God as dictator takes many forms, from jack-booted goose-stepper to the paternal ‘sit down with a biscotti and latte while I tell you how it’s going to be’. I think most people who believe in God see him as some type or style of dictator, whether malevolent or benevolent. But is the opinion itself valid?
I have complied a list of traits common among dictators. Let us examine God in light of these traits, to see whether or not he fits the bill of goods with which he is so often labeled.
- A dictator is above the law and acts upon whim.
- A dictator forms a cult of personality.
- A dictator restricts and/or denies freedoms.
- A dictator has no named successor.
- Those governed are under hopeless oppression.
- Those governed are impoverished.
- Those governed have no say over their leadership.
This is not suppose to be exhaustive, but rather a generalization that hits the high points of a dictatorial reign. So, how does God score on this short list?
A dictator is above the law and acts upon whim.
The scripture tells us that God cannot lie; he is therefore bound by what he has spoken. God even takes council. We read examples of this in chapters such as 2 Chronicles & Genesis 18. God also plans his actions, as Jeremiah and Paul tell us. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
A dictator forms a cult of personality.
Isaiah tells us that there is nothing special or majestic about the way we perceive him; he even goes on to say that there is nothing beautiful about him that would cause us to desire him. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
A dictator restricts and/or denies freedoms.
Paul tells us that it is for the cause of freedom itself that God has set us free. He goes on to warn us that we are not to submit to slavery any longer. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
A dictator has no named successor.
The apostle John tells us that God has made us kings and priests, and we will have authority upon the earth. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
Those governed are under hopeless oppression.
In Ephesians we discover that it is when we are without God that we have no hope. It is in the calling of God that we find hope. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
Those governed are impoverished.
Those same scriptures in Ephesians tell us that we are called to a rich and glorious inheritance. God shares his wealth among those he governs. God does not meet this requirement of dictatorship.
Those governed have no say over their leadership.
In the whole issue of God as dictator, this is the only real bone of contention. I don’t know anyone who believes that God governs by consent. Yet that is the whole theme of creation. God is willing to be supplanted by anyone who has better credentials. God’s willingness to let someone else take the reins is often misconstrued as free will. His discourse in the book of Job is a job description – if you want to do what I do, you had better be able to best this benchmark.
One of the most telling insights into the nature of God, and one that we will examine again in another post is:
God is not theoretical.
Faith without works is dead. The authority of God must be proven if he is to govern. Even gold and silver are tried in order that they prove their worth. The life we now live is a life unto authority. That is the thought behind Christ’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
God governs by the leave of those governed. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This happens through a personal realization of his right to rule; this does not happen by force. And it also includes Satan. To Satan is bound the full sum of all that is not God. Through him we obtain the anti-God, the anti-Christ, the anti-Spirit, the anti-Kingdom. When the question of Satan is settled, the question of God’s lordship is settled. But God is not a dictator.