Mike Huckabee and the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

More than ten years ago, Mark Noll wrote one of the most important Christian books of modern times–The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. He argues, “[T]he evangelical ethos is activistic, populist, pragmatic, and utilitarian. It allows little space for broader or deeper intellectual effort because it is dominated by the urgencies of the moment.”

He goes on to quote Canadian scholar N.K. Clifford: “The Evangelical Protestant mind has never relished complexity. Indeed its crusading genius, whether in religion or politics, has always tended toward an over-simplification of issues and the substitution of inspiration and zeal for critical analysis and serious reflection.”

Remind you of anyone?

Time and time again, Mike Huckabee demonstrates this scandal of the evangelical mind. His policy prescriptions and the glib justifications he repeats over and over again demonstrate no careful thought, no critical analysis, simply a superficial application of certain Christian tenets.

Defending his support for giving in-state tuition breaks to the children of illegal aliens, he insists: “You don’t punish the child for the crime of the parents.” Every time he repeats this talking point, he reveals his ignorance of the basic distinction between being punished and not receiving plundered aid.

Asked about the Iranian nuclear threat, he touts the idea that America must become “energy-independent” because Iran “wouldn’t have enough money to build a reactor just by selling rugs“. The naivete of this position is perhaps illuminated by Gov. Huckabee’s ignorance of the recent NIE report.

Slurring the Club for Growth as the “Club for Greed”, this William Jennings Bryan wanna-be shows no appreciation for the role of economic freedom in lifting people out of poverty and into prosperity.

Attempting to justify his pardons and pushed-for parole, Gov. Huckabee claims “concept of Christian forgiveness requires that we keep open the process of parole” even for violent felons. He shows no understanding that forgiveness doesn’t mean overturning public justice.

In all these glib, oft-oft-oft-repeated comments, Gov. Huckabee demonstrates a nimble tongue controlled by a flabby mind. He shows no understanding that the most simplistic application of Christian tenets isn’t necessarily the best, or even a valid, one; he demonstrates no evidence that he understands or has even thought about the concept of proper sphere, that the responsibilities of the individual and of the state are different; he leaves open no hope that he has even a glimmer of appreciation for the tremendous difficulty of actually thinking through public problems and pursuing appropriate and effective policy solutions.

Did you enjoy this post? Sign up for lifestyle inspiration delivered straight to your in-box!

* indicates required

View previous updates.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our email service. That means that the information you provide will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing when you click the button below. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

7 thoughts on “Mike Huckabee and the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

  1. Some more thoughts hit me up the side of the head:

    Part of the problem with the Church (and really Catholic and Protestant, but it is hard to analyze everything at once) is the mis-application of some concepts. The Bible tells us to LEAN not on our own understanding… that is, don’t put all your weight on it. But this has been confused to mean…. don’t try to understand God at all. And yet the Bible explicitly tells us the opposite, that we should seek after wisdom and the knowledge of God like seeking fine gold. We just don’t place all our weight on our own thoughts.

    Also, many things about God cannnot be understood. So we give up. We Protestants suffer from an all-or-nothing view of God, and everything else. IF we can’t understand everything, we simply quit. To my mind, these things are not static, but dynamic. We understand as much as possible, while remembering that our views are a work-in-progress while we continue to learn and understand more about God. And in all of this the application of God’s principles to every day life is an inherent part of this. THe 2nd greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. I don’t see how we can fulfill that without being involved in and concerned about every aspect of civic affairs.

  2. But what is the road from where we are to where we need to be? There are surely roads that lead in the wrong direction. And the road in the right direction is likely to be long and slow and filled with twists and turns in the road (sometimes obscuring the eventual goal).

    I really do not know very much about Huckabee — particularly because I am hearing about him on the news!!!

    There is no doubt that the Christian Church as a whole has forgotten vast quantities of scholarship and intellectual thought, and does not seem very interested in recovering it or learning anything new. From the Dark Ages to an anti-intellectual period of the Protestant Church stretching back about 150 years, the Protestant Church has taken gigantic steps BACKWARD in terms of scholarship (though not in numbers or money). We don’t even grasp the concept of thinking deeply about God and Christianity, much less remember how.

    But where and in who is the path to improvement? Surely recognizing the problem is an essential first step. But things can also get worse.

    Jon Moseley

  3. Charlie, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I certainly did not mean to imply that all evangelicals are intellectually lazy and/or deficient; I know many who are neither (and hope that I’m one of them). However, I recognize and am deeply concerned about the trend toward anti-intellectualism among some evangelicals that Mark Noll has analyzed in his book. This anti-intellectualism leads to, among other things, an oversimplified and superficial view of policy issues, and I believe that it allows for Gov. Huckabee’s popularity within the evangelical segment. Thanks again for commenting.

  4. At the risk of being PC, I would like to submit that not all evangelicals are Mike Huckabee. Yes, we believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, yes we believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the world’s means of salvation, yes we believe that it is our goal to share the love of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world.

    However, the thrust of the argument appears to be that evangelicals lack the mental complexity to be adequate in the civic arena. I would submit to your attention scholars such as Norm Geisler, Dr.Elmer Towns, Dr.Mark Dever(who posesses a Doctorate from Oxford by the way)
    Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The list goes on and on. Dr. Ergun Caner, the first Muslim to be selected as President of an American evangelical seminary.

    The only thing I’m saying by all of this is that not all Southern Baptists and certainly not all evangelicals are Mike Huckabee. I would like to thank Ms. Carbone for the thought provoking post and I appreciate all of her fine work.

  5. This is really brilliant. You put your finger on real problem with Evangelicalism and one of it’s products, Mike Huckabee. Every Christian concerned about our country should carefully consider all of the candidates in light of the Presidential Oath of Office, to “…defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Any candidate who cannot identify the timeless enemies of our Republic is not qualified to be our President.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.