OceanSide church of Christ
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POSTMODERN THINKING (6)
Victor M. Eskew
In this series of articles, we have been examining the pillars of postmodern thought. We have looked at four pillars thus far: pluralism, relativism, tolerance, and secularism. In this concluding article, we will analyze the last foundational element of this thinking process that has invaded the United States. The last pillar is pragmatism.
Pragmatism is the idea that truth is to be tested by the practical consequences of belief. If something works, that is, has a positive outcome, then it is truth. If something does not work, then it is not considered to be the truth. Notice, everything is centered upon outcomes when one is pragmatic. The pragmatic individual is not so much concerned with the process as he is about the outcome of the process. If it works, it is right.
In the 2012 Presidential campaign, a well-known Senator went to the floor of the Senate and accused Mitt Romney of not having paid his income taxes for the past ten years. The statement was completely false. When the Senator was asked about his claim, his reply was: “Romney didn’t win, did he?” The Senator’s end was to keep Romney from being elected. Any means whereby that could be accomplished was acceptable to the Senator. His lies are an example of pragmatism. Sadly, in the political arena both Republicans and Democrats have accepted pragmatism as the means to keep their political positions and political power.
Pragmatism has invaded the precious church of our Lord. Individuals have seen numerous problems facing the body of Christ: declining numbers, loss of interest in worship, the loss of our young people, the lack of involvement in the local congregation, etc. To correct many of these problems, the leaders in the church have embraced pragmatism. They will use whatever means necessary in order to solve the problems of the local congregation.
Lack of attendance at the worship services is a huge challenge for many churches. The “traditional” service is said to be boring, irrelevant, and out-of-touch for many people, especially our youth. Church leaders, therefore, have embraced many pragmatic ideas to draw people to the worship services.
1. Hold a contemporary service
2. Use instrumental music in worship
3. Advertise to the public to just “come as you are”
4. Have dramas and skits instead of sermons
5. Have shorter sermons, 12 to 15 minutes
6. Decorate the stage with expensive backdrops
7. Invite speakers from all walks of life to speak
8. Give-aways to those who attend
9. Refusal to teach anything negative
10. Use woman, as well as men, in leadership roles
11. Build large recreational facilities
12. Serve coffee and donuts before and during the services
13. Separate different age groups into age-appropriate worship services
14. Hold elaborate services on special days of the year
15. Use of all kinds of modern technology: lights, video, sound, music, special effects
The list of pragmatic ways to “build” the church continues to grow. Most people will look at these new innovations, see little harm in them, find that they work, and will praise them and participate in them. Remember, in their minds, it is the end that is important. The church becomes a mega-church. People are excited. The youth program is vibrant and active. Everything that is being done is working in their mind.
Dear readers, it is not always just about the end. The process does matter. In Genesis 4, two men appeared before God to worship Him. One man’s worship was accepted. The other’s worship was not. The man who was rejected was Cain. He brought a very pragmatic gift to the Lord, the fruit of the ground. It was pragmatic because Cain was a tiller of the ground. His fruit represented his diligent effort. Giving the fruit to God represented a sacrifice on his part. Most likely, the fruit was beautiful, nourishing, and the best he had. His pragmatic approach, however, was rejected by God. The Biblical text says: “But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:5). According to verse 7, he had not done well. The Hebrew writer gives us much insight into this situation. He reveals that Abel’s worship was accepted because it was done “by faith.” “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). Faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). Abel heard and did what God authorized. Cain did not. Thus, he was rejected. His pragmatic approach did not please God.
Pragmatism in the church has caused members of the church to reject the truth. It has caused them to violate the Word of God. Pragmatism appeals to the fleshly man, not the spiritual man. Pragmatism has turned worship into a period of entertainment. It has turned the local congregation into nothing more than a social club. Oh yes, the numbers are up. Interest and excitement are present. The question, however, is: “Is God well-pleased with such sacrifices?” In God’s eyes, the end does not justify the means. God has revealed the means to bring about the results He desires in the pages of His divine Word.
Our society is a long way from where it used to be. The reason is because the public has embraced the many tenets of postmodern thought. As long as we continue to let his type of thinking dominate our society, we will continue to change. We will continue to drift farther from God. Paul sets forth the cure in II Corinthians 10:4-6. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” My friends, the cure is simple. God’s thinking must replace postmodern thinking!!!”