Pragmatism May Not Be Pragmatic

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I've been reading a good book called "Charasmatic Chaos" by John MacArthur. There’s a lot in there to think about but two main things come to mind as of this writing:

First, I was struck by something I read a little bit ago: "The pragmatist is concerned primarily with what appears to work. The biblical thinker is concerned only with what the Bible says." That, in a nutshell, is what I think I've been fighting in churches in general and at my previous ministry specifically. It reminds me of a conversation I had with someone there shortly before I left about pragmatism. I couldn't convince the person that something which appeared to work might, in fact, be wrong. An extreme example would be attracting people to church (apparently a good thing) by offering free booze. Sound ridiculous? How about attracting people to church by not telling them the truth? Pragmatically speaking, it’s a good method of church growth (people like to hear what they like to hear); but morally speaking it’s a method of assured destruction.

Also, the book was published in the late 80s, then updated in 1992, and much of what he was warning against back then I see as just a matter of course in today's church. Specifically: people's feelings are on a par with or even trump scripture. I was recently told, and I quote, in relation to Jesus’s prescription for church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17), "I know the Bible says that, but I just can’t go along with it.'" And experience is definitely as important as scripture to most modern church-goers (notice I don’t say Christians, for “church-goers” and Christians are not necessarily the same thing). "I know the Bible says we should wait to marriage, but I feel it in my bones that it was a God thing when I slept with my girlfriend." Or, even, "I feel that the worship service was [insert the adjective "good" or "bad" here, it won't matter] so, therefore, it was!" Contrast this idea of relying on feelings with scripture, which says the heart is deceptive above all.

Anyway, just some food for thought on a Monday afternoon.