Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Steve Camp Misuses John Owen - Why Am I Not Surprised?

Steve Camp is a card-carrying member of the "born again before faith" club and frequently demonstrates that teaching and theology are most definitely not his calling. In this article, Brother Bob Ross discusses Steve's misuse of John Owen.


John Owen, one of the most notable Puritan pastors of the 17th century, also a leading theologian at Oxford University and at times a chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, is often cited by our current crop of Hybrid Calvinists. A case in point recently aroused my attention.

The singer, Steve Camp, likes to dabble in theology, and I saw a notice on James White's web site where Steve was holding forth on the pedobaptist shibboleth which Hybrid Calvinists are wont to call the "ordo salutis" -- (or, as it might more appropriately be called, the "ordo pollutus," for it is a pollution of the Creedal view on Effectual Calling) -- and that Steve could be heard on MP3 on the "Iron Sharpens Iron" blog.

At that site, I read the following introduction to the audio:

STEVE CAMP, Grammy Award winning song writer, Christian recording artist, theologically Reformed apologist, controversial Christian blogger and founder of audienceONE Ministries (see will address one of the most highly debated themes within Christendom for nearly two millennia, "THE ORDO SALUTIS: the Biblical Sequence of Stages Involved in Salvation (& How Their Order Effects Evangelism)".

I listened to the usual palabber which characterizes those who repeat the pedobaptist-invented "ordo salutis," and although Steve did not throw any "new light" on the idea that a sinner is "born again" (saved) before believing in Christ, he did manage to at least cause a chuckle --that is, on my part.

The chuckle came when Steve dropped the name of JOHN OWEN, and claimed that Owen was one of his "favorite Puritans," and presumably was trying to enlist Owen in the "ordo salutis" (born again before faith) category.

In view of what Owen taught on regeneration, it seems unlikely that Steve has read Owen on that subject. Or, if he has, he apparently failed to comprehend what Owen was saying, for Owen does not support Steve's "ordo salutis."

The fact is, Owen (1616-1683) lived before the post-17th century pedobaptists had "developed" the malarkey they now call the "ordo salutis" [for which see pedobaptist Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology, pages 466, 468]. According to Berkhof, the Puritans in Owen's time -- in addition to Luther and Calvin before them -- were "confused" on regeneration and conversion. One of the very best of the "confused" ones on the subject of regeneration is Stephen Charnock at --

Owen's view was about the same as Charnock's and his co-pastor, Thomas Watson's, for Owen did not advocate that regeneration (new birth) "precedes" faith (See Owen's Works, Volume 6, pages 595-598).

Here are a few quotes from Owen which indicate that he held to the Creedal view of Effectual Calling by both the Word and Spirit:

Secondly, It [the Gospel] is salvation efficiently, in that it is the great instrument which God is pleased to use in and for the collation and bestowing salvation upon his elect. Hence the apostle calls it "the power of God unto salvation," Romans 1:16; because God in and by it exerts his mighty power in the saving of them that believe; as it is again called, 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Hence there is a saving power ascribed unto the word itself. And therefore Paul commits believers unto "the word of grace," as that which "is able to build them up, and give them an inheritance among all them which are sanctified," Acts 20:32. And James calls it "the ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls," chapter 1:21; the mighty power of Christ being put forth in it, and accompanying it, for that purpose. But this will the better appear if we consider the several principal parts of this salvation, and the efficiency of the word as the instrument of God in the communication of it unto us; as,

1. In the regeneration and sanctification of the elect, the first external act of this salvation. This is wrought by the word, 1 Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God;" wherein not only the thing itself, or our regeneration by the word, but the manner of it also, is declared. It is by the collation of a new spiritual life upon us, whereof the word is the seed. As every life proceeds from some seed, that hath in itself virtually the whole life, to be educed from it by natural ways and means, so the word in the hearts of men is turned into a vital principle, that, cherished by suitable means, puts forth vital acts and operations.

By this means we are "born of God" and "quickened," who "by nature are children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins."

So Paul tells the Corinthians that he had "begotten them in Christ Jesus through the gospel," 1 Corinthians 4:15. I confess it doth not do this work by any power resident in itself, and always necessarily accompanying its administration; for then all would be so regenerated unto whom it is preached, and there would be no neglecters of it. But it is the instrument of God for this end; and mighty and powerful through God it is for the accomplishment of it. And this gives us our first real interest in the salvation which it doth declare. Of the same use and efficacy is it in the progress of this work, in our sanctification, by which we are carried on towards the full enjoyment of this salvation. So our Savior prays for his disciples, John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth," as the means and instrument of their sanctification; and he tell his apostles that they were "clean through the word that he had spoken unto them," chapter 15:3. For it is the food and nourishment whereby the principle of spiritual life which we receive in our regeneration is cherished and increased, 1 Peter 2:2; and so able to "build us up," until it "give us an inheritance among them that are sanctified." (Owen on Hebrews 2, Vol. I, pages 364, 364 of the CD-ROM).

Also, from Owen's Works, Volume 6, pages 597, 598:

1. Regeneration doth not in order of time precede the soul's interest in the forgiveness that is with God, or its being made partaker of the pardon of sin. I say no more but that it doth not precede it in order of time, not determining which hath precedency in order of nature. That, I confess, which the method of the gospel leads unto is, that absolution, acquitment, or the pardon of sin, is the foundation of the communication of all saving grace unto the soul, and so precedeth all grace in the sinner whatever. But because this absolution or pardon of sin is to be received by faith, whereby the soul is really made partaker of it and all the benefits belonging thereunto, and that faith is the radical grace which we receive in our regeneration, "for it is by faith that our hearts are purified, as an instrument in the hand of the great purifier, the Spirit of God," I place these two together, and shall not dispute as to their priority in nature; but in time the one doth not precede the other. . . .

When convinced persons cried out, "What shall we do to be saved?" the answer was, "Believe, and ye shall be so." "Believe in Christ, and in the remission of sin by his blood," is the first thing that convinced sinners are called unto. They are not directed first to secure their souls that they are born again, and then afterward to believe; but they are first to believe that the remission of sin is tendered unto them in the blood of Christ, and that "by him they may be justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law."

Camp is such a Hybrid Calvinist that he alleged that if the pedobaptist "ordo salutis" were widely accepted, it would "revolutionize evangelism," that it would "ignite it."

I suppose we have to look to the "born again before faith" pedobaptists to demonstrate that, don't we? Pedo evangelism is primarily by "baby baptism," isn't it? If the pedos did not baptize their babies on the presumption that their "covenant children" inherit regeneration, I wonder how many members they would have in their churches.

And what could possibly be said about how the "born again before faith" teaching has "ignited" evangelism among the parachurch Flounders organization, which is devoted to promoting the pedobaptist "ordo salutis"? About the only "evangelism" I have heard or seen from the Flounders is in the category of trying to convert Christians to Hybrid Calvinism.


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