The Myth of Carnal Christianity
Author: George Wright
There is a fairly popular line of teaching in contemporary Christianity that Christians who have not submitted to Christ as the Lord of their life are called "Carnal Christians." Their support comes from 1st Corinthians 3:1-4 when Paul writes that he cannot communicate with this church as he would with a group of people who are living by the Spirit. He writes to them as "infants in Christ." (Many translations use the word, "carnal.") If you wish to define a "carnal Christian" as stubborn and immature... well, okay.
But the obvious point of this passage is that these Christians were acting immature and not growing in their faith. Hence, Paul's level of communication with them was still on the level of teaching that children must learn, rather than the deeper things of God that they should already be prepared to receive.
The danger of labeling a group of Christians as "carnal" is the implication that a person can simply add Jesus to their life, but not make Him their Lord. Frankly... everyone wants that deal!
That's certainly not the teaching of Scripture. Romans 10:9 plainly states that we are saved when we declare that "Jesus is Lord." Several years ago, I heard a pastor from India share his experiences in evangelism in his native land. He said the difficulty with sharing the gospel in India is that people's religious mindset is already predisposed to many gods... Hinduism has thousands of them. "The challenge," he said, "is not to get them to accept Jesus as a god... It is to reject all other gods and call Jesus, Lord. If you already have 10,000 gods... what harm is it to add another one?"
"Born Again" doesn't imply a subtle shift. It's a RADICAL CHANGE! If any man is in Christ, he is a "new creation!" Can you pray a prayer and then go on as if nothing has changed? Is it possible that becoming a Christian doesn't entail any significant alteration of who you are?
I am NOT advocating for a works based salvation. We are saved by grace, through faith.
But the notion of a person not submitting to Jesus as their Lord, and still having their ticket punched to heaven is nowhere to be found in Scriptures.
The Bible doesn't teach a second class citizenship among Christians. But there are Christians who need to grow up. Babies are cute... but adults who act like babies are not.