Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Why Pragmatism Reigns in the Modern Western Church

Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth are determined by practical consequences.  If a church has large numbers because of its programs, its rock band “worship” team, its shallow preaching, its non-doctrinal position, then it is deemed good.  If a church is the opposite with a focus on preaching, on prayer, on confrontational evangelism, on preaching against sin, on confronting sin in the camp, or singing songs that are doctrinally sound and God-exalting, then it is deemed bad (but only if the numbers are low).  In our day, success is viewed in size terms and behind the scenes with money.

In the Bible, faithfulness is placed above success.  After all, many in the Bible where not successful but they were faithful.  Even Jesus, who once had the crowds following Him until He began to preach the radical demands of discipleship (Luke 14:25-35; John 6:60-66), must be viewed as a “failure” according to modern church growth and seeker sensitive churches yet His disciples turned the world upside down with the gospel.  Paul died a lonely man in prison (2 Timothy 4:16-17) but he was faithful (2 Timothy 4:18).  Noah preached the judgment of God to his generation but he only saw his family repent and believe and were saved from God’s judgment (1 Peter 3:20) yet Noah was faithful.

The fact is that Jesus said He would welcome faithful disciples into His everlasting kingdom (Matthew 25:21).  Faithfulness is what God is after.  Faithfulness to His Word.  Faithfulness to the gospel.  Faithfulness to follow Christ no matter what.  Sadly, few want this today.

The modern church wants success.  Preachers (if you can call them this for they are not preaching the Bible but only proof-texting from it) are out for power and control.  The drive is to be bigger, to be bolder, to out-do the other guy.  The competition among pastors is gross.  The drive for more money and power seems to drive them.  Pastors today rally around methodology and not theology.  Theology is not even a serious issue.  This is why seeker churches have no trouble modeling this guy or that guy with no thought to their theology.  They are willing to embrace whoever because of pragmatism.  I remember having a conversation once with a pastor about the modalist, TD Jakes, in which he defended Jakes not by looking at his theology but his “anointing” and his numbers.  How could we reject Jakes when it is clear that God is using him?  This is pragmatism.

In the modern pragmatic church, numbers often equal success.  Larger numbers equals more money.  More money equals more programs and bigger buildings.  But what you win them with is what you win them to.  This is why seeker churches are doctrinally shallow.  This is why I consistently meet lost sinners who know nothing of the gospel but claim to be members of such and such seeker church.  This is why you can meet a “youth pastor” on the street and ask him to explain to you how to become a disciple of Jesus and he has no clue.  His entire outlook is pragmatic.

This is why pragmatic churches deplore churches that are Christ-centered and Christ-exalting.  While seeker churches give lip service to Jesus, Jesus is used as a means to an end.  They use Jesus to lure the people into their promise that He will give them a better life now, that He will give them hope.  They fail to mention that the “seeker” is a lost sinner who needs to repent.  They fail to mention that the “seeker” is an enemy of God apart from faith in Christ (Romans 5:10).  They fail to tell “seekers” that they must turn from their wicked ways and turn to Christ alone and completely for eternal salvation.  Instead, they preach a Jesus who is just this cool, hip, shallow guy who loved them so much He died for them.  But they ignore why He had to die.  They ignore the fact that Jesus died for our sins and that it was our sins that brought the wrath of God down upon His Son (John 3:36; Galatians 1:4).

Pragmatic churches are perfect for this “selfie” generation.  It’s all about me.  It’s not about the wrath of God.  It’s not about the holy law of God.  It’s not about the coming judgment of God.  It’s not about eternal damnation.  It’s about my best life now.  This is what counts and this is what matters.  And this preaching gets results.  This preaching gets numbers and power and money.  The preaching of the cross gets you one thing: a cross.

Yet Jesus warned us in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

My earnest prayer is that the Church would rise up and cast off the gimmicks of this world.  Cast off cheap “Christian” music that doesn’t exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and declare His glory.  Cast off shallow preaching for expository preaching that is biblically focused.  Cast off dead prayer meetings that don’t truly seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).  Cast off friendship evangelism that is the evangelical copout for not preaching the gospel to the lost but instead declare the gospel to the sinners.  Cast off churches that are focused on pragmatism and lack any doctrinal preaching, any doctrinal discernment.  Instead, love the truth and defend it (Jude 3-4).

I urge you to pray.  Pray for the Church.  Pray against pragmatism.  Pray for God to raise up godly leaders who will preach the gospel with no focus on being men-pleasers (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).  Pray for a revival of expository preaching in our age.  Pray for the Lord to glorify His name in His Church just as He has promised He would (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 3:21).  Pray for sinners to repent of their sins and turn to Christ in true repentance and faith (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-6).  I urge you to pray (Luke 18:1)!

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2 Responses

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  1. This message needs to sounded, and re-sounded often! Popularity, acceptance and the dollar seem to have more influence on many of the churches today, than reaching the lost for Christ, and caring for the truly needy (those who will never be able to recompense).
    I would rather be rejected of men, than face the judgement due those who “preach another gospel”.

    Steve Orwig

    01/06/2015 at 11:16 AM


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