At Church with Miers

New Donkey has an interesting profile of Valley View Christian Church, where Harriet Miers was brought to faith:

…VVCC is an independent “Christian” church aligned with the conservative wing of the Campbell-Stone “Restorationist” tradition [Nothing to do with Reconstructionism]…”Restorationism” is a distinctly American religious tradition, a product of the Second Great Awakening on the midwestern and southern frontier, largely under the leadership of Thomas Campbell and Barton Stone, both former Presbyterians who were troubled by denominational and intradenominational rivalries. The basic idea of “restorationism” was a systematic effort to return to what its adherents understood as the practices of the Primitive Church, rejecting “human” creeds, theological traditions (Protestant and well as Catholic), and sectarian denominations, with Scripture, and especially the New Testament, serving as the only source of authority in all matters.

This, inevitably, resulted in a new denomination, the Disciples of Christ. However:

…a significant minority of conservative Disciples, especially in the South and Southwest, drifted out of the Disciples, most affiliating with the new Churches of Christ but others simply becoming “independent Christian” congregations like VVCC.

…Most conservative restorationists dislike the label “fundamentalist,” mainly because the fundamentalist movement in the larger denominations involved theological arguments alien to their own tradition. But they certainly share the fundamentalist position on biblical inerrancy, with an important twist: the tenet that “where [Scripture] is silent, we are silent” has made conservative restorationists much less likely to get involved, at least as a group, in battles over matters like abortion where there are virtually no direct Scriptural references, especially in the New Testament. Indeed, a 1998 article in Restoration Quarterly excoriated Churches of Christ for lagging behind other conservative evangelicals in full-throated commitment to the anti-abortion cause…

Read the whole thing.

One extra item perhaps worth noting: the VVCC website has a short list of links, described as “useful” but “not a [sic] endorsement”. This includes one link, illustrated with a dinosaur, to Carl Baugh‘s Creation Evidence Museum.

UPDATE: It turns out that VVCC underwent a schism last month; Miers and Key joined the breakaway group. See here. Using Wayback, it seems the website has changed recently: a year ago, the Statement of Belief stressed Biblical “inerrancy”; currently, it prefers the word “infallible”, but makes more of the church’s non-dogmatic approach. The Creationism link was there last year.

UPDATE 2: The Panda’s Thumb discusses the Baugh link.

UPDATE 3: Jeff Sharlet at The Revealer notes that Valley View Church also used to have another dodgy link, to an anti-Semitic and white supremacist “ministry” called the Gospel Broadcasting Association. However, it was apparently an honest mistake:

When I spoke to the church’s pastor, Dr. Barry McCarty, last week, I asked him about his site’s link to this racist fantasy. He was genuinely horrified. The link was supposed to be to the Gospel Broadcasting Mission, not the Gospel Broadcasting Association. He said he had no knowledge of the association; I verified this with the association’s sole member, one Russell L. Harris, of Houston, Texas. McCarty saw to it that the link was promptly fixed.

Sharlet goes on to note that McCarty has been contacted by over 100 reporters since the nomination was announced, and goes on to ask:

Why hadn’t they noticed the raging lunacy of the Gospel Broadcasting Association? Why was I the only one to catch it?

Indeed. But I have another question: why didn’t I catch it? Agh!!!

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this…I didn’t understand some of the background of this denomination. And although I saw others mention that the church had a splinter, this is the first orginal report I’ve seen – the update was an ‘aha’. I can’t pretend to understand the depth of obsession with this nomination – but since it is happening, it’s good to see some answers to some basic questions instead of just react.

  2. In case we couldn’t figure it out… from usually neoconservative leaning FOXNews:
    Bush: Miers’ Religion One Factor In Decision to Nominate

    WASHINGTON — Harriet Miers (search) was chosen as the next U.S. Supreme Court nominee in part because of her religious beliefs, President Bush said Wednesday.

    “People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers, they want to know her background, as much as they possibly can. … Part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion,” Bush said during an Oval Office press conference with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.[. . .]

    Now the questions I have are… is the religion “one factor,” or the “number one factor?” Is it fair to call the peculiar brand of hyperdominionist Christianity in vogue among the so-called religious right “evangelical?” Does this mean that anyone who doesn’t go along with an increasingly blatant theocratic agenda is not “evangelical?”

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