Did Donald Trump win the presidential election because “God showed up”? Well, yes… though that may not signify what some imagine it does.
Franklin Graham raised the issue, addressing “thousands” of people at a Trump rally. Because he’s Franklin Graham, and the words were controversial, they were reported across the land.
Why does Franklin Graham speak to thousands (and get repeated to millions)? Because he’s Billy Graham’s son, and president and CEO of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Christian relief organization called Samaritan’s Purse.
So when Graham gets up and talks, he’s not just some guy. No, he has fame as son of a world-renowned Christian leader, and as leader of two Christian organizations.
No one chooses his father, but surely Franklin volunteered for those two CEO positions. He chose to be a very public Christian spokesman. So one can hope that he’d read his Bible, right? If so, Graham would eventually see James 3:1, which urges folks not to seek leadership positions too eagerly, since such “will be judged with greater strictness.”
All that said, Graham voluntarily takes the public spotlight as a Christian leader to say this:
I don’t have any scientific information. I don’t have a stack of emails to read to you. But I have an opinion: I believe it was God. God showed up. He answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people across this land who had been praying for this country (source).
In further remarks during an interview, Graham also said that Trump was the answer to the prayers of people who wanted a man in the White House who “believed in God” and was “willing to listen to God’s voice.” Somehow, Graham says, he “could tell” that “God was getting ready to do something in this country” to “change the direction” from the secularism, humanism, and atheism that has ruled the day.
There’s a lot there, so let’s just slice the pie with some Q and A.
Did God “show up” in the recent election? I’m troubled by the insinuation that God ordinarily is somewhere else, effectively absent, but occasionally He “shows up” and big showy things happen.
That isn’t the biblical view of God at all. The true and living God is intimately involved in everything. He does according to His pleasure, everywhere, always (Psalm 115:3; Ephesians 1:11). From a sparrow’s fall (Matthew 10:29), to the course of kings (Proverbs 21:1), nations (Isaiah 40:15), and constellations (Job 38:31ff.), God’s sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19).
So yes, of course, God was there, and God’s sovereign will was done.
As it would have been done had Hillary Clinton won – or Faith Spotted Eagle, for that matter.
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Are you saying God never breaks through in remarkable ways? Not at all. The God who created all things by His word has acted many times in Israel’s history (Psalm 78:4), culminating in the coming of Israel’s Messiah right on schedule (Galatians 4:4), with the cluster of miraculous events marking Jesus as who He was (Acts 2:22; Romans 1:3).
But the pattern is basically this: God tells a prophet what he is going to do; then He does it; then He tells a prophet what He has done (cf. Amos 3:7).
Is Franklin Graham a prophet? No. Does he claim to be one? I hope not. So, instead of stating what the Bible says, why does Graham give an “opinion” and allude to some personal sense that “God was getting ready to do something in this country” to “change the direction” of the country? I have no idea. I can say with confidence that biblical prophecy says nothing directly about Donald Trump – unless he turns out to be the Beast of Revelation – or this election.
Indeed, Trump won because of God’s will – but that in no way implies that he has God’s seal of approval (Daniel 2:21; 4:17, 32 ; Romans 9:17).
So is Donald Trump’s election an answer to prayer? Shall I try to read God’s mind and make my own guess? No. As one has somewhere said, “Not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent.”
However, I will share a thought as to whether Trump shows any signs of being the answer to the prayers Graham cites. Remember, Graham suggests Trump is the answer to the prayers of people wanting a man in the White House who “believed in God” and was “willing to listen to God’s voice.”
Is that Donald Trump?
Along with not reading God’s mind, I also don’t read others’ spirits or hearts (Jeremiah 17:9b; 1 Corinthians 2:11). However, I can read, and I can listen; and insofar as someone’s words reveal what is in his heart (Matthew 12:34), I can say that I’ve never heard the slightest evidence that Donald Trump is that man.
So Donald Trump doesn’t believe in God? That depends on what you mean. Deep down, everyone knows God (Romans 1:21) – though, at the same time, everyone suppresses that knowledge (Romans 1:18) and does his best to run from the God he refuses to acknowledge (Romans 1:21, 28; 3:11-12, 18). Including Donald Trump.
Does Trump exercise biblically defined faith in the biblically revealed God? Here surely we must answer not merely No, but Good heavens, no. Do you need me to rehearse it for you? This is the man who famously said he doesn’t think he’s ever had to ask God for forgiveness, who is hopelessly muddled about how one finds forgiveness, anyway, and who is horrendously vague (at best!) on who Jesus is. No Jesus, no Christian faith.
All of this makes a kind of sense, because though boasting that he is “a big believer in the Bible,” and that in fact “nobody reads the Bible more than me” (sic), and he has every Bible people have sent him – still Trump couldn’t volunteer much about it with any specificity. In fact, he sounds as if he’s never read a word of it.
But what about being willing to listen to God’s voice? I’d have to know what Graham means. With the rest of his remarks, and his father’s legacy of theological fecklessness… he might mean anything, or nothing.
In Biblical terms, again, I’d just have to say there’s no sign that Donald Trump is “willing to listen to God’s voice.” God’s voice is heard today exclusively in Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-2; 3:7ff.). If Trump were listening to God’s voice, he’d be listening to Scripture.
If Trump did that, he’d be hearing that he is hopelessly dead and lost in sin (Ephesians 2:1f.; Romans 1:18—3:19, 23). He’d have heard that we all will be judged by God one day (Hebrews 9:27), and that we will be surely condemned if God judges us for our own righteousness or sins (Psalm 130:3; 143:2, etc.). Forgiveness would be “huge” to him!
Trump also would have heard that our only hope of forgiveness, life, and reconciliation to God is Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 36; 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6, etc.). He’d have heard that he needed to repent, and call on Jesus in repentant faith for salvation (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31).
In other words, Trump would have known, embraced, and been transformed by that world-tilting Gospel that is revealed in the Bible he says he loves so much.
I pray for Donald Trump, and hope he will listen, in repentant faith, to God in Christ through Scripture. But until then, rather than guessing and trying to read God’s mind, let’s just stick with what God has said, in words, to all of us.