Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Camp rant

Steve Camp (http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/) has some very creative theories about church/state relations:

JSII wants God to "save the United States and this Honorable Court." How? (I know that "save" here means to "preserve, protect and endure"), but how do they propose to do this? Political activism by the church. This is so foolish ladies and gentlemen, again. It is the Lord who establishes governments and they are under His sovereign control (Psalm 2:1-5; Rom. 13:1-7).

This is a striking admission. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. According to Camp, governments are under God’s sovereign control, but political activism is not under God’s sovereign control. I guess that makes Camp a political open theist.

1. As Christians and as individual citizens in a free society, can we make our voice known on political issues without violating the standard of Scripture? Yes. We enjoy that freedom as individuals constitutionally in our nation to voice our views in a lawful manner and to do so in a way that doesn't tarnish or diminish our testimony for the Lord, His gospel, or His Word and still show respect for those in governing authority in our land (Romans 13:1-7). We may do so through voting, contacting our Senators or Congressmen; through lawful assembly, and local community involvement. We can make our voice known, but then we must leave the results to the Lord; for He is sovereignly in control over all the affairs of men and will even use unrighteous governments and their leaders to fulfill His perfect and providential will on the earth.

Once again, Camp denies the sovereignty of God. Actually, if God is truly sovereign, then it matters not whether we left the results to him. For if God is truly sovereign, then his overruling providence would check our efforts in case we did not leave the results to God.

So Mr. Camp evidently believes in conditional divine sovereignty. God is sovereign if and only if we leave the results to God. If we don’t leave the results to God, then God’s sovereignty is infringed.

Of course, the whole point of sovereignty is that it can’t be thwarted no matter what you do. So, if we can’t frustrate the will of God by not leaving the results in his hands, then, once again, Mr. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. That confirms my original suspicion that Camp must be a political open theist.

<< 2. Is it biblically permissible to unit the body of Christ by turning them into a "voting block entity" or "religious PAC" to use in threatening or militant tones to try and strong arm politicians to fulfill our political agenda? No. The role of the church collectively and biblically, has never been to promote governmental legislation or to act in an aggressive manner against the governing authorities over us. The Apostle Peter warns against this in 1 Peter 4:15 when he exhorts those who are suffering under the tyrannical and torturous reign of Nero, to not suffer as a "troublesome meddler." Or as they are known in our day... "political agitators." >>

This claim is fascinating on several grounds:

i) Our own form of government, unlike imperial Rome, is based on the principle of popular sovereignty. In the words of the Declaration of Independence:


Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever the form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.


So, by his own admission, Camp is not a patriotic American. To the contrary a political subversive. He openly denies the principle of popular sovereignty on which our Republic is founded.

ii) Camp is evidently ignorant of the strategic role played by Christians in the Revolutionary War and the Continental Congress:


At least 12 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterians, including the only minister, Witherspoon. Later, 10 of the 55 delegates who prepared the Constitution were Presbyterians.

At least 235 Princeton students rendered some military service for the patriots (about 50 as chaplains).

No colonial Presbyterian exploited sermons as freely for political purposes as did their contemporary Congregationalists in New England, where annual rituals like election sermons had been carried on since the early 17C.

D. Hart ed. Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in American (IVP 1999), 19.


So Camp has chosen to take the side of the Redcoats.

iii) How is it Biblically impermissible for Christians to unite as a voting block? The Bible says we should submit to government. The 1st Amendment says we have a right to freedom of assembly. When Christians unite as a voting block, they are respecting their form of government.

iv) Another hypocritical feature of Camp’s position is that while he pays lip -service to civil authority, he disdains ecclesiastical authority. Although Scripture enjoins our respectful deference to religious leaders (e.g. Acts 23:4-5; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 12:17), he, a mere layman, has engaged in a running defamation campaign against the Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler.

To try and twist politicians with the threat of not being re-elected (we will remember in November was the montra last July) is prohibited biblically;

But by his own admission, “we, the people,” have the Constitutional right to elect our representatives. And we have the same right, under the US Constitution, as well as state constitutions, to vote them out of office. We also have the legal right to recall state officials who hold elective office.

In addition, running ads against a candidate is protected speech under the 1st amendment.

Camp is inciting Christians to civil disobedience by attacking our form of government and Bill of Rights. Far from inculcating lawful submission to the powers-that-be, Camp is leveling a seditious attack on the democratic process.

3. Is using a Sunday evening worship service to promote a political rally or cause permissible in the Word of God? Never! There is not one example in the N.T. where the worship of the Lord, the preaching of His Word, the sharing of His gospel, the fellowship of His people, the practice of baptism and communion, prayer, etc. is ever to "take a back seat" to a political function.

i) To begin with, the NT has very little to say about the details of public worship, period. This is in conspicuous and deliberate contrast to the Mosaic cultus, with its blueprint of ritual prescriptions and proscriptions.

Moreover, of what little the NT does have to say about the details of public worship, much of that is descriptive rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

Since revelation is the measure of responsibility, this means that God has given Christians a good deal of freedom in what to include or exclude from the worship service.

ii) The NT is addressing itself to the situation of Christians living in a pre-Constantinian political environment. The question, then, is how we should apply Scripture in a post-Constantinian situation, where Christians have added responsibilities that come with majority rule.

In Scripture, a priest could hold political office (1 Sam 4:18). He could function as Prime Minister (2 Chron 19:11). And he could even stage a coup d’etat (2 Kgs 11).

Perhaps, though, Camp is a Marcionite--excising the OT from his canon.


  1. I've tried to engage Mr. Camp in comments at the following entries: