Theology: December 2007 Archives

I've been in news isolation for the last week or so due to a huge stack of grading that's still almost half as big as it was a week ago. But apparently there's been a furor over a remark by Mike Huckabee that his recent upturn in the polls is (among other explanations) a result of divine providence. I haven't been able to find exact quotes, but from this post it seems as if Huckabee said two things.

1. He has offered several reasons for his rise in the polls, and one of them is divine providence. That means that he isn't ruling out perfectly natural explanations, but he has a strong enough view of divine providence that he's willing to say that his rise in the polls is in  God's ultimate plan (whether that means God's plan includes him becoming president is another matter that he doesn't seem to have commented on at all).

2. He's surprised enough that he's willing to speak of his rise in the polls in miraculous terms. The reason this can't be taken too far is that he has provided other explanations besides providence. So he must simply be expressing the unlikeliness of this in attributing it to divine providence in this sense, even if there are perfectly natural descriptions of the means God has used to bring this about.

Now I'm trying to think of what's remotely objectionable about any of this. I've turned up nothing. With any robust view of divine sovereignty, anything that happens is at least foreknown and allowed by God, and this doesn't happen unless God has specific reasons for allowing it or causing it. That doesn't mean the reasons are the ones we expect, but Huckabee seems careful as far as I can tell not to say that God has caused this surge in order to win him the nomination, never mind any claims about God wanting him to be president. All he's said is that God is behind the surge in the polls, which any Christian with a robust view of divine sovereignty should say, even if the person saying it is one of the other candidates or someone who very much doesn't want Huckabee to be president. If it happens, then it's in God's will in at least some sense, and that's what it means for something to happen by providence.

I see nothing in Huckabee's comments at this point that mean any more than what most Christians throughout history have believed about every event that ever occurs. That makes me think those making a fuss about this must be taking him to say something very different from what he's actually said. Either that or they think our political discourse (or, more precisely, our meta-political discourse) should include debates about the traditional Christian picture of divine sovereignty. I'm a bit skeptical that that's the place to debate theology.

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