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Pragmatism Goes to Church by A.W. Tozer,

God Tells The Man Who Cares”, from The Best Of A.W. Tozer, 1980, pgs. 254-256

It is not by accident that the philosophy of pragmatism around the turn of the century achieved such wide popularity in the United States. The American temperament was perfect for it, and still is. Pragmatism has a number of facets and can mean various things to various people, but basically it is the doctrine of the utility of truth.

For the pragmatist there are no absolutes; nothing is absolutely good or absolutely true. Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience. If an exhausted swimmer can lay hold of a belief or an ethic, well and good; it may keep him afloat till he can get to shore; then it only encumbers him, so he tosses it away. He feels no responsibility to cherish truth for its own sake. It is there to serve him; he has no obligation to serve it. Truth is to use.

Whatever is useful is true for the user, though for someone else it may not be useful, so not true. The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results. If it can show no such results it is false. That is pragmatism stripped of its jargon.

Now, since practicality is a marked characteristic of the American people they naturally lean strongly toward the philosophy of utility. Whatever will get things done immediately with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of undesirable side effects must be good. The proof is that it succeeds; no one wants to argue with success.

It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is. When there are wars to be won, forests to be cleared, rivers to be harnessed, factories to be built, planets to be visited, the quieter claims of the human spirit are likely to go unregarded. The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless. Deeds you can see. Factories, cities, highways, rockets are there in plain sight, and they got there by the practical application of means to ends. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers. Let’s get on with the job.

Now all this has been said, and said better, a few dozen times before, and I would not waste space on it here except that this philosophy of pragmatism has had and is having a powerful influence upon Christianity in the middle years of this century. And whatever touches the faith of Christ immediately becomes a matter of interest to me and, I hope, to my readers also. The nervous compulsion to get things done is found everywhere among us. We are affected by a kind of religious tic, a deep inner necessity to accomplish something that can be seen and photographed and evaluated in terms of size, numbers, speed and distance.

We travel a prodigious number of miles, talk to unbelievably large crowds, publish an astonishing amount of religious literature, collect huge sums of money, build vast numbers of churches and amass staggering debts for our children to pay. Christian leaders compete with each other in the field of impressive statistics, and in so doing often acquire peptic ulcers, have nervous breaks or die of heart attacks while still relatively young. Right here is where the pragmatic philosophy comes into its own.

It asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it. It accepts our chosen ends as right and good and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers something that works it soon finds a text to justify it, “consecrates” it to the Lord and plunges ahead. Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree.

After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away. You cannot argue with success. The method works; ergo, it must be good. The weakness of all this is its tragic shortsightedness. It never takes the long view of religious activity, indeed it dare not do so, but goes cheerfully on believing that because it works it is both good and true. It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ.

As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a part, a very large part, of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism but almost completely controlled by it. Religious methodology is geared to it; it appears large in our youth meetings; magazines and books constantly glorify it; conventions are dominated by it; and the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it. What shall we do to break its power over us?

The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from those instructions is a denial of the Lordship of Christ. I say the answer is simple, but it is not easy for it requires that we obey God rather than man, and that always brings down the wrath of the religious majority. It is not a question of knowing what to do; we can easily learn that from the Scriptures. It is a question of whether or not we have the courage to do it.


At last! Some GOOD news!!!

Well, maybe.

I can readily be accused of being a bit doom’n’gloom.

Well, this thread is for good news. The church I go to is growing! Not as quickly as we’d like maybe but it’s growing.

People are definitely moving on in their faith and indeed many recently got baptised and joined in full membership … this is really very good news.

I hope to see some of them in the members meetings … 😛

If you have some good news, something to encourage us all … please send a link or post a little testimony!

I look forward to hearing the news!

The Shrinking Church

Distribution of Christianity

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In some parts of the world, we find that Christians are suffering for their faith. In others, we find that the Church is living very comfortably, but is declining in numbers. Many movements have begun to try and stem the tide, and even make it go in reverse.

From seeker sensitive, purpose-driven through the Hillsongs of this world all the way to extreme prophetic, many Christians have jumped on the various bandwagons that have trundled by with perhaps the best motives, but with very little thought. Indeed, thinking is often left up to Church Leadership. When it comes to church attendance, with the best will in the world, Leaders who depend on a church salary will be very keen on all the “church growth” strategies promoted by the sizable mega-church organisations from the United States.

Which type of church is the normal type of church we should aspire to be a part of?

  1. A persecuted Church.
  2. A mega-church.
  3. A comfortable, well-off, growing church.

What is most important to us when we choose a church fellowship? (for example when we move into a new town or city)

  1. Systematic Bible-teaching
  2. Hospitality/fellowship
  3. The practise of spiritual gifts such as healing/prophecy/tounges
  4. Evangelism
  5. Discipleship

Does it matter or is it all down to personal preference?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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In 1904 there was the world famous Welsh Revival. 1000’s were saved, but all we are left with now are songs. But even the songs have gone out of fashion.

With 2 world wars more than decimating the church of manpower between 1914 and 1945, it is no wonder that churches became “lifeboat” churches … women and children first … but is it only because of this? The permissive 60’s didn’t exactly encourage church going either but it is something more. I believe that lazy bible teaching married to a complete disregard for the person and work of the Holy Spirit has led to a decline in relevance of and respect for the church and therefore God Himself.

In our day, we are faced with some very difficult choices. In an attempt to be relevant and credible, the church has compromised with society. Non-christian agendas dominate thinking to the extent that the word “fundamentalist” is a dirty word when applied to people of faith. Followers of Islam are considered to be terrorists who want to kill any non-muslim. Followers of Christ who are fundamentalist are clearly to be feared and hated as they are obviously extremist, homophobic, sexist, religious bigots.

The minute you tell someone you are a Christian, that is now the typical mental picture that someone forms of you.

Unfortunately, recent court cases relating to how Christians and the Gay community relate to one another has emphasised this kind of attitude in the minds of bystanders. Christians cannot now expect to obey their consciences if they run any kind of business that caters to the public directly. From B&B owners to relate councillors, Christians in the United Kingdom are being slowly pressurised to compromise or quit.

There comes a time, according to the Apostle Peter when you have to stand up to the civil authorities for what is right. In our church, we are discussing the operation of the Church in the book of Acts. I believe that focus is too narrow, and we should not only look at the very early Church in Jerusalem (which had stunningly quick growth) but also the early gentile Churches that Saint Paul established on his missionary journeys. He got himself into all sorts of trouble, but he kept his eyes on Jesus the whole way.

We are so used to retreating on all fronts and backing down rather than stand up for what is right that it is little wonder that the Church is in sharp decline. The trouble is, we like an easy life. We don’t want to cause trouble. We are comfortable. We are lazy. We are lukewarm.

Is anyone from the Church in Wales ready to stand up for God and say that Sin is still Sin and we all need to repent to Father God?

What is a “Revival”?

What comes to our minds when we think about the word Revival? Is it a word that gives us hope? Or is it a broken promise?

Did God promise a world-wide revival?

Is there such a thing as a glorious end-times revival?

It’s Sunday. Christians go to Church.

Why bother?

What is Church for?

Is it for teaching the Bible? Is it for preaching the Gospel? Is it for fellowship with other believers, like a social club? Is it for Worshipping God?

Is it none of these things?

Edit: I so much want it to be ALL these things!

Is there a place for Church in todays society?