churchesFundamentalists eschew denominations preferring to imagine each of their churches as completely separate and independent from every other church. Members often hear the claim that “nobody is going to tell us how to run things around here, amen?” As with most things, it doesn’t really work that way in practice. While fundamentalists do not have denominations, they do have “camps.” These are not the fun and games type of camps, however.

Fundy camps are loosely defined power structures with unwritten charters that revolve around some particular institution or personality. In many ways camps are sort of like gangs but without the hand signs and spray paint. There are even the occasional wars between camps wherein gallons of ink are spilled over things like whether the King James Version is inspired or just a perfect preservation and translation of inspired originals. Casualties are many.

Fundamentalists may belong conference of churches with pastors who all graduated from the same bible school, believe the same things, preach the same way, use the same gestures, and have the same haircut but that doesn’t make them a denomination. There’s nothing like being exactly like everyone else to demonstrate one’s independence.

10 thoughts on ““Camps””

  1. “There’s nothing like being exactly like everyone else to demonstrate one’s independence. ”

    Amen. lol

  2. From my experience the camps were typically college based. The big three were BJU, Hyles-Anderson, and Pensacola, but there were other smaller camps as well. There were even camps within camps. If you visited an IBF church it was clear within minutes after you walked into the doors what camp they belonged to by how many Bob Jones Sr. quotes or Jack Hyles pictures graced the walls.

  3. Yeah, camps are pretty much college-based. Once in a while you’ll find the truly independent Baptist preacher who didn’t attend any of the famous colleges, and was actually just taught by his pastor at his local church and then God called him to start a church somewhere else. That kind of pastor is usually labeled and shunned by “camp” pastors.

  4. I can spot which camp a preacher is from often by the song service. If I need to make it to the message, I can often tell within the first point.

    I have known one or two who started in one camp and ended up in another. They can be confusing when you first hear them. 😀

  5. This is such a great commentary on the state of fundamentalism. I see and have seen many churches shift and change to conform to each other or into the image of a “leader church” rather than conforming to scripture. I want to be in a church that patterns itself after the New Testament and not a camp, a movement, or a personality.

  6. There is one other type of camp and that is the “Family camp” where, in a given area, all the IFB pastors are related by blood or marriage. IFB inbreeding if you will. And several of the Evangelists that they support are related as well so they can come in and hold revival meetings when their schedule has some open dates (meaning no paycheck will be coming in that week.) that is when the preacher gets up and says, “the lord has laid it on my heart to hold some special meetings and I’ve invited ____________ to come an preach to us starting Wednesday evening thru Sunday. We are in need of Revival. We will take up Love offerings every evening cause we want to take care of the ‘man of god’.” (cause cousin Billy Ray Bubba Gump needs a paycheck that week to help pay for that RV he will be bringing in.) It goes without saying there will be testimonies on how the lord has provided for all Brother Billy Ray’s needs in so many supernatural ways. Ol Bro. Bill may even preach a message (that the lord has laid on his heart)about sacrificial giving and faith promise giving to make sure everyone is under sufficient guilt to keep the missions offerings up to snuff so the monthly support check keeps coming in. grrrrrrrrrrr!

  7. I wish someone would create a GIANT org chart/family tree of Fundyland with all major “fathers” and their offspring/followers. It would need to include all the crazy beliefs of each “family” and include all the “estranged” children and crazy uncles (i.e., those convicted of sex crimes)…Oh, wait…nobody really cares do they…

  8. Then again, so many of these men are “independent” because they are so territorial, near paranoid, and jealous of each other that a “denominational” structure would be practically impossible.

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