By Mark Kelly
Gene Edward Veith, executive director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary and culture editor of WORLD Magazine, regularly offers excellent insights and great discussion questions at his blog, Cranach. The quality is head and shoulders and torso above what you find on the muckraking, pot-stirring, self-absorbed mutual admiration societies that pollute most of the blogosphere.
A new post on Cranach, entitled Woes of the Christian Right, puzzles over why conservative Christian political activists aren’t rallying around presidential candidate Mike Huckabee – “who is not just trying to get the Christian conservative votes but is a Christian conservative himself” – instead of wringing their hands over whether to reconcile themselves to Giuliani’s social liberalism or Romney’s Mormonism and flip-flopping.
Veith writes: “The argument that he can’t win is ridiculous at the primary stage. Of course he can’t win if people who like him won’t vote for him because he can’t win. Some of the same people who think this way about Huckabee are contemplating a Third Party candidate – do they think he can win?”
I know Huckabee from my Arkansas days. When he was a pastor, I admired him more than most any other in the state. It was a time when our state and national Southern Baptist conventions were wrestling with the need for theological reform in our institutions. We were plagued by opportunists who sought to leverage that turmoil for personal advancement. Huckabee set a great example for other young pastors at the time: He modeled biblical Christianity in both theology and demeanor. He was willing to speak his mind when many cowered in fear of the consequences. He refused to stoop to the level of venal ambition that characterized a tiny handful of other pastors in the state. He was a man of conscience, conviction, courage, and integrity in an era when those qualities were in short supply. When God began to bring him forward as a talented young leader who could bless Arkansas and Southern Baptists on a broader scale, the religious politicians stood in his path because he hadn’t supported their crusade. So he had to “settle” for blessing others as governor of Arkansas.
I was pleased when Huckabee decided to run for president because I knew him to be what I can’t say I know of any other candidates, in any party – a man who has risen to influence because of his principles, not in spite of them. I don’t agree with him on every issue (my problem, not his, I’m sure), but he isn’t a mercenary flip-flopper who will do and say whatever it takes to get elected. He is a man who examines the issues thoughtfully, listens to the voice of God in Scripture, and does what in the depths of his soul he believes is right. On the crucial issues that will decide whether our society collapses under the weight of our own self-indulgence, he is spot on.
Genuine believers who want to see a truly biblical worldview influence our society from the highest office in the land ought to be campaigning for Huckabee, not writhing in anguish over what worldview compromises they are willing to accept to make a win more likely in 2008. He is a salt-and-light candidate. We ought to be wholeheartedly supporting him and leave it with the Almighty whether he becomes the nominee of his party – especially when it is our failure to support him as a candidate that will keep him from being the nominee.
Update 10/27: A significant endorsement of Gov. Huckabee from Justin Taylor, Joe Carter, and Matthew Anderson. And a new NAE poll shows Huckabee leading the list of presidential candidates among evangelical leaders.