The Problem of Pragmatism: “Wake Up, Church!”

Updated post from 2021. Apologetics are provided at the end regarding Jesus, the reliability of the New Testament, evidence for the Resurrection, and the Biblical Gospel.

What is Pragmatism exactly? Pragmatism, a philosophy developed by Charles Sanders Pierce in 1870, champions the premise that truth is proved by whether or not the idea in question works. Basically, if something works and is found useful to you…then it’s true. It advocates a way to find meaning apart from God’s Word, and relies upon the material world for guidance. The peril in this is misplaced authority. Spurgeon puts it this way, “Whatever a man depends upon, whatever rules his mind, whatever governs his affections, whatever is the chief object of his delight, is his god.” When we place our reliance upon anything or anyone, we give it or him authority! And to what or whom we assign authority, we obey! Friends, Pragmatism is most certainly a concern for all of us…

Pragmatism has always been a struggle for humanity. The mission statement of our former life was often a Pragmatic one. Doing “whatever works” frequently advocates the easy road. It’s tangible, seemingly controllable, and most often, immediate. Choosing “whatever seems right” provides our impatient hearts with the appearance of helpfulness, and the impression of practicality. We make the common mistake of equating “helpful” as “good,” and then our emotions lead the way. In these post-postmodern times, both the admonition to “You do you,” and the attitude that anything goes only amplifies the “broad way” of pragmatism. After all, how could something be wrong if it is helping me? But at the end of the day, doing “whatever works” in the pursuit of truth makes us evermore burdened, and exceedingly weary… All because we chose to do what resembled easy, versus what is best: being devoted to prayer, and reading His Word.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:16

But when it comes to Truth, it is neither defendant upon an emotion nor guided by human reasoning. Instead, Truth is a Person. (John 14:6). Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. No one gets to the Father except through Him. When Jesus was lovingly describing to His disciples what was to happen to Him, Peter “rebuked” Jesus and pleaded for another way. Peter was examining Jesus’s plan through Peter’s own lens of human understanding, and did not find it immediately helpful (it seems):

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:21-23‬ ‭

How often do we do the same as Peter: Setting our minds upon the things of man instead of things of God (reading His Word)? Truth put on human skin, was crucified upon a cross, and then rose again three days later. That plan did not appear pragmatic to Peter beforehand, perhaps (Matthew 16)…but it was the work Jesus came to accomplish. As Spurgeon once encouraged, “When you cannot trace His hand, trust His heart.” The work that Jesus performed on the cross was necessary. It was planned out of His love and is complete in every way. A quote that hits to the heart of spiritual pragmatism is this one by Dr. Michael Rydelnik:

“Faith in Christ is not true because it works, rather faith in Christ works because it’s True.”

Rydelnik

Gals, we are witnessing Spiritual Pragmatism all around us today…in our homes, as well as within many of our churches. What should we do? Two things, friend: 1) Pray to God often, and 2) get into His Word for yourself. We need to prayerfully discern who’s voice is guiding us! The voice of culture? The voice of practicality? The voice of worldly comfort and self-reliance? In a world where there are many voices, we need the help of God’s Word to test every message carefully. God’s Word is a precious gift to us…so we need to be reading it as often as possible. Friend, no question is too lofty, no sorrow is too deep, and no past is beyond His Grace. Instead of relying upon “whatever works” and appears helpful, lean into God’s sovereignty and pray. Wait upon His strength and wisdom…and dwell in the Scriptures daily. His timing is never late, and His purposes are always best. And friend, also make sure you dive into a Gospel-driven community often. (Hebrews 10:25) Jesus is sufficient for every need you have today… Keep trusting!

His,

Mer

Resources

“Stop not comparing yourself with others who call themselves Christians. Compare yourself to the Scripture.”

Paul Washer
A powerful 60 minutes with Voddie Baucham.
90-minute debate between Pastor Todd Wilson and Marcia Montenegro, moderated by Justin Brierley. This discussion provides an eye-opening perspective of spiritual pragmatism.
80 minutes w/ Dr. Levin Lewis and Pastor Costi Hinn.

✏️What is Pragmatism? GotQuestions.org

🎞 History of Pragmatism (Video Playlist)

✏️ God’s Word in a Post-Postmodern World

Scripture Says…

“The Word of God I think of as a straight edge, which shows up our own crookedness. We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.”

Elisabeth Elliot

1 Kings‬ ‭18:21‬ ‬‬“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

John 15:5 “…for apart from Me (Jesus), you can do nothing.”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”

Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Revelation 3:2 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.”

Revelation 3:2-6 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:2-5‬ ‭ “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Matthew 16:23 “ But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Galatians 1:6-10 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

2 Timothy 4:1-8 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

Matthew 7:13-14 ““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Matthew 6:25-33 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Psalm 92:5 “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!”

Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 “There is a way that seemright to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Psalm 9:16 “The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.”

James 1:5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Colossians 1:10 “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

2 Peter‬ ‭2:1-3‬ “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

1 Peter 3:15

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

1 Peter‬ ‭3:15‬
Jesus
6 minutes
18 minutes w/ Nabeel Qureshi
44 minutes w/ Mikel Del Rosario
The Gospel
20 minutes
70 minutes
Trust God’s Word

Per GotQuestions: “How we respond to God’s written Word and the Word made flesh has an eternal impact on us. Since God’s Word is truth, rejecting the Bible and rejecting Jesus is rejecting God Himself. Believing, cherishing, studying, and obeying God’s Word is the key to salvation, understanding God, and living abundantly (John 10:10). No matter what we may face in this world, we are sustained by the truth prayed over us in Jesus’ prayer: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).”

57 minutes with Voddie
90 minutes w/ Wes Huff
Part 1 with Dan Wallace
Part 2 with Dan Wallace

What is Apologetics?

35 minutes
10 minutes w/ Alan from STR

One thought on “The Problem of Pragmatism: “Wake Up, Church!”

  1. Pingback: Question: “What is Hellenism, and how did it influence the early church?” by GotQuestions | The Gal220 Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s