" DEADLY DANGER of "PRAGMATISM" "
(by Paris Reidhead)
Would I be out of line in order if I were to talk to you for a little
while about utilitarian religion and expedient Christianity? And a
useful God? I would like to call attention to the fact that our day is
a day which the ruling philosophy is pragmatism. You understand
what I mean by pragmatism? Pragmatism means if it works it's
true. If it succeeds it's good. And the test of all practices, all
principles, all truth, so called all teaching, is do they work? Do they work?
Now - according to pragmatism, the greatest failures of the ages
have been some of the men God has honored most. For instance,
whereas Noah was a mighty good ship builder, his main
occupation wasn't shipbuilding, it was preaching. He was a terrible
failure as a preacher. His wife and three children and their wives
were all he had. Seven converts in 120 years, you wouldn't call
that particularly effective. Most mission boards would have asked
the missionaries to withdraw long before this. I say as a ship
builder he did quite well, but as a preacher he was a failure.
And then we come down across the years to another man by the
name of Jeremiah. He was a mighty effective preacher, but
ineffective as far as results were concerned. If you were to
measure statistically how successful Jeremiah was, he would
probably get a large cipher. For we find that he lost out with the
people, he lost out with royalty, even the ministerial association
voted against him and wouldn't have anything to do with him. He
had everything fail. The only one he seemed able to please was....
God, but otherwise he was a distinct failure.
And then we come to another well known person, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who was a failure according to all the standards. He never
succeeded in organizing a church or denomination. He wasn't able
to build a school. He didn't succeed in getting a mission board
established. He never had a book printed. He never was able to get
any of the various criteria or instruments that we find are so useful
(I'm not being sarcastic at all, they are useful). And our Lord
preached for three years, healed thousands of people, fed
thousands of people, and yet when it was all over there were 120...,
500 to whom he could have revealed Himself after His resurrection.
And the day that He was taken, one man said, "If all the others
forsake you, I'm willing to die for you." He looked at this one and
said "Peter you don't know your own heart. You're going to deny
me three times before the cock crows this morning." So all men
forsook Him and fled. By every standard of our generation or any
generation, our Lord was a single failure.
The question comes then to this, what is the standard of success
and by what are we going to judge our lives and our ministry? And
the question that you are going to ask yourself, "Is God an end or
is He a means?" Our generation is prepared to honor successful
choices. As long as a person can get things done or get the job
done then our generation is prepared to say well done.
And so we've got to ask ourselves at the very outset of our ministry,
and our pilgrimage, and our walk, "Are we going to be Levites who
serve God for ten shekels and a shirt?", serve men perhaps in the
name of God, rather than God. For though he was a Levite and
performed religious activities, he was looking for a place, which
would give him recognition, a place which would give him
acceptance, a place which would give him security, a place where
he could shine in terms of those values which were important to
him. His whole business was serving in religious activities, so it
had to be a religious job. He was very happy when he found that
Micah had an opening. But he had decided that he was worth ten
shekels and a shirt, and he was prepared to sell himself to anyone
that would give that much. If somebody came along and gave more,
he would sell himself to them. But he put a value upon himself and
he figured then his religious service and his activities were just a
means to an end, and by the same token, God was a means to an end.
~[From Paris Reidhead's excellent sermon - "Ten Shekels and
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Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of theFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Matthew 28 : 19
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