This is a topic has been heavy on my heart for a while and I honestly think this is the biggest problem in the church. It;s has been the problem in the church since Adam and Eve. Satan is not that cleaver and comes up with all kinds of ways to deceive people, that are not new, just repackaged. So what is pragmatism? Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected. Seems harmless enough right? Well, let take a closer look.
Tim Challes, Christian blogger, and author explains the history of pragmatism this way. Pragmatism is rooted in the philosophy of men like John Stuart Mill who had a great formative influence in philosophers like John Dewey who applied pragmatism to education and William James who applied it to religion. These men taught that the only way to determine truth was by practical results. Having been founded by philosophers, pragmatism was cemented into the Western mindset by the Industrial Revolution. Pragmatism in industry has changed the way we live. James Boice says “The goal is to find the fastest, least expensive way of producing products and getting things done. Pragmatism has improved living standards for millions who now enjoy the benefits of home ownership, adequate clothing, indoor plumbing…and abundant food.” (Whatever Happened To The Gospel of Grace p.50) This has been achieved, of course, at the cost of quality and craftsmanship.
Pragmatism is defined by Webster’s as “the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value.” In short, truth is determined by consequences.
One would have to ask if this really is how the Lord wants us to live our lives let alone conduct our churches. In other words, does the end justify the means? Does the Lord want obedience for results? I have heard many excuses from Christians about why it’s important to have all different types of churches. I’m not talking about the layout of the foundation of a church building or the color scheme a church uses. I’m talking about pragmatism. Setting up a church in a worldly way to bring people into your church by trendy movements and cultural expectations. I’m not trying to be nit picky but pointing out that when we do things, it should be according to God’s Word and the standards and principles that He has established in His Word. Not the style or trends of culture.
Let’s take at the Church building itself as and example of this.
Let me be blunt. Which one glorifies God and His Word? Which one glorifies man? Which one is about God’s Word? Which one is about entertainment? Which one is about excellence and craftsmanship? Which one looks like a Holy Ground? Which one looks more like the character of God according to His Word? Which one looks like the character of man?
In many modern churches there is not even a pulpit!!! Preaching is out of vogue today.
Compair this to the Westminister Chapel where Martin Llyod Jones Preached!!!
Which church do you think God’s Word was the main attraction? The pulpits where bigger than life and set up high at Westminster. Why? Because of who God is and how lofty His Word is, because God is Holy and the sanctuary is to be a “holy ground.” It’s not a place the preacher was revered but God! A place where God’s Word was revered and obeyed. The Sanctuary could not be turned into a basketball court!! The Bible was the main attraction, not the worship band, the worship center, the coffee bar, or the children’s play area. This my friend is a proper meeting place, a place a believer can hear and receive the preaching of God’s Word.