Mike Huckabee, Israel and Bible prophecy
08/10/2010 - 10:27
James Besser

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee, looking an awful lot like a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is also trying to position himself as Israel's best friend, and plenty of conservative Jews are inclined to buy it.

Judging by a recent interview he conducted in his role as a Fox News host, he may also be positioning himself as the candidate of the Christian apocalypse, which raises some interesting questions.

Huckabee interviewed author Tim LaHaye, whose “Left Behind” novels describing in gory detail what's in store for us as Biblical prophecies unfold have sold more than 60 million copies, and the results were downright bizarre.

If this was a conversation between two Christian theologians or ordinary believers, it would be one thing.

But this was on a news channel, with a host who probably wants to be our next President. And yet there Huckabee was, with a straight face, discussing with LaHaye questions like, “are we now living in the end times?” (Answer: “Very definitely.”)

LaHaye talks about the creation of a “global religion” as well as a global economy and the prediction – now fulfilled, he says - that Russia and the Islamic nations will come together in an alliance against Israel. Bible prophecy, he said, is “History written in advance.”

Is it religious prejudice to say there is something unsettling about Huckabee's role as straight man to LaHaye's apocalyptic visions?

Are we to take it from the tone of his questions that he agrees we are in the “last days,” and that Israel has a dramatic, grisly role to play in the apocalyptic drama?

Is it appropriate to ask about the religious beliefs of a presidential candidate, if there is reason to believe those beliefs demand new horrors  for Israel before some miraculous, very Christian redemption?

If he was still just a Baptist pastor, these questions wouldn't be relevant. But if he runs for president, don't they become fair game, given that he wants to be the man who shapes and implements our foreign policy?

If he does believe these things, how can he separate those beliefs from the job he would like to win as our nation's foreign policy leader?

A lot of “Christian Zionists” say they can compartmentalize: religious beliefs about Israel and the Middle East go in one box, practical views about policy in the region go in another.

Maybe they're right; I can't get into their heads.

But many of these same activists would be deeply offended if I said their religious beliefs aren't a fundamental part of their activism on OTHER issues like abortion, gay rights and so on.

Is it reasonable to believe their religious views inform their positions on every issue EXCEPT Israel?

It would be interesting to sit down with the former Arkansas governor and ask: if we are, in fact, in the “last days” prophesied in the Christian Bible, what, exactly, do you think will happen to Israel and to the Jews? Do those prophecies inform us of what U.S. policy should be? How much of Tim LaHaye's grisly vision do you actually buy?

While we're at it, Pastor John Hagee, the founder and president of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and a man who says prophecy has nothing to do with his pro-Israel activism, has a new book on the New York Times bestseller list. The title: Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation. I'm waiting for my copy before commenting.

There are some tricky lines here. If we open up the question of religious belief in our political wars, won't it just end with theological litmus tests further garbling our already tangled politics?

But isn't belief a legitimate and even an important issue for discussion when politicians make religious identification part of their pitch to voters? And isn't it relevant when it addresses today's real-world problems – like a Middle East conflict that has become so entwined with Christian Bible prophecy?

 

Comments

"If we open up the question of religious belief in our political wars, won't it just end with theological litmus tests further garbling our already tangled politics?" Actually, it is a religious question, none the less, the U.S. guaranteed the defense of Israel. An attack on Israel is an attack on the U.S. The alternative is a secular (political) U.S. policy toward the future of Israel, one that leaves that future subject to political "log rolling."
Huckabee would at least be literate on such topics. Obama tells us the first Ramadan dinner was President Jefferson hosting the ambassador of Tunis 200 years ago and fails to mention it was because we were at war with the Islamic terrorism of the day... Muslim pirates of the Mediterranean working for Tunis. Huckabee might have the conjones to tell Islam they can build a mosque at ground zero on the day the mufti of Jerusalem allow a Jewish Temple at ground zero of Israel..the Temple Mount.
Huckabee has Israel and the global Jews' back. It's been proven time and time again. No "smart diplomacy", he simply draws a line in the sand for Israel and the enemy can jump it and fight or accept it. Ironically, that's what the arabs respect. To his opposition, I'm really at a loss here...
So are non-Jews to assume that all Religious Jewish who are Zionists believe that the secular state in Israel is a tool to bring the Messiah? I'm not comfortable with all Christian Zionists, but lets not be bigots, especially hypocritical ones.
Huckabee you want to interrogate. The "moderate Imam" of the ground zero mosque. Him you give a pass.
I really enjoyed this article. From the perspective of a Christian and a student of the Bible, I think you offered up some good questions here. While I do not believe that Huckabee is positioning himself for the presidency, I believe he would a fair leader for the pluralistic culture we have become. The discussion of 'end times' has been tossed around and documented for 2000 years. Bible scholars agree that the 'end times' are more precisely the Church Age- which is marked from time of Christ's death/resurrection to the end of 'time' when he will come again - set up a New Jerusalem, as mapped out in the Bible and believed by Christians and Messianic-Jews. For those who follow world events with Bible prophecy, it would seem that there are current events that might signal a closer advent of the 'end' - something Bible enthusiasts love to discuss. Whenever "non-believers" are privy to such a discussion, I can see where it might sound exclusive, if not weird. Also, there are some who would profit from this subject and tend to run a highly charged, emotional slant on the subject. In my opinion Hagee is one of them. To sum up, perhaps we should be careful of lumping all Bible prophecy followers in the same category, as character goes. As a Christian and Bible student for 35 years, it is worth a reminder that among most all practicing Christians on the current political scene, Huckabee is most reasonable and trustworthy. Thanks again for covering this.
**Is it appropriate to ask about the religious beliefs of a presidential candidate, if there is reason to believe those beliefs demand new horrors for Israel before some miraculous, very Christian redemption?** Unless, of course, it's Obama. Then his beliefs are of no relevance, is that it? I find it interesting that Xtians are fair game, but Muslims are not. It seems the Islamic vision for Israel is a lot more violent and immediately relevant, than anything in Xtian theology, yet discussion of that is off-limits. Another double standard, or so it would seem.
Thank U, Robby Cicco! My sentiments, exactly. What Obama has done to Israel and Jewish people global is a nightmare. We must never, EVER, forget his meeting with Israel's Prime Minister this year, and the obscene way he was treated. Even tho, "BiBi" may have felt pressured into returning back to the WH, every Jew with love and pride for Israel should never forget that meeting. I have read comments from seasoned diplomats of many different colors who say they have never seen a guest to the W.H. treated in such a disrespectful manner! Even guests who are borderline enemies of state have never been treated like this by an American president. By the time our president elects to meet with a foreign guest, there is already an understanding that the meeting will be civilized and polite. Not so with Israel. Would Obama have treated the Pope or one of his Cardinals like this? Hell no! I have had the pleasure of meeting several of Pastor Hagee's CUFI members. They are an intellegent group of Christians with a sincere love/respect for the State of Israel. I would sleep much better at night with Huckabee in the WH! As for the J street Jerks who support Obama, I ask them all to go back and study the History of the Weimer Republic! Sadly, these people are enabling that dark chapter to happen again. I may not understand all the intricacys of Pastor Hagee's and Huckabee's evangelical theology, but they are infinitely more civilized than our present Muslim-biased administration.

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