Those who follow political events in our country know that a miracle occurred this past week in the Republican congressional primary in Virginia. At least, this is what we're told. Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, the second most powerful Republican in the United States House of Representative, lost the nomination to a relatively unknown Tea Party candidate, David Brat, a college economics professor with little, if any, political experience. Cantor had spent huge amounts of money on his campaign while Brat had spent very little. Cantor had allegedly spent more on steak dinners alone than Brat had spent on his entire campaign!
What was the reason for this huge upset? The winner made it clear: it was, he told the cheering crowds, "a miracle of God"! His followers apparently accepted this explanation, taking no credit for their campaign work or even their vote.
We hear the word "miracle" thrown around quite frequently. Many people attest to witnessing or experiencing miracles in their lives - some on rare occasions, others frequently. It seems that God is actively at work in the lives of His people. And this was one of those times God was clearly at work in a congressional primary.
The talking heads, of course, did not accept this explanation of the huge electoral upset. In fact, most seemed to ignore it. They suggested that it had to do with immigration reform. Cantor had actually taken a position on this issue and even talked of compromise with the President! In one discussion, a pundit questioned whether there might have been possible ethnic/religious reasons for the vote. After all, Cantor is Jewish and his district is heavily Bible-belt "Christians." The other pundits disagreed.
No one seemed to see the irony in the description of the upset by some as "David versus Goliath." That particular "upset," as I recall, was of a Jew defeating a Gentile. The Virginia upset was a Gentile defeating a Jew.
I have a couple of problems with the claim made by the primary victor. The first is the sloppy use of the word "miracle." We need to define this term. The New Testament uses a number of words to describe acts that we would term miracles: "signs," "wonders," "works of power." All speak of extraordinary and unusual acts, usually accredited to God.
Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines Miracle as 1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. 2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology gives this definition: "... the biblical concept of a miracle is that of an event which runs counter to the observed processes of nature" (page 723).
So by these definitions, was the primary upset a miracle? Well, only if we stretch Webster's definition #2 and leave God's name out of it. Even David's defeat of Goliath doesn't quite qualify. I know that some folks see a miracle in every unusual occurrence. This is just part of the "Christianese" that many use.
But if everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle!
But my second problem with the claim is that this was "a miracle of God." Seriously? I believe this is a violation of the Third Commandment. "You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7a).
Who does this guy think he is, enlisting God's special intervention? "What are you up to, quoting My laws, talking like we are good friends?" (Psalm 50:16 - The Message) Is God really against immigration reform? Is God in favor of T.P. economics? Or did God perhaps want to replace a Jew with a pious professing Christian?
"The LORD will not clear of guilt the one who uses His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7b).