Mike Huckabee is a Southern Baptist minister running, currently with some success, for the presidency. This raises an interesting issue of vocation. I’d like your help in sorting it out.
During the time of the Reformation, the archbishops, in addition to their ecclesiastical functions, were given large fiefdoms, which they ruled like any other prince. The pope claimed temporal authority not only over Rome but over all earthly rulers. He had an army that often warred against the emperor. The Reformers steadfastly rejected all of this, insisting that the church was to attend to the spiritual kingdom of God and let those with the Roman 13 vocation of earthly ruler attend to the earthly kingdom.
Not that a Huckabee candidacy would necessarily fall into this pattern. It isn’t the Southern Baptist church that would be claiming temporal authority, nor would the pastor of a congregation be ruling. Is it even correct to call Huckabee a pastor? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that he USED TO BE a pastor?
This hinges, of course, on whether it is ordination or the call that makes a pastor. (Or, as I would say, both.) In my journalism days I found that former presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton has NEVER served a congregation. Is he really “a reverend”? I also knew of someone who went to seminary, served a congregation for a while, then resigned his call and later got a job with the FBI. Is that FBI agent still a pastor? Is his exercise of the temporal sword illegitimate?
This gets us into that thorny issue of church and ministry that ties us up in knots, but Huckabee provides an interesting test case. (Not that he would be the first pastor in the presidency. I believe that honor would fall to James Garfield.) Keep in mind that Baptist ordination is not the same as that in other churches and may not even be recognizable. (A friend of mine in high school got ordained in his baptist church just because he showed promise, before any kind of seminary training or call to a church. A high school kid! He did take a congregation later for awhile, but then he left that office for teaching, then to work in an office.)
But what do you think about this? Help me out here in untangling how the doctrine of vocation applies to a possible Huckabee presidency.