LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Conservatives and liberals mistakenly look to government as the answer for America’s problems, when it is people who have solid convictions and a sold?out commitment to Jesus who are the hope of this country, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said at the 50th anniversary seminar of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission.
“Liberals believe that government is really like God. If we just had more of it, we’d be so much better off,” said Huckabee, a conservative Republican.
Conservatives too often focus on legislation or on “who’s in the White House or who’s in the statehouse, and we forget that what really matters is who’s God in our own house.”
The hope of the United States “cannot be in politics, in the Republican or Democratic parties,” he said in the March 3 session at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
“Let me also say that real hope for our country is not found in a denomination. Real hope is not in what some would say is the values of a village. I quite frankly, in all due respect, don’t believe that it takes a village to raise a child after all, but it takes the character found in mothers and fathers who pass that character on to the children nurtured by the community values, by a church where values are undergirded rather than uprooted.
“And the whole hope of a culture and its survival lies not so much in what we do under the dome of a state capitol or a national capitol, but rather under the steeples of the churches that are supposed to be God’s voice,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee’s “village” comment was in reference to a book, “It Takes a Village,” by first lady Hillary Clinton, whose husband served as governor of Arkansas for 12 years.
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor and a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, said America needs courageous leaders.
“Far too many leaders today, both in government and the church, are really thermometers when we are in desperate need of thermostats,” he said, noting a thermometer reflects the temperature in a room, while a thermostat primarily adjusts the temperature to what it should be.
“I’m afraid that there are far too many people in leadership positions who are content with the idea of taking a political poll or feeling the pulse of the people” and adjusting one way or the other, Huckabee said. “That’s thermometer leadership. Anybody can do it.
“America doesn’t need any more thermometers. Tonight across America, we die for lack of thermostats.”
Christians have allowed “our pulpits to become little more than instruments, like thermometers, so fearful we might offend, and yet every time I read, whether it’s the Old or New Testament, the pulpit always offended,” he said. “It always challenged. It never allowed culture to move away from God without confrontation.”
Some things, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, clearly are wrong, but sometimes Christians are selective on what sins they decry, Huckabee said.
“Let me be clear that while it is totally appropriate for us to say there is something wrong about men marrying men and women marrying women, sometimes our pulpits can be strangely silent when it comes to other moral failures,” he said. “Take racism for example. It still bothers me — no, it more than bothers me; it burdnes my heart dramatically — that in many cases it was the white churches across the South who not only tolerated racism but actually preached it, promoted it … .”
In September, the 40th anniversary of the school desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Ark., will be observed. This year has been proclaimed the year of reconciliation in Arkansas, Huckabee said. During the observance, Huckabee will open the door of Little Rock Central High School to the former students who had to be escorted in by federal troops in 1957, he said. This time they will be escorted by ministers and there will be a call for repentance, Huckabee said.
While a governor can do some things, he realizes his power is limited, Huckabee said.
“I have come to understand that, yes, in this office there is power to take life, but there is no power to give it back,” he said. “Only Jesus has that power, and ours is so limited.
“I can pardon people from the consequences of their crime … but nothing I will every write down can take away the guilt of the person who has committed crimes. Only Jesus can do that.
“I can sit at my desk and I can veto laws … but I can’t stop others from violating those laws. Only Jesus can do that.
“I can appoint people to boards and commission and agencies … but I can’t (add) one person to the Lamb’s book of life. Only Jesus can do that.
“Real power is not found in what we do. It’s found in what God does.”
Christians who want to make a difference need to “come to the place where being what he wants us to be is more important than life itself,” he said.
Huckabee and his wife, Janet, traveled to Louisville for his speech at the end of a day of surveying parts of the state devastated by tornadoes.