The CNN-YouTube Republican Debate: How Mike Huckabee Got it Wrong

The CNN-YouTube Republican Debate: How Mike Huckabee Got it Wrong November 29, 2007

Last night’s CNN-Youtube debate was fascinating for a number of reasons. One was the moment that a sarcastic-looking kid basically asked a question about biblical inerrancy and the following took place:

I loved the fact that they went straight to Giuliani first. We saw him squirm a little, and Huckabee did a good job of pointing out the heathen elephant in the room by asking “Do I need to help you out a little here?” He gave a good answer that could have been heard a bunch of different ways. It’s true, some of the bible is metaphor, simile, not to be taken literally, etc. But toward the end of his answer he really blows it when he spells out an example: Jonah at the belly of the whale. He basically views this story as allegorical, or not historically true. He could have not brought this up, and I would have said, “technically I agree with him.” But instead he reveals the true belief behind this view of the bible: he is uncomfortable with the supernatural. Yes, Jonah in the belly of the whale is supposed to represent something, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It means God writes history in a meaningful way. Furthermore, what would he have to say about the very thing Jonah’s Great Whale Adventure is meant to represent, the resurrection? Isn’t that a hundred times more preposterous?Of course, we didn’t learn anything new about Giuliani, but we may have learned something new about Romney, who is known to be a Mormon (though truthfully very few of us really knows what that means). In fact, the question itself almost seemed to be directed at him, as the snide kid who asked it was really insistent that the answers reference “specifically… THIS book that I am holding in my hand.” It was not the book of Mormon. So what did we learn about Romney? That absolutely, yes, he believes the Bible is the Word of God. Great. But Anderson Cooper, bless his heart, wants to know if he believes every word. Romney, suddenly is utterly uncomfortable. We see a genuine moment of struggle as he finally blurts out a not-so-genuine “yeah,” before reverting back to his more official stance, “The Bible is the Word of God.”And then Huckabee, the former baptist minister and “the only one standing here with a theology degree,” took a much more subtle stance than I anticipated. Politically, it was brilliant. He didn’t back down from his obvious convictions, he didn’t take the opportunity to openly slam his running mates, and he focused on everyone’s favorite passages (You know, love, least of these, all that). But I have been wondering just what he meant when he said we shouldn’t be arguing about the complicated things. What is his point when he says we’ll never understand God?If I saw Mike Huckabee today, the first thing I’d do is tell him he’s got my vote. No doubt about that. But then I would tell him to read 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. Yeah, that’s all of it. Paul never tells Timothy that all Scripture is profitable “except some of it is complicated because so is God, so just forget about it. It’s mysterious.”

I’m not holding this against Mike too much. Christians sometimes say great things just short of the perfect thing, and I think that’s what happened here. But I think this is the sort of thing we can learn from. What do you think? Anything else Huckabee should have said? Like the gospel?

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