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“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
One of the most powerful and pervasive strongholds within the soul of man, and that which often stands in resistance and opposition to God’s truth, is a very practical mindset called pragmatism. Pragmatism is a philosophy that is supremely concerned with consequences and outcomes. In it, the ultimate criteria for determining truth and/or moral value is the practical usefulness or favorability of a matter’s effects or results. In this mindset, the ends either justify or vilify the means and not their own inherent verities or virtues. In other words, pragmatism begins at the end of the process of the outworking of truth and morality and works its way backwards to arrive at subjectively-ascribed, value-based perceptions and conclusions.
Divine truth and morality, however, begin with God as the Source and according to the eternal, inherent reality and moral value of a given proposition or action, its effects progress forward to its divinely-determined ends and outcomes. Divine reality and pragmatic reasoning, therefore, are moving in opposite directions and when they collide, it’s a veritable “train wreck!”
Prophetic ministry can be viewed in light of this as God’s “train whistle” to blast a warning of such a pending collision if spiritual, philosphical, and/or moral course correction is not made. Because such course correction is usually deemed as inconvenient and undesirable by the pragmatist, however, such warnings and exhortations are esteemed as void of truth and/or moral value and, therefore, resisted and rejected.
Prophetic ministry can also work along positive lines as if the prophet were the conductor blowing the whistle and declaring, “A-L-L-L-L ABOARD!!!” from the train of God’s wisdom and righteousness. If the pragmatist doesn’t find interest or value in going where that train is perceived to be heading, however, he will deem such obtrusive noise as meaningless and something to be passively dismissed or actively denounced.
In either case, God’s truth and righteousness are resisted and rejected based on their subjectively-perceived effects and results rather than on their Source, inherent values, and divinely-ordained consequences and outcomes.
Pragmatism Goes to Church
Pragmatism is not only a stronghold in the world, but also among God’s people. Whenever believers, individually or collectively, have more concern for the consequences and outcomes of God’s Word and ways being fully embraced and expressed than their Divine Source and inherent spiritual/moral values, pragmatism is surely at work.
Indeed, much if not most of the compromise, lukewarmness, worldliness, and hypocrisy found in the Church at large is simply a result of God’s people not being willing to utterly embrace God’s truth and righteousness due to the resultant cost of their practical embodiment and expression. The consequences and outcomes of doing so are deemed to be too personally or socially offending, challenging, or undesirable. Conversely, the attractiveness of compromising with God’s truth and righteousness because of certain perceived temporal advantages and benefits is too tempting to resist. Thus the calculating double-mindedness of pragmatism sets in and rules the day.
This tendency seems especially strong within institutionally-based religious systems that have vested interest in their own financial stability/prosperity, social respectability, numerical growth, religious traditions, organizational structures, and/or ministerial influence and affluence. These are the mainstays of religious institutionalism, and pragmatism is what feeds their roots!
As we see in the Gospels, the Lord Jesus’s greatest conflicts were with the ruling class of the established religious system of His day, and that for most of these very same reasons. The holy, heavenly words and ways of God, fully embodied and expressed in and through Jesus of Nazareth, came in direct conflict with and opposition to these same entrenched, pragmatic forces. In the Scriptures and subsequent Jewish historical accounts, we see the “train wreck” that eventuated that not only (temporarily) left the Lord Jesus crucified upon a cross, but, within the century, ended the existing Jewish temple and religious system that had prevailed for centuries.
Even so today, when God sends His prophetic Spirit and Word, often through human agency, to challenge the pragmatic ways of those prevailing religious systems that have departed from the heavenly wisdom and ways of the Lord, it is often met with the most incorrigible reaction, resistance, and rejection. Be it known that in this conflict, it is the age-old stronghold of pragmatism that is ultimately at its root.
If God’s people are ever to overcome this ubiquitous stronghold, they must see it clearly for what it is, expose it, renounce it, and bow the knee fully and finally to the sovereignty of God’s Spirit and Holy Word. God is raising up prophetic vessels in this hour as well who will hold up God’s measuring rod and plumb line of Christ to the Church’s corrupted foundations and crooked walls, and once again declare the truth and righteousness of the Lord concerning His House. Conflict is inevitable, but in the end, the Lord’s will and ways shall surely prevail!
May we all have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying in this hour!
For a deeper dive into the stronghold of “pragmatism”, please see the article:
“Pragmatism and the Truth.”