Pragmatism is deadly to New Testament Christianity

1 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:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV) (Read verses 3-5 on the site)

The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. While that appears to be a proper function of the New Testament Church one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism.

Pragmatism is deadly to New Testament Christianity because it is based on human reasoning and human ingenuity in solving problems or issues. It utilizes expediency in dealing with issues rather than prayer and obedience to what is clearly taught in scripture. The reason expediency is wrong is that its solutions will always be short term in focus while neglecting the long term. Here is a secular example. Think of the United States Social Security system. It was designed during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It was based on the number of workers and on the cost of goods and services at that time. However, that was more than seven decades ago and with the ravages of inflation plus the number of Baby Boomers nearing retirement age, we have a system that is upside down and completely irrational in scope and function. That is a product of the expedient approach to problem solving.

The seeker-sensitive church growth model is pragmatically based. It seeks to restructure “church” so that it appeals to the unchurched. Rick Warren formulated his version of it by doing a survey of the unchurched in his area about what form of church they would attend. He then came up with the Purpose Driven Church model and implemented it over time at his church. The model stresses the form of worship and preaching to be ‘done’ in a way that does not offend the lost. It seeks to keep them interested. Therefore, doctrine is never mentioned nor is hell or sin or why Jesus went to the cross. Sermons are pragmatic and ‘light.’ They are full of self-help and are geared to increase the crowd’s self-esteem. This structure is totally expedient because it neglects the more mature Christian. In fact, when a church is being transformed into a Purpose Driven Church, those who resist the changes because of the lack of spiritual depth and theological focus are systematically driven off. Hence, they lose the saved and actually save very few. This process creates a “church” full of tares.    View article →

Posted in 2013 with the title “What’s Wrong with Pragmatism?”