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Is Pragmatism Destroying the Church

Robert is not a theologian; even so, he has a love for God's word and finds great joy in sharing what God reveal's to him through His word.

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Pragmatism: a Safe Harbor?

Pragmatism may well be one of the most successful tools of Satan in his efforts to destroy the Church today. The tendency of many people is to shy away from uncomfortable truths, and there is very little comfort found in God’s word for the sinner who has not yet been born-again. Many of these same people realize a need or desire to attend either a local church or tune in to one of the many televangelists who daily “grace” our television screens. Unfortunately, too many churches today offer just what these people are searching for, a safe harbor where sin is never addressed and Hell does not exist. Their primary reason for attending such a church is to fulfill a perceived sense of duty, yet be made to feel good about themselves at the same time.

William James

William James

Why is William James’ Pragmatic Gospel Embraced by Churches Today?

William James, a 19th Century philosopher and psychologist, once stated prayer is never heard, but that its “soothing effect” comes from the “claims that prayers are heard”. In other words, as long as it makes you feel good, go ahead and pray, but otherwise prayer is ineffectual. Many preachers today, whether they realize it or not, preach a gospel of pragmatism which is geared towards making people feel good about themselves.

Lakewood Church, Houston, TX, Joel Osteen Pastor

Lakewood Church, Houston, TX, Joel Osteen Pastor

This is a gospel which has the effect of filling church pews and producing massive congregations. Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas is a perfect example of such a church. By preaching a pragmatic feel good gospel, “Pastor” Joel Osteen has built a congregation which averages a weekly attendance of 52,000, not to mention tremendous wealth for Osteen.

Pragmatism Gave Us Caitlan

You might also discover pragmatism in the way some churches, musicians, evangelist, etc. approach the lost. An example might be a “Christian Rock Band” whose male members sport very long hair, tight fitting clothing, numerous tattoos, etc. and say they are doing so to reach a certain crowd with the Gospel. When critics point out the obvious problems, as they relate to scripture, these folks cry out “why are you trying to put God in a Box”? Or, you might find out that the greatest male athlete ever has decided that he is a woman, also a result of pragmatic thinking – whatever makes you feel good, do it!

Bruce (Caitlan) Jenner

Bruce (Caitlan) Jenner

The Pragmatic Error of King David

Pragmatic thinking states “a claim is only truth if it works”, if a claim produces no immediately tangible or measurable results, then it is untrue. Pragmatic evangelism works the same way; whatever puts warm bodies in the pews and fills the coffer is true; otherwise, it is untruth. I am certain many preachers who preach Pragmatism are doing so with good intentions; but good intentions are soul killers. We can all agree King David was a “man after God’s own heart”, because the Bible says so. However, even David flirted with this wicked philosophy, and with disastrous results.

The death of Uzzah

The death of Uzzah

In II Samuel 6 we find the story of King David returning the Arc of the Covenant to Judah, or at least attempting to do so. But, because David sought to do so in his own way, which made him feel good, Uzzah, the son of Abinadab was killed for doing something very natural; and David was thrown into despair for about three months. In II Chronicles we find how David was supposed to have gone about this business of returning the Arc. No one was more sincere and God fearing than David, but in attempting to get the Arc into the temple, in the City of David where it belonged, he did so in a way other than that prescribed by God in the book of Leviticus. In I Chronicles 15 we learn David did repent and eventually gathered the Arc to the Temple.

Are there Eternal Consequences Associated with Pragmatism?

Millions are on their way to an eternity in Hell today because of this false doctrine; in fact, because of Pragmatism millions are likely already in their eternal anguishing abode. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having to confront our own sins, except of course, the realization that our sins have condemned you already to eternal damnation. Just as uncomfortable is having to confess those sins. While Pragmatism gives you an out, it is a temporary benefit; the unsaved will one day be judged at the Great White Throne because they chose to seek that which made them feel good and not what was right and true.

Furthermore, as we see in David’s case, lost souls who fall for the gospel of Pragmatism are not the only ones who risk chastisement or death by flirting with this evil philosophy. Preachers, who offer this “feel good” gospel to the world simply in an effort to fill the pews, will one day answer for their folly. If they (preachers) have been truly born-again, they will not stand before our Lord at the Great White Throne, but will give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where believers will be judged.

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What Seems Right to Man, Will End in Death!

Folks, when witnessing to a lost soul, do not sugar coat their sin or the gospel, tell the truth, not the pragmatic truth, but the Gospel truth. Their eternal destiny depends on it! If you feel you must preach a Pragmatic Gospel, then you “should not be the servant of Christ.”

“There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).


Robert Henry Ditmore MA MEd (author) from MORRISON on October 10, 2020:

Eric, I agree there may be secular benefits associated with pragmatism; however, there is no room for it in the Gospel, which I think may be what you meant when you said, "If we take pragmatism as the Word we fail."

Too many pastors and churches today have made pragmatism the Gospel, or at the very least, made a biblical doctrine out of it. When I began attending church again, after thirty years of rebellion on my part, I made the mistake of joining such a church. In a hour long sermon, on a good day, we might have received 5 minutes of Bible; the rest of the service was typically "feel good" garbage designed to fill the church. Antics was the name of the game, not the preaching of hard things.

Attending a good movie, a sporting event, or any other entertainment venue can certainly have a positive effect on us, I agree with you on that. I just see pragmatism as a tool of Satan to destroy the Church, and I believe there is sufficient evidence to back that up.

Robert Henry Ditmore MA MEd (author) from MORRISON on October 03, 2020:

Thank you KC!

KC McGee from Where I belong on September 30, 2020:


I agree with you a 1000%. You are spot on with this one.

Many blessings.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 30, 2020:

I don't attend a movie to get closer to God. I think we all get that. I wish people would understand going to a pragmatic occasion is not to get closer to God. But perhaps better for you entertainment than gaming or Rated Movies. A football game can be inspirational but not biblical.

If we take pragmatism as the Word we fail. If we do not see it's secular benefit we also may be missing the boat.

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