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 worst 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.
Very interesting article. I also believed that our leaders were chosen by God. Seems like I need to study more.
This verse only applies to Israel. The LORD has appointed Himself as the leader of Israel, His chosen people. Nothing they do changes that. But as for the other nations, He determines the leaders of all other nations – and in all cases sets up the “lowliest of men” as leaders (Daniel 4:17), and we are not to “oppose the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:1-2) . You would think Fred Williams would understand that fundamental difference.
Unrepentant adulterer? How do you know that? Can you read hearts and minds?
Hi Luke, If President Trump has ever made a statement showing regret for this, I will re-word that statement.
You are treding on very shaky ground here. Does anybody need to publicy regreting something for you to believe it. Whoever they are.
Your judgement on Mao Zedong is annoying.
Does God send you to judge people?
Give back to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s.
We are here to seek for truth, not for argument.
Yes, God does send Christians to judge, just not hypocritically which you are doing by judging me. Paul criticized the church at Corinth for not judging even the smallest of matters.
“These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates” (Zech 8:16)
You try to counter anthropomorphism with scripture that appears to refute that idea, however, you do not come to a personal conclusion. Your treatise needs another paragraph.
This isn’t biblical. This is Liberal Opinion. If you’re going to bandy the Bible about, you should quote something from the Bible. i.e.
Romans 13:1-7 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Hi David… I did quote and explain Romans 13:1-7 explicitly, so wouldn’t it be fair next time for you to respond to the scripture I posted, instead of declaring it a “liberal” opinion without even reading it?
Wow…I thought this was a really well stated position, with documentation to substantiate it. The explanation of Romans 13:1-7 was very understandable…and fits well with my understanding of scripture. I’m surprised to see so many arguments. I voted for Donald Trump, but I did so knowing that he has a past filled with women who are not his wife, and that he has never openly expressed remorse or conceded any error in that. Mao? Someone would actually suggest that Mao was appointed by God? And as for judgment, I think we need to be less critical of others, but discernment is definitely a requirement of a Godly life…and isn’t that judgement? You have to carefully pick your friends, but you still have to love all others. Isn’t that Godly discernment? Thank you, Fred. Very nicely expressed position on Scripture.
Fred, you might try curbing your own biases before you advise us on curbing ours.
As a fellow engineer and an African having encountered all these verses in the context of what I had been taught via a vis what I have seen in life and I must say finally I have a solid grasp of these verses. God bless you. If one is African you may ask where does God throw our prayers for sound leadership. If he is the one manipulating our elections then he must be the enemy of black people. But since he isn’t the enemy of Africans then the predestined leadership thing isn’t accurate. You have explained it well. Very logical.
God gives us free will to choose evil or good…He does appoint our leaders and he will destroy leaders also..God works through bad people also to accomplish what His plans are for the glory of himself. Jeremiah 19:5 you used as a reference..read further so you have a better understanding that he said they all will be destroyed.