Is Mike Huckabee a Catholic?

At Wednesday night’s Republican CNN/YouTube Debate Joseph from Dallas pulled off the complex feat of simultaneously creeping out a good … Continued

At Wednesday night’s Republican CNN/YouTube Debate Joseph from Dallas pulled off the complex feat of simultaneously creeping out a good part of the nation all the while provoking three GOP presidential candidates to bear their scriptural souls. His question, asked with more than a smidgen of menace, was phrased as follows:

I am Joseph. I am from Dallas, Texas, and how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book [he places the cover that reads “Holy Bible” in front of the camera]? And I mean specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand [turning the spine of the text to the camera indicating that it is the King James Version]. Do you believe this book?

But I have some questions for Joseph: Who is “we”? And why did he steadfastly refuse to use the word “Bible,” opting instead to call the object he was holding “this book”? Was he setting someone up for a “gotcha” moment?

Anyhow, just as Rudy Giuliani started taxiing down the runway of his well-rehearsed response, Mike Huckabee intercepted him with a somewhat un-Christian aside: “Do I need to help you out, Mayor, on this one?” Yet as we shall see, it was Huckabee who may have needed help as he aired profoundly unEvangelicalministerlike responses to Joseph’s prompt.

Mitt Romney, initially, needed no help: “Iem> believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And I try. (Applause), I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it’s a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.”

Good answer. Delivered with that Romney swagger. Those statesmanlike good looks. Yet for some reason Anderson Cooper detected a false note in that confident hymn and pressed on with a follow-up: “Does that mean you believe every word?”

Cooper’s perseverance paid off as the former governor of Massachusetts inexplicably lost focus:

“[Pause] You know [pause] yeah, I believe it’s the word of God, the Bible is the word of God [pause]. I mean, I ,I ,I, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it”

Cooper had asked Romney if he believes every biblical word. But the former governor of Massachusetts riposted–interestingly, and inadvertently I think–that every biblical word can be read differently by different believers.

If Romney truly subscribes to this view then a lot more follow-up will be necessary in the coming weeks. For what is to be done when decent God-fearing people who don’t disagree with the Bible, do disagree with one another as to how to live by it? How can a Democratic polity predicated on the American Constitution possibly adjudicate between all of those scriptural disagreements?

As for Giuliani, he never mentioned that the King James Version Joseph was waving in front of the camera is not the translation of Scripture that Catholics consult (was this the intended gotcha ambush?). Well-prepared and calm, America’s Mayor opined:

The reality is, I believe it, but I don’t believe it’s necessarily literally true in every single respect. I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context. So, yes, I believe it. I think it’s the greatest book ever written. I read it frequently. I read it very frequently when I’ve gone through the bigger crises in my life, and I find great wisdom in it, and it does define to a very large extent my faith. But I don’t believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the belly of the whale, or, you know, there are some things in it that I think were put there as allegorical.

Aside from cleverly casting the Good Book in the role of therapist who helps him work through his character issues (e.g., “the bigger crises in my life”), Giuliani situated himself squarely in the Catholic mainstream. Catholics are not biblical literalists. Catholics can legitimately claim a nearly two-thousand year tradition of reading the Bible allegorically. Catholics are not averse to acknowledging that they are in fact interpreting Scripture. (And Catholics do not live by the Bible alone, but that’s a different story).

This left Huckabee who noted that he was the only one on the stage with a degree in theology. Yet on this evening the coursework at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary did not pay dividends. For some reason, this Evangelical Christian repeatedly veered into Catholic hermeneutical air space:

Sure. I believe the Bible is exactly what it is. It’s the word of revelation to us from God himself. (Applause). And the fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don’t believe it. But in the greater sense, I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well, if you believe the part that says “Go and pluck out your eye,” [Mark 9:47] well, none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye. That obviously is allegorical.

Did that conservative Baptist minister just say “allegorical”? The allegorical approach to Scripure, incidentally, has made Protestants uneasy, to varying degrees, since the time of Luther. This is not to say that all Evangelicals are biblical literalists, but so-called literal readings have come to define the public proclamations of those “Christian Leaders” who Huckabee aspires to emulate. He continues:

And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small.

Love that humility, but once again, the idea of the text as a divine mystery seems more congenial to the Catholic interpretive tradition. Evangelical demagogues (as opposed to the better educated theologians tucked away in the seminaries) have aroused the wrath of secular America precisely because they act as if they fully comprehend and understand God’s message. Put differently, when the Dobsons and Falwells and Robertsons of the world attempt to influence public policy on the basis of Scripture, they sure don’t seem to act as if the text is mysterious. Huckabee plows on:

But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and really not left up to interpretation. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” [Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, etc.] And “as much as you’ve done it to the least of these brethren, you’ve done it unto me”.[Matthew 25:40] Until we get those simple, real easy things right, I’m not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated.

Here too Huckabee is making unorthodox claims. Can a conservative Protestant simply demote certain, “complicated” sections of the Bible, in favor of the simple ones? Is not every jot and tittle of the Good Book God’s word in Evangelical theology? By what authority can a politician prioritize the easy bits over the hard to understand ones?

Huckabee’s heresies might be attributed to a lack of preparedness or mere stage fright. Less likely, but more intriguing, is the possibility that the governor of Arkansas is a new and different type of Evangelical, one whose scriptural reading practices (and politics) differ markedly from those of the old guard.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
November 30, 2007; 7:06 AM ET


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  • BGone

    They all agree on one thing, the Bible is the word of God which has about as much meat in it as claiming water is wet. They’re eating air sandwiches – hold the mayo – and choosing the variety of bread, white, wheat, rye or sourdough. What remains to be seen is what the cook thinks about their choices.Maybe a question like, “why do you think the Bible is the word of God” would get us a little more information. I can think of several more that are a bit more pointed than, “this particular* Bible is God’s word – true or false.”* King James version

  • BGone

    The actual proper answer that would force the ‘plant’ out into the open would go something like:I don’t know if I’ve ever read THAT book. If it’s a Bible – looks kinda like one but I never judge a book by it’s cover or author – I have a Bible I read all the time and my Bible is God’s word. I don’t know about THAT book since I have never read THAT book. Then I would ask the moerator if we had time for me to read THAT book so I can answer the question.

  • ReligionWriter

    Thanks for the close reading here… you picked up a lot more than I did.

  • Morris

    This is a serious problem for those who believe the bible must be interpreted literally. Since so much rides on faith (one’s eternal salvation), any ambiguity in the bible becomes the a great threat. One must believe to attain salvation. The next question is, “believe what?” How does one know what is an allegory, or what is too complex or mysterious to understand? Even if one knows what is a allegory, allegories are notoriously easy to misinterpret and the believer could easily draw the wrong conclusion. This could lead to faith in the wrong thing, and this corruption of faith could lead to damnation. It is very surprising that Huckabee chose to place himself in the murky realms of Catholic interpretive theology. When one leaves the simple, comfortable, happy home of inspired fundamentalist preachers who all know exactly what the bible means, one enters into a confusing, insecure, argument-ridden, nuanced world. It is theological jungle out there.I respect Huckabee for his bravery and maturity, but I suspect his statements are very troubling to much of the conservative Christian base.

  • disputatio

    i suspect Huckabee’s “heresies” might be better attributed to your ignorance concerning evangelical hermeneutics. Wooden literalism has never been espoused by evangelicals (or fundamentalists). What evangelicals aim to do is to understand the bible in the sense in which it is intended. The bible employs a whole range of literary devices–allegories, similies, poetry, song, etc. No evangelical has ever believed that Jesus is made of wood and hinges simply because he refers to Himself as the “door.” Mr. Berlinerblau, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Do you have faith as a mustard seed that you can say to that mountain “Be cast into the sea”?

  • Mr Mark

    We’re involved in illegal wars that we’re losing, the economy is about to go into recession, the dollar is plunging in value, home foreclosures are up 94% from the same time last year, our civil liberties are being dismantled by this criminal administration…and the Republic candidates are arguing about who has the deepest belief in imaginary beings.Here it goes: god save us from these religious nuts, especially Mike Huckabee.BTW – to be fair, I’m not impressed or enamored of Obama’s pandering to the fantasy-based crowd either.

  • B-Man

    I can think of nothing more boring–or repugnant–than watching a bunch of rank hypocrites argue about the Bible.

  • Bruno

    To the man who says:Please Please Please, DO-NOT vote for anyone candidate whom accepts or is bed with the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, aka the VATICAN (not an Authentic American Prophecied Religion pr Institution and not made in U.S.A.).! You are aware, are you not, that “America” is named for a Catholic? Amerigo Vespuci. Our country, and all our citizens, are named after a Roman Catholic. I would say that makes Catholicism an American religion. B

  • Norrie Hoyt

    “At Wednesday night’s Republican CNN/YouTube Debate Joseph from Dallas pulled off the complex feat of simultaneously creeping out a good part of the nation all the while provoking three GOP presidential candidates to bear their scriptural souls.””bear” should be “bare”.BTW, SUPREME COURT TAKES 2ND AMENDMENT CASE,And several internet sites will sell you 2nd Amendment T shirts, picturing a human whose arms are bear (the animal) arms. Good fun!

  • BGone

    The final choices for both parties will be made by the press, as usual. Let’s hope they choose a D to contrast with Huckabee. An all Arkie election is a little too local for me.What do you mean Hillary’s from New York? Where’s Bill from? Don’t answer that.Believe it or not, there was a time when there wasn’t a single written law for man to live by. Then came God. But where’s the God vote so we can return to those golden days when God ruled directly? God’s vote is getting all knotted up in the correct version of a literary hoax that’s the source of God’s right to rule – little dispute over what God really wants.Who will run the kingdom of God while we anxiously await the return of Jesus to claim His throne, king of kings? Will that be Romney? Nah, no decent self respecting Baptist will vote for a Mormon. Will that be Giuliani? Nope, papeist, honors a foreign king and an immoral one, (both him and the pope) to boot. By default, Huckabee wins the throne of God.Got any idea about how many Baptists there are in Iowa?

  • Roy

    Gee, don’t imply Romney is Catholic. While I was growing up in Utah, the Mormons said Catholics belonged to the Church of the Devil. One of their Prophets called it the “Whore of all churches.”

  • Edward Belaga

    What makes me personally uneasy reading this interesting piece of analytical writing is the openly condescending way Prof. Jacques Berlinerblau treats the religious beliefs of the Chrisitian questioner and of the three Christian presidential hopefuls: sort of a professional naturalist classifying the behaviour patterns of Christian vertebrates, with the “scientific” method behind this classification easily recognizable as a secular, intellectually vigorous version of the Judaism (please, do not worry, Professor about my anti-Semitic bias – I am Jewish). Please, respect the historical, cultural and religious context of the participants’ statements, the context well understood by the listeners: theirs is the religion which is historically responsable for all that is good with this nation, and it cannot be reduced to your ridiculous condescending charades. Shame on you, my Jewish brother.

  • Earl Moreo

    So far no one has picked up on the “creeping out” note, nor on the insistence upon “The King James Version” Whenever I see a bumper sticker promoting “The King James Version, God’s Perfect Word”, and here in the Midwest there are just plain too many of them, I want to get universally didactic. I want to point out that the King James Version wasn’t ever meant to be “God’s Perfect Word”, but instead to be a basic English translation, that used a restricted English vocabulary so that the marginally literate would be able to read the book and understand most of the words. By so restricting the vocabulary, they tried to do to the Bible what Winston Smith and company were to do to the political language Newspeak in 1984. Some how God apparently didn’t get around to proof reading his word until the late seventeenth century. It was a gotcha question, all right. The code word is “Are you sufficiently US?” That Guilianni could give the stock RC answer to that question does at least say that he knows the stock answer. That Mike Huckabee would condescendingly suggest that Rudi wouldn’t know the stock answer doesn’t speak so well for him. That Romney, who is after all Mormon, and therefore not a man of THAT book, HIS book being, after all, The Book of Mormon, would try to stutter through an attempt to make the Bible his book doesn’t speak well of his First Amendment sense, his biblical sense, OR his Mormon sense. That the rest of them stayed out of the conversation may say anything at all, so give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that least they knew when to keep their mouth shut. It would certainly be creepy, because either the questioner was trying to drive the candidates into declaring for a particular Christian sect (or even a particular Christian cult) or he was hoping to get one or more of the candidates to bite and expose themselves as Particular members of that Peculiar Cult. On any count, not one Republican found the question a cause to speak up for the First Amendment. For that, shame on them all.

  • Roy

    Pope Benedict, in an encyclical released on Friday, said atheism was responsible for some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” in history. Gee, if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black…………Catholics, Mormons, Baptists et. al. leave your religious posings for your own on Sundays. Give us back America and give Christianity back to Jesus, for Christ’s sake. We’re sick of your “my god’s better than your god” crap. Give us back the Constitutional freedom to exist without your religious intolerance and quest for your own Jesuslandia theocracy.

  • sparkmika

    Haha.

  • sparkmika

    Haha.

  • Damien

    For Prof. Berlinerblau:Your understanding of the Catholic way of reading scriptures is a caricature. We are not simplistic about scriptures and what they mean. The Church, as the steward of the Bible, faithfully interprets scripture.Underlying all of this is the patrimony of Jewish tradition. We understand the entirety of scriptures in the light of Christ, who is the Eternal Word.The Bible, as a collection of books, has different literary genres: history, allegories, poetry, etc. We are to understand the author, the intended audience, and intended message. Scripture is read and understood in four senses:(See Mark Shea’s book, _Making Senses Out of Scriptures_.)For ROY:More Catholics were killed in the 20th century than all other centuries combined. The believers of philosophies of communism, socialism, and nazism killed over 100 million people. This pales to the crimes (crimes nonetheless) committed by Catholics over 2,000 years.The issue of God is a matter of Truth. That you dismiss him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist and there is no truth.

  • JC

    The panelists and authors of this site repeatedly misunderstand people they consider “evangelical”. I am a missionary and I attended a very conservative Bible university in Arkansas. I agree with everything Huckabee said. Why is that when an “evangelical” comes out sounding logical that they are not truly “evangelical”. First of all, let us stop using the term evangelical because it doesn’t have much meaning anymore.Second of all, give these people some credit. Almost all mainstream protestants would agree that there are allegorical parts of the Bible. Go to any respected seminary of any of the mainstream and even less common denominations and that will be taught. My father attended a conservative seminary of the churches of Christ in Colorado, considered conservative even among the churches of Christ, and even there the idea that not all scripture is to be interpreted literally is a well accepted and long standing teaching. The idea that Huckabee is a “new” kind of evangelical or some kind of Catholic crossover shows just how little this reading audience and public truly understand the teachings of mainstream protestantism. Jacques if I remember correctly you are not evangelical so please make an honest effort to get to know the evangelical community and what is truly believed. It is your style of painting a community that contributes to the gross misunderstadings the rest of the world has of protestants and evangelicals. Let’s get some more balance on this site for it is sorely lacking! This article is very insulting to me as it is surely to many others.

  • E favorite

    Damien, how do you know when the biblical passage in question is literal, moral, allegorical, or anagogical?Who decides? And who set up the structure in the first place.And, what does this mean: “We understand the entirety of scriptures in the light of Christ, who is the Eternal Word.”Also, how did the Church become the “steward of the Bible?”By the way, I was raised Catholic, and attended Sunday School until I was confirmed.Regarding the numbers of people killed in the 20th century – by then weaponry had been much improved due to advanced technology. I imagine the Christians would have used the bomb against the infidel and each other, if it had been invented.Lastly, you say, “The issue of God is a matter of Truth. That you dismiss him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist and there is no truth.” I respond that this is your opinion, not the truth with a capital T that you make it out to be in your pronouncement. There is no evidence for god. That you believe in a god doesn’t mean that he exists.

  • BGone

    Mr Mark:Haven’t you heard? Writing is a gift from God. There’s maybe a writing god? We are all God’s children too. That would be the fertility god.In the kingdom of God voting is unnecessary. Oh yeah, the God vote negates all other votes. There must be a voting god. There is! There is a voting god that lives inside voting machines. He was on vacation in Florida, Nov, 2000.Jacques Berlinerblau is eagerly, anxiously even seeking the present whereabouts of the voting god. NBC news reports that he’s re-registering Democrat, something to do with the new Florida voting machines, been evicted, vacation over or something like that. Maybe a dispute with the war god?Gods don’t follow the law. They make the law. And they enforce their laws too. Real trouble for people comes when two or more gods make conflicting laws and enforce them.

  • Ja JoZ

    Gods don’t follow the law. They make the law. And they enforce their laws too. Real trouble for people comes when two or more gods make conflicting laws and enforce them.WOW! B G O N E! That was a nice nice very superstupidstitious Exposition indeed. Ya Ya funny Mon!

  • GrannyM

    Damien writes:Actually, the Nazis WERE Catholic – and Lutheran. Hitler was born a Catholic and died a Catholic, and the Church has never seen fit to excommunicate him. In all of his writings and speeches, he invokes Christian rhetoric, and depended on centuries of Christian anti-Semitism to support his program of extermination. Read his comments on the occasion of his visit to the Passion Play at Oberammergau. Read his remarks on Luther’s tract, “On the Jews and their Lies.” Read Mien Kampf. Read his speeches. During the ‘30’s, the Church was (rightly) strongly opposed to Bolshevism (which many people at the time connected with the Jews) and saw in Nazism a bulwark against it. “The enemy of my enemy”? I have seen a disturbing trend, lately, to rewrite history, and lump Nazism, which was NOT atheistic, in with Communism, which is. Part of this trend is the pretense that Nazism persecuted the Church. Although the Nazis arrested and killed those who opposed the regime, for that “crime,” not because they were Christian, far, far too few protested. Most were happily on board with the program. Or pogrom.

  • Joseph K. Kafka

    My film-buff, horror-movie-devotee uncle tells me that Damien is really the Antichrist.Is our poster related?

  • DC12

    Once again:POLITICIANS WILL DO OR SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    DC12,A great one liner and summary of the original and added commentary of this thread.

  • a;lsdkfj

    Having wasted my time reading all of this, my only comment would be for all of you to rewrite your posts. Yes, I realize that JB is….well, it’s remarkable that JB is an academic at such a prestigious university.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Damien,You apparently suffer from the Three B Syndrome.To cure your malady, peruse the works of the contemporary NT exegetes listed at

  • GlenM

    Perhaps the trick in the question is whether the candidate answers it at all. I am a federal civil servant and my religion, and that of my colleagues, is immaterial to the performance of the job for which I was hired. In fact it is forbidden by regulation to even consider one’s faith in regard to work performance. If the president is a civil servant how is he expected to answer such probing questions on his religion, and allow it to become a factor in the evaluation of his worth as a president, when it would be against the law for him and the entire federal workforce to entertain such factors when carrying out the duties of law abiding federal civil servants.

  • Edward Belaga

    Should questions of candidates’ religion be ignored or even formally forbidden on the basis of a “regulation forbidding to even consider one’s faith in regard to work performance”(GlennM) ? A candidate is not yet a “civil servant”, and he would become one only after the elections, elected by people who might and are entitled to care about the candidate’s religious beliefs, as they are entitled to care about his political or pro-life credentials and convictions.

  • Albert Moore

    I am an Evangelical Christian and think Huckabee’s answer just fine. I think your analysis shows a misunderstanding of what Evangelicals believe. Namely, we believe different things and cannot be categorized into pigeon holes. People use Dobson and Falwell as if they believe the same thing on all religious issues.Finally, I do not believe any of them should have asked the question. They are running for president not professors of seminary. Their religious beliefs should be none of our business and that is how I would have like Huckabee to have answered the question. Even non-believers have character and it is the character that counts.

  • Richard J. Papp

    If you accept the premise that America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, than you must accept the fact that attacking someone else’s religious beliefs is un-american.Calling someone a heretic in public is not “Love thy Neighbor”If you judge a politician by what he says, rather than by what he has done, than you are naive.

  • Butch Dillon

    Jacques, was there something you intended to say at the beginning of this useless wordplay? Please do something that contributes to the discourse next time you write: crush that stupid book to dust. And with it, dispatch your vulgar concept of God. Now that would at least make for some interesting reading.

  • Steve G

    I think the King James version of the Bible is like someone you see at the 7-Eleven once or twice a year. You take your coffee the same as him, but you aren’t entirely sure he lives in the neighborhood.

  • grannym

    Damian writes:“You are not competent to comment on Hitler’s (or other leaders’) status in the Church. You weren’t privy to any possible personal communications between the leaders and their pastors nor did you attempt to show any public communications showed support or neutrality to Nazism. So you can’t know. “Those “leaders” were not the ones who rounded up the Jews, the Romany, the disabled, and shoved them into the boxcars. The “leaders” were not the guards at Auschwitz. The “leaders” were not the good folks who forced the entire Jewish population of towns in Germany, in Poland, in Russia to dig mass graves into which they were machine gunned. Ever read about Jebwabne Poland? Jebwabne happened dozens and dozens of times. If Hitler had some secret plan to somehow wipe out the 90 some percent of Europe that was Christian, he managed to keep it a deep secret from all those Christians. The Holocaust depended absolutely on centuries of anti-Semitic rhetoric by Christians, and it depended absolutely on the enthusiastic cooperation of Christians throughout Europe. Or rather, on way too many of them. The Christians of Denmark, as a body, and individual Christians everywhere, showed by their courage what could have been done had Christians actually followed the teachings of Christ. Damien writes:“My point is that the philosophies of the 20th century, based on establishing justice or overcoming injustice, were worse than anything before in sheer numbers. Atheistic or not, they were diabolical.”Nazism was certainly diabolical, but it was not Atheistic. Communism was, and is, also diabolical, and is, actually, Atheistic. Religion, or the lack of it, isn’t in and of itself evil or the cause of evil. It is merely a human tool – and a very powerful tool, at that – that can be used by humans for good or ill.

  • BGone

    GrannyM:Hitler didn’t commit suicide as advertised. His valet shot him, as ordered – leads to arguments whether or not one can do suicide via a direct soldier’s order.The last thing Hitler did was call the pope and get absolution for all his sins. So according to faith-in-third-party-forgivers Hitler is now in heaven while all those Jews he sent to the gas chamber are in hell because they were not baptized.Is the above so? Is it possible? Murphy said, “anything that can happen will.”

  • David C.

    I am not certain that Catholics alone can lay claim to non-literalism in biblical interpretation. You seem to read Protestant as equal to Fundamentalist. There are many different varieties of both Protestantism and Evangelicalism, which your post seems to snidely dismiss as mere Catholic cross-dressing.

  • Jack Tymann

    Mike Huckabee was “right on” in his comments.He may well be a new type of Evangelical – one who actually can make it all the way to the White House.

  • Jack Tymann

    Mike Huckabee was “right on” in his comments.He may well be a new type of Evangelical – one who actually can make it all the way to the White Housw.

  • theopaine

    The bible is not the word of god. Honest people can and do disagree as to what is “the bible”. Why were so many important writings of early church father’s left out of “the bible”? This editing(and translating) of early christian writings was done by HUMANS(with an agenda)like you and me. If God wants to talk to us, I am sure S/He is able to do so in a clear, unambiguous manner:not allegorically, not interpretively. So far ,S/He has refused to surface,leaving us guessing. Kind of cruel, don’t you think? Why? Mayhap S/He does not and never did exist…huuummm

  • Elizabeth

    I AGREE WITH ALBERT MOORE’S SECOND PARAGRAPH…

  • Rich Rosenthal

    When will these candidates start discussing the US Constitution? You would think they were running for sunday school administrator. Perhaps we could ask them to choose between the first amendment and the first commandment. One establishes religion and the other doesn’t. Can’t have it both ways and anybody who could distort logic that much should not be our President. However, whatever they personally choose to believe is fine but it is not part the national dialog.

  • Layman

    The OP is on to something. I spent two years at a conservative seminary. The profs were much more open-minded then the media hawking leaders.Huck sounds different also. Like a liberal on the Bible. At least compared to where I come from.

  • theopaine

    Damian:Hitler and mussolini both signed a concordate with the pope which made all three very wealthy.See: THE CONCORDATE BETWEEN THE HOLY SEE AND THE GERMAN REICH.This was signed in the Vatican City on July 20th,1933,by Eugene cardinal Pacelli(rewarded for his efforts by himself becoming a pope) and Franz von Papen(When the customary gifts were exchanged at the signing,Hitler’s gift was 25,000 sent to the Pope.).It gave the catholic church untold riches in the form of Kirchensteuer-a church tax-deducted from paychecks just like state taxes,and at a fat 9% of gross wages.!!With this kind of money on the table, it is easy to see how the pope turned a blind eye to the extermination of the Jews.Hitler in turn demanded and got the dissolution of the Catholic Center Party,which party with the German socialist party ,blocked Hitler’s grand schemes for the Third Reich.Pope-to-be Pacelli ordered the members of the Catholic Center Party to resign and to be loyal Catholics by being loyal to the Nazi party!!!,paving the way for the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich.Not until Hitler stepped on Catholics toes in the form of muders of several prominent members of the catholic center party, and confiscation of church lands,did pacelli issue a weak response.See also ; THE LATERAN TREATY OF 1929,signed on Feb.11th ,1929 by pietro cardinal gaspari and Benito Mussolini himself.AS of 1925 , the catholic church was bankrupt.Hitler was delighted and wrote:”The fact that the Catholic Church has come TO AN AGREEMENT WITH FASCIST ITALY PROVES BEYOUND DOUBT THAT THE FASCIST WORLD OF IDEAS IS CLOSER TO CHRISTIANITY THAN THOSE OF JEWISH LIBERALISM OR EVEN ATHEISTIC MARXISM,TO WHICH THE SO-CALLED CATHOLIC CENTER PARTY SEES ITSELF SO CLOSELY BOUND,TO THE DETRIMENT OF CHRISTIANITY TODAY AND OUR GERMAN PEOPLE” Catholicism was made the official religion of Italy, and protestant propaganda was outlawed.Oh yes, the pope demanded and got an undisclosed sum of money for him personally(his privey purse!), as well as 90 million dollars in cash and bonds as restitution for lands taken,and the italian govt agreed to pay the salaries of every priest in the country!! There can be no doubt that the pope and catholic cardinals were a major factor in the outbreak of WW11…the so-called” greatest generation”, and their survivors should call the papacy to count for that role. Oh, neither Mussolini nor Hitler have been excommunicated despite repeated requests for the Papacy to do so.How can anyone be a member of this rotten organization?

  • Michael Willinger

    So Huckabee was saying he believed this “15: Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:” Leviticus, chapter 16. So Huckabee is insane i guess. Does he kill goats in his church as ordered in the St.James Bible?

  • BJ

    I’m a Democrat but I wouldn’t get too worked up over Huckabee’s responses. And I definitely go so far as to call him a heretic for giving a less than precise answer on this stupid question.In the case of plucking out the eye, he used the word ‘allegorical’ in the wrong way. All he meant was there’s other ways to understand Jesus’ words beside the literal way. Very few people take it literally, but it seems that some have over the years. I believe I’ve heard of actual plucking out of the eye from church history.The Apostle Paul labels the significance of Sarah and Hagar for Christians to being allegorical (Galatians 4:24). And most Protestants don’t think of Paul as being a Roman Catholic! But the point is well taken, the allegorical method has been part of the overall Catholic hermeneutic in a more prevalent way…What Huckabee said about loving your neighbor, all that, is just a simplified way of saying: 1) there are those things people disagree with, but, 2) some things are fairly clear. In my opinion he’s not holding up simple things as having priority over complicated things, etc. I think you’re just nitpicking.Jesus spoke of tithing mint and cummin and of doing the works of justice. He was definitely contrasting things that are trivial with things that are essential, but did not discourage either one.These are not heresies on Huckabee’s part, and it doesn’t show a new breed of anything. Most people, even theological types, are fairly casual in expression, paraphrasing, etc. It’s called everyday discourse!I am not for Huckabee. I will not vote for any Republican. We’ve had enough of Republicans, their misrule and bad intentions. But I needed to take issue with some of your statements that seemed uncalled-for.

  • Testament Scholar

    I’m disappointed by all of the previous 54 (at the time of writing) posts to this list. No one has addressed the underlying fallacy involved in “Joseph from Dallas”‘s question – including Professor Berlinerblau himself – and only one writer, Earl Moreo, has touched even glancingly at the subject.No English Bible, KJV or any other, is “the word of God”. Likewise no French, German, Italian, etc.The Hebrew Bible is just as its name says – Hebrew, with some parts in Aramaic. For Jews, *that* is the word of God, and all else is inherently interpretation.For Christians, the New Testament is Greek, and its words, *in Greek* are the “word of God.”For Muslims, there is no possible “translation” of the Qur’an. Rendering from the original Arabic into any other language is inherently interpretation.”Joseph from Dallas” did indeed pose a trick question – to which the correct answer should have been “No. That’s a translation from the original. There are many translations. Most of us live by the translation we were brought up with, but only the original is the word of God.”And on this point, all of the candidates – and all of the responders above – seem to agree. How interesting.

  • Testament Scholar

    The last sentence of the above should have read: “And on this point of ignorance, all of the candidates – and all of the responders above – seem to agree. How interesting”

  • Robert Moore

    Jacques, your inference about Evangelicals and allegory appears to reflect an ignorance of historical Evangelical and/or Protestant theology. Protestant theologians have always recognized the presence of allegory in both Old and New Testament scripture. The question is WHICH passages of Scripture should be understood allegorically. It has become relatively common among some to view huge portions of the Bible as allegorical in order to dismiss the claims of Christ as to his identity or to deny the historicity of miracles, for example. It has also become popular to dismiss any modern relevance of or personal accountability to the text of Scripture by saying that it should not be taken “literally”.

  • Lachme

    You seem to be fascinated with everything Christian. And always snotty about it. And, FYI,….”a democratc polity predicated on the American Constitution…” doen’t NEED to adjudicate between all those scriptural agreements…” The very point of said constitution. And are you absolutely sure you know what a evengalical minister’s response should be? ETC.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Testament Scholar -You raise a valid point about what constitutes an “original.”You also raise an interesting question: what – exactly – constitutes an “original” when it comes to religious texts? Where are the “original” texts for, say, any of the books in the NT? The short answer is that they’re long gone/destroyed/missing, and that they’ve been destroyed/missing since the first century, ie: well before modern Christianity assumed its present 4th-century derived form.For all we know, “god’s original” text for the NT may well have said hate your neighbors, Jesus is an imaginary friend and there’s no hellfire. All of that stuff that tells us the opposite could well be a mistaken translation, peppered with a health dose of the morals of whatever scribe happened to do the translation/transcription at any given time.Of course, one could posit that the “oral tradition” that handed down the Bible was divinely inspired, and that we can trust that the Bible in its present form remains pretty close to god’s “original.” Problem is, one could posit the same excuse to support any “translation” of the Bible out there – including more-recent texts like the Koran and the Book of Mormon – as being divinely inspired corrections/illuminations to god’s “original” text, just as the Bible in its present form benefitted from divine inspiration. Original. That’s quite a concept, but it’s not a concept that has any relevance when it comes to the Bible.

  • Lenoid

    GRANNYM Catholics helped found this nation, have always been here, as have protestant Christians. There is no question. Since you are obviously Jewish…and need to throw nazism into every line written….perhaps we would like to hear from you the history of Jews in the US? Is it true tht in the 1940s most Americans did not want let jews immigrate here? Even while knowing the danger in which they were? Turned back ships full? Before you presume to say who is and isn’t Amerian, and why, maybe think.

  • Ja Joz et al

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  • peter murray

    This election is about who will best head the executive in the coming challenging years. It is about running a material world.A good closing repost to the increasing and ugly use of religion as a tool of agression in US politics:”Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. The author of this quotation also had things to say about the Pharasees and the ostentatious use of religion.Now, please, who is going to get us out of the Iraq and sub-prime messes?

  • ThatSinger

    I don’t think Mike Huckabee appeared to be a Catholic at all, although I get your point… to me, he appeared to be exactly what he is… a panderer, desperate to obscure his science-denying religious fanaticism behind a cloud of false-humility and a phony, shuffling, “it’s beyond my simple comprehension” mendacity….

  • jk

    Mr. Berlinerblau — I think you got it wrong. Huckabee’s answer was the most honest and the most theologically sound. He avoided the trap while teaching us something about the best way to use religious texts. He obviously learned something at seminary.

  • BGone

    Mr Mark:Maybe “original” doesn’t mean either text or handed down word of mouth as it’s been advertised to be, Jewish. The key pivot point seems to be Josephus who wrote a lot of “stuff” as though he was simply copying, as though he had some “Hebrew” law books or something. The place to start the search of “original” texts, if any exist as advertised, “Jewish” is with Josephus.Then there’s the nagging aggravating fact that Amenophis IV, a “Hebrew[woman]” son of the god Amun Re” did everything both Moses and Jesus did. Once we get back past Josephus with the search and eliminate those “Israelites” as residents of Judah the picture clears a bit.Of course one needs to see Pharaohs, kings, emperors, high priests etc for what they really are, criminals and not historical heroes as historians report them to be. Try to put together a scenario where those people were nice folks. Enslavement by race and gender were standard. They did nothing to earn their daily bread except tax and tithe.When did government happen and why is the real question that missing an answer. Government, religion and more are presumed givens. They’re not. Just crooks robbing and scaring people out of what they earned by the sweat of their brows.The Bible is a created history for people that never existed and lays that history onto Jews. Jews have suffered down through the ages as a result.Yes indeed, the Bible says “hate your neighbor” that does not do as the “authorities” dictate. That’s preached every Sunday in all Bible based churches and daily by people like Pat Robertson on TV. There is no hate worse than the condemnation of one’s neighbor to hell. There is no terror greater than hell. The Bible justifies, makes a sacrament out of both terror and hate.

  • Scumps

    Jacques seems not to have much understanding of the differences between Catholics and Protestants. The latter are practically defined by the belief that anyone can read and interpret the Bible. It is the Catholics who rely on authoritative Biblical interpretation given by a Church hierarchy and Magisterium. It may not be literal, but it is not to be argued with.Evangelicals spread the Good News to bring people to Christ. There is nothing in that definition that requires literal belief in all narratives of the Bible. JB, like most who inhabit the land of secular extremism, has extremely superficial knowledge of those who put the Bible at the center of their lives.

  • BGone

    As we lose the war on drugs with first a presidents that “didn’t inhale” and now one that sniffed coke but “didn’t like it” we cannot win the war on terror with a president who thumps the Bible, the terrorist’s manual on the greatest terror possible, hell.The best news I’ve heard in a while was Friday when NBC broke silence and noticed that “hoax buster” is having an effect. A panelists here is claiming “new Baptists” aren’t even Christians. There’s a movement afoot in religion to take advantage of the tax loopholes. Anyone can grab a Bible, claim to be a Baptist and enjoy all the tax benefits.We probably need some laws to prevent that, tax-freeloaders claiming to be “charitable” Baptists from taking root. Don’t you think Hcukabee is the man for that job after his answer to the question?The war on terror is lost unless we recognize the headwaters of the terror and dam it up. I guess, what would you call them, Pseudo-Baptists or maybe Neo-Baptists are terrorists of a sorts too, terrorizing the ministry. They’re in old Dixie too. Hoorah! Save your confederate money for the south shall rise again.

  • Anonymous

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  • the1joncook

    The level of discourse in this comment section is near pathetic. Ignorance alone cannot account for this subterrainian back and forth. This conversation only proves to me that for many prejudice and bias are so intertwined with their religion. How sad. How frightening.

  • Anonymous

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  • Ralph

    What sort of madness is entering into the political discourse? Candidates attempting to outdo each other by their knowledge of and faith in a book which was written by a people of a given faith, thousands of years ago. A book which is made up of writings which have been sorted, edited, re-edited, with the final contents being approved by an emperor, later translated by various people, with their own input. Even now, the King James version language is accepted by most as “the way all of the characters spoke” (which they didn’t). The television waves are alive with preachers who talk with God on a first-name basis, and are telling us just what God is telling us (as if most of us can’t read as well as the preacher). These self-appointed translaters (as well as the candidates) profess that they “believe every word in the bible to be the true word of God”, no matter errors in translation or personal input by the ancient translators. I had thought that we were finally through with the notion that this country ” was founded as a Christian nation”, in view of the fact that most “Founding Fathers” (no “Founding Mothers”) were slave owners, Blacks were not freed until we had been a nation for a century and would not be guaranteed voting rights until 1964. The bible says nothing which would make one conclude that slavery is agaist God’s wishes. The biblical wisdom was confined to males, who did all of the accepted writing and saw no reason to give women any input. In their ignorance, they even assumed that God had to be male. (Why would God be of either gender?) I must conclude that it would be better to hear a candidate say he (or she) is not sure if all of the biblical contents is 100% true. I would rather a president be guided by experience and common sense, than “faith”.

  • Sam Revusky

    Dr. Berlinerblau is writing like a logician. My own experience is that the large majority of religious people are emotionally involved with a tradition, but will modify it in terms of their moral sense when necessary without acknowledging it. For instance, by traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, to fail to convert a Jewish child dooms him to hell or at least purgatory. But Pope John Paul did not feel able to make such a demand after the holocaust, regardless of traditional Catholic doctrine. It is a commonplace that Catholic priests, even conservative, will turn a blind eye to abortion when it seriously is necessary for the mother’s health. I know of one priest-physician who ordered a pious Catholic patient to get an abortion using his charisma as a priest. Or, as another example, Rabbi Gershon Cohen, one-time chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, was to offer derekh erets, as a great advantage of observant Judaism. Derek erets is basically dignified, proper behavior characteristic of nearly any middle-eastern factotum. Cohen apparently was not able to offer a better traditional theological argument for Judaism. When forced into strict logic by the likes of Dr. Berlinerblau, the vast majority of religious leaders retreat into the obfuscation also exhibited by the Republican presidential candidates.

  • Sam Revusky

    Dr. Berlinerblau is writing like a logician. My own experience is that the large majority of religious people are emotionally involved with a tradition, but will modify it in terms of their moral sense when necessary without acknowledging it. For instance, by traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, to fail to convert a Jewish child dooms him to hell or at least purgatory. But Pope John Paul did not feel able to make such a demand after the holocaust, regardless of traditional Catholic doctrine. It is a commonplace that Catholic priests, even conservative, will turn a blind eye to abortion when it seriously is necessary for the mother’s health. I know of one priest-physician who ordered a pious Catholic patient to get an abortion using his charisma as a priest. Or, as another example, Rabbi Gershon Cohen, one-time chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, was to offer derekh erets, as a great advantage of observant Judaism. Derek erets is basically dignified, proper behavior characteristic of nearly any middle-eastern factotum. Cohen apparently was not able to offer a better traditional theological argument for Judaism. When forced into strict logic by the likes of Dr. Berlinerblau, the vast majority of religious leaders retreat into the obfuscation also exhibited by the Republican presidential candidates.

  • Sam Revusky

    Dr. Berlinerblau is writing like a logician. My own experience is that the large majority of religious people are emotionally involved with a tradition, but will modify it in terms of their moral sense when necessary without acknowledging it. For instance, by traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, to fail to convert a Jewish child dooms him to hell or at least purgatory. But Pope John Paul did not feel able to make such a demand after the holocaust, regardless of traditional Catholic doctrine. It is a commonplace that Catholic priests, even conservative, will turn a blind eye to abortion when it seriously is necessary for the mother’s health. I know of one priest-physician who ordered a pious Catholic patient to get an abortion using his charisma as a priest. Or, as another example, Rabbi Gershon Cohen, one-time chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, was to offer derekh erets, as a great advantage of observant Judaism. Derek erets is basically dignified, proper behavior characteristic of nearly any middle-eastern factotum. Cohen apparently was not able to offer a better traditional theological argument for Judaism. When forced into strict logic by the likes of Dr. Berlinerblau, the vast majority of religious leaders retreat into the obfuscation also exhibited by the Republican presidential candidates.

  • Lev Raphael

    I’d like to see Mr. Berlinerblau address this question: Is Mitt Romney a Christian? From what I can discern–like the belief that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers–a number of Mormon beliefs would seem to put them outside the Christian faith.

  • Mr Mark

    “When asked about a Palestinian state, Gov. Huckabee stated that he supports creating a Palestinian state, but believes that it should be formed outside of Israel. He named Egypt and Saudi Arabia as possible alternatives, noting that the Arabs have far more land than the Israelis and that it would only be fair for other Arab nations to give the Palestinians land for a state, rather than carving it out of the tiny Israeli state.”Why not suggest an alternative – like locating Israel in what is now Montana? After all, we have far more land to give away than the Arab countries, and locating Israel within our borders would solve a ton of problems, wouldn’t it? Israel wouldn’t be “tiny” anymore, would it? Plus, they could officially become our 51st state.Naturally, my above remarks are meant facetiously. So why should Huckabee’s suggestion to relocate Palestine be considered a viable option while relocating Israel is a non-starter bordering on anti-Semitism? Aren’t both entities arguing over land they both feel entitled to? There’s no god, so god didn’t “give” the land that is currently Israel to anyone, anymore than he gave what’s now the USA to the native Americans (Indians). The more I hear from Huckabee, the more dangerous he sounds.

  • theopaine

    Grannym;Several american jews played prominent roles in the founding and development of this great country. Check out the signers of the declaration of independence and you will, I suspect, be surprised to find jewish signatories.What frightens me is that you are willing to make such a bold statement without any knowledge.That is the hallmark of a bigot, which I am sure you think you are not.

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  • Micahel R. McCroskey

    If it okay for Jesus himself to break down his entire teachings into only 2 great laws: “Love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” in order to simplify his teachings in an effort to assist a larger audience into understanding. Why do you think it wrong that Huckabee should attempt a similar method. Do we not learn from our teachers?I had never seen or heard of Huckabee prior to this debate. It was the beginning of his winning me over as a supporter. It was his answer to the follow up question that Cooper asked in a demeaning type manner that I was searching for when I found this site. I thought it was wonderful.