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'God won' and 'we won' the election narrative is theologically unsound

President William Ruto. [Michael Mute, Standard]

The narrative of God winning Kenya’s elections should have died by now. But this “God won” doubled with “We won” narrative keeps resurrecting. In some church corridors, it has evolved into a tagline that has been exported to political podiums.

Beyond the light-darkness spiritual warfare understanding, the “We won” is also being used along church corridors to paint shades of light. The muscle flex is on between modern and traditional church formations. In political podiums, this punchline is being used to punch the opposition. The “God-won We-won” slant is serving to stamp an otherwise worldly endorsement of the present administration.

By now, wisdom should have informed the persistent propagators of this slant that it is theologically faulty. The challenge with this perspective is not God’s ability to win. The challenge is limiting God’s win to a political party. God has no party. While God is free to use a party for His purposes, such a divine action does not mean God becomes its member.

If at all we were to give God a constituency, the closest we can get is the party of the poor, the weak and the oppressed.

This implies that to the extent that the winning party oppresses the losing parties or people who did not vote for it, it loses the membership of God. God is in the Love Party – which included love for enemies. For including enemies and opponents as qualified for enlisting, this Love party has very few members, even with no registration fees and a perpetually open registration window!

One flaw of the God-won We-won interpretation is its implication that the win was earned by believers in God as the loss went to the believers in men. This faith-based division has been described as a referendum between the godly and the ungodly.

Divine victory

The Election Day - through the IEBC - affirmed the God cluster. The error here is freezing the referendum to a political event and not extending it to the human handling of the stated divine victory. Biblical analysis does not support an Election Day freeze. The God duty should not be restricted to delivering a win. God’s post-election role should be elaborated, not muted. The argument must be progressed to a post-election referendum where the winning party commits to hear, learn and abide by God’s rules. There is an escalation from winning and losing to God’s laws and human obedience. Without this commitment, then the God-win is only fractionally understood. According to the biblical story, divine granting is inseparably attached to human obedience. Going by this, a political win sets up even a more demanding expectation - a reverent undertaking to make the victory-granting God proud.

The other flaw of the God-won We-won argument is the spiritual definition of the opposition. Is the opposition the devil? If so, why would the devil be granted a constitutional role of checking on a divinely instituted government? The thinking here is that the checking role is inferior to the ruling role. The losing devil has an equivalent lesser, unimportant and lowly task of checking the government. The error here is in trivialising the legal importance of the Opposition and the contradiction in a divinely sanctioned role granted to the evil losers!   

The other flaw in this God-won We-won argument is in its applicability to past and future election situations where claims of rigging make legitimate winners end up in the opposition. In a world of crafty humans, the people of God will often find themselves in the opposition as manipulators seize the win. A widely accepted doctrinal understanding is that where God is, there too is the victory. God is never on the losing side, even though it may seem so to the ordinary eye.

Winning vote

When God’s people are in the opposition, should that then be a win too? Or is God only located on the side of the winning vote? To the extent that this argument proposes God’s location as only in the popular side and never in the opposition, it is flawed. Saul was a God appointed King who ended up being a God-rejected King. He was in power, but God was not in power with him.  The superior spiritual argument would base itself on where God is and not where the votes are.

One other flaw in this thinking appears when considering where to place the failures of the government. The direct connection of God with victory opens the avenues for direction connection with government performance. Does the failure of the government mean that God has failed? How should the blame and the glory be shared between God and His humans? From the biblical history of God’s relationship with people, it is people who fail not God. One constant about God is that God never errs and therefore never fails. Failures therefore must always fall squarely on humans.

The God win can only be let down by the human will. This necessitates that an authentic government be a confessing government - one that is frequently repentant. Repentance while spiritually praised is at a political level often understood as weakness. This said, the tendencies we are observing in our God-win government are ones of chest-thumping, fault-evading and proud attitudes. 

The other God-win-Human-lose argument fault is that it casts a judgment on the spirituality of the nation’s people. God is painted as operating in one zone and not the other. A huge population is cast as totally godless or not godly enough. In a country of plural religions with distinct understandings of God, which divine lane actually won? Christianity as the dominant religion often has its way when it claims victory.

But plurality demands that members of other spiritual groupings who voted in the winning party be equally allowed to celebrate the legitimacy of their faith as a contributor to the victory. This demands that Christianity makes room for other spiritualities to share in the glory and mount parades in the name of their faiths.

Excluding other faiths from the God-win glory amounts to dismissing their potency or assuming their voting as subsumed by the Christian umbrella. Such an argument will be readily rejected by the non-Christians in the winning party who would want to legitimise the contribution of their spiritualities in the victory.

Attributing the political win to faith must also mean the affirmation of all faiths in the winning party, even if they contradict and even oppose the Christian doctrine.

The God-win-human-lose argument casts the entire political process as a battle of the gods.  The human factor is dulled and relegated to a pawn role.  The boundary between human responsibility and God’s participation is blurred. The risk here is discerning when the voices of the winning party are divinely inspired and when they are earth-sourced.

The God-win can easily be abused by propagating the thinking that the entire system is God’s agent and therefore should be excused and not questioned. This ends up in a cultic, fear-based following.

It also stirs a situation where those who come to their senses hate God and the entire religious machine. As people gain the courage to question, interrogate and confirm the manipulative dimensions of a regime masquerading in the name of God, what began a theistic regime can potentially end up birthing many atheists.