Picture of Protestant Reformers John Calvin and William Farel
Who Will Be Our William Farel?

I’ve said before that it is not the supposed flip-flops that give me heartburn when I consider the possibility that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney could be the standard bearer for the Republican Party against President Obama in 2012.  It is that Romney really hasn’t flipped at all on the issues most important to conservative, Christian voters.

For example, look in the dictionary under the entry for “effectively pro-choice” and you will see Mitt Romney’s picture.  He really did coin a new phrase.  No one else uses it.  And boy does he use it.  He says he was not pro-choice before, but he was personally pro-life.   He was “effectively pro-choice”, now he is firmly pro-life (how effectively remains to be seen!).   Adding these adjectives is a trick he uses in order to deceive.

It is not a flip-flop if you don’t change.  Romney wants to get credit for changing without changing.  It is an illusion.  I cannot say for certain why the governor stubbornly refuses to admit he was “pro-choice.”  Perhaps it has to do with his religion.  This possibility came to light in the famous Jan Mickelson interview in 2007 when Romney would not admit that he had run afoul of his religion’s stated position on abortion.   His tack was to deny that Mormonism forbids the pro-choice position.  It does.  Here is the relevant quote with details found in the Latter Day Saints website:

Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline.

Of course, no politician, even one as firmly pro-abortion as President Obama will ever admit to being pro-abortion; but Romney is playing fast and loose with the facts when he denies being “pro-choice.”   In fact, one blogger “for Mitt” admits Romney “slipped” once when he said he had been “pro-choice”.

It is said that an alcoholic can’t get help until he admits he has a problem.   Romney will never be seen as credible until he admits he wasn’t pro-life before; that he was not just pro-choice, but pro-abortion.  But apparently his emotions ruled over his actual position when he said “I didn’t FEEL I was pro-choice.”  Why should we believe that Romney won’t revert back to his old position since he never really changed, and he can feel one thing while doing another?  As far as I know, Romney still believes that certain babies can be killed in the womb, as long as the father of the baby is a criminal.  He endorsed Meg Whitman for Governor of California, a woman who thought that nearly bankrupt Californians ought to have to pay for the killing of unborn children in her state.

I concede it has been frustrating to see no candidate emerge who is able and willing to challenge Romney.  Potential challengers are either wishy-washy themselves on abortion (Pawlenty, Rick Perry), unable to mount a competitive race so far (Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum), aren’t running (Chris Christie, et al), or endorsed Mitt in 2008 (Herman Cain and Santorum).  Meanwhile, the number of GOP voters who are undecided seems to be growing, not shrinking.

Our prominent blogmeister Shane Vander Hart believes the best undeclared alternative is former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  I continue to maintain that she may not have the ability to handle questions in town-hall settings because she still refuses to sit down with serious critics of her positions from the left or right.   Going on shows with hosts that fawn over her (like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Greta Van Sustern) hardly qualifies as being vetted.  We simply have no idea what kind of candidate she will be.

Palin will certainly have no problem raising the funds to get her message out; however, money is no guarantee of success, as governor Rick Perry has proven.  Perhaps she is holding out until the last possible minute in order to hold onto her Fox appearances, but it seems there is no other reason to wait unless she isn’t running or is afraid of the debates.

In the opposite corner from Shane on this one, I still hold out the slim hope that former Governor Mike Huckabee with throw his “hat” in the ring.   Unlike Christie and Palin, Huckabee has been largely vetted by the Republicans, opposing candidates, and guests on his talk show.  (For the record, there are many other candidates I could willingly support  – Jim Demint would be a great one, I think) – but they are either not running or haven’t shown an ability to win the nomination.

There seems to be a lingering concern that Governor Huckabee can’t raise enough money to compete.   This problem would seem to be enhanced with the fast forwarding of the early caucus/primary calendar.  Four years ago, when asked by Chris Wallace how he was able to stay competitive with Romney and his millions of dollars in Iowa in 2007, Huckabee said:

Well, you know, the same way the little boy fed 5,000 with two fish and five biscuits. We’ve just got a lot of people praying that what little we have will turn into much, and it has. And it’s been an amazing thing for us.

But I think what we’re proving is that it’s not about how many resources you have. It’s about how well you use them, how well you manage them. We don’t waste things. We’re very frugal.

And we have an incredible, fervent volunteer group of people across this country blogging for us, working their hearts out, making sacrifices that, frankly, sometimes bring tears to my eyes when I hear about it.

Even if things haven’t changed much in four years (and I suspect a Huckabee candidacy this time would have greater traction and support), Huckabee still won a number of states on Super Tuesday last time around and almost won South Carolina.  If he does that this time, it would certainly come down to him and Romney.

May the best man win.

Wayne Sedlak, a minister I heard once, suggested that a calling is the knowledge you have that God wants something done, but that there is no one else who can or who is willing to do it.   I cannot help but be reminded in this our hour of need of the story of Protestant Reformers, William Farel and John Calvin.  Calvin was visiting Geneva, Switzerland, and Farel wanted Calvin to help with the flagging Reformation efforts there.  One professor of church history wrote:

It was into this situation that Calvin came on an evening. He had no intention of staying in the city, but sought a night’s lodging in his travels. When Farel heard that Calvin was in the city, he immediately sought out this man whom he had never met, to implore him to stay in Geneva and help with the work. But Calvin was of no mind to do this. Calvin, as he tells us himself, was shy and retiring and yearned for a life of quiet and peaceful study in some sanctuary far from the rumble of the storms created by the Reformation. He steadfastly and strenuously resisted every overture of Farel until, in exasperation, Farel bellowed: “I declare, in the name of God, that if you do not assist us in this work of the Lord, the Lord will punish you for following your own interest rather than this call.   Calvin was overwhelmed by this threat of God’s judgment and, in resignation to God’s will, agreed to work with Farel in the difficult task of the Reformation in Geneva.

Farel spoke presumptuously, it is without question.  I wouldn’t advise using threats.  Nevertheless, Calvin was persuaded.  Where(!) is the William Farel who will speak to Governor Huckabee this week: privately, so urgently, so persuasively?


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