We Christians have no reason to be ashamed of the Gospel nor doubt its power by the Holy Spirit to regenerate and change the lives of those who receive it.
I’ve been reading an updated version of Dr. John MacArthur’s book, ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL, published in 2010. It has helped me to grasp a better perspective of what is going on in Christendom today.
In his book we are warned of “the danger of adopting the world’s philosophy of pragmatism: the belief that whatever works, whatever brings in the crowds to our churches, whatever seems successful is the standard of what is right and good for us.”
MacArthur points out that “pragmatism has its root in Darwinism and secular humanism. It is inherently relativistic, rejecting the notion of absolute right and wrong. Pragmatism ultimately defines truth as that which is useful and meaningful. Ideas that don’t seem workable are rejected as false.”
So what’s wrong with Pragmatism?
Common sense involves a measure of pragmatism. If a car is sputtering, you know it needs a tune up. If you break out into a rash every time you eat something made with wheat, you could assume that you are allergic to wheat. That’s what I thought for about a year as I put up with a fiery itching until my wife tried something different. She started buying organic wheat and grinding it into flour and baking bread with it. Almost immediately my itching subsided and has almost totally disappeared. So now I avoid anything made with processed flour and only use the home ground organic flour; and that, sparingly and cautiously. That was a good use of pragmatism.
For over forty-five years we’ve followed the advice of doctors and health practitioners who pragmatically encourage natural remedies over medical remedies in determining how to deal with our health needs. Most times we find ourselves swimming upstream against the majority opinion; but we continue to learn and have had success through trial and error.
But as MacArthur writes, “When pragmatism is used to make judgments about right and wrong; when it becomes a guiding philosophy of life, theology or ministry; it inevitably clashes with Scripture. Biblical truth is not determined by testing what works and what doesn’t work.” He continues, “We know, for example that the Gospel often does not produce a positive response. ( I Cor. 1:22-23; 2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite effective. (Matt. 24:23-24; II Cor. 4:3-4). Majority reaction is no test of validity( Matt. 7:13-140, and prosperity is not a measure of truthfulness ( Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.”
Nevertheless, pragmatism dictates that preaching must be replaced with entertaining methods and messages that draw crowds. Whatever attracts the most people is accepted, regardless of Scriptural standards. That’s the pragmatic principle today. Rock music, entertaining-centered worship with preaching which deals inoffensively with the doctrine of sin and salvation through Christ’s blood sacrifice or even avoids such preaching. That’s pragmatism.
Church must be up-to-date with the latest rock worship music, which amazingly is not new anymore. Can you believe, rock music is now over sixty years old, and yet it continues to be popular and in style with those sixty and younger?
MacArthur explains that the church pragmatist are following down the same road the Modernists traveled a century ago. Modernism began as a methodology and evolved into a unique theology. Pragmatism is doing the same thing today. I urge you to get hold of MacArthur’s most recent edition of his book ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL. Read it and share it with your pastor.
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