But should a pastor be president?

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.

What Obama and Huckabee have in common

Andrew Sullivan sees Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama, the two victors in Iowa, as manifesting the same theme:

Look at their names: Huckabee and Obama. Both came from nowhere – from Arkansas and Hawaii. Both campaigned as human beings, not programmed campaign robots with messages honed in focus groups. Both faced powerful and monied establishments in both parties. And both are running two variants on the same message: change, uniting America again, saying goodbye to the bitterness of the polarized past, representing ordinary voters against the professionals. Neither has been ground down by long experience, but neither is a neophyte.

You have a Republican educated in a Bible college; and a Democrat who is the most credible African-American candidate for the presidency in history. Their respective margins were far larger than most expected. And the hope they have unleashed is palpable.
That hope is not just about their parties. It is about America. America’s ability to move forward, to unite, to get past the bitter red-and-blue past. That’s what the next generation wants. And they now seem motivated enough to get it.

The Wise Men

It was certainly good to get back to our own church after weeks of holiday travel, and we came back to an excellent Epiphany sermon.

The Wise Men, we were told, did not get very far using earthly wisdom: They came to Jerusalem, logically enough but wrong, looking for the new King. Worse, they naively asked the old king for information about the new king who would replace him. It was when they started to follow God’s Word (the prophecy in Micah about the Messiah coming from Bethlehem) that they made progress. [My aside: Notice how the Bible helped them interpret the star, not the other way around. We get so caught up with trying to interpret the Bible that we neglect that the Bible is what interprets us!]

When the Wise Men found the Christ child, who was against all appearances of what worldly wisdom would say a king should be, they worshipped him. As Pastor Douthwaite put it, “they returned wiser than they came.”

Read the sermon for yourself here.

Lutheran church burned in Kenya

In the rioting in Kenya over a disputed election that has sparked inter-tribal warfare, Springs of Life Lutheran Church has been looted and burned. The congregation is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, which is in fellowship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The home of the ELCK bishop, Dr. Walter Obare, a noted spokesman for orthodox Christianity against the liberal west, was said to be in danger.

Springs of Life lost not only its sanctuary but its nursery school and its medical clinic that ministered to the Kenyan poor. That clinic had just been remodeled with the help of American congregations.

For more details and for a way you can help click here.

 UPDATE:  This conflict is NOT between Muslims and Christians.  Both of the tribes tearing each other apart are predominately Christian from many different denominations.  The Kikuyus have been the ruling tribe, with the Luos feeling oppressed and mistreated.  The riots started when the Kikuyu president was re-elected amidst charges of stealing the election, whereupon the Luos rose up in protest. 

According to my research, the Lutherans are primarily Luos.  It was Luos–hopefully, not any of the relatively small number of Lutherans–who burned the Assemblies of God church and slaughtered between 30 and 50 Kikukyus who had gone there for sanctuary.  Apparently, the Kikuyus are now burning Luo churches. Or perhaps this is not so much revenge as what happens in a state of anarchy when all social order breaks down. 

 If anyone has any more background information. please comment.

UPDATE: Rev. Mark Sell, whose Friends of Mercy organization does work in Kenya, gives some more perspective in a comment here. And on his blog he gives more details and pictures, including of the people the church ministered to and of the church burning.

HT:  Mary Moerbe

Slander according to Islam

A piece on how a court ruling opens up the possibility of Islamic law being applied in a libel case gives more evidence of how Islam may indeed become THE postmodernist religion:

In the U.S., the Supreme Court’s seminal 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision defined libel or slander by a journalist as stating or writing falsehoods or misrepresentations that damage someone’s reputation—and in cases of public figures, doing so with malice.

Under sharia, by contrast, libel constitutes any oral or written remark offensive to a complainant, regardless of its accuracy or intent. Slander “means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissoluteness, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him,” according to Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib (d. 1368).

If truth is relative, how can there be slander or libel laws? The answer has to be that slander must consist of words that someone does not LIKE and so finds “offensive.” In our popular discourse, we have ALREADY adopted the Islamic definition.

Statistics on belief in creation

Still more from Gallup: A recent poll on how many Americans believe in Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design.

A mere 18% believe that evolution is “definitely true,” while 39% believe that the Bible’s creation account is “definitely true.” (Other responses were about shades of “probably true” or “probably false.”)

From another angle, 14% believe that man developed with no guidance from God; 38% believe that man developed but with God’s guidance (apparently reflecting some version of theistic evolution); and 43% believing that God created man in his present form. (4% offered no opinion.)

What is linked above is raw data, going into much more detail and with a range of related questions and comparisons, so feel free to offer your own analysis.