling yourself, trusting in God for daily provision, caring for the poor/aliens/orphans/widows, turning the other cheek, and runs after power, wealth, financial security, and global “sovereignty.”
My thought is that God ALLOWS leaders to govern rather than picking them up and setting them in place. He works though them and, probably more often, in spite of them.
When we enter our subdivision I let our boys take turns “helping” me drive the 400 feet or so to our house. It occured to me the other day that this is similiar to politicians leading the country. They may feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, steering and braking, but really it’s God who holds the wheel. Power is an illusion.
Where are you in Texas?

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Cory Jones

posted November 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Sorry, thought you were someone else. You don’t have to tell me where you are in Texas.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm

So, because you believe God tells you to run for office you have to win to prove you’re right? I have followed the leading of God many times in my life when the results did not turn out as assumed. Was I wrong? Or did God just have another plan? Was the first (and most important) step my obedience? I would bet you a box of donuts that Christine O’Donnell (don’t know her, never met her) will, after some reflection, have a long list of things she learned while running for office. About herself, people in general and the definition of success. God has a gagillion ways to teach us. I can’t find a box big enough to put Him in. (The wisdom of announcing to the world that God wanted you to run is another subject entirely.)
As for elections and outcomes and blah, blah, blah… here is my favorite verse for this time of year:
The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:33

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posted November 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I wanted to add one more thing. I hesitated adding it to the previous comment because it felt a little self serving but, hey! we’re on the internet and I’m posting my thoughts on a blog and it’s already self-serving. Here’s a little more self, served…
This morning I re-read what I wrote the morning after the election in 2008. Surprisingly (I haven’t looked at it since I posted it), I am still on board with what I had to say. Here is the “money” graph and it is a better answer to the second half of today’s discussion than what I previously posted:
And I will also pray that all Christians—regardless of denomination or race—will never rely on anything but God for their security and peace. Never a government, leader or idea. Man and his schemes will inevitably disappoint us but God can’t and won’t; there is no greater anchor. So take the time to refocus, carve out time to read your Bible every day and listen for direction and Godly wisdom. And then follow it. And do not lose focus on the simple guide for living that Jesus gave us: Love God and love people.
(The full piece is here is you’re interested: )

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posted November 3, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Jay – your link doesn’t work.

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Jason Boyett

posted November 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm

@Gordie & Jay:
Using my special Beliefnet-given authority, I fixed Jay’s link. It should work now.

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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted November 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Great post and questions to ask!
I’m curious if we are misunderstanding what Paul is saying – because what he appears to be claiming is quite ridiculous, as you have pointed out with the extremes like Hitler, etc. Its especially puzzling because Paul could be implying that God put them Romans in place. So I wonder if he’s talking about rulers in some other sense, but I don’t know what.
I find it hard to believe that God cares much about our political system, which doesn’t feel very far removed from Hollywood these days in its superficiality. I also think that God prefers to work among tangible humans rather than through huge empires and impersonal institutions.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I’m damn near a deist. Not quite, because i believe Jesus is God manifest to us & the only bridge to God. But as far as him working in our lives & “having the perfect plan” for our lives? I don’t see it.
In my own life all i see is a comedy of errors. Many of them, yes, created by me & my own fault. But also a number of weird circumstances outside my control that just don’t add up to anything that makes sense.
I’m coming to believe that “fairness” is something created by man & not a part of the nature of God. And i do remember the verses that tell us that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, so i likely won’t understand.
I think that people who quote a “perfect plan” for us are taking the verses out of context. I’m not going to beat them up for this view. And for some people it does seem to work for them to believe that God directs their every footstep, & causes them to draw every breath. Sometimes i envy their confidence in this. It certainly seems to make for a simpler life.
I tend to believe more in cause & effect. I breathe because that is what my body does. I developed in my mother because that is how life happens with humans. I did not develop children in my own body because something in me is screwed up either thru an accident in the past, a nutritional deficit in me, or my “advanced maternal age.” Yes, we are told that God “gave” children to Sarah, Hannah, & Elizabeth. Have you ever wondered how many women had the same prayers that were NOT answered of whom we are never told? I just don’t know that i believe that God directs us so intently.
I am a child of my parents, but after a young age my parents no longer were directing my every step. Maybe God does expect us to be more adult children than what some churches preach.
All that said, i do believe that if God completely withdrew from our universe, everything would completely collapse. Not as in “the fall of a kingdom” but as in, nothing left. So yes, my beliefs have some dissonance.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I believe God gives us direction for our lives, including how we vote, if we seek that guidance. Only in that indirect way does God choose our leaders in a democratic system. I don’t believe any candidate is God’s choice for election. In a totalitarian system, circumstances choose who leads, just as circumstances, or our bad choices, determine the bad things that happen to us.

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Anne White

posted November 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Personally, the whole idea of one candidate being “God”‘s candidate is crazy. None of us, including the politicians, can measure up… regardless of your political platform.
For God to ‘endorse’ a certain candidate, that candidate would have to be Jesus… or grace is out the window… and sins would be measured or rated instead of sin just being sin. I doubt God, during election season, says to himself… well, it looks as though Christine O’Donnell’s sins can’t hold a candle to Chris Coons’. She shall be declared the winner! Doubt it. And, if she THINKS her sins are less than her opponents, then she has missed the point. This is what is so frustrating to me about fellow Christians who are adamant about THEIR candidate based on political party alone.
If you believe that so-and-so is God’s candidate, yet he or she wasn’t elected, what does that say? God’s plan didn’t come to fruition? He miscalculated votes? Oh right… I know what it says… the end times are near. And maybe they are, but for you to declare that you know they are near is as arrogant as Christine O’Donnell declaring her poll numbers would go up in response to prayers.
While we have been given the gift of free will, He knows the outcome before it happens… and it is all a part of His plan.
Politics are getting the best of us. We have stopped putting our faith in Christ ALONE, and for some odd reason (to me), we believe that politicians can solve the problems of this country or world.
Doods, the problems of this country (and I am speaking not only about abortion and political crookedness here!) are matters of the heart. And, as Christians, we need to acknowledge that the only hope we have is through Christ.

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posted November 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

Apparently God’s will was rejected by the state of Delaware.

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Headless Unicorn Guy

posted November 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

Well, we knew God’s Anointed Candidate’s positions on Masturbation and Witchcraft and Government Scientists breeding mice with human brains…
(Though actually, having a lunatic candidate or two is actually a plus; it livens up the whole process.)
And as for “God Told Me To” and “Take Back The Country For God and Godliness”, we already have several type examples of that around the world. In one word: TALIBAN.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 1:31 am

First off I would not call myself a Christian. It’s embarrassing because there are too many Christians who can’t agree on what essential doctrines are. I might even bew able to argue that noone knows the essential doctrines and to one degree or another we are all heretics. So a christian, I might not be. I am only a person trying to know and love God/Christ (they are the same I think). I have at more times hated Him than loved Him in actions and feelings. I certainly have a relationship to Christ but have no clue of it’s quality. I don’t think there are elected leaders apart from God. I also don’t think we know for certain what is good. We have a polluted understanding of Holiness probably. If I am questioning the very nature of God because I accept that he appointed Hitler as ruler for a time I am probably on an honest quest for understanding his perfect Love. I could be on worse ground like assuming God is hoping for me to make good decisions. I won’t acheive that understanding of His love here. Did God appoint hittler? Absolutely- Just as he raised the rulers of Egypt who enslaved His chosen and ultimately bore His wrath.And you know what? He hardened their hearts so that their sins and lust would blind them so that his sovereign purpose would be done. I don’t know if I am his for honour or dishonour, but I do know this: God raises cultures to destroy cultures. He has a history of examples. When they have exceeded their time for his graces and ultimately gain his judgement, He, for his own glorification, will destroy them. He will also preserve those that He will save. Having said that, I would only add that if we are in a culture that is being taken down it does not mean that we are not being saved. It may mean that we are being wiped out of this life on earth as those in the Flood but the disposition of the soul is between the Creator and the created. It does not mean that I don’t have a moral obligation to protect and love those in my charge. That is My Part for which I will be judged (in soul) the Culture and it’s existence to any extent is for God’s purpose be it for blessing or be it for jugement. When”wrong” elected officials get voted in to office they are not “wrong”. Who knows his will… YOU? I certainly do not But I will pray for his mercy as I watch our leaders fail us. I guess I’ll leave it up to God, whatever He would call me would be what I am.

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Matt @ The Church of No People

posted November 5, 2010 at 8:06 am

Eh, I think God cares, and maybe he tells some people to go run for office. But it’s still up to everyone to actually listen to him. I think he more often sits back and waits for people to ask his opinion, rather than shooting his mouth off and announcing that Christine O’Donnell is his preferred candidate.

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Paul Vander Klay

posted November 5, 2010 at 1:34 pm

According to the Bible God raise up the Assyrians to punish his chosen people and destroy the northern kingdom. The Assyrians were the scourge of the ancient world. They were so terrifying cities would simply surrender at the threat of an invasion.
The problem isn’t with the notion that God raises up and tears down leaders, it is with the notion that God’s interests somehow side with our petty, small picture partisanship and our moralistic religious agendas.
The Bible’s picture of God is brutal: he does what he wants and often we are left scratching our heads or shaking our fists. That often leaves us with some options of how to respond to this God:
1. Deny him or defy him. That isn’t God and I hate him for it.
2. Weaken him: God just needs our help on election day…
3. Take a deep breath and recalibrate our assumptions about human capacity and control over history.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm

no, because I don’t think it really matters who wins an election for the most part, that is each and every person can decide how they will act and that most people who work for the government do not change jobs every 2 years. do I think that there are great times where a great person rises up? Yes, but I haven’t seen a great leader stand up so, the times could get worse.

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posted November 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

(This is long but I promise I have a point)
When I was in (politically and theologically conservative Christian) college, when we all spent entirely too much time thinking about marriage, one of my religion professors said in class one day, “What if God cares less about who you marry and more about how you conduct yourself in your marriage?”
Once I got over the shock of this challenge to the idea I’d heard all my life that God prepares one special and unique person for everybody (and the accompanying assumption that therefore you have to figure out whether the person your dating is That One Special God-Selected Person), I started to understand what my professor meant: Whoever you end up marrying is whoever you end up marrying, but focusing on whether God selected that person for you abandons the responsibility you have to conduct your marriage honorably and with love. If it doesn’t work out, you tell yourself that you were just wrong about who God chose for you, rather than admitting that maybe you didn’t treat your spouse in a Christlike manner.
I think that’s what Paul is getting at with his assertion about the leaders that God raises up. The person in power is the one in power, and focusing on whether they’re God’s candidate or whatever is an abdication of the responsibility we all have to conduct our political lives in accordance to the way God calls us to live. No matter who is in power, we owe it to our leaders to pray for them, to hold them accountable, to engage honestly in the political process (whatever political system we happen to live under). Getting hung up on who the leader is allows us to say, if the President and Congress do a bad job, it’s because God isn’t on their side, rather than a failure on our part to adequately support them and hold them accountable.

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Rob the Rev

posted November 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

I find it amazing the theological pretzels you believers in the bible as God’s word can bend yourselves into to defend it. The bible is merely a human book of one ancient people’s man made religion and VIEWS and BELIEFS and god. You use your bible as evidence that it is God’s word which is merely circular reasoning.

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posted November 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Here’s what I know: the Bible says to be obedient to those in power because they wouldn’t be in a position of power if it weren’t for God’s allowing it.
The focus seems to be on practical application – following the law of the land, giving respect to political leaders.
Whether God picks and chooses “His” candidates and elected officials seems the lesser idea.
However, just my opinion, I don’t think God cares about any of it in the way we humans do. To some extent He must care, because the Bible mentions it, but to think that God is watching the polls or rigging the polls is . . . well, absurd.
Just my two cents. :-)

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Rodger D

posted November 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I did read the page but did not read the comments yet that is. because I want to stick to the ?.
It is a yes to the ?
and it sound to me like your still lost and you lose because you are lost.
And as for Christine O’Donnell I would not count her victory out yet!. If what she said is true its not over. My point I would not put my child were I would not want her or him to be unless thay understand what there facing !. Do you get my point?.
You look at God like you look at luck shame on you,luck is may or may not happen but with God it should or should not happen what was wrote back then may not apear the same as it is writen but the meaning is the same!. I think if she feels that way I hope that she don’t give up hope just try to understand why it did not go her way
and I think he will just not the way she wants it.
I also think that most of us are at a crossrodes of what is good or bad or evil you could say. I was never in to politics untell now not for my sake but for other hoping thay will think of Me not personaly but as one of them. I trust God an I pray My Country don’t give up in trusting God. Because I think this was the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ in God We trust think about it please.

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Rodger D

posted November 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

@Kathryn and @Chris
After reading the comments I can tell some have pretty good knowlegde of the Bible now just get closer to Jesus and God and your in good shape !. There is more I would like to say but I’ll wait.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Food for thought – perhaps God did tell them they wanted them to run… but not win. Perhaps God wanted them to run to teach them a bit of humility. Perhaps the lesson was more for the candidate than the for the voters.

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Rodger D

posted December 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Christine O’Donnell You have a window please look out it and see what its showing you. Let Him do the part you can’t do. But do the part that you can do when it your time to do it. Don’t turn your back on whats right do it to the wrong !. God Bless you and yours.

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posted October 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

God’s word is true and stands forever. If He says that He does it, He surely does. We should not let negative leadership by other leaders, make us doubt the word of God, for they are made to lead negatively so that we may doubt God’s word.

Maybe one may ask, since God is omniscient, why He puts leaders whom He knows they will forsake Him and not do things according to His word. The answer is that God’s ways are not like ours, and so are His ways, His being better than ours, Isaiah 55:8-10.

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