When Sovereignty Turns to Fatalism (#554)

Will God determine the result of the next election regardless of what we do?  Many think so based on a faulty interpretation of Romans 14. After spending a few moments answering a listener's question about is whether or not there is a valid calling to the ministry, Brad and Wayne talk about the difference between trusting in God's sovereignty and falling into the passive abyss of fatalism. This not only affects how we participate in a democracy, but also how we view God's work in our daily lives and the value of our responsiveness to him. Growing trust in God and walking with him never leaves us fatalistic. He's active in the world and we can be active alongside him as God touches the world through the lives of his followers.

Podcast Notes:
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  1. Nice discussion. I feel for your decision. It seems like a big circus up here. Thanks to the media.

    The question is… have we ever had the “right” person in power. The person that desires the position of power has other issues that doesn’t always seem right. I look at the political picture and I fail to see how it reflects the ideal that God had in mind when he created us. I think the political picture is more a picture of our brokenness than God’s design. I can go back to the story of the Saul and Samuel to see that confirmed.

    “Not works to earn it, but focus to recognize it… ” Love that!!!

    Thanks again.

    Ruby from Calmar, Alberta, Canada

  2. Just listened to the podcast and the “Swirling Eddies” discussion had me laughing – partially because back in the late 80’s I was a fan of a band named “The Swirling Eddies” whose sense of humor/satire you might enjoy. They had song titles like “Knee Jerk”, “Hide the Beer, The Pastor’s Here”, and “Attack of the Pulpit Masters”. I’ve never posted here, but thought ‘yall might like know about “The Swirling Eddies” 🙂

  3. (1) Will God determine the result of the next election regardless of what we do?
    (2) Many think so based on a faulty interpretation of Romans 14.
    (3) After spending a few moments answering a listener’s question about is whether or not there is a valid calling to the ministry, Brad and Wayne talk about the difference between trusting in God’s sovereignty and falling into the passive abyss of fatalism.
    (4) This not only affects how we participate in a democracy, but also how we view God’s work in our daily lives and the value of our responsiveness to him.
    (5) Growing trust in God and walking with him never leaves us fatalistic. He’s active in the world and we can be active alongside him as God touches the world through the lives of his followers.
    (1) It is axiomatic that God will ALLOW the Trump/Clinton outcome – the American electorate will decide. Compare with WWII, the protagonist’s claimed that God was on their side!
    (2) Rather obviously, about one half of electorate will vote for and the other against each candidate regardless of individual’s prayers – God does not suffer dilemmas, trilemmas or nlemmas.
    (3) A sociological dilemma as opposed to God’s.
    (4) Subliminally invoking God to solve our problems – people must learn and practise INTEGRITY to experience the works His hands hath made.
    (5) Just translate the French aphorism: Aide-toi et ciel t’aidera (Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877)

  4. I learned in the 12-step programs to put principles above personalities. In regard to the election, it seems difficult to impossible to do. But then I received a mailer from the Faith and Values Coalition that laid out the positions of the candidates on major issues. And I also had a conversation with a co-worker, who said he was voting based on platform.

    Through all the negative rhetoric and mudslinging this campaign brought to light, its comforting to know that when the dust settles, leading the country will come down to not the values the winner has espoused during the campaign, but the values set forth when this country was founded, based on bipartisanship and the system of checks and balances, which limits the power of said leader.

  5. For Ron: You are right about the mudslinging but that is exactly Satan’s forte – confusion. While ‘the country will come down to not the values the winner has espoused during the campaign’ is wonderfully ideal, what assurance is there for confidence that ‘values (of) the winner’ will not dominate your country’s future given the current campaign? Would candidates uphold or usurp your excellent Constitution by varying amendments etc with the support of supplants in the Supreme Court to stamp their values on the country? Quid pro quo (more prosaically: pay to play) is a powerful corrupter of mere political mortals! On this occasion, I think hawkish scepticism would be prudent to dovish faith.

  6. I like how you tried to unpack sovereignty and leadership

    I find most support sovereignty for the issues they want to see pushed forward

    But when we look st relationship we see the dance, the give and take

    This is how I see the election and leaders

    God is not picking the winner. But whomever wins God will continue to work in their heart

    My opportunity is to be a connected believer and an American citizen

    I let my faith inform my vote

    But I don’t blame God for the results

  7. Phil…
    The oath the incoming President takes says they are to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’ It may be idealistic of me to think it will be enforced, but my hope is it will be taken seriously, and appropriate action taken if it is not.

  8. For Ron: I fully applaud your comments, idealism and hopes; I only wish that they will be realized. Currently, the question must be: if the preservation etc of the Constitution be compromised by a corrupt POTUS, then who will be left to effect ‘…appropriate action…’? Where did many historical European wars spring from if not from corrupt and power hungry individuals? I reiterate: On this occasion, I think hawkish skepticism would be prudent to dovish faith.

  9. Hi Wayne and Brad and all.

    I would appreciate some feedback.

    I told my group Saturday morning that the goal of my life is not to become like Jesus. The goal of my life is to experience His love working in me so I can love others and fulfill the great commission. It seems that becoming Christlike is a by product of a life well lived. If I focus on the Christ like goal I become morbidly introspective, and I ended up in a treatment center because of it. Romans 8 talks about to quit focusing on myself, and focus on what God is doing around me. There is a life to be lived and an adventure in which to partake.

    It seems that was the thrust of your conversation above. How much of Christ’s love is penetrating my heart and soul, how much do I know I am loved by Him, and how does that spill out to others?

    These thoughts were not well received by some in the group. Both the grace group and the become like Jesus group did not like this focus. I see it as the only reason I am here. And I have lots of adventures. So for me, it does not matter who is elected. I have job to do, a life to be lived, a Saviour to trust.

    Love wins.


  10. Hi Mark.

    I’ve given up on trying to become like Jesus. It is impossible. First off, he was sinless. Secondly, he died, was resurrected, and walked the earth a second time. And He is coming again. That is not true of me. I can only try to love like Jesus, but only after I have been loved by Him.

    You say trying to become Christlike led you to enter a treatment center, it landed me in a mental hospital. I couldn’t reconcile the preaching on Christian radio that on one hand said you are not good enough, but on the other hand expected you to be perfect. That is a sure recipe for insanity. And that was close to ten years ago, and thankfully am now in remission and although I still have issues, for the most part my life is stable. And Christian radio is no longer part of my spiritual diet. God is in control.

    I do believe God asks us to participate in society, to be in the world but not of it, to not be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Like Brad had said in a prior podcast, he still believes in an America he can be proud of. So do I. It would be easy to say I am simply not going to vote, because God is ultimately in charge, but I do believe God does raise up people in the electorate for His purposes, and it is our civic duty to study the issues and vote our conscience, not necessarily for the candidates themselves, but the issues they represent.

    Politicians are flawed, so am I. Often my decision-making is simply based on my perceptions, not the reality of the situation. History is littered with bad candidates, broken promises, bad decisions, and to think in this current time we are unique in this is to be mistaken. ISIS was once the Soviet Union. 9/11 once the Civil War. By no means am I downplaying current events, they are just as tragic and disheartening as what took place decades, centuries ago, but this is a fallen world we live in and for the time we have on this Earth, we simply can’t put our heads in the sand and make it go away. We can hope for a better future, which is the life to come. The focus is to never lose sight of that, yet somehow be fully engaged in this life.

  11. Mark, thanks for sharing.

    I get where you’re coming from when you wrote that your goal is “not to become like Jesus.” That pursuit has lead me to horrible places of anxiety, guilt and shame; as well as pride, arrogance and striving…” I am learning to live in a place of leading and boasting in my weakness, and becoming vulnerable and transparent like a little child. Hopefully, in this newer place I will experience more and more of the love of Father; I get tastes of it, but nothing that has really stuck yet. In this place of vulnerability and being more transparent – which is scary, but hopefully helps me learn more that grace is my shield – I receive His love, which will allow me to love others more like Him, as ‘by product’.” At least this is my hope.

    Living in a place of rest, and joy and contentment and love sounds like a far off dream to me… As far as I can tell, i am not living in this new reality yet; but it certainly sounds real good!!!

  12. I think that all political systems and all of World History demonstrates one thing. Man is not capable of self government nor is any other free will being ( Satan and his angels). Only a free will that is in subjection to, in love with, has full trust in and seeks the communion of fellowship and conversation with its Creator will have the ability of its Creator to be like his Creator. John 1:11-13

    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Where are we at as a nation right now? Every man for the most part, is doing what is right in his own eyes, and joining with others that are most like him, seeking to gain power to control others and create the world they desire. In short we are still eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil trying to become like God.
    Why are we on this insane path, because we do not trust and love the Creator. That is the door Satan open to man by questioning in the garden. That is the door man walked out in the fall and the door God seeks to lead us back into. The door of Love and Trust in the Creator (Christ Jesus).

  13. Hi Wayne. As a family we emigrated from a country where there are huge amounts of crime and corruption to a country we felt God had a better future for us and our kids. We have found this better future and have grown hugely in our relationship with God. In our previous homeland we were part of a very religious church community in which grace was a known concept but not a lived experience. Rules, shame and judgement were the order of the day. It is now 13 years later and we are truly happy in our new land and our new community of Jesus- following believers. We are recovering religious people and often become aware of another layer of shame we need to shed. We journey on and have friends supporting us. The problem is our families. They are what was described well in this podcast as fatalists. They believe that they are meant to stay in the dangerous environment they are in and that that is where God wants them to be. That might very well be the case and is their choice, although we are often concerned for their safety. We very much think we have a God-given capacity to make wise decisions and choose to do so. The problem is that they label us as people of little faith. Their fatalistic view means they take what comes their way and make God responsible for that when they say it’s God’s will when bad things happen and their time is their time. When one family member died an untimely death a few years ago, their response was that God takes his favourites first. Not only do we find that cringe-worthy but we also sense a misunderstanding of God’s character and who He is. How do we navigate this space? As much as we love them, family relationships are strained as their religious thinking and fatalism causes anxiety, rejection and sometimes withdrawal in order to avoid their criticism and judgement. Your comments would be appreciated.

    • Hi Amy. It’s no fun being on a different page as your relatives, especially when they say silly things you disagree with. The time will come when your contentedness in God will allow those things to roll of your back with out having to raise the issue or convince them how wrong they are. You’ll know the truth and that will free you not to have to fix others, nor let their ignorance impact you emotionally. Just keep drawing to the Shepherd and watch how this changes. In the meantime, don’t spend more time with them than you can emotionally process. Be gracious as much as you can, and pray that the Spirit will work in them offering them greater space and wisdom. The judgments and criticisms of your relatives do not define you. If they press you only need to say, “We both know we view this differently, can we entrust it to God and still enjoy each other?”

    • Not sure what you’re referring to. If you’re talking about government authorities, then it’s Romans 13. If we’re talking about being generous with other people’s journeys, then Romans 14. Sorry if we didn’t get the right address during the podcast. We aren’t working from notes! 😉

  14. I come from a family that has gone in many directions spiritually. When we come together, we enjoy each other’s company without talking about the issues that divide us.

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