(...Or, I'm a Lazy Swine. Crossposted at Sisyphus Shrugged.)
Home-Schooling Cult Headquarters Patrick Henry College of Purcellville, Virginia, which was featured in a alarmingly credulous profile in The New Yorker a few weeks ago, has as it stated purpose the preparation of "Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding."
One wonders, then, what lesson about "the spirit of the American founding" was being inculcated in our future leaders this June, when the school fired a college librarian, himself a devout Christian, because he sent a letter to the student body inviting them to attend his church. Now the college has sued the former employee because he sent a letter to school parents explaining why he was fired.
Now pay attention, because this gets a little complicated.
PHC's Statement of Faith, signed by all students and faculty as a prerequisite to matriculation or employment, explicitly states (Paragraph G): Personal salvation comes to mankind by grace through faith.
The fired librarian, Jeremy Hunley, is a member of the Purcellville Church of Christ, which, according to its web site, proclaims itself as part of the Restoration Movement begun in the early 19th century. They claim 2 million adherents. The relevant portion of the C of C's dogma for our purposes is that they believe that only through baptism by immersion can grace be bestowed.
This is in opposition to the Erasmian tradition in Protestantism, which arose in the 16th century as a reaction against the perceived empty rituals and symbolism of the Catholic Church. The Anabaptists -- who would become the Baptists, Amish, Mennonites, Quakers et al. and emigrate to America -- rejected the idea that baptism meant anything. The Lutheran element of the Reformation, the precursor of the Church of Christ, in contrast, firmly upheld the traditions of baptism and the Eucharist.
The Anabaptist attitude is what is being explicitly expressed in Paragraph G in the PCH Statement of Faith.
While it may be arguable that Patrick Henry has the historically more forward-thinking position -- embodying the very height of the most progressive thinking of the bloodsoaked, persecuted European 16th century -- it may also be pointed out that it was arguments --and, indeed, wars -- over precisely these unknowable and unprovable points of dogma that led, a century later, to the search for universal meaning through empirical observation and deduction -- the Scientific Method -- that characterized the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason and its ultimate political expression, the American Revolution.
The question naturally occurs to one: what kind of murky, torchlit, labyrinthine alleys of backward reasoning led the worthies at Patrick Henry College to stake their claim to "fidelity to the spirit of the American founding"?
Their treatment of their dissenting librarian suggests a closer alliance to the spirit of the Salem Witch Trials.