Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
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Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian?  

 

 

By: Todd Friel

 

Imagine trying to lovingly confront a high profile evangelical to share your concern that his Gospel presentation wasn't Biblical.  Gulp.  That is precisely what I did with Luis Palau several years ago prior to one of his mega-events.  

I suggested he was giving the cure without explaining the disease of sin.  Mr. Palauinformed me that everyone has an overwhelming burden of guilt and it is not necessary for him to preach about their need for forgiveness. 

 

Suspecting he might say that, I handed him a c.d. with a montage of people we interviewed on the street.  We asked strangers, "Do you have an overwhelming burden of guilt?"  The responses ranged from condescending disdain to outright laughter. 

 

While Mr. Palau was very nice to me, he ultimately patted me on the head and said, "Be careful that you don't fall into that Lordship salvation trap.  Christians can be carnal." 

 

Carnal Christianity is the concept that says: you can live like the world and still be a Christian.  It also teaches that sanctification can come some time after a person signs a car...er...asks Jesus into his hea...I mean gets saved.

 

Later that night at the festival, Mr. Palau's message included two profanities and proclamations like, "If Elvis had become a Christian, he would have been a rock star, but his life wouldn't have turned out so bad."  He also informed the audience that if they would simply ask Jesus into their hearts, "The party starts right now."  A woman from my church who just buried her seven year old son almost rushed the stage...and not to sign a card.

 

His Gospel presentation, as our British friends would say, was "a complete dog's breakfast."

 

It is no surprise that the follow up statistics to crusades are so tragic.  The backslider rate (or Carnal Christian rate) hovers around 90%.  It seems that Carnal Christianity and Gospel presentations that don't include sin, righteousness and judgment go hand and hand.  In order to explain those statistics, the minister must:

 

  1. Admit the preaching is inadequate and without Holy Spirit power.

  2. Alter theology to explain how a decision-maker can name the name of Christ but live like the devil. 

Option one is out of the picture.  And so it is, since the early 20th century, modern day evangelicalism (thanks to Lewis Sperry Chafer and the Scofield Bible) has been proclaiming the oxymoron known as Carnal Christianity.

 

The support text for Carnal Christianity is I Cor.3:1-5.  "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.  For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

 

Paul was warning the ignorant, sectarian Corinthians that they should not be divided into cliques.  That's it.  This text does not suggest that born-again believers can live like pagans.  Paul was introducing them to new theology, not giving them license to sin.

 

With all credit to Ernest C. Reisinger's "A Carnal Christian," here are eight reasons why Carnal Christianity should be rejected.

 

  1. In I Cor.1:2-5, Paul addressed his audience as "sanctified in Christ".  So are they sanctified or carnal?  In I Cor.2, Paul divides men into "natural" and "spiritual," i.e. un-saved and saved.  By labeling some Christians as "carnal," Paul would be introducing a third classification of humans.  Furthermore, this would violate every other presentation in Scripture that there are only two classes of people: children of God or children of wrath.

  2. The new covenant of salvation includes two inseparable blessings at salvation: justification and sanctification.  Carnal Christianity teaches you will be justified upon conversion, but sanctification is optional.

  3. The Bible presents two types of faith: saving faith and spurious (false) faith (Lk. 8:13).  Carnal Christianity does not recognize spurious faith.  What a false assurance we allow the unregenerate to possess if we allow them to think their faith is valid when the Bible teaches it might be a false conversion.

  4. Carnal Christianity excludes a necessary component of salvation: repentance.  The unconverted sinner can just "ask Jesus into his heart" with no requirement to forsake sin.

  5. How does a person know he is saved? Fruit in keeping with repentance.  We are told to examine ourselves to see if we are in the truth.  What a beautiful gift to the believer.  If we can be carnal, how can we know we are saved?  Carnal Christianity robs us of assurance.

  6. Carnal Christianity may be a relatively new name, but it is merely a new moniker for an old false teaching: anti-nomianism.  "Should we go on sinning that grace might more abound?" Carnal Christianity says, "Sure."

  7. "Carnal Christian teaching is the mother of many second work-of-grace errors in that it depreciates the Biblical conversion experience by implying that the change in the converted sinner may amount to little or nothing."  Dr. Reisinger goes on to point out that a second step is required to make a man a "spiritual Christian."

  8. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, right? (Lk.2:11)  Carnal Christianity divides Jesus and allows Him to be Savior but not Lord. 

 

Listen to the words of A.A. Hodge.  "Think of a sinner coming to Christ and saying, 'I do not want to be holy; I do not want to be saved from sin; I would like to be saved in my sins; do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.'"

 

That is ridiculous, isn't it?  And so is Carnal Christianity.  Even Elvis would agree with that.

 


   


Questions

The Big Question

Does God Exist?

What Is The Bible?

Is The Bible True?

Who Is Jesus?

Is Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible?

Is Jesus God?

Did Jesus Fulfill Any Prophecies?

Did God Create You?

What About Reincarnation?

Are You Going To Heaven?

What Is The Truth About Hell?

What are the Essentials of the Faith?

Who Will You Believe?

Want To Find A Good Church?

Looking For A Church In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania?

Which Bible Translation Is Right For Me?

What is the TULIP, and is it Biblical?

What are the Five Solas, and are they Biblical?

 

Objections

"All Religions Lead To God"

"Never Talk About Religion Or Politics"

"Judge Not..."

"The Bible Is Full Of Contradictions"

"A Powerful God Wouldn't Allow So Much Evil..."

"The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites"

"What About Those Who Never Hear About Jesus?"

"A God of Love vs. A God of Wrath"

"A Loving God Wouldn't Send People To Hell"

"You're Only A Christian Because You..."

"As Long As You're Sincere In What You Believe"

"How Do You Know Which Religion Is Right?"

"God Would Never Forgive Someone Like Me"

"I Can't Believe In Miracles"

"Unanswered Prayer Shows God Doesn't Exist"

"What's With All The Different Denominations?"

"Jesus Was Just a Copycat of Pagan Myths"

"What About The Crusades?"

"What About Slavery In The Bible?"

"What About Evolution?"

"What About Homosexuality?"

"Jesus Didn't Say Anything About Homosexuality"

"What About Abortion?"

 

Other Stuff

   Other Beliefs

     Judaism

     Roman Catholicism

     Islam

     Jehovah's Witnesses

     Mormonism

     Seventh-Day Adventism

     Buddhism

     Hinduism

     Baha'i

     New Age

     Christian Science

     Scientology

     Freemasonry

     Oneness Pentecostals

     Unitarian Universalism

     Rastafarianism

     Wicca

     Satanism

What I Believe

Theological Terms and Definitions

Belief Comparison Chart

An Eschatological Overview (End Times)

Good Quotes

Paul Washer Quotes

20 Logical Fallacies

17 Questions Every Christian Should Think About

My Prayer - I Have A Problem...

More Than A Holiday

Honest Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses

Honest Questions For Mormons

Questions For Skeptics

10 Reasons To Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa

A View From The Life Boat

A Collection of Helpful Bible Passages

A Story About A Boy Named Mikey

Thoughts On The Doctrine Of Definite Atonement

Questions To Ask A Child Before Their Baptism

A Critique Of An Origin-Of-Life Article

No Hope In The Pope

Terrorism - What You Can Do About It

The Impact Of A Blind Elderly Woman

Evidence For The Resurrection - W.O.M.E.N.

Quotes About Sin

17 Ways To Fight Sin In Your Life

 

Apologetics / Evangelism

What Is Apologetics?

Why Should We Do Apologetics?

What Is Presuppositional Apologetics? 

What Do You KNOW? 

What Is Evangelism? 

Why Should We Evangelize? 

Are Christian Doing A Good Job Of Evangelizing? 

7 Reasons People Don't Share Their Faith

The Question Of Evangelism - Words Or Works? 

Is The World In Which We Live In Today Tolerant? 

Preaching What We Practice and Talking The Walk

Man vs. God Centered Evangelism

 

Around the Web

44 Reasons Why Evolution is Just a Fairy Tale

The Scientific Case Against Evolution

Evolution: The Anti-Science

A Letter From An Atheist

Are You A Good Person?

Is This Your Life?

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?

What's Wrong With The Sinner's Prayer?

An Important Aspect of Baptism

Must We Believe Jesus Is God?

Turn or Burn

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10 Principles For New Christians

10 Pitfalls Of The Foolish Apologist

Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

The Secret About How Some Christians Witness

Preaching God's Love In Acts?

The Gospel In Every Book Of The Bible

7 Key Differences Bewteen Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

A Different Perspective On Halloween

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

The Question After A Tragedy - WHY?

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoughts About Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner

A Pastor's Response To The Marriage Debate

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

Should a Woman Be a Pastor or Elder?

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands?

The Shack - Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Universalism - A Problem for Everyone

5 Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 More Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 Truths We're Keeping From Our Youth Groups

Charlottesville, Racism and God's Word

8 Signs Your Christianity is Too Comfortable

Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian?

Is God Calling Me to Be a Pastor?

 

Audio / Video

    Original Sermon Jams

     Born Again - Paul Washer

     Does Jesus Know You? - Paul Washer

     We Got An A! - Paul Washer

     A Boy On The Street - R.C. Sproul

     Fearless - R.C. Sproul

     Hypocrites - R.C. Sproul

     Smiling Faces - R.C. Sproul

     Authorized Personnel Only - Tony Evans

     Drive-thru - Tony Evans

     One Flesh - Tony Evans

     Sex - Tony Evans

     The Satisfier - Tony Evans

     Who to Serve? - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     The Voice of Truth - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Transformed - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Where is the Love? - Pastor Ben Maxie

     He Claimed to be God - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Love is a Behavior - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Examine It for Yourself - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Perfect Love - Pastor Ben Maxie

     We Need Preachers - Mike Bongo

     The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism - Mike Bongo 

     I'm Ready - Mike Bongo

     Our Day in Court - Mike Bongo

     Examine Yourself - Mike Bongo

     Exclusivity - Mike Bongo

     Our World - Mike Bongo

     The Great Exchange - Mike Bongo 

     True God - Mike Bongo

    The One Minute Apologist

     Intolerance - Greg Koukl

     Legislating Morality - Frank Turek

     Intelligent Design and Creation - Bill Dembski

     Tolerance is Unbiblical - Josh McDowell

     Homosexual Forgiveness - Michael Brown

     What Must I Do To Be Saved? - Hank Hannegraaff

     Is Jesus A Copycat Savior? - J. Warner Wallace

     The Resurrection - Gary Habernas

     Contradictions In The Bible - Mike Licona

     Is It About Winning Arguments? - Mary Jo Sharp

     Does Christianity Oppress Women? - Dianna Newman

     Is Evil An Argument For God? - Brett Kunkle

   WWUTT (When We Understand The Text)

     Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?

     Thou Shalt Not Judge?

     God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

     Do We Have To Prove That God Exists?

     Preach The Gospel, If Necessary Use Words?

     You Don't Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian?

     I Stand At The Door And Knock?

     God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?

     Spare The Rod, Spoil the Child?

     The Bible Says Slavery is Okay?

     Are Catholics Saved?

     God Foreknew Who Would Be Saved?

     Does The Bible Say Homosexuality is A Sin?

     Alter Calls And The Sinner's Prayer?

     Worse Than An Unbeliever?

    Kids Section

     The Gospel

     David Platt On Sharing the Gospel With Children

     For The Children: Are You Saved? - Paul Washer

     2 Amazing 11 Year Old Boys

   Other Audio / Video

     Rescue The Perishing

     Emeal Zwayne's Dialogue With A Homosexual

     The Big Questions of Life - Voddie Baucham

   Explore God

     Is There A God?

     Can We Know God Personally?

     Why Does God Allow Pain And Suffering?

     Is Jesus Really God?

     Are Christians Judgmental?

   The Bible Project

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 1 of 2 

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 2 of 2 

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Leviticus Overview

     The Book of Numbers Overview

     The Book of Deuteronomy Overview

     The Book of Joshua Overview

     The Book of Judges Overview

     The Book of Ruth Overview

     The Book of 1 Samuel Overview

     The Book of 2 Samuel Overview

     The Books of 1 and 2 Kings Overview

     The Book of Job Overview

     The Book of Psalms Overview

     The Book of Proverbs Overview

     The Book of Song of Songs Overview

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Hosea Overview

     The Book of Joel Overview

     The Book of Amos Overview

     The Book of Obadiah Overview

     The Book of Jonah Overview

     The Book of Micah Overview

     The Book of Nahum Overview

     The Book of Habakkuk Overview

     The Book of Zephaniah Overview 

Street Conversations

Street Conversations Disclaimer

Street Conversations - George & Paul

Street Conversations - Don

Street Conversations - VeeJay

Street Conversations - Joe

Street Conversations - Ralph 

Street Conversations - Charles

Street Conversations - Ed

Street Conversations - Ken

Street Conversations - Jessica

Street Conversations - Ida

Street Conversations - Earl & Evadel 

Street Conversations - Jim  

Street Conversations - Raheem

Street Conversations - Raheem part 2

Street Conversations - My Mom

Street Conversations - Eddie

Street Conversations - Renee

Street Conversations - Ron

Street Conversations - Rash

Street Conversations - Preacher

Street Conversations - Luis

Street Conversations - Keith

Street Conversations - Hippy

Street Conversations - Rich

Street Conversations - Hippy part 2

Street Conversations - Butch

Street Conversations - Scott

Street Conversations - Marcos

Street Conversations - Will & James

Street Conversations - Alexander and Valerie

Street Conversations - Jerry and Steve

Street Conversations - Blake

Street Conversations - Elteresa

Street Conversations - Pete

Street Conversations - George

Street Conversations - Jacob

Street Conversations - Nolan

Street Conversations - Fred and Frank

Street Conversations - Phillip

 

Me      

My Baptism

Parable Of The Talents  

Survey Says  

A Hard Lesson  

Talking About Jesus  

The Perfect Gift  

A Faith Worth Thinking About  

Stand Strong  

Peace At Christmas  

Resolutions From Revelation  

Takin' The Gospel To The Streets  

Responding Rightly To The Gospel Of Grace  

A Defense That Honors God And His Word  

Encouragement In Corinth

Why Are You Here?  

The Dash

Surrendering To Win

The Gospel

The Laborers Are Few; Therefore...

Love Has No Labels - A Response

Faith That Works

Atheists: They Don't Exist

YOU Must Be NEW

Making a Difference - Outreach and Evangelism  

Luke - A Careful Investigation to be Sure  

Be Kind! Yeah, But Why?

A Close Encounter of the Divine Kind

The Formula For Forgiveness

The Parable of the Soils

Jesus in the Storm

Dealing with Difficult Disciples

Propitiation 

 

 

The views and opinions of this website are the sole opinion of the author, not Living Water Community Church, its staff, congregation, or leadership.

 

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