Thursday, January 17, 2008

Huckabee on the Mutability of the U.S. Constitution, Immutability of the Bible Canon

So a few days ago I posted a quote from Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee that's gained a lot of attention and opposition:
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.
In a recent interview with, Huckabee elaborated on his view that the Constitution is changeable, but the Bible is unchangeable. One of the comments you’ve made that’s getting a lot of discussion in the press is the point you made in the last day or so that we might need to amend the Constitution to have it apply more to God’s standards. Do you want to elaborate on that? In particular the question of people who might hear that and think, “Well, that’s a conversation stopper,” people who might agree with you on policy but feel that the constitution is secular document and should be driven by secular concerns rather than aligning it with God’s word.

Huckabee: Well, I probably said it awkwardly, but the point I was trying to make– and I’ve said it better in the past – is that people sometimes say we shouldn’t have a human life amendment or a marriage amendment because the Constitution is far too sacred to change, and my point is, the Constitution was created as a document that could be changed. That’s the genius of it.

The Bible, however, was not created to be amended and altered with each passing culture. If we have a definition of marriage, that we don’t change that definition, that we affirm that definition. And that the sanctity of human life is not just a religious issue. It’s an issue that goes to the very heart of our civilization of all people being equal, endowed by their creator with alienable [sic] rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That was the point. The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was. Without amendments to the Constitution, women couldn’t vote, African-Americans wouldn’t be considered people. We have had to historically go back and to clarify, because there’ve been injustices made because the Constitution wasn’t as clear as it needed to be, and that’s the point.
I find this interesting because Huckabee's description of the Bible touches on one of the reasons why I no longer consider myself an Evangelical Christian. Huckabee's language seems to imply the Bible was written at one time by a single author... rather than across 2,000 years by 40 or more different authors. He seems to imply that the Bible "appeared" in its present 66-book form, rather than evolving over hundreds and thousands of years.

Let's say we transport Mike Huckabee back in time to, oh, how about 100 B.C. What we now call the "Old Testament" was all written, although it wasn't all collected under a header with that label. Would Huckabee oppose the inclusion of material from scandalous new authors like... Mark? Luke? Paul? John?

Move forward a bit to 100 A.D. All the texts present in our modern "Bible" have now been written, but no one has canonized them together and argued for their veracity or coherency. In fact, multiple "Bibles" exist, depending on which region of the Mediterranean you visit and which church you're at. Would Huckabee oppose a neighboring region's or church's "Bible." What makes Huckabee's particular region's or church's "Bible" more accurate than another?

I agree that the Constitution was designed to be amended (albeit rarely and carefully). But it doesn't make intellectual sense to me to say that the Bible was never amended. For 2,000 years it was amended!


hat tip: Right Wing Watch, Beliefnet

1 comment:

D.J. Free! said...

oh dear. w/ language like that, you're not going to keep many evangelical friends, now are you? ;)