“No better than the ancient Philistines”

Strong words from Mike Huckabee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):

“These are the things that I know. I know there is a God, and I know this nation would not exist had he not been the midwife of its birth. And I know that this nation exists by the providence of his hand, and if this nation forgets our God, then God will have every right to forget us,” Huckabee said. “I hope that we repent before we ever have to receive his fiery judgment.” . . .

Huckabee warned that “a society that sacrifices its own children is no better than the ancient Philistines,” [Read more...]

Huckabee’s pardons

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is a different kind of Christian conservative. Instead of coming across as just another right wing spear carrier for the Republican party, he brought to the table something that Christians in politics seemed to have been strangely lacking; namely, a sense of compassion. Also wit. As he told Leno, he reminded people of someone they worked with, rather than the guy who laid them off (an allusion to rival Mitt Romney). Huckabee is not above using government to help the little guy.

As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee’s compassion led him to grant clemency to quite a few prisoners. Now one of them, Maurice Clemmons, has killed four police officers. (To be fair, his granting the parole didn’t lead directly to the new crimes. The parolee got thrown in jail again in another state, whereupon he was again set free.)

The pioneering Christian blogger Joe Carter, who now blogs for First Things, served on Huckabee’s staff during his presidential campaign. He thinks highly of Governor Huckabee but reports that he applied his Christian faith in such a way that he did show mercy to criminals, especially if they reported a conversion, were recommended by a pastor, or made up for their crime through “restorative justice.” But Joe thinks he was sometimes naive in doing so.

Loyal reader of this blog Eric Richey proposed that we discuss this in light of the doctrine of vocation, that Huckabee–who is also an ordained Baptist minister–might have been confusing his calling as a minister of the gospel with his calling as the governor of the state. Put another way, is this a violation of the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, confusing the Christian’s individual spiritual mandate to forgive, with the magistrate’s Romans 13 duty to punish evildoers?

And yet, earthly rulers are to temper justice with mercy sometimes, aren’t they? His powers as governor gave him the power to pardon and to commute sentences. Is it fair to hold him responsible for this tragic outcome, which he certainly didn’t intend? Should this disqualify him for the office of president, should he decide to run again?