Yesterday I mentioned that I don't think the popular theological idea found among many evangelicals of the twentieth century, that there are two classes of Christians, carnal and spiritual, bears up under scrutiny of the biblical records, particularly in the Greek New Testament and specifically in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.
I'm short on time (long on excuses) so I'll go in some measure on memory and on some measure in glancing inside my Greek New Testament and the dictionary in the back. And in the nature of blogging, I'm not going to present some lesson on koine Greek or in the exegesis, roughly meaning study of a pertinent passage. Besides, I'm not really qualified to do so.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that though in Jesus they have the mind of Christ (end of chapter 2), that he could not address them as spiritual (pneumatikois: those of the Spirit), but rather as carnal (KJV), people of the flesh (ESV), or worldly (TNIV) (sarkinois). His point there is that they are acting like people who do not have the Spirit of God, they are acting like nonchristians. Paul is not saying that there are Christians of the flesh, and Christians of the Spirit living among you. And the rest of his writings bear this out. For example in Romans 8 we read that we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in us. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they are not of Christ (verse 9).
I see this idea of two classes or groups of Christians in different places. For example in some churches one is expected to receive a baptism of the Spirit beyond their receiving of Christ. And when they do, they're called, "Spirit-filled". Churches are called "Spirit-filled" churches. In other places it's more of finding life on a higher plane, which invariably sooner or later, the newborn Christian is going to have to find, if they are not to remain in the valley of those Christians who really are not Spirit-oriented Christians.
Of course though in Jesus we're all in the Spirit, that doesn't mean we automatically live accordingly. Certainly not! But as Paul tells us, and really in all of this, God's word, "You are light in the Lord; walk as children of light." (Ephesians) We are, in Jesus, the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But we must beware lest we fail to fulfill the purpose for us on earth, as salt and light in Jesus (Matthew 5).
Let's get rid of this notion that there are spiritual Christians and nonspiritual Christians. Yes, we each have our responsibility before God, and it's a most serious one indeed, to walk in the Spirit. But we are one body in Jesus. We belong to Jesus and to each other. We need to think in that way, so that we can help each other when any of us may be struggling or giving in to sin, and also help each other, particularly the younger in the faith, grow up in our salvation.
(Scratch the clergy versus laity distinction as well; I agree with Peterson on that, too, though haven't worked it out too well in my study and thoughts yet. Though I'm never an authority, but seeking to be a fellow learner! I make plenty of mistakes along the way.)
What might you add to this? Do you find a problem with anything here?