Sunday, June 12, 2005

Camp vs. Klusendorf on Co-Belligerents vs. Good Samaritans

Scott Klunsendorf writes that

cultural reform efforts like the pro-life movement are not primarily about doctrine, but social justice. To work, they must be broad and inclusive. Historically, for example, social reform efforts designed to abolish slavery and establish civil rights for all Americans were led by large ecumenical coalitions that, despite their theological differences, committed themselves to one goal: establishing a more just society. The same is true of abortion. While rejecting religious pluralism (the belief that all religions are equally valid), we must work closely with those who oppose the destruction of innocent human life, regardless of their religious persuasion."

But, Klusendorft notes, evangelicals like

Steve Camp (see here and here as well) not only thinks such cooperation is wrongheaded, he’s convinced that Evangelicals are spending way too much time trying to reform culture, thus distracting themselves from the mission of the church as outlined in the Great Commission. He’s coined a phrase to describe Evangelicals who work with Catholics opposing moral evils like abortion: They are guilty of “co-belligerence.” Camp insists “there can be no real cultural impact apart from the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord.” Hence, we are told, Christians should focus on preaching the gospel, not cultural reform. Changing laws will not change an immoral culture; only personal conversion to Christ will do that.

I found Klusendorf's response, Co-Belligerents or Good Samaritans?, to be highly persuasive. See if you agree.

Without referenceing this particular interaction, it seems that Phil Johnson is in the Camp camp on this one. Johnson applies Machen's insights on making common cause with liberalism to the current situation, suggesting that "Machen's words say precisely what most evangelicals in 2005 desperately need to hear and come to grips with."

What do you think?

Update: Via Denny Burk, here are a couple of more articles in favor of co-belligerency:

Denny Burk, Pope Benedict XVI: A Co-Belligerent Pope.

Albert Mohler, Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-belligerence Without Theological Compromise.