Pragmatism


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

Pragmatism
==========
Luke
14:25–33 “Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit
down
and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (v. 28).

While
most of the philosophies that have shaped American culture are European
in
origin, pragmatism is at least one worldview that was born in the
United
States. Its assumptions lie at the heart of postmodernism, that catch-all term
used to describe the views that dominate Western thinking in
the first part of
the twenty-first century.

Pragmatic philosophers are
generally agnostic as to whether ultimate,
transcendent truth even exists.
Even if objective truth exists, they say, it
cannot be known, nor is it even
worth pursuing. Truth is therefore radically
redefined. Traditionally, truth
is regarded as that which corresponds to
reality. However, truth in
pragmatism is what “works.”

This leads to relativism. What “works” for
you is not necessarily what “works”
for me. Christianity may make me a
happier person; thus, it is true for me.
Muslims find that Islam makes them
happy, and so Islam is true for them since
it “works” for them. Rational
discussion, or an appeal to a final norm, cannot
solve disagreements over
what “works”; therefore, the group with the most
power wins when pragmatism
is wholly embraced. If homosexuality works for me,
then I must gain power to
silence those who, by convincing others that my
behavior is unacceptable, can
create cultural impediments that hinder my
enjoyment. I will not try to
debate those who disagree since there is no
universal standard to which we
can appeal.

Pragmatism usually looks for immediate solutions without
considering whether
the answers will work in the long haul. Perhaps the best
example of this is
the Social Security system in the United States. The
problem of people not
saving enough for retirement was “solved” by mandating
contributions to a
government-sponsored savings plan. No one seriously
considered whether there
would always be enough workers to support these
benefits, and now the time is
coming when Social Security will be unable to
pay out what the government has
promised. Jesus opposes this type of
short-term thinking, calling us to count
the long-term costs of following Him
(Luke 14:25–33).

Coram deo: Living before the face of
God
========================================
The corrupting influences of
pragmatism are seen even in the church.
“Seeker-sensitive” worship can
increase attendance without ever seeing the
congregation grow to maturity.
Churches targeting specific ages or lifestyles
might attract a lot of people
from these groups and not minister to those who
do not fit certain
classifications. Beware of any ministry that emphasizes
“what works” and do
what you can to help your church avoid slipping into
pragmatism.

For
further study:

Prov. 19:20; 24:13–14

The Bible in a
year:

Joshua 20–22

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