Steve Camp: Feeding the sheep not entertaining the goats

Saturday 1st February 1992

Few rock gospel performers are as outspoken as American CCM stalwart STEVE CAMP. He was interviewed by Jan Willem Vink.

Continued from page 1

Jan Willem: You mentioned Keith Green in the song "Hell Is Burning While The Church Sleeps".

Steve: That title came from the book written by Leonard Ravenhill, and Keith and Leonard were very close friends. I quoted: "Like our dear brother Keith once said: 'We're so well fed, but still we're dead.'" That was out of the song "Asleep In The Light". I just felt with that song there wasn't a better line I could put in there about the sleeping Church while hell continues to burn. I miss Keith and I praise the Lord for his zeal for God while he was still alive. That was my favourite song, "Asleep In The Light", so to be able to fit that in was a great privilege for me. Hopefully it was a compliment to him.

Jan Willem: Have you been influenced by him?

Steve: Yes, I think so. In his zeal for the Lord, in his no compromise stance. I think that's the driving impetus in my songwriting - to make a difference, cut through the lukewarmness and get to the black and white aspect of it. That's probably my spiritual gift, being an exhorter. I think Keith showed me that Christian music ought to be biblically based, exciting, enjoyable and fun to listen to, but never compromising or watering down the truth to accomplish that. No hidden lyrics, no double meanings, no crossover goals here. Keith was not trying to crossover into the secular market just to make a name for himself. He was trying to boldly proclaim the Cross and he knew the Cross carried with it an offence. And so, yeah, I praise the Lord for Keith.

Jan Willem: Your current album 'Consider The Cost' has a softer sound than 'Justice'.

Steve: It turned out that way because I am more of a keyboard player. I wanted this album to have not such a rough edge as 'Justice'. I don't think the lyrics lent themselves to hard rock even though we're speaking about some very important things on 'Consider The Cost'. I just felt this album needed a pop texture rather than the bluesy edge as on the title cut of 'Justice'. I wanted to smooth those edges out a little bit on 'Consider The Cost'. We went for a more synthesizer-based record, which is better for me anyway because keyboards is something I play and it's easier for me to relate to. I wish I was a great guitar player, but I'm not.

Jan Willem: Do you feel proud of Consider The Cost'?

Steve: I feel proud of it in the sense that it's the most biblically-based record I've done. I love the songs on this album. I studied for 18 months before writing the songs. My favourite cut is the title track. It was inspired by my dear friend John McArthur who has written a book called The Gospel According To Jesus. After reading through the entire gospels I just realised the cost of what it means to serve the Lord: it is so much greater than what we're told today. It's obviously more than just raising a hand and saying "I believe." There's a cost, a cross to bear, a denial of self, there's a placing of no confidence in the flesh. I explained some of these things to Prince recently, about what it means to be a Christian. I am proud of this album because it puts a lot of Scripture into people's hearts and minds when they listen to it. We know that the Lord's word will never return void, it will always accomplish what it's set out to do for that reason. On the musical side I think there's some good growth. I'm trying to write some better melodies, with more interesting chord patterns for my limited grasp of music.

Jan Willem: One of the songs on 'Consider The Cost' is about false doctrine.

Steve: It was written out of concern for the plight of many of the TV preachers in the US. Not only the moral decay and failure, but the bad teaching. I'm convinced that bad theology always leads to bad living. Bad theology, perverted theology leads to perverted lives. There's a lot of unsound teaching going on these days. We hear much in the States from people given the airwaves, through radio and TV and through many publications, who go unchecked in what they teach, unguarded in what they say. So I wrote a song that's really II Peter 2 and part of the book of Jude set to music. Again, most of it is just Scripture and it's just warning people: watch out for these wolves in sheep's clothing! They're there to line their pockets. They're there to huckster the word of God for profit. They're there not to share words of life, but words of death. What they teach masquerades as truth but in the end it's damnable heresy. We need to guard against that. So, that's a tough song to sing but I think it was needed.

Jan Willem: What made you write it, did you have some personal experiences or what?

Steve: No, just an overwhelming burden for people being polluted by bad teaching. I teach a Sunday school class at my church back home. We're doing the book of Galatians. Part of the experience was, we were getting many in the class saying "what about this, can we believe that?" As I travelled around the country I found people believing that the most crazy stuff of philosophy that wasn't even found in Scripture. Most had a New Age ring to it, or a Hindu tone or a Buddhist tone. I couldn't believe that Christians were being taught this. There's a Christian college I was contacted about, where a teacher who teaches New Testament at the school was encouraging his students to bring a pillow to class, lay down on the floor and to start chanting New Age mantras so they could get in touch with their higher Jesus consciousness! That's not spirituality, that's pure adulteration of the truth. Nothing but heresy in its pure form, a distortion of the truth, a departure from Christ. After seeing all this I felt: 'Boy, we've got to stand up against this, we can't let this stand. If we love our Lord and love our brethren, we can't allow this to continue.

Jan Willem: You seem to have problems with some aspects of the Christian music business, for example the Dove Awards.

Steve: I can't stand them! With a passion I hate them. I despise the Dove Awards. Like Tony Campolo said a few years ago at the GMA, "You're not a shining image of Christ, you're just a poor image of the Grammy!" That said it all for me. The question we have to ask ourselves is, would we have a Dove Awards if there was no Grammy Awards? No we wouldn't, because we're simply copying. We have an opportunity to do something different. And here's what I mean by different: GMA-week is a good thing, we need to talk about management, booking concerts, promotion, marketing, record companies, new production techniques, we need to better our craft. That's great, that's good. The whole week is fantastic, Biblical foundations for music ministries, all of these things, and the keynote speakers. But on the last night, we pat ourselves on the back and say, "Here, take this award." Plus the award is voted on by only a few hundred people, and it's manipulated by the record companies. It's not the body of Christ around the world saying "we'd like to honour this person for a job well done." It's manipulative. It's the lust of the eye, the pride of life and the lust of the flesh, wrapped up in one single award. Maybe they help others to generate sales. But for the Christians to say, "That's why we sing, thank you Jesus for this stupid award..." I think it's a slap in the face to a Holy God. I can't stand it."

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Reader Comments

Posted by Al Carlo in rogers ar originally wheato,Il @ 12:42 on Jan 4 2014

Steve, I feel like I know you personally, even tho I don't. I wore out Justice and Doing My best on cassettes , and Justice on CD. I share your tunes when ever I can . My wife and I saw you at play At Edmon Chapel, in the summer of 92-93ish Kinda slept since then Old guy But God as my witness I sure thought I ran into you at Nashville International Service dept sept 2012 when I was picking up my truck there from repair.. Maybe it wasn't you. but The guy looked just like ya. well enough of that, is there a calendar of where you play I would sure Love to enjoy your style of music again I do from time to time hit the section where we can hear short cuts from the albums/cd's now. well anyway ,I thank God for your boldness for the truth and during my backslide days (christian in exile) Your music and the late Keith Green and the Newer rocky Petra stuff Steve Taft and Micheal English really took me through the ride of my life. Well Wither I see ya again in concert or Not Your a God send to Our failing world . No false piety here I get into trouble for being Blunt. I am just fired up that I could write a letter of encouragement to someone I respect. thanks again Al Carlo

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