The Expository Files


  Theological Conservatism and the Supreme Court


When you consider the number of people in America who consider themselves to be conservative Christians with reference to belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God as well as morally conservative, and the number of Supreme Court justices over the past 50 years who share those views, you will find that "conservative Christians" have been woefully underrepresented. If appointments to the Supreme Court came anywhere close to matching the percentage of the general population who are religiously conservative, there would never be fewer than two or three of them on the court. Reliable estimates put the number of white evangelicals in America at about 25% of the population.

But there has very rarely been any to sit on the court. One must go back decades to find one. Now, Harriet Miers has been nominated. She is an "evangelical" and among that 25% of the population. But because of her religious background she is drawing fire, much of it only because of her religious persuasion. Now I am trying hard to understand the mindset of those who are attacking her on this basis. Why is it so important to them that such a large segment of Americans continue to be underrepresented on the nation's highest court?

Before anyone asks, I do not describe myself as an "evangelical" though it may be that the press would. This is mainly due to the fact that I prefer the description "Christian" because that is a name that gives glory to Jesus Christ. But it is true that I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I believe in Divine creation and that Jesus performed miracles and died for my sins, was buried, and arose from the grave. I believe that a walk of faith believes in and obeys Jesus as Lord in all things. I believe that a person of faith takes personal moral stands based upon what the Bible teaches.

Just for your consideration, here are some things about Harriet Miers and her convictions. I do not know whether she'll ever take a seat on the court or not. But I do know that even if she does, those that believe as she does will still be underrepresented.

Miers grew up going to Catholic and Episcopal churches, but had not yet found what she was looking for. In 1979, Miers decided, in the well-known evangelical vernacular, to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. She was invited to attend the Valley View Christian Church in North Dallas, and soon she was baptized (full immersion) and became a member of that church.
According to Terry Eastland, a writer for The Weekly Standard, "Christian Churches like Valley View are descended from the early nineteenth century Restorationist Movement, so-called because of its intention to restore New Testament teaching about the church." Valley View is part of "a loose confederation" of Christian Churches known as the North American Christian Convention. Eastland writes of this convention, "It was formed in 1927, at a time when Protestant churches generally were dividing along theologically progressive and conservative lines. The conservatives among the restorationists called themselves 'independents,' and the North American Christian Convention amounted to a declaration of their independence from the liberal programs and doctrines of the (also restorationist) Disciples of Christ." The church's web site explains that the church believes in the Bible as "the only infallible, inspired, authoritative Word of God" and that "to receive Christ is to believe in Jesus as God's Son and Savior of the world, repent of personal sin, confess Christ publicly and be baptized."
Eastland summed up: "Valley View teaches certain moral views that it believes are grounded in the Bible. Most notably, it is pro-life and opposes same-sex marriage. Ron Key (then the pastor of the church - J.Q.) says that the church doesn't treat those matters in isolation. 'The major issue is Jesus Christ,' he says, and 'the need to lift him up' and for people to 'walk with Christ' in their own personal lives. Eastland says, "It would be hard to imagine many attending Valley View for two decades as Miers did who hold different views on such questions. Several friends of Miers told me, on background, that she is pro-life and defines marriage in traditional terms."
And that probably explains most of the opposition. She is pro-life and believes that marriage is what the Bible says it is. Those beliefs may be why she never will take a seat on the highest court, neither her nor any of the other people who are numbered in the 25% with similar moral views.

By Jon W. Quinn

Final Page
From Expository Files 12.11; November 2005