Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Anarchy in the Camp

Here are some more gems from Steve Camp:

Where ECB comes in (a term I coined) is that they are trying to fight spiritual battles with carnal weaponry (2 Cor. 10:1-4). Abortion, Gay marriage, etc. are not political problems, but are issues of the heart and are spiritual ones. They need the gospel; not legislation.

We don't have the right biblically to go around holding unsaved people to that same standard (1 Cor. 5; Rom. 6:20) as they do in many of their writings and radio broadcasts (Being constantly critical of non-believers for living like non-believers.)

So Steve Camp is an anarchist—at least where unbelievers are concerned. According to St. Paul, the law is not for the lawful, but for the lawless (1 Tim 1:9).

Paul is no antinomian. He isn’t saying that Christians are above the law. His point, rather, is that the Christian is already law-abiding. He has internalized the law. He is a law-keeper, not a law-breaker.

But in Camp’s upside down world, the law is not for unbelievers, but believers--not for the unjust, but for the just, not for rebels, but for the righteous.

Notice, in vv10-11, how Paul goes on to specify the very sorts of unsaved sinners whom Camp has exempted.

Indeed, as Liefeld points out in his commentary, vv9-10 are modeled upon the Decalogue (Deut 5:6-12). Cf. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus (Zondervan 1999), 64.

So the law that unbeliever are still under is the Mosaic criminal code—or at least the Decalogue. And it’s hard to separate the case law for the Mosaic code which the case law exemplifies.

So Steve Camp has decided to go into business for himself, with his homemade theology and moral anarchy.

It’s true that abortion and sodomy are spiritual problems. They issue from a sinful heart. Of course, the very same thing could be said of rape and robbery, as well as other forms of murder and immorality.

Does it follow that homicide and pedophilia, to take but two examples, are not political problems, but only spiritual problems? Is the solution, not laws banning murder and child-rape, but mass evangelism?

In the first place, laws don’t exist for the benefit of the perpetrator, but for the potential victim--as, among other things, a deterrent to crime. Laws were never intended to help the perpetrator.

There is, in addition, the principle of retributive justice. But Camp abandons both deterrence and retribution for a purely remedial rationale. That, however, is unscriptural.

Is there a double standard--one for believers and another for unbelievers? Is there no common code of conduct?

Camp is confusing social ethics with sodality or consociation. You can’t have a society without social mores. You can’t have a polis without a political system.

But people relate to each other on more than one level. There are various subcultures within the general culture.

I, as an American citizen, am subject to Federal law. I’m also subject to state laws, which vary from state to state.

A student, a soldier, or a frat-boy, si as a member of a voluntary association, subject to its particular terms of membership. If you break the rules, you can be expelled. But to be expelled from school is not to lose your US citizenship.

The church is a voluntary association, with its own distinctive terms of membership. These are inapplicable to the unbeliever for the simple reason that the unbeliever is not a member of the church, and is disqualified from membership due to his unbelief. But if hardly follows from this fact that there is no standard of common decency.

We see this illustrated in the Mosaic Law. According to the Law, a resident alien was excluded from the Passover unless he underwent circumcision.

He was exempt from the ceremonial law. But he was not exempt from the civil law. The criminal code applied to Jew and resident alien alike.

From this distance we cannot always draw a bright red line. There were unspoken rules to which we are not privy. There was a cultural preunderstanding and common knowledge that we can’t recover.

When in doubt, we have to draw our own lines, based on broad Biblical norms. But the radical individualism and laissez-faire antinomianism of Camp is wholly opposed to Biblical ethics.


  1. >When in doubt, we have to draw our own >lines, based on broad Biblical norms..

    Or in this instance, unbiblical theonomic/reconstructionist norms.

  2. Howdy, there, Chad. Not a hanging Chad, I presume. Or a dippled Chad.

    You say that theonomy is unbiblical, but I guess your supporting argument fell out in the process of posting your comment. is so unreliable.

    At least, all I see is a blank space where an argument should be. Please fill in the blank with a supporting argument, then retransmit.

    I see that you're a fan of Camp's music. So are you defending him on aesthetic grounds or theological grounds?

    BTW, has Camp ever set The Kingdom Prologue to music?

  3. >has Camp ever set the Kingdom Prologue to music?

    No, but he should. You'd then have my answer to theonomy's unbiblicity in song. :-)

    And yes, I have 2 dimples, only one of which has been visible the last four or five years. Someday, I'll join Jeremy at Subways and get my other dimple back. :-)

  4. What would it sound like, anyway? A Klingon opera, perchance?

  5. >Klingon Opera?

    Pilgrim Progressive... (already heard in Delirious? when they wax eschatological.) :-)

  6. "You say that theonomy is unbiblical, but I guess your supporting argument fell out in the process of posting your comment. is so unreliable."


    Mr. Hays quotes Paul on the law, and all he gets back is a claim that "theonomy is unbiblical". I love it! :-)

  7. Steve --

    Campi is a friend of a friend, so when I read him he always gets the benefit of the doubt. So he says this:
    "We don't have the right biblically to go around holding unsaved people to that same standard (1 Cor. 5; Rom. 6:20) as they do in many of their writings and radio broadcasts (Being constantly critical of non-believers for living like non-believers.)"
    And we have to ask ourselves: is he saying, "there should be no law"? Or is he saying, "We should not expect secular law to do what the church is unwilling to do"?

    I admit I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and then a little more, but I don't think Camp is antinomian -- I think sometimes he's so focused on the matter of grace and the church's obligation to preach grace he forgets that grace is meaningless without the law.

    He certainly doesn't say that here, Steve. If that's your beef, you know I'm with you: we should say what we mean especially when we are dealing with the matter of church in a republican democracy. Let's just not yet shoot at people who are, more or less, on our side.

  8. Thanks, Frank.

    I don't doubt that Camp means well. But he suffers from some elementary theological confusions.

    And I'm not judging Camp merely by the latest statements of his, which I cite simply for purposes of illustration--as representative of a deep-seated confusion.

    Camp has been leveling a scurrilous attack on honorable men like Mohler and Land. He is falsely imputing to them positions which they do not hold.

    I happen to know (my own friend-of-friend contacts) that he's been repeatedly challenged on this very point, and when he's been confronted with unanswerable evidence to the contrary (I said "unanswerable" because he doesn't respond), he continues to reiterate the same slanderous charges.

    So not only is he theologically confused, he's unteachable. He refuses rational, factual correction.

    So, no, I wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt. He is both wrong and wrong-headed.

    He lacks a basic capacity for critical detachment, the ability to give the opposing side a fair hearing. He doesn't know how to listen. He can't break through his prejudice long enough to judge the opposing position on its own terms. Moreover, he has been challenged on his own grounds, and has shown himself to lack self-consistency as well. If you fail to make a case, either on your own terms or the terms of the opposing side, you could hardly do any worse.

    I agree with you that we need to be very careful about friendly fire. But Camp has already thrown down the gauntlet, so it's now a question of whether we remain silent, take his side, or side with the likes of Richard Land and Albert Mohler. I prefer their company.

  9. What confuses me about Mohler is that he says the RCs don't have the biblical Gospel and if they believe the official teachings of the RCC that they are not saved. I got to watch Justice Sunday on TBN Mohler said something to the effect that this event is for or due to the Gospel (Can't recall exact wording). Then, an RC gets up at the same pulpit and speaks and also mentions serving Christ and this being for His sake. This really sends a confused message to me. Which Gospel is being defended, proclaimed and promoted?

  10. As to mixed messages, there are always going to be tensions in a political coalition. I believe that Mohler regards conservative Catholics as allies in the culture wars. So he tries to keep his distance theologically while cultivating a working relationship on matters of common concern and public policy.

    I'd note that this cuts both ways. Although it gives a Catholic a platform he might not otherwise have, it also gives an Evangelical a platform he might not otherwise have.

    In other words, there are Evangelicals who will tune in to hear the Evangelical speakers, and, as a consequence, hear the Catholic speakers as well; but by the same token there are Catholics who will tune in to hear the Catholic speakers, and, as a consequence, hear the Evangelical speakers as well--whom they might not otherwise have occasion to hear.

    If the faith of an evangelical is so flimsy that it would be undermined by merely hearing a Roman Catholic speak, then the problem is not with the forum, but with his faith.

    An example of where this cobelligerence can cross the line is in the old ETC talks where both sides were claiming to agree with each other on the essentials of the faith. And maybe that was true for them, but they had no right to speak on behalf of you and me.

    To my knowledge, Mohler has been quite forthright in never crossing that line.

    This is a tricky balancing act, but that doesn't make it wrong. Part of moral maturity is being able to exercise spiritual discernment and moral discrimination in tricky cases. And the tricky cases are unavoidable.

  11. Steve --

    Because you know where the Batcave is, and because I see the points on the line you are drawing here, and because I think that Dr. Mohler has a credibility bank account that a lot of people ought to use as collateral when mentally brokering things like Justice Sunday, and (finally) because the matter of "friendly fire" applies to all parties and not just you because you're in the same league as PP and me and not in the "industrial strength" league Steve Camp is in, I'm with you.

    johnMark --

    Because you also know where the Batcave is, and have been there more often than Steve (Hayes), I offer you this: I think that one point does not make a line at all. You can't find a second point to connect the offense (which I think is loosely defined at best) Dr. Mohler committed on Justice Sunday (by standing on a platform with a Catholic) by which to indicate a trajectory or even a turning away that impunes his lifetime of work. When a guy like Al Mohler becomes a target on our radar screens, I think we have not applied all the proper filters to the data.

  12. Heaven forbid anyone even "think" about disagreeing with Mohler's actions! All I am saying is that he preaches one thing (RC's don't have the Gospel) and yet shares the same pulpit with them (who proclaim their Gospel) at the same event which Mohler says is for/because of the Gospel. I understand what he's trying to accomplish and I just think it's a mixed message i.e. which Gospel?

    In other words, it seems like he's saying "You have a false Gospel, but for the sake of the Gospel I stand alongside of you as we both proclaim the (which?) Gospel."

    One of my best friends (my best man) met Mohler a couple of months ago. Got to tour his office and house and talk with him a bit. Great man of God and great man in person. He works hard, has good doctrine and means as well as any godly man can. I just think he sends a mixed message in this situation and just because he is "Al Mohler" doesn't mean I am not allowed to disagree. I have the utmost respect for him.


    Ps, cent: Does he get a pass on Professor S. too?

  13. jM --

    I didn't say you couldn't disagree: I said "I think that one point does not make a line at all. You can't find a second point to connect the offense Dr. Mohler committed on Justice Sunday by which to indicate a trajectory or even a turning away that impunes his lifetime of work."

    When you say, 'it seems like he's saying "You have a false Gospel, but for the sake of the Gospel I stand alongside of you as we both proclaim the (which?) Gospel,"' you are confusing two things. On the one hand, as Steve said, Mohler made some fine (meaning: narrow; thin) distinctions in taking the stand at Justice Sunday -- but they were political and not heretical. On the other, just because the Catholic person said "the Gospel" and Mohler didn't walk out or throw the Bible at him (hey: it's me; that's hyperbole, not a fist fight becuase I know you can take me), it is unfair to treat it like some great apostasy.

    Did he confuse you about the Gospel? In what way? Did he confuse some Catholics about the Gospel? I'll bet he did, but not any worse than they were when the night started. Did he confuse some evangelicals? Maybe -- but as Steve said, anyone who lost their footing over that event didn't have a very solid standing on the faith to start with.

    You are certainly allowed to disagree with Dr. Mohler about what happened that night. I think that in some ways I disagree with him about what happened that night (I'm still thinking about it). But we cannot use that as a hammer to knock on the door of Al Mohler's house. I dunno about you, but I'm a pipsqueak compared to Dr. Mohler, theologically, and even if he was dead wrong about what happened that night we owe him the grace to ask the questions respectfully rather than combatively.

  14. I'm sorry, but I didn't realize that saying I disagree was being combative. I wish that Mohler would have someone like Camp on his show to talk about these issues. Let's see where the discussion goes. If not, then how will anyone ever get to address Mohler on said issues? Then we are left to the helpless blogging which gets us where?

    My main question, did you hear Mohler and the other speakers at Justice Sunday in reference to what I am talking about?

  15. At this point I don't know if John Mark's questions are directed to me or Frank Turk.

    One thing I can say for sure is that my remarks are primarily directed, not at John Mark, but Steve Camp.

    No one is claiming that Mohler is immune to criticism. That's a rather stale red herring.

    And as far as Camp is concerned, this issue is far larger than Mohler's performance at one particular event. Indeed, it's larger than Mohler, period.

    Rather, it's about Camp's Anabaptist theory of church/state relations--as well as his culpable mischaracterization of those with whom he disagrees as substituting political activism for the gospel.