The Carnal Christian
by Paul Hazelden


Introduction

One of our major problems as Christians is that we attempt to spiritualise the flesh instead of killing it. Almost every character defect we had before we were saved can be safely brought into the Church if we just give it the right name. We are taught, after all, to be tolerant.

Just as a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place, every virtue can become a vice, and most vices are simply virtues misapplied.

For those who are unfamiliar with the language, the 'Old Man' in the examples below is simply the Christian jargon I grew up with - it refers to the person we were before coming to Christ.

Details

  Selfish

If the Old Man was self centred, the tendency is to develop a self centred spirituality where you judge everything against how it will help you to grow as a Christian. The Church is good or bad depending on how it helps me grow. I will take part in activities only if I see how they will enable me to grow.

Of course, there is nothing wrong in wanting to grow as a Christian, but if my growth is more important than loving and serving Jesus and the people around me, there is something dreadfully wrong.

  Obstinate

If the Old Man was obstinate, then little needs to change. Most Christians quickly learn the irregular verbs of Christian jargon:

  Critical

If the Old Man was critical and always picking holes in things, the Christian can continue unchanged as long as a little self discipline is used and he isn't too critical of our Church, our Minister, or our way of doing things. After all, we know that Christians who do things differently to us are a bit unspiritual, don't we?

  Hedonist

If the Old Man was a hedonist, the Christian tends to major on Christian or spiritual experience, and services are judged according to whether 'I really felt the Lord was present'.

  Perfectionist

If the Old Man was a perfectionist, nothing really needs to change at all. Perfectionism carries across to spiritual matters so easily it could have been designed for them!

It doesn't help that the word 'perfect' meant something quite different when the good old King James was written.

  Legalist

If the Old Man was a legalist, the Christian is highly disciplined, and applies the same 'high standards' to everyone around. After all, 'only the best is good enough for Our Lord'.

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