Pragmatism- Thoughts from John MacArthur
Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. To a pragmatist if a technique or course of action has the desired effect, it is good. If it doesn’t seem to work, it must be wrong.Pragmatism has roots in Darwinism and secular humanism and is inherently relativistic, rejecting the notion of absolute right and wrong. It ultimately defines truth as that which is useful, meaningful, and helpful. Ideas that don’t seem workable or relevant are rejected as false. What’s wrong with pragmatism? After all, common sense involves a measure of legitimate pragmatism, doesn't it? If a dripping faucet works fine after you replace the washers, for example, it is reasonable to assume that bad washers were the problem. If the medicine your doctor prescribes produces harmful side effects or has no effect at all, you need to ask if there’s a remedy that works. Such simple pragmatic realities are generally self-evident.But when pragmatism is used to make judgments about right and wrong, or when it becomes a guiding philosophy of life, theology, and ministry, inevitably it clashes with Scripture. Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn't. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22, 23; 2:14). On the other hand, satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23, 24; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf Matt. 7:13, 14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.
Perhaps the most visible signs of pragmatism are seen in the convulsive changes that have revolutionized the church worship service. Sunday services are now designed purposely to be more rollicking than reverent and theology takes a back seat to methodology. Plainly declaring the truth of God’s Word is regarded as unsophisticated, offensive, and utterly ineffective. We’re now told we can get better results by first amusing people or giving them success tips and pop-psychology, thus wooing them into the fold.
Living in an unstable age, the church cannot afford to be vacillating. Just doing things that "work". We minister to people desperate for answers, and we cannot soft-pedal the truth or extenuate the gospel. If we make friends with the world, we set ourselves at enmity with God. If we trust worldly devices, we automatically relinquish the power of the Holy Spirit.
These truths are repeatedly affirmed in Scripture: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you are not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them; only let me whisper this in your ear, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON