Friday, April 3, 2009

Carnal versus spiritual Christians

I know that with my emphasis on Christians either operating in the spirit or operating in the flesh I am affirming a particular brand of Christian thinking that is not accepted by many. Some insist that there is no such thing as a "carnal Christian" but as with many dismissive arguments from one camp about another, this is merely a superficial technical claim that simply ignores the reasoning behind the idea. Technically, that is, you can't even be a Christian if you are carnal. But the other side points out that Paul addressed the Corinthians as carnal while not in any way implying they were not Christians. Christians may and do think carnally, that is, they think like unsaved people, and there are degrees of this according to faith and experience and so on. They have the basic faith in Christ to be Christians, but when it comes to particular teachings their faith may falter and they will consider the question carnally. This is true of all of us in the early stages but there are some who are more spiritual than others even from the beginning.

Sometimes you'll hear it said that because we're Christians we have "the mind of Christ" so that we can count on our thinking to reflect His just because we are Christians. Or that we have a "sanctified intellect" or "sanctified imagination" just because we are Christians. No other qualifier is needed. Similarly we've all had the baptism of the Holy Spirit because we're Christians. No experience necessary to ratify the assertion and the coldest driest mind qualifies.

Some theological clashes could perhaps be understood as a difference between fleshly and spiritual. For instance, the Arminian position is easy to understand and appeals to the natural/fleshly mind, while some tenets of the Calvinist persuasion, such as predestination and election, even the perseverance of the saints, usually take some spiritual growing-into. Nevertheless there certainly are some Arminians who have a deeper spiritual understanding of many facets of the Christian life than some Calvinists.

I've grown into this way of looking at these things over time and lately it's begun to consolidate in my mind in a more emphatic way than ever before. I don't know if I will put together a full defense of this position or not, but it seems good to affirm it now at least.