“Ten Theses about God’s Providence and American Politics”
Generally, American Christians and especially American Evangelicals have held for so long a distorted view on God’s providence and its interplays in American politics and foreign policy. My goal in this brief post is for the Christian community in the United States to foster a healthier and biblically informed position on divine providence, and that their political decisions and moral and economic choices to be faithful to biblical principles and values and the teachings and virtues of Christ on these pressing issues of our time. Below, I articulate ten theses associating with the doctrine of divine providence and the works and interventions of God in American politics and governance:
1. The political choices and politically driven moral choices of the Evangelical Right and Christian Conservatives should not be equated with God’s decisive will (or divine determinism) for the American people and the future of the American nation. The United States is a democratic nation and a secular state that established the freedom of choice and the freedom of rights for its citizens regardless of their religious affiliation and ideological worldviews.
2. Although the God of the Bible is a political God, he is not a political monster, nor has he granted one (specific) nation (i.e. United States of America) the right of political hegemony and domination over the most vulnerable people of the world and the weaker nations.
3. In various stories in the Bible, the God of Scriptures always portrays himself as the Sovereign King of the nations who is against and punishes the strong nations that oppress and conquer the weak nations.
4. Sometimes, the political God would appoint a wicked leader to judge a wicked nation. When God allows an immoral leader and a political monster access to political power and governance, it is almost and always with the intent to lead this nation to structural decline including political deterioration, cultural degeneration, economic relapse, and moral downfall—if the people do not repent from their evil ways.
5. When a nation becomes politically powerful and economically stable, it is not an indicator of divine favor or God’s preferential option for that nation. As we learn in ancient history and the history of empires, powerful nations and empires amassed wealth and resources and boost their economic strength through various means such as conquest, economic exploitation of workers, forced labor, and the weakening of the conquered nation (s). Therefore, there is no biblical warrant that the Christianization of a nation and a people guarantees economic success and political stability.
6. The belief that some nations are economically poor and others are economically rich because of their affiliation with a particular religious tradition (i.e. Christianity) or their failure to embrace Christianity—in the case of the poor nations—does not align with the science of (contemporary) economics, the ethics of good leadership and moral governance, and modern technological advancements. This is a grave misunderstanding of the nature and workings of theocratic government and secular government. Nonetheless, by any means, this thesis denies God’s sovereign choice to bless and prosper a nation and a people.
7. Therefore, it is not theologically justifiable and biblically sound to link the form of government that existed in biblical times with modern (American) politics and government.
8. On the other hand, a nation whose laws and public policies are grounded on Christ-centered moral virtues, ethical principles, righteous governance, and economic justice, and if the same nation implements these laws into the workings of its civil and political societies, inevitably, this nation will experience holistic growth and prosperity and its citizens will flourish.
9. The common belief that American patriotism has its roots in biblical Zionism is politically and theologically misleading, and correspondingly that American exceptionalism is associated with Jewish exceptionalism by the virtue of God’s election of the Jewish people to be his people is not theologically sustainable and warranted.
10. The common ideology that a thick American nationalism and exceptionalism carried out more often through America’s (unjust) wars, foreign invasions, and interferences in foreign politics will not ensure permanent national defense and sustaining peace, holistically unify the American people, and prevent external attacks. Such ideology is anti-God, anti-Christian ethics, and morally bankrupt.