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?
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?