The Lordship Controversy and The Carnal Christian
We continue our studies in the Lordship controversy by examining another major theological difference between the Lordship and non-lordship teachings. In this study we will consider the differences of the two views concerning the "Carnal Christian" theory. This is one of the most perverted teachings in our generation. It is not only dangerous and self-deceiving but in many cases it is damning.
As a result of this erroneous teaching many who regularly occupy our church pews on Sunday morning and fill our church rolls are strangers to true conversion. They are strangers to heart religion because they have never experienced the power of a changed life. They are not new creatures and for them old things have not passed away (2 Cor. 5:17).
This "Carnal Christian" teaching was invented to accommodate all the supposed converts of modern evangelism. The non-lordship teachers had to have some explanation for the thousands and thousands of those who are products of an evangelism that leaves out Bible repentance from their evangelistic message. I am referring to those who make "decisions," walk aisles and make professions of being Christians, but their lives have never been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they do not love what Christians love and hate what Christians hate. They act, think and live like non-Christians, but their teachers must have some explanation for their unchanged lives. Thus the unbiblical category "Carnal Christian" was invented by the non-lordship teachers.
The non-lordship teaching is a two-experience theory of the Christian life. Stage one is conversion, which they teach is making a decision to receive Christ as your personal Savior (this will keep you out of hell). Stage two is another decision, which is to make Christ Lord. What the non-lordship teachers seem to ignore is that no human makes Christ Lord. He is Lord regardless what sinners say, think or do. He is Lord by God Almighty's decree: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). This verse settles the question of who makes Christ Lord.
Between these two experiences the supposed convert may live like an unbeliever. The testimony goes something like this: "When I was 7 or 8 years old (or older perhaps), I received Christ as my personal Savior, but I did not make Him Lord until much later in life." This kind of testimony reflects an erroneous interpretation of one's experience. To avoid this serious error we must hold tenaciously to a fundamental principle, that is, we must always interpret our experiences by the Scripture and never interpret the Scripture by our experience.
This teaching of two kinds of Christians by the non-lordship advocates is just a new dress for the old error of the second blessing teaching. Any teaching that sends Christians on a quest for a kind of holiness that is obtained by some single, religious, crisis experience rather than by daily submission to the will of God is both erroneous and dangerous. The holiness that all Christians desire will not be complete in this world--O, that it could be!
In contrast, Lordship teachers teach that there are as many kinds of Christians as there are Christians, but they deny that there are two categories--spiritual and carnal. The Lordship teachers teach that all Christians are carnal in some area of their life at some time and that all Christians are spiritual or else they are not Christians at all (Rom. 8:5-15).