Friday, August 12, 2005

The Hyperventilations of Steve Camp (an occasional series)

[The following blog post is by Jus Divinum]

Yesterday, I wrote:

"As I've said elsewhere, any legitimate cause can be pursued with idolatrous priorities, such that the primary mission of the church gets undermined. But that's not the issue (if it were, I'd be presenting a completely different set of arguments, asking the critics of ECB to support their sociological generalizations about allegedly idolatrous priorities with cold, hard facts)."

Speaking of specious sociological generalizations, try this one on for size. It's from Steve Camp:

"The New Perspective of Paul, Open Theism and Brian McLaren's Postmodern Emergence are three of the most deadly heresies to come on Christianity in hundreds of years. But they pale in comparison with the inroads that the political movement championed by Dobson, Colson, Mohler, Land and Parsley are now leading. Why? Those other heresies are gravely damaging, no question, but they remain academic in nature and haven't won the hearts of the general populace yet. That doesn't minimize their leavened condition, but the average churchgoer is not even aware of those issues. But, the political movement among evangelicals has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Christians across our land, virtually dumbing-down an entire evangelical/protestant church, rendering them as obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters."

Yes, you read that right. Recent prominent attacks on the doctrines of justification, God, and our historical theological heritage "are three of the most deadly heresies to come on Christianity in hundreds of years," but "they pale in comparison" with what the 'ECB Fab Four' are doing. In other words, ECB is worse than the most deadly heresies to afflict the church in modern times. Let's look at the fallacies in Camp's characteristically over-the-top statement:

First, Camp says that "those other heresies... remain academic in nature". Who is he kidding? Ask the churches which have split over the New Perspective whether that problem "remains academic in nature". Ask pastor John Piper if open theism "remains academic in nature". Ask D. A. Carson whether the emergent church phenomenon "remains academic in nature". (This last claim is particularly egregious. Was the emergent church phenomenon ever 'academic' in the first place? Perhaps Camp could name a few dissertations or academic journal articles in this regard. As far as I can tell, these guys are averse to making their case to or in academia.)

Second, Camp says that the political efforts of ECBers have resulted in something, namely, "virtually dumbing-down an entire evangelical/protestant church, rendering them as obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters". Yes, according to camp, the entire evangelical and Protestant church (in America? in the world?) has been dumbed-down. The entire evangelical and Protestant church is biblically moronic. And this can be attributed to ECBers as sole historical cause. Does Camp have even a ghost's chance of making this claim plausible, through any credibly sociological research? But no, Camp doesn't have to bother arguing his points, apparently. Just fling any old wild claim out there, and hope it sticks.

Third, what's that you say? Camp didn't say that the ECBers have dumbed down the entire church in every respect? Rather, what he said was that ECB has rendered the entire church obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters? Hmm, but then that vast qualification would undermine Camp's whole claim that ECB is deadlier than the deadliest three heresies of modern times, wouldn't it?

After all, even if we concede to Camp that ECB misleads the church on its relation to culture (something I have little reason to concede), that would only be a rather peripheral matter. Unless... Camp's priorities are so perverse that the church's relation to political endeavors ranks higher than, say, justification, the doctrine of God, and the rejection of our entire historical theological heritage. That's right! If you're confused enough to want to do your small bit as individual Christians in our society to work lawfully and peacefully to outlaw partial birth abortion and gay marriage, you're worse than the guys who reject sola fide and divine providence/omniscience!

Could it be that Camp's priorities are that perverse? By all appearances, yes. What else could account for the ranking he gives above?

If you read Camp's post linked to above, you'll see that according to Camp, it doesn't matter how many churches have been split over the New Perspective, open theism, and the emergent church phenomenon. What's "catastrophically profound" is not any of that, but rather that one evening service of one SBC church on one particular Sunday night is addressing some political matters, in part, by allowing a Roman Catholic to speak. (And, note well, not even preach, much less preach what is being advertised as the gospel. Neither of these things is the case.) Now, I happen to disagree with having JS2 on a Sunday, and with it being advertised as a worship service, and with having a Roman Catholic participate in said worship service. This is all bad, in my opinion. It could have all been done on a Monday, and without it being advertised as a worship service. But to make this single event the sole plank in your argument that ECB is worse than the three deadliest heresies in modern times, is utter foolishness.

Can someone, somewhere please post a real argument for Camp's conclusion? Personally, idea that Mohler, Dobson, and Land are guilty of heresy more deadly than Open Theism or the New Perspective gives any sane reader a good reason to ignore most of what Camp writes on the subject.


  1. Campi didn't really say that. You made that up -- inlcusing the look-alike link.

    Oh brother.

  2. For the extremely naive among us, centuri0n was being sarcastic :-)

    Hey, great photo, BTW! Is that really you? :-)