At Steve Camp's blog, I recently posted a comment in reply to his entry, "God Directs the Heart of the King". Because my comment was too lengthy, Mr. Camp deleted it. So I'm reposting it here. --JD
What's so unfortunate about Mr. Camp's most recent post (linked to above) is that he just continues to ignore the significance of critiques offered by Mr. Hays and myself. Mr. Camp goes on and on about how it is God who is sovereign over politicians, governments, etc. How this is one whit relevant to ECB, he doesn't say. God is a God of means as well as ends. In order for ECB to pose any sort of challenge to God's sovereignty, or to display any kind of lack of faith in God's sovereignty, Mr. Camp first has to make the argument that God can't use ECB as a means to bring about a desired end.
The implied antithesis between ECB and divine sovereignty is foolish. One might as well say that my typing on this keyboard is an affront to divine sovereignty, because God is in control and can communicate my messages quite apart from the medium of email. Well yes, he can, but what does that have to do with anything? One might as well say that holding down a job is an affront to divine sovereignty, since after all God is perfectly able to provide me food and shelter quite apart from my job.
Perhaps Mr. Camp actually believes that pursuing fallible, earthly means for various ends is in principle forbidden to any Christian, on the grounds that it negates or otherwise fails to honor divine sovereignty. But then he should just come out and say this plainly, as it's the only principle which could ground the legitimacy of his appeal to divine sovereignty at this point.
If Mr. Camp really believes the 1689 RB confession, then he should take seriously that document's own statement of divine sovereignty:
"God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever come to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree" (3.1)
Divine sovereignty doesn't rule out secondary causes. It never has and it never will. And that remains the case, no matter how many times Mr. Camp cites Pr 21:1 :-)
It's true that later in his post Mr. Camp distances himself from 'fatalism,' and from the notion that "we don't do anything". But that's the point: if he really believes this, then he must realize that all his opening material about the sovereignty of God is entirely beside the point, because it in no way excludes the practice of ECB.
At the link above, Mr. Camp reposts one of his many dubious arguments from silence:
Why didn't the Apostles ever fight that battle by partnering with anyone on their social cause that would agree with them, including nonbelievers, and harness the hearts of those moral few and begin their assault on Nero's nefarious culture code?
Let's ask another question: Why didn't the Apostles ever post on Internet blogs? Why didn't they cross Judea in a Dodge Caravan? Why didn't they preach with electronic amplification? Answer: the means weren't available to them. I submit that that answer is just as plausible for Mr. Camp's original question, as the answer he actually gives. And that's the problem with arguments from silence that ignore context: you can infer just about any crazy 'truth' from them.
We don't live under imperial Rome. At that time, "Nero's culture code" wasn't subject to citizen input or revision, and it would have been utterly useless (nay, suicidal) to try. By way of contrast, we live in a constitutional republic that is amenable to democratic change, indeed, in which it is entirely lawful to bring about such change by democratic means. What part of this is so difficult for Mr. Camp to grasp? Is he really willing to give up his activity of blog posting, on the grounds that the apostles didn't do it? No, I didn't think so.
Mr. Camp continues to talk about Christians who "strong arm politicians to create legislation" or who "overthrow" politicians. No, Mr. Camp, it's called voting in a democracy, a lawful and peaceful privilege every politician is aware of. Perhaps you are aware of it as well? The rest of Mr. Camp's post reveals that he is. Perhaps Mr. Camp can inform us the next time a group of evangelical Christians kidnaps a government official or his family, and holds them hostage until they get what political demands they want. Now that would be strong-arming someone. I suspect we'll be waiting a long time.
Mr. Camp holds that lawfully and peacefully working to get legislation passed that reflects God's moral principles "is defeatist against the very purposes and plans of God." Funny, I thought the state was a minister of God who brings wrath on the one who does evil (Ro 13:4). Since in the providence of God that "minister of God" is a democratic republic, it looks like passing such laws would forward the purposes of God with respect to the state. But perhaps, yet again, Mr. Camp (unlike the entirety of the Reformed tradition) simply doesn't believe in secondary causes. Or perhaps his idea of the "evildoer" is simply the null set. Or perhaps "evildoer" should be defined apart from Scriptural norms. I'd hate to have to choose from among these abysmal alternatives.
Mr. Camp says that ECB ends up "alienating the very ones we long to reach with the gospel by political divide." What is Mr. Camp's alternative? That we not have laws on the books that keep unborn children from having their skulls punctured and their brains sucked out? That, in deference to the moral perversity and rebellion of the unbeliever, our relation to the state is one of moral paralysis? God forbid the state should 'alienate the unbeliever' by doing what God prescribes for the state!
Mr. Camp claims that the purpose of ECB is to "bring about social cultural morality." Notice that Mr. Camp doesn't bother to actually cite any prominent ECBers who actually believe this.
In his closing section, Mr. Camp makes a very strong claim: "The body of Christ is not to be rallied in mass to overthrow or strong arm certain politicians to achieve our own moral agenda. That is against the command of Scripture, beloved, and dishonors the Lord." Let's overlook Mr. Camp's distortion of the practice of ECB. Educating and persuading fellow Christians about the best way to vote, or Christians exercising their right to vote, is not "overthrowing" or "strong arming" anyone. Let's focus on Mr. Camp's claim that ECB is "against the command of Scripture". Has Mr. Camp cited one Scripture to this effect? No, he has not. And that's because there are no Scriptures which forbid ECB. What God leaves to Christian liberty, Mr. Camp takes it upon himself to legislate against. Perhaps Mr. Camp is against lipstick, dancing, and drinking as well? Indeed, every day Mr. Camp cooperates with the blogger.com pagans who own the hard drives that store his blog posts. Perhaps, in the spirit of secondary separation and purity of Christian witness, Mr. Camp will now store his blog posts on Christian-owned hard drives only?
And interesting, isn't it, that not once in the above do I have to appeal to the thesis of 'theonomy' to make my points? No where do I have to make the case that the OT case laws in exhaustive detail (including their prescribed penalties) are binding upon the civil magistrate today. I don't have to come anywhere near that position to point out that Mr. Camp's arguments against ECB continue to be foolish and unworthy of our assent.