Have you ever wondered if God chooses our leaders? Did God pick President Donald Trump, who among other things is an unrepentant adulterer? Or how about the extremely pro-abortion Barack Obama, who once railed against Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount in a seldom seen video before he ran for President? What about Kim Jun Un, the vicious dictator of North Korea? Or Mao Zedong, considered by many to be the worse mass murderer in history? Or how about the likes of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler?
Many Christians believe that God chose all these leaders. This belief largely has its roots in Calvinism, a disturbing doctrine that is sadly taught in many seminaries. Believing God chose all leaders fits with their belief that God preordained pretty much everything, including deciding ahead of time who goes to heaven and who goes to hell (see my blog The Predestined for Hell Myth).
Let it first be said that God certainly can choose leaders and guide them for whatever purpose He has in mind (e.g. Daniel 2:21, Romans 9:17, etc). He is God after all! But does this mean God picks every last one of our leaders, even all those wicked ones? No, and there is a verse that precisely communicates this:
“They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.” – Hosea 8:4
The question you may then ask, and its a fair question, is how does this jive with Romans 13:1 that says God ordains authorities? The context of Romans 13:1-7 is government as a vehicle to administer justice. It does not explicitly say that specific people are appointed by God, but that their roles, their position as an authority to administer justice, is. If you believe God explicitly chooses every leader, then Hosea 8:4 makes no sense in your framework. Consider for example this website that promotes the position that God chooses all leaders. The author admits he can’t accommodate the Hosea verse and gives no explanation why! However, the verses he champions can easily be accommodated if God ordained the government hierarchy as a vehicle for judgement. There are many more verses that contradict the belief that God specifically appoints every leader (e.g. Jeremiah 19:5, Ecclesiastes 9:11, etc).
If you believe God chose every leader, is this so much different than Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar assuming God was punishing Job for his sins? Ultimately God wrath was aroused against Job’s friends because they “have not spoken of me what is right” (Job 42:7). Its interesting that while Satan was the vehicle for Job’s suffering, God in His indescribable love and even humility assumed responsibility for allowing it to happen – “…they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11).
While God has no doubt chosen specific leaders (e.g. Saul), God also has the freedom to allow us to choose our leaders. The Calvinist limits God by foisting on Him the inability to let things happen by chance. God is in control and can do anything He wants, which includes letting us do stupid things. When inconvenient verses like Hosea 8:4 and Ecclesiastes 9:11 come along, the Calvinist wipes them away by using their god of the gaps white-out marker labeled “anthropomorphism”. We should always rely on all of God’s word speak for itself, and try our best to curtail the biases that affect our ability to understand and discern His Word.