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« Then I Saw a New Heaven and Earth -- Revelation 21:1-22 | Main | Who Said That? »

Mike Huckabee and the Two Kingdoms











Now that Mike Huckabee is surging in the polls--quite a surprise to me--his candidacy raises very important issues regarding the two kingdoms (the "kingdom of God" and the "city of man").  Huckabee was governor of Arkansas for more than ten years, so one might assume that Huckabee no longer sees himself as called to the gospel ministry.  Not so.  Click here: Huckabee Steps Back Into the Pulpit at Evangelical Church in N.H.

Here's why Huckabee and so many on the Christian Right make me nervous--they often confuse the two kingdoms.  Here's an example of what I mean.  On January 6, while campaigning in New Hampshire for president of the United States, Mike Huckabee preached a sermon at a church called the Crossing.  In his sermon, Huckabee stated "When we become believers, it's as if we have signed up to be part of God's Army, to be soldiers for Christ."  This raises a number of red-flags.

First, if Huckabee is called to public service (a legitimate and noble calling), then he should resign his office as minister.  That would clarify things greatly.  In effect, Huckabee should do what the minister in the movie the Patriot did when he took up arms against the Tories--he took off his clerical collar before going to war.  This made things very clear.  Ministers don't wage war.  Citizens can if the cause is just.

Second, it makes me very, very, nervous when a presidential candidate gets in a pulpit and preaches a sermon during the midst of an election in which he is running for office, especially when the church service seems much like an election rally.  It makes me even more nervous when candidate Huckabee speaks of God's army and being a soldier for Christ in that same sermon.

In all fairness, Huckabee made an effort to preach a sermon and not give a political speech.  But why does a candidate who feels he is called to be president of the United States, also feel called to preach a sermon using militaristic metaphors, if not to whip up potential voters?  If not confusing the kingdoms (which I think Huckabee did), it certainly muddies the waters.  Not good.

Third, since evangelicals often don't evaluate things theologically, they tend not to see a man confused about what God has called him to do (either be a public servant or a minister), and instead see value in having a "man of God" as president.  This, many think, will ensure that the traditional values agenda is duly addressed from the right perspective.  After all, it is argued, America is a "Christian nation" and must maintain these values.  Huckabee, it is believed, will do this.

When viewed from the perspective of the two kingdoms, every Christian is simultaneously a citizen of both kingdoms and our theological beliefs should inform how we behave as citizens.  But there's no distinction of kingdoms with Huckabee in a pulpit, and Huckabee's "soldiers in God's army" are people who will serve his political cause.  In other words, they'll vote for him and encourage others to do the same.  Fine for a political rally.  Not fine for a church service.

Let say that as for me and my house, we'll have nothing to do with Mike Huckabee.  I don't like his populist rhetoric.  I want to hear talk about budget cuts, tax cuts, size of government cuts, etc.  I want to hear a candidate tell me how he will protect my civil liberties and not mortgage the future of my children by taxing and spending.  Furthermore, I will not support a candidate for president who wants the nanny state to protect me by keeping me from smoking--Huckabee supported a national "no smoking" initiative.  By the way, other than a very occasional cigar, I don't smoke.  I happen to think the nanny state can be as dangerous to my health as a two-pack a day habit. 

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  • Response
    How do we know if someone speaks for God? Amy provided a great response in a post at Stand to Reason.From Os Guinness to Frank Schaeffer (son of Francis Schaeffer) regarding his latest book, Crazy for God: "What you have written is a tissue of falseness, distortion, and unchecked allegations -- ...

Reader Comments (86)

I was at a Huckabee event on Sat. night. I’d like to offer a different view. I sat next to a woman who had flown in from Michigan to work on the campaign. We were waiting for Huckabee to stop by for a post-debate appearance. I asked her what her plans for Sunday were. She said she was going to church - the church where Mike Huckabee was going. I asked which church was that? And she said, she couldn’t say - “Mike wants people to attend their own churches, unless they are from out-of-town or don’t have a church. The church was not be publicized because it was not a campaign event”. She went on to say if that I really wanted to go, I would have to speak with a staffer - since they did not want people to come to church just to see Mike.
The Washington Post article you are referencing is using the term “God’s army”, but here’s the actual quote - “Likening service to God to service in the military, Huckabee said ‘there is suffering in the conditioning for battle" and "you obey the orders.‘“ One sentence in the Washington Post makes it easy to pigeonhole the whole sermon.
Enough said - but needless to say I disagree with you and your characterization of Mike Huckabee’s positions. I’m not completely convinced by the “two kingdoms” approach, but still I remain a “Presbyterian for Huckabee”.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris D.
Kim, I agree with you 100% I work with some very conservative guys and one of them jokingly put up a Huckabee for President sign in another guy's cubicle. The victim later added..."of the Arkansas Rotary Club".
Not sure if you saw Dr. Al Mohler's blog the day after the Iowa caucuses. Here's one paragraph that sums all this up very nicely:

"The rhetoric of the race -- and the rhetoric of many evangelicals -- is disturbing. This race is important and necessarily so. We are talking about the next President of the United States, after all. But evangelicals have invested far too much hope in the political process. No government can make people good, transform humanity, or eliminate sin. The political sphere is important, but never ultimate. Jesus Christ is Lord -- and He will be Lord regardless of who sits in the Oval Office."
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterR.J. Stevens

Very good observations. You've expressed several things that have concerned me as well. I'm very skeptical of a person who comes to us courtesy of the same group (American evangelicalism) who gave us George Bush.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarry
Why did Pat Robertson endorse Rudy G over Huckabee?
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharles S
Those of us who hold to historic confessions and standards in the church and want to be very cautious about modern deviations, in my opinion should in all integrity take the same position towards the constitution and our founding fathers regarding government.

In that case, there is only one acceptable candidate- Ron Paul. And just about everything you might notlike about him is a quarrel with the founding fathers.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercarolyn
Amen, R.J. Stevens.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJN
A surprise to you.

Crosstalk ( a couple weeks back did an election show. Basically, the whole show they took quick calls, "who you gonna vote for and why?". The callers, mostly evangelicals of the fundamentalist persuasion, were about evenly split between Mr. Huckabee and Ron Paul (which is heartening to this old "pessimist with libertarian sympathies"), with a few stray others and one each confused souls for Obama and Frau Clinton.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlee n. field

Brillian monologue. This fits in nicely with your recent and very persuasive article RE: Using God in Modern Reformation. Isn't it odd that both leading candidates (Huckabee and Obama) have confused the two kingdoms? This shows us that both liberals and conservatives (if that is the right word for Huckabee. Religously it might be, but politically it is not) are essentially saying the same thing. This fits in nicely with some recent shows on the Whitehorse Inn. Today's fundamentalist evangelicals are essentially the same as yesterday's liberals; while today's liberals are just more liberal than ever.
Thanks God for the words of Jesus: "The gates of hell will not prevail against the church." Political parties, presidents, countries, and empires come and go, but City of God is eternal.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Holst
Sorry for the numerous errors in my post. It's been a long day!
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Holst

There is no doubt in my mind that the hypothetical candidate you describe in your post as wanting to hear from is Ron Paul. No doubt at all.

January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRuss
Kim, I love your Amil work, but I fear that you've fallen into the trap set for us by the Republican establishment. I believe Mike's Candidacy is an opportunity to change the tone in America, and especially toward religion. I'd be glad to swallow some economic centrism to get that.

I'll go even farther and say that I believe his candidacy is from God and that the eerie silence from Christian leaders about it is deafening.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWill Riddle
Kim, you wrote: "Ministers don't wage war. Citizens can if the cause is just."

This raises the issue of military chaplains. They are in the military, with all it entails of course. Is a military pastor a contradiction? Is there a line there? I sincerely look forward to you addressing this question if you don't mind.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEloquorius

I greatly respect your position, but isn't it a little early to say you'll have "nothing" to do with Huckabee? So if he's the Republican nominee you'll a) stay home? b) vote for the Democrat? c) some other option I'm not aware of?

I would issue this challenge to any other of you out there thinking along the same lines as Kim...IF (grant the supposition for the sake of argument) Huckabee's the nominee THEN what do you believe a responsible Christian citizen is to do vote-wise?

For myself, if it was Huckabee vs. Hillary/Obama/Edwards I think it would be the height of ignorance for a Christian to vote for the Democrats. There are just way too many planks in the Democratic platform that enjoin or condone outright sin. And yes I know Republicans aren't perfect. If this was Israel or Italy, we could all have our favorite pet candidates and have 23 parties in our parliament. But it's a two party system folks. And we've got to live with it.

I have no familial or traditional connection with the Republicans. I really don't care about the party per se. If they switched platforms tomorrow I'd happily vote Democratic.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBen Keller

I haven't decided on a candidate yet. I'm not very satisfied with any of them, including Paul.


Sorry, but I want nothing to do with Huckabee's nanny state. This isn't about the Republican establishment (which has come up with a whole slate of crummy candidates), but about Huckabee's confusion regarding the two kingdoms and his own calling.


Chaplains are non-combatants. It is a wonderful calling and more Reformed folk ought to consider it.


If I have to leave a slot open on my ballot (even if its at the top) I will. I am sick and tired of holding my nose and voting for someone because I don't want the other guy to win.

I'd like to see some real third party options--not the weird, kooky stuff like the Greens or Peace and Freedom.
January 7, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
I think unbelievers out there will be highly suspicious of another evangelical president. After 8 years of George W. Bush and the mess he has made of America and the world, unbelievers will not be interested in more of the same.
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOne Salient Oversight
My thoughts exactly!

Its hard to say whether he truly misunderstands the two kingdoms or if he is simply using it to pander to the Christian Right. My guess is both. Either way, he has a proven track record of both using and trivializing God for political purposes ... and I find that utterly revolting! From taking phone calls from God to filling in for John Hagee one Sunday, he is obviously hedging his future on fooling the public into thinking he is the "Christian" candidate. Sure, just "about" every other candidate is doing the same thing ... BUT if anyone should know better, it should be Mike!

Besides being a strict constitutionalist, addressing the needs for a limited government, manageable foreign policy and sound money, the only candidate that comes anywhere close to having biblical view of church and state is Ron Paul hands down!
January 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwayde
Bro. Kim,

Could you take another look at Fred Thompson? There's nothing 'nanny-state' about him. And he tells the truth, probably to a fault for political candidates.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
I agree with Kim, I'm tired of holding my nose when I vote. People keep telling me I must vote for the lesser of two evils. No, actually I shouldn't have to vote for any evil!
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaryBeth
Kim, excellent post. I have many many friends that are in the Evangelical/Fundamentalist camp and they all endorse Huckabee. When I tell them I don't think he would be a good president they look at me like I'm a liberal! You are right on about the two Kingdoms. Evangelicals are so quick to focus on only one issue, the abortion issue. While that is a very important one, I am very pro -life, there are other issues as well. Language, borders, culture, that's also what defines a nation!

Jeremy, I am with you on Fred Thompson!

Sole Deo Gloria
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
I'm a confessional protestant, occasional cigar smoker, and Huckabee supporter. I'll forgive him for his confusion of the two kingdoms because I think it's a concept that is confused by the vast majority of Christians, not just fundi's. I'll forgive him for his use of Christian and religious jargon because, as a pastor, I'd find it hard to switch of that language when speaking publicly as well (I'd default to preacher mode too). Obama's victory speech in Iowa had a lot of religious overtones and sounded sermonesque as well.
I've chosen to support Huckabee, for the time being, not because he's a Baptist preacher, but because of the issues. In fact, I was slow to jump on the band wagon because I didn't want people to assume it was because he was a Christian. I'm simply with him on the issues, like abortion, but also like immigration and foreign policy (I like that he called out the president for his 'arrogant bunker mentality'). I do have major questions about fiscal issues and about his experience, so I'm still an uneasy Huckabite, but I'll remain one for the foreseealbe future.
January 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDan Waugh

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