MY POSITION PUNGENTLY STATED
By Wayne Camp
I recently read the following widely circulated statement that has prompted me to make a Position Statement.
"Brother Camp holds a very non-biblical view of how a church can start. He claims that a church does not need to come from another church."
In answer to this statement, I want to simply set forth how I believe churches are to be started.
First, I believe the primary way in which churches are to be started is that God calls a man or men to do mission work and the church and pastor/pastors where they are members and the Holy Spirit who called them, send them forth to the work to which God has called them. Acts 13:1-4 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
If that is very non-biblical, I plead guilty.
Second, I believe that those missionaries when sent forth should go wherever the Lord leads them and as they go they should be preaching the gospel at every opportunity. Acts 13:4-5 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
Again, if that is a very non-biblical thing to do, I plead guilty.
Third, I hold that when converts are made they should be baptized and churches should be constituted as was done under the guidance of Paul and his co-workers wherever they went. (The record of this is given in Acts 13 to the end of the book.)
If that is very non-biblical, I am guilty of believing it.
Fourth, I firmly believe that these missionaries sent forth by the church should move from one field to another as God leads them to do so. Acts 16:10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. These church-sent missionaries did not sit and wait for word from Antioch giving them permission to make this move.
If this is "very non-biblical" I plead guilty. Paul and his co-workers never sat and waited for Antioch to determine where they should go next when they were finished in a location. I suppose that the reason some do not make a move without their church's approval is fear of losing their support. Or, they may trust the church's guidance more than the Holy Spirit's leading.
Fifth, I hold that there is no record in Scripture where any church in the New Testament voted to start a specific church any place at any time.
If that is "very non-biblical," someone should show me Scripture where such a record is found. Presumption, supposition, interpolation, interjection, and eisegesis do not substitute for "thus saith the Lord."
Sixth, I hold that missionaries who have been sent forth by a church should occasionally, as the Lord leads, return to that church and report to them what the Lord has done. Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
In the light of what some believe there are some very amazing things in this verse.
They rehearsed all that God had done with them Obviously this reveals they had done the work without getting a church vote on the things they didwhere they went, whom they baptized, churches that were organized, etc.
It also reveals that this church, Antioch, which had sent them forth, was just now learning of how God had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. They had baptized these Gentiles and formed churches of them and Antioch did not even know they were doing it.
Again, if this is "very non-biblical" view, I am guilty.
Seventh, I do not believe the missionaries sent forth from Antioch operated what are known today as missions with members of the mission actually being members of Antioch until such time as Antioch saw fit to send the pastor to the specific city and country to organize them into a church.
If this is a "very non-biblical" stand, all any have to do is show me a "mission" that is mentioned in Scripture. I suggest that operating "missions" is more "non-biblical" than the position I hold.
Eighth, I believe there may be other instances in which a group of scripturally baptized Christians who have been scattered to the same area from other areas, might form a church as the scattered disciples did at Antioch. Acts 11:19-26 19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled temselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Again, if that is "very non-biblical" I plead guilty. If someone could show me where this group operated as a mission from the church at Jerusalem until Barnabas went down, I will change my view. If someone can show me where the church in Jerusalem voted to receive any of those folks in Antioch into its membership and then voted to grant them letters for the purpose of organizing the church at Antioch, I will recant. If someone can show me where the Jerusalem church voted to organize its members in Antioch into a church I will change. If someone can show that the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch for the specific purpose of organizing that group of baptized believers who were already assembling together and serving the Lord in Antioch into a church, I will seriously give it prayerful consideration and if the evidence is there, I will recant.
I should point out that my position on this does not mean the church at Antioch did not "come out" of another church. There was an informal link of scriptural baptism. And, there was apparently an informal link by preachers involved who had been in the church in Jerusalem before being driven out of Jerusalem by persecution.
Ninth and finally, I have never advocated that a group of unbaptized believers could come together and baptize one another and form a church. Also, I have never advocated the idea that a group of Scripturally baptized believers who have been excluded on charges that are set forth in Scripture as grounds for exclusion, and who have been excluded in a Scriptural manner and attitude, could gather and constitute themselves into a church. Those who charge that I have advocated such are guilty of railing, an excludable offense. 1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a RAILER, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Churches do make mistakes and are sometimes unwilling to admit it. I am thinking of at least five or six situations in which churches acted in very unscriptural manners in the exclusion of members who were later constituted into a church. Let me relate two of those.
In the state of Louisiana a little over 35 years ago a Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church came to believe the doctrines of grace. He also held to what Old Landmark Baptists held. A good group of members came to see the doctrines of grace with him. The church took actions that resulted in the people, with the pastor, having to leave. They formed a New Testament Church. Most of the Sovereign Grace, independent, Landmark Baptist Churches in the state recognized and fellowshipped this group as a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In another case a pastor started preaching something that a good number of the members did not believe. On a Wednesday night he preached for approximately 3 hours and then gave an invitation worded like this, "All of those who are willing to back me 100% on what I preach please come forward." When they went forward, one man among them made the motion, "I move that we exclude them," pointing to all who did not come forward. "Them" were told they could not vote since they were under discipline, and the group who had gone forward excluded the ones who did not. A brother tried to intercede on their behalf a short time later and was told "them" would not be received back into the fellowship of the church unless they were willing to pledge themselves to support the pastor 100% on what he preached. Since they believed him to be in error, they could not pledge such a thing and the two parties were not reconciled. The excluded members were received into the Beverly Manor Baptist Church (of which I later became pastor) on statements of faith and scriptural baptism and were formed into a new church a short time thereafter. The new church was recognized by all the churches fellowshipping in the Illinois State Association, including the one from which the members had been excluded. When I went to Illinois to pastor Beverly Manor, the pastor of the excluding church (a new pastor), the pastor of the newly formed church, and I, the pastor of the Beverly Manor Church which received them into its fellowshipped regularly gathered with our wives at one of our homes and had tacos together. For the sake of space, I will not relate other such situations with which I am familiar but there are many similar to these two of which I have a good deal knowledge.
If anyone considers what I have stated to be "very non-biblical" I will be glad to hear from you with proof of the same.
Here I stand. I will not be persuaded or moved by false accusations and misrepresentations. I will not be moved by long established traditions. I will not be moved by suppositons, presumptions, interpolations, interjections, eisegesis, and other things where folks read into Scripture things that are not there. I will not even be moved by history that is not sustained by Holy Writ.
I will search the Scriptures with anyone. I desire to know the way of the Lord more perfectly. I am not infallible. But, Dear Brethren, I must have Scripture. I will change if shown to be in error by the Word of God.
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Updated Friday, March 04, 2011