The Challenge of Pragmatism

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    If there is a common religion to be found within the Western world it surely is pragmatism – the religion of “what works?” Pragmatism has no cathedrals; it follows no liturgy, hires no pastors and cannot be found in any listing of denominations, yet it is woven into the very fabric of the Western church. Whether we are talking about mainline, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Emergent or Orthodox, it does not take much observation to realize that pragmatism is interlaced throughout each tradition. To attempt to remove pragmatism is to pull a thread which could very well unravel the whole structure of Christianity and church life as we know it today, yet to pull on that thread we must. The problem is that far too many of us are willing to use any approach available to accomplish our goals, even if those approaches and/or goals do not mesh with the revealed will of God. Our creed is, “If it works it must be of God” for, after all, the outward blessing of God is the criterion by which we often measure the approval of God. By using the standard of pragmatism rather than Scripture, we can with all good conscience live lives and develop ministries that have the appearance of wisdom but nevertheless fall seriously short of God’s standard. We would do well to ponder the warning found in Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”


    More Here
     
  2. saturneptune

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    It reminds me of the story of Abraham trying to fix God's promise to him to keep his line going. It was obvious to him that a 90 year old woman could not give birth, so he helped God along by substituting Hagar. It worked, but it was not God's plan. I think you are quite right, at the center of lots of our decisions, especially involving our churches, we think like a business owner, what will work in the environment presented to me?

    This at best shows a lack of faith in the Lord, and at worst, a total disregard for His will. Everything is possible with him, regardless how unworkable it seems to us. Good post.
     
  3. just-want-peace

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    Interesting!!

    I question a whole lot of what passes for "programs" in the modern church.

    Being only a layman, I obviously do not have the training of the "pros", but it just seems to this ole red-neck that much of what is done is nothing more than "entertainment" oriented, just to get a warm body in attendance.

    Now I have absolutely no doubts that God can/will use this, but IMHO this becomes a matter of the "good being the enemy of the best"!

    But hey, I've never set foot into a seminary, so what do I know??

    Your scripture quote says it all!!!
     
  4. Crabtownboy

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    What do you recommend be done?
     
  5. Johnv

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    The problem isn't with pragmatism per se. The problem is either with hyperpragmatism or with elevating pragmatism to the level of spiritual authority in the church.

    If we didn't engage in reasonable pragmatism, we'd still be serving communion as part of a dining experince, using full servings of bread loaves and cups of fermented wine.
     
  6. saturneptune

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    Let the Lord be in charge.
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    Follow scripture, recognize which things are the role of the Holy Ghost and which roles belong to us. Understand where the gospel power comes from and just present the scripture as it is rather than using the "culture" to do what ever fancies our personal preference.
     
  8. Shortandy

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    We have certainly witnessed the infestation of pragmatism in our church culture. Just look at all the books.....3 ways to this....5 ways to that...etc.

    A lot of modern preaching is certainly filled with it. Notice the same titles of books are used for sermons.

    But the problem with pragmatism is it doesn't "work"!!! Keeping rules and doing all the "right" things leaves some feeling empty and week. Why? Because religious practices is not the same thing as a vital relationship with Jesus.

    It totally dishonors the Gospel of Christ also. The pragmatic Gospel teaches that if you "do" or "don't" then God will owe you salvation. It is yet another way of putting God in your pocket.

    Someone asked what we should do. :smilewinkgrin:
    I don't even think thats the right question.

    Maybe the right question is.....What should we be?

    We should be in love with Jesus. We should be walking with Him and talking with HIm daily and let the overflow of that minister to those around us.

    Just a few thoughts while on lunch break.
     
  9. Crabtownboy

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    How is this done? What would the actions be? Who is to let us know what the Lord wants?
     
  10. Marcia

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    We evaluate spiritual issues through the filter of God's word, not through pragmatism, pray for wisdom, consult the Bible, and trust God with the results. This is not passivity; it is trusting the Lord. And some pragmatism is fine, of course. But "does it work?" should not be the main criteria, or in some cases, the criteria at all. I think specific issues need to be brought up in order to say more - this is pretty general.
     
  11. Johnv

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    I'm sure you'll agree, though, that "does it work to share the Gospel without compsomising it" is a reasonable position to take, when it comes to the application of pragmatism.

    I think we are sometimes to overcautious that we end up tossing the baby with the bathwater. It reminds me of the first generation Lutherans, who made a point to remove all the stained glass windows from their churches, out of a paranoid concern that the windwos might make Lutherans appear "too Catholic".
     
    #11 Johnv, Nov 4, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2009
  12. saturneptune

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    This is not a scientific formula, nor a set of rules to follow. It is a matter of faith and listening sometimes to that small still voice. For example, if a local church, through the pastor, leadership and the congregation, the the Holy Spirit is wanting to take the church in a certain direction, yet, it seems impossible because of money, man power, will, etc, then follow the Holy Spirit.

    That is one example. No doubt there are many others.
     
  13. Crabtownboy

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    You are right, there is no scientific formula. But to simply say "follow God's lead," is of no help unless that person can give some insight into how this is done. It is an easy out and a meaningless statement standing by itself.
     
  14. saturneptune

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    No, it is not meaningless. It is a matter of faith, and for the mature Christian, the ability to recongize when the Holy Spirit is telling him or her something.

    What is it you want, a Holy Spirit detector to carry around? I hear they are on sale at WalMart.

    Oh, if you want to see meaningless posts, follow these steps.
    1. Make sure you are logged in.
    2. Click on Crabtownboy
    3. Click on find all posts from Crabtownboy
     
  15. Crabtownboy

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    I would like people who use scripture in this way to give examples of how God has led them and how they know when it is God directing them. It is easy to hide behind a quote. Satan does that.

    Silly, meaningless remark. Kind of like the ones I'm talking about.
     
  16. saturneptune

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    Lets get a few things straight. The last person who has any right to tell someone they are hiding behind a quote like Satan is someone who is so blinded by liberal ideals and theology that they have neither political or theological bearings.

    One thing that you seem to be unable to get through your thick skull is that faith is not a synonym for "givng examples of how God has led them and how they know when it is God directing them."

    First of all, if you are in tune with the Holy Spirit in you, and have any maturity at all, you just know. Second, if you are involved in a local New Testement church, this knowing is backed up by local church leadership and most if not all of the fellow believers in your church. Once that is clear, then you move forward in that direction on faith despite the worldly roadblocks.

    You talk about others hiding behind Biblical quotes like Satan does (which is against BB rules), at the same time you show a total lack of understanding of basic Christian principles.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    You are wasting your time he believes scripture is just "a book of words".
     
  18. Tom Butler

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    My definition of pragmatism is, "whatever works." And while I have seen some pretty strange stuff done in the name of outreach and church growth, most of which "works," I daresay that most of us on the Baptist Board would place some strategies off limits. There are some things which we simply will not do to pull folks into the church building.

    A dear friend, a retired pastor, on more than occasion has expressed concern to me about our church. It is a graying church, with few young people, few yuppie couples. He's worried about our future existence, and I agree with him that we need more folks to replace the old gray heads.

    I recurring theme in our conversation goes like this:

    He: "We need to do something to attract teenagers, young people and young marrieds."

    Me: "Well what do you think we ought to do? We can get a crowd, you know." Is there anything you're not willing to do, even it it guarantees a crowd?"

    The conversation sort of trails off at that point because there are, in fact, some things he won't support, just to get people into the building.

    I know what he would say, though. It would be, we need to invite people. we need to be more outreach oriented, we need to be ready to witness when the opportunity arises, and we all need to know how to lead someone to the Lord. We need to pray more for God to pour out his Spirit on us. We need to pray that God will send revival, will save souls and rescue broken lives.

    We don't need to pray that God would fill all our seats. If we'll be faithful in doing the things I mentioned above, God will take care of the results.

    Now that's what I call pragmatism. It worked for Peter, Paul and Philip every time.
     
  19. stilllearning

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    The worse thing about pragmatism, is what it does to preaching.

    No amount of pragmatism should be aloud in our ministry to the Church, because it always leads us to disobey God.
    --------------------------------------------------
    E.G. Lets say a young pastor, takes his first Church, and starts ministering the right way:
    (Getting his messages from the LORD and preaching them!)

    Well the nature of God’s Word and God’s messages, is that they challenge people to put Him first.

    Then, when the first 3 or 4 families leave the Church, for some mega-church down the road, that young pastor has a decision to make;
    Do I keep following the Lord’s instructions, or do I start doing things that work?
    --------------------------------------------------
    I know from experience, the pressure that is put on pastors, to be successful;
    (And the only way pragmatism defines success, is by nickels & noses.)

    Therefore, I don’t see anything good, coming from pragmatism.
     
  20. saturneptune

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    Excellent good post. At last, I agree with you. I always thought your heart was in the right place, we have just seen some other issues different.
     

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