Finding Sin In The Camp

Once upon an Old Testament time there was a man named Achan who ignored God’s orders and took a five-fingered discount on some bling while plundering and pillaging the city of Jericho. The end result was that a bunch of people died because he had brought sin into the camp.

The cry of “there’s sin in the camp” is one that’s greatly loved by fundamentalists as a reason why bad things are happening or good ones aren’t. After all, God may want to do a great and mighty work here but that dime novel you’ve got hidden in the corn crib is standing in His way! Get the sin out of the camp!

The “I got the sin out of the camp” tale is a favorite type of war story for evangelists. It seems that evangelists are given a special gift of looking down into the audience and seeing which specific person is the reason why revival hasn’t broken out in a service. So the evangelist’s job is to preach harder and harder until that person finally breaks down and repents in tears. The very next night 5,378 people will get saved because they got the SIN OUT OF THE CAMP! Glory!

In the realm of fundamentalist guilt trips this is a very powerful one because it puts the malefactor in the position of being guilty not only for his own sin but also for being the instrument of other people’s destruction. Nothing beats the feeling of sitting in a revival service wracking your brain to see if there’s something you did that might be keeping revival from busting out all over.

Strangely enough, little things like a pastor’s affair or a deacon’s tax fraud never stop “revival” from happening.  It’s always hidden rock music and secret trips to the movies. Weird how that works.

92 thoughts on “Finding Sin In The Camp”

  1. LOL. That is classic. (I’m assuming you meant to leave the post blank, showing that fundies don’t do anything about sin in their camp.)

    This is one of my Dad’s biggest pet peeve, fundy though he is. He is on a mission to get fundies to recognize and do something about sin in the camp.

    1. Yes, I accidentally hit the post button on this one last night without having actually written it. I shouldn’t be allowed to click on stuff on my own.

      To your point, the sin in the camp that fundamentalists like is OPS(other people’s sin). They’ll rarely take on the hard task of dealing with real sin.

        1. I mean the unbelief of accepting that we are accepted in the beloved and completely forgiven. For a group that claims to stand by the word (av1611), they do a whole lot of making complete forgiveness through blood into temporary forgiveness through the altar.

      1. Yes. I was referring to pastoral affairs and such like. They won’t deal with that in their own churches, and they won’t speak against other Fundamentalist pastors who do the same. That would be gossip and tale-bearing, after all.

  2. Bojo takes it a step further requiring you to report any Achan’s to the stone throwers. Should you not, you then become an Achan.

  3. As a sophomore at HAC, how spiritual you were seemed to be based on how many people you could coerce into coming on the church bus. I was not very good at that. Several weeks into us having no visitors, our bus captain preached on how people who weren’t bringing people to church had sin in their lives.

    I was well on my way out of fundyland in my mind, but decided to stay at HAC because my credits wouldn’t transfer anywhere else and I didn’t want to lose them. I remember feeling guilty because I honestly felt that my secret unbelief was the reason many people weren’t getting their ‘lives changed’. Thinking back now, it was the neighborhood. It was eventually abandoned as a bus route and we moved on to much poorer areas where kids roamed the streets and their parents couldn’t care less where they went. More people started coming. I was suddenly ‘spiritual’ again.

    That actually did get my heart, but in a very different way than they intended. After leaving I found myself working with (gasp! secular!) organizations which tried to help children from crime-ridden areas. I found it far more rewarding than during my time at HAC.

    1. That’s sad that you would feel blamed for not getting enough kids. God’s Word is clear that we are all gifted IN DIFFERENT WAYS. To try to force everybody into doing the same thing – cajoling kids onto busses for church, for example – and criticizing them if they don’t do it as successfully as someone else is behavior in direct opposition to what the Bible says.

    2. I feel for you. I’m an introvert myself, so I felt especially bad whenever the topic of soulwinning came up. If you hadn’t led anyone to Christ it proved that you weren’t really saved. 😥

      1. In the Pentecostal branch of fundamentalism, I’ve had people tell me that if you’ve never spoken in tongues, you’re not really saved either, and that you’ve never actually experienced the Holy Spirit.

        I guess I can’t be called a backslider, since I was never actually saved in the first place, going by that logic.

        1. That bothers me SO MUCH, because the Bible CLEARLY states that not everyone will have the same gifts. In other words, not everyone will speak in tongues. It’s so obvious, and it’s so twisted and wrong to guilt people when they don’t demonstrate ONE spiritual gift when there are MANY.

        2. In my church, we sometimes sing a hymn entitled “Many Gifts, One Spirit.” Do the Pentecostals sing, “Many Spirits, One Gift”?

        3. In my church, we sometimes sing a hymn entitled “Many Gifts, One Spirit.” Do the Pentecostals sing, “Many Spirits, One Gift”?

      2. When I was at HAC, during one campaign, if you did not have someone saved, down the aisle, and baptized you had to wear a rubber hot dog around your neck. The other future MOGs would come by and bark at you and squeak the squeaky toy hot dog around your neck.

  4. The only times I ever heard “sin in the camp” preached was when my father, as head of the deacon board at the church we attended when I was young, tried to stop a dictator-pastor from taking control of everything. The pastor would preach that passage, claim that “some people here are like Achan; some deacons here have let sin in the camp!”, then glare right at my father. Great times.
    When I was away at school, it happened again; same exact situation, different pastor. I told dad that if he was just like Achan, I’d like to know where he buried the gold, so I could pay for college. 😎

  5. Great post! I remember hearing the verse “Quench not the Spirit” followed by a long list of things that would quench the Spirit. Essentially the preacher was blasting out the guilt with a shotgun-aiming at none of us and hitting all of us.

    We were told that the Holy Spirit would leave if we had “any unconfessed sins” in our lives. Revival wouldn’t come, souls would perish and Satan would have a party if I did not immediately run to the altar and confess to calling my older brother names.

    “Strangely enough, little things like a pastor’s affair or a deacon’s tax fraud never stop “revival” from happening. It’s always hidden rock music and secret trips to the movies. Weird how that works.”

    Hilarious! Great post! 😆

    1. I know of one guy who had tattoos, and he was told to leave the church, even though he was a deeply committed Christian. The reason was that he had the Mark of Satan on him, and this evil was preventing God from moving in power in the Church. I have tattoos, and nobody has done that to me yet, but I don’t go to a Fundy Church.

  6. “Strangely enough, little things like a pastor’s affair or a deacon’s tax fraud never stop “revival” from happening. It’s always hidden rock music and secret trips to the movies. Weird how that works.”

    Yup. Or clandestine NIVs. Or Cabbage Patch dolls. Or…

      1. I think Gothard had a big thing back in the day about how they were satanic and Christians shouldn’t have them in their homes.

        1. Well look at them, they’re frightfully uncanny valley. ‘Twouldn’t surprise me much at all if they turned out to be possessed. I gotta go with the fundies; those dolls are much too creepy to allow near the camp.

      2. In one of Gothard’s health publications, he had stories about women who had difficulty with their homebirths. As soon as the midwives thew out the satanic cabbage patch dolls, the deliveries went well.

        1. Wow, just WOW. There but for the GRACE of GOD go I. I almost got sucked into gothardism but thank goodness I didn’t…

  7. When the survey was conducted in Israel to find out who the hoarder was, it was to get rid of him, NOT to get him “right with the Lord.”

    When preachers preach this kind of sermons, they are using the accusatory element (as the Israelite leaders), but they can’t actually do anything about it but to make the church members’ more sin/self-focused. It actually brings MORE sin to the camp… 😐

      1. Lmao John. Oh the memories 🙄 I loved your stories from living with a particularly annoying floorleader hahaha!

  8. I have just recently left an indy-fundy church/school ministry, and I am so glad to be out of a place where I constantly felt guilty. My sin was my fault, my students’ sin was my fault … obviously I wasn’t spiritual enough. I was actually told by my superiors that I must be disobeying God because I wasn’t happy and obedience brings happiness.

    What a wonderful thing to discover God’s GRACE and to realize that He loves us and isn’t disappointed in us and isn’t merely tolerating us. I felt barely tolerated in my fundy church. Now I know God actually LOVES me.

      1. Basically. It was really scary for me to find out how many of my friends had been talked to like that and had chosen to stay at that ministry and to stay quiet about it, too. It’s just not RIGHT. Argh.

        But now I am FREE FREE FREE!!!

  9. This is only somewhat related, but I remember being taught that you had to bind Satan and his deomons before you could pray, otherwise God couldn’t hear you.

    Seems like Fundies believe God can’t handle sin or Satan.

    1. I heard that too. I never knew what to think when people prayed to bind the demons, especially when they were demons that are not mentioned in the Bible.
      For example, “God bind the demon of criticism, bind the demon of backbiting, bind the demon of bitterness, bind the demon of envy and jealousy, etc”.

      1. The deamon of alcohol
        The deamon of rock music
        The deamon of gosip
        The deamon NIV-ESV-NASB al
        The deamon that hinders one from attending church everytime the doors are open…..

        *yawn* 😕

        1. Deamons run on servers (or is it daemons?). 😉 I get a kick when a certain IT tech I know constantly talks about “all those demons running on the print server” or “[stopping] the mail demon.” I’ve tried once or twice to correct him but frankly it’s funnier to let it go. 😀

        2. How bored do you think the demon of tobacco was for those thousands of years before people figured out you could smoke it?

        3. Freudian slip? LOL Maybe you were thinking deacon, as in demon deacons. That is what my former pastor called our deacons when they found out about his immorality and embezzlement.

        4. I have to keep george from typing, he’s such a keyboard mauler. He needs to just stick to his neurosurgery and leave complicated theological replies alone. Of course he says the same about me, sitting over there with his Honorary Doctor degree in Brian Surgery from the Mayonaise Clinic. I just can’t take him out anywhere these days.

          What was the question? 😯

    2. Interesting you should bring this up: I came out of an environment that emphasized spiritual warfare very heavily. I have no doubt that Satan and demons exist: you don’t get idiots flying airliners into buildings, or half a million people hacked to death with machetes, or six million stuffed into gas chambers without some involvement from the evil one in my opinion. But the god of the Fundamentalists seems to be pretty weak, if he can’t take on Satan without the help of us mere humans. He’s also apparently only about 6,000 years old and can’t even keep his story straight.

    1. That would only be considered sin in the camp by someone from another camp! At this point, we will have to label it as “alleged sin in the camp.”

  10. This is a fantastic post. It reminds me of my guilt-ridden years in a fundy church.

    One of the verses that haunted me was the second half of Numbers 32:23 – “…be sure your sin will find you out.” Or Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

    Some of the Bible teaching in my fundy church took hold on me in a good way, but the methods by which those truths were communicated left me feeling guilty for anything I’d ever done wrong, and fearful that God wouldn’t answer my prayers.

    I actually felt guilty when my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer when I was 8, because I thought that my sin had kept God from hearing my prayers for her.

    Thankfully, my parents help explain that this wasn’t true – that sometimes bad things just happen, and it’s nobody’s fault.

      1. Thanks, Darrell.

        I found this site a couple months ago, and the only time I see the old stuff is when I click on the “Random Post” at the top (great idea!).

        Someday, I’m gonna take the time to go all the way to the beginning and catch up!

    1. My parents made us recite that verse (Be sure your sin will find you out.) when we got spanked for stuff. To be honest, I’m glad they did. To this day, remembering the truth of that concept helps me when I’m tempted to not own up to things I’ve done wrong. I know it will be worse when someone finds out later that I tried to hide it – and someone will always find out eventually.

    1. The principal of my small fundy Christian school actually made our basketball team come out to the basketball court singing “Revive us Again”.

      1. Oh, no! That’s so embarrassing! (My husband once coached the basketball team of a small Christian school; they only had five players that year, so they had to pray no one fouled out or got hurt!)

        1. I’ve always wondered about the theory that God takes sides in sports contests.
          I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

          I did know a theology teacher (and sports fan) who declined to ever give an invocation at a ball game because, he said, “The only honest prayer I could give would be ‘Please make our school win the game’,” and he didn’t think that would be fair to the other team.

    2. LMcC, that’s SO sad. “The apologies meant nothing, of course. Their treatment of anyone they considered beneath them (not just me) stayed the same. There was no change of heart.” What an indictment of fundy schools/churches. They’re forcing people to go through the motions when there is no accompanying change of heart!!! How opposite to the teachings of Christ can someone possibly get?

      1. Hey, we all got taught to keep up appearances; and that’s what counts, right? Looking good for Jesus, even though we all came out rascals in one form or another (including me).

        It stunk. 😕

    3. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not allow me to spike the ball correctly…”

    4. “The volleyball players at my school really got hammered with this. If they lost a game, it was never because of bad playing. It was always “sin in the camp”.”

      Holly Manipulative Guilt Batman!!!!

  11. I just noticed the caption that goes with the picture. It is the best one yet. Nothing says sin in your life more than shorts and Stryper!

  12. Yep, it’s all up to us.

    Man, it’s just toooo bad that God isn’t sovereignly using flawed humans to do His work. Too bad we have to be perfect before God can use us to do anything.

    1. “Too bad we have to be perfect before God can use us to do anything.”

      I always thought it was funny that we did have to be “perfect” before God could use us. But on the other hand you heard the constant, “It’s not ability but avalability.” LOL! SO glad to be away from the crazies

  13. Closely related to sin in the camp holding back the revial, is the cry of taters in the camp. Some ah taters huh have snuck huh in amongst huh us tonight huh…. rambling rant for a few minutes about the taters, then back to decrying sin in the camp.

    1. taters? what? like POH TAY TOES? boilem mashem putem in a stew? What on earth kind of revival preacher preaches about taters and why?

        1. That’s hilarious! Nuthin like a good ‘ole revival meeting to keep ya close to God.(But in our church only if it was a week long. Didn’t want to be compromisers like those other churches that only went two or three days….that and it took a week before we even started “softening” it really should’ve been several weeks. Or so we were told.)

      1. Love the LOTR reference! Anytime someone says the word taters I quote that line beginning with “taters, precious?” followed by what you quoted! LOVE IT!!! 😛

    2. oh they’s all kinds ah taters in church. there is the pastor, he’s a dic-tater.

      There’s them thar demon deacons (spelled demon right that time) they’s therm thar a-gee-taters.

      All thems what sit in the pew are common-taters.

      Theys them nosey little ol’ ladies what tries to pass theyselves off as sweet-taters.

      Then theys them what know how to play church purty good, them’s emma-taters

      Then when that thar plate is passed down the pew theys a mess oh folks that become hezy-taters.

      course theys all wirk down at the Bubba-Gump shrimp company. 😯

      1. There’s them rebellious teenagers plotting their escape as soon as they git outta high school — like that kid that wants to be a doctor and go to a heathen university. He’s a premed-i-tator.

  14. If there’s a church without sinners in it, it’s news to me. Every church I’ve been to was chock-full of sinners, including me. Especially me.

    If God’s work can’t or won’t be done in the presence of sinners, we’re all in big trouble, folks.

    1. I’m not advocating sinless perfection (just saying, because I’ve been misconstrued on this several times), but Paul never refers to believers as “sinners”. The fact is, in Christ, you are made new, a new creation and have the righteousness of Christ. Do you still sin? Yes. Are you a sinner? No. Sinners are in Adam, Saints are in Christ. Some find this self righteous or say “license to sin” (really, you don’t need a license. You do it anyway). But if God isn’t calling me a sinner anymore, because Christ became sin for me and died, and I died with Him, and yet I live yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, then why am I going around calling myself a sinner when God says I am a saint and new creation and accepted in the beloved and my sins are forgiven and forgotten.

  15. When I taught in a fundy high school, there was a basketball team from a rival school that was having a losing season. The coach went on a hunt for sin in the camp and one of the players eventually confessed to something horrible, like listening to rock or something like that. The coach talked about how it turned their season around, although I don’t recall that they won more games. 🙂

  16. Dear fellow human being, SIN will mess you up. SIN runs your life. SIN is at the root of all evil. AND…because of SIN you have turned your back on the Lord Jesus. Forget about fundies and all other isms and the like…get back to the Lord Jesus and preach, teach, learn, study, share the TRUTH…the Truth shall set you free and as a preacher I will never stop preaching the BAD NEWS so the GOOD NEWS will actually make some sense. SIN will ruin, run, destroy, mess up, and traumatize your life here and in the here after…get washed in the only soap that works..the Blood of JEsus…and you shall be set free…otherwise you’ll be forever trying to clean yourself with a rag that is dirty, filthy, and which cannot cleanse you…you’ve been warned…God loves you but you must turn to Him.
    Evangelist Rico Kaplan

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