Presidents, Prophets and the Sovereignty of God

Despite the demonstrably obvious failings of the prophecies that predicted Trump’s re-election, I continue to receive comments from die-hard believers who still resolutely believe that the prophecies will come to fruition and that God is about to work a miracle to install Donald Trump for a second term. This unshakeable faith in Trump’s eventual victory seems to be predicated upon three underlying beliefs which deserve closer scrutiny.

PREMISE 1: The belief that Trump is some kind of saviour for the Christian church in America.

Undoubtedly, some of Trump’s policies have advanced the cause of religion generally, and Christianity specifically, within the United States. His pro-life stance in regard to abortion and his defence of religious liberty have been heralded by many Christians as the most pro-Christian policies of any President in recent times. Furthermore, the general consensus is that Christianity will fare much worse under the liberal policies of a Biden government than it would have under a second Trump term.

Having conceded this, however, the level of adulation that Trump has been accorded by a large percentage of American Christians verges on messianic veneration. In a previous article, I cited key Christian leaders referring to him as “God’s anointed” and even comparing him to Moses! These accolades ignore the many glaring and serious deficiencies in both his character and political leadership. These deficiencies have never been more clearly demonstrated than in recent weeks. Trump’s inflammatory social media posts and speeches which incited the recent violent mob riots, followed almost immediately by his denial of responsibility and his denouncement of the rioters, is a reflection of the erratic, thoughtless, unpredictable and, at times, unhinged nature of his whole presidency. No president has ever done more to divide the nation and kindle the flames of racism, hatred and discord. This is why a growing number of republicans have finally withdrawn their support for him in recent weeks, as his unbridled narcissism has wreaked havoc on the nation. The steady stream of resignations from his staff and various heads of government departments over the same period is further evidence of his deeply dysfunctional leadership.

While I applaud some of Trump’s pro-Christian policies, these do not warrant elevating him to the saviour-like status that he has been given in some circles. Furthermore, the fact that his policies are arguably more favourable to Christianity than those of Biden’s administration does not necessarily mean that Trump must, therefore, be God’s choice for President. This brings me to the second underlying belief of Trump’s many vocal Christian supporters.

PREMISE 2: God will place his choice of President in the Whitehouse – and Trump is clearly his choice!

Firstly, it is hubris, in the extreme, to presume to know the mind of God on such a complex matter. Who knows what purposes God may have in allowing one person to become president over another? Biblical history is replete with instances of God allowing a LESS favourable King or ruler to come to power, either among his own people or among their enemies, in order to carry out his purposes.

Secondly, even if Trump IS the person whom God would prefer in office, we cannot assume that God is going to do anything about it. God’s will is not always done on Earth, not in the superficial sense that Trumpists seem to believe. The idea that every world leader who is elected to power is God’s specific, perfect choice is naïve. If you believe this, then you have to believe that the many megalomaniacs and violent despots that have risen to power throughout history, causing the cruel deaths of hundreds of millions of people, were all put there by God and were his perfect choice.

This opens up the complex topic of God’s sovereignty. I have written about this at depth elsewhere (“Finding God When He Seems To Be Hiding”). For the purposes of this discussion, however, it is worth pointing out that while God remains absolutely sovereign over all the earth, able to intervene at any moment he chooses, his allowance of the continuing operation of our free will means that his perfect will, in a specific sense, is not always done. We sin as individuals and even as nations. We go against his perfect will for us. Every second of every day, all around the world, people are lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, hurting others and breaking his commandments in a myriad of ways. We must concede that a very large percentage of human behaviour is directly contrary to God’s perfect will, yet the Bible still speaks of God as being completely sovereign.

This is because God, in his sovereignty, allows us to exercise our free will at both a personal and national level. In Australia, our nation recently voted to legally sanction same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is not the will of God – indeed it contradicts some very strong moral teachings of the Bible – yet God allowed our nation to go against his moral code. In the same way, not every president or national ruler who comes to power is God’s perfect choice. God’s sovereignty is one of watchful oversight with a minimalist approach to intervention. He allows both the evil actions of disobedient people and the foolish decisions of nations to unfold under His watchful eye, only intervening when these things might derail his long-term eternal purposes.

It is, therefore, naïve to suggest that: (1) Trump must be God’s choice because his policies are better than Biden’s, and, (2) God will therefore ensure that Trump will become President again, because his will is always done. Both these assumptions reveal a very superficial understanding of the outworking of God’s sovereignty in our world.

PREMISE 3: God has spoken through his prophets and we must believe them, otherwise we are guilty of a lack of faith.

There are a couple of responses that need to be made regarding this belief:

Firstly, at least three of those prophets have now publicly admitted that they were wrong in predicting Trump’s re-election, and I suspect that more will cave in within the next two weeks. The prophets who have now recanted their prophecies and apologised to their followers are, Kris Valloton (7 November), R Loren Sandford (7 January) and Jeremiah Johnson (10 January). If these prophets themselves are recanting their misguided prophecies, at what point will their faithful followers also admit that the prophecies were false? Sadly, these three apologetic prophets are now being attacked on social media by extreme Trumpists for their “lack of faith”. Their faithful followers will not be dissuaded, even when their prophets recant!

Secondly, the scriptures call us to exercise discernment and to “test” prophecy, rather than just accept every supposed prophetic word that is uttered to us. This is because not everyone who claims to be speaking on God’s behalf has actually heard from him! Indeed, the prevalence of false prophecy within our world is the reason why there are so many warnings against false prophecies in the Bible.

“𝘿𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨, 𝙙𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙨𝙥𝙞𝙧𝙞𝙩, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙥𝙞𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙚𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙂𝙤𝙙, 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙛𝙖𝙡𝙨𝙚 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙩𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙜𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙.” (1 𝙅𝙤𝙝𝙣 4:1) (See also Deut 18:20; Ezek 13:9; Jer 14:14)

Testing and questioning prophecy is not a lack of faith – it is the response of a mature, discerning Christian.

How do you “test” prophecies? By whether they are fulfilled, of course! In the current case, not only have the predictions of Trump’s re-election not been fulfilled, but many of these same prophets also predicted that COVID-19 would be wiped from the Earth by Easter last year! Clearly that didn’t come to pass either. But what has been the response of their ardent followers? Those previously failed prophecies have not resulted in any apparent loss of credibility for these supposed spokespersons of God. There appears to be very little ‘testing’ of prophecies going on at the moment. Sadly, I am not surprised by this. The longer I live, the more I am not shocked by people’s gullibility.

As Biden’s inauguration day approaches, it is my hope and prayer that people of faith will lead the nation by example in demonstrating grace in the face of defeat. What America needs now is healing and reconciliation, not incendiary partisanship based upon demonstrably false prophecies and a naïvely simplistic view of God’s will.

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Kevin Simington (B.Th. Dip. Min.) is a theologian, apologist and social commentator. He is the author of 12 books, and his latest, “7 Reasons to Believe”, is now available. Connect with Kevin on Facebook or his website, SmartFaith.net.

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