As we take a look at another aspect of pragmatism we can look again at it’s simple definition. Pragmatism is an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application (Oxford Dictionary). It’s a philosophy that states the ends justify the means. And for the church, this is a disaster. Why? Because you don’t take into consideration of how God wants you to do things and God does not call us to success, but faithfulness.
Pragmatism runs rampant in many churches. I left Archbold Evan because of this reason. Even though I was not a Christian at the time, I could sense the fake experience that was being manufactured. My husband grew up in this church, so when we landed in Archbold we could not decide which church to attend, so we just ended up there. After about 3 years of attending this church my husband and I both decided that we had enough of the emotionalism, the manufactured stage acting that happened in the name of God. It was so superficial, and it always seemed to me they were always try to conjure up some kind of sincere Christianity. I could no longer play along anymore. Pastor Jesse decided to do a sermon series with very expensive cars that were actually driven up onto the stage, I told my husband I had enough. Sure, they had a playland for the children, a coffee bar, and a very nice library, but I felt more like I was at the mall than church. The worship music was repetitive and emotion driven. How many times does a person have to sing the same thing? The songs were not doctrinally sound, most of the time, and made no sense. Bibles were not used, and scripture was put up on the screen to make the pastor’s point, not God’s point. This is pragmatism. No where in the Bible is this type of church portrayed. Now a days Archbold Evan looks more like the World than the church. They have staging and the lights are dim for Sunday morning services, there is no pulpit. There are a few times I have heard Pastor Jesse compare Jesus to Harry Potter!! Now that I am saved, we don’t even watch or entertain anything with Harry Potter. The Lord does not think wizardry, witchcraft, soccery, or anything of the like is honoring to Him. This is Pragmatism. Even if these tactics bring in the crowd, and some people may be saved, does this make it right? We are suppose to flee sin! We are to be set apart, not to be like the world, but like Christ. This type of church is looking for Ministry Greatness, instead of the Greatness of God’s Holiness. They are looking for numbers. The complete Gospel is lost in the shuffle. They boast in themselves rather than in God.
What does pragmatism look like when Ego is involved? The definition of ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. If you are a pragmatic church you base your church off of your vision your desires and wants, instead of building the church the way God would want. For example, having women elders and deacons.
Some of these says bring to mind 2 Timothy 3:3-4
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
Another cultural trend in the church pertaining to Ego, is the self affirmation cult. Allie Beth Stuckey recently spoke about this with Alisa Childers. The self affirmation, ego feeding Christian church. It plays off of ego, and it tickles the ears. These Christians will tell you that you are enough, you are worth it you are perfect they way you are, or more recently around here, you matter. These types of churches or books that Christians write are feeding right into that ego. Not only are they trying to boost your ego, but they are saying you can’t feel good about yourself unless you have us! This is pragmatism. Of coarse the Lord does not want us to wallow in self pity and despair, but He also does not want us to become self- reliant or self important. Many churches feed the ego with their recovery programs and 10 steps to a better you, 5 ways to make money, how to have a better marriage, etc…. Instead of relying on God’s Word and the Lord, you are told to rely on these human authors who say you need my book to do better. This is Ego! This is pragmatism, because even if these things work, at the end of the day you are not repenting of sin nor are you spending time with the Lord in his Word. You are not putting to death your fleshly desires.
Then you have the pragmatic prideful Christian. This is the Christian who, when you point out to them their era, and that they are going against God’s Word, they will shun you. They are pragmatic in a sense they will make excuses for staying in rebellion against God. I can personally think of some reasons why I would do this, because I have. First, it has to do with pride. Not wanting to admit, humble yourself, and say you are wrong. Or they don’t want you to stop listening to them or following them. They are afraid of loosing church membership, friends, or family members. They don’t want to offend others. They are people pleasers. They are full of pride. They are unapproachable. Or they say things like, though shall not judge, you are not loving, your are an idol worshipper, or as one pastor said that some doctrine is out dated, in reference to women elders and deacons.
Pragmatism is every where. Honestly, it’s not good for secular society either, but it’s definitely not good for the church. The Bible says you are not great, you are not enough, and you are not good. You matter because God made you, but the only person who truly matters is God.