Thursday, September 03, 2009

Reformed and Pragmatic?

Under 'Religious Views' on my Facebook profile I state,
"Reformed--embraced reformed theology long before it was considered 'cool'. :-) "
I did that because, while I am delighted that more and more young believers have been reading, understanding, and embracing reformed theology, I did not want to be casually lumped in with the recent/current 'trend' among many young church goers in America, the so-called "Young, Restless, and Reformed" (YRR) movement. Why my concern? Well, certainly not because I can't--by any stretch of the imagination--be considered 'young'. Those days are clearly behind me!! But because I historically am very wary--with good reason, I might add--of pragmatism in the church.

In his recent post at Reformation 21, Carl Trueman reminds us,
"the dangerous thing about pragmatism is that it does not necessarily reject the truth; it merely renders it subordinate to the desired end. To be precise, pragmatism evaluates means in terms of impact and results; and the implication of this is that even means that are intrinsically true can still be co-opted by pragmatism simply because they seem to be achieving the desired results at some particular point in time."
I've been a Christian for 28 yrs. now, I've watched trends and fads--pragmatism--within contemporary evangelical Christiandom create an appetite for that which caught the attention in the first place, and subsequently demands a steady diet of the same. Carl Trueman echoes my concern when he shares one of "a number of things which should give some cause for critical reflection on this new interest in Reformed theology",
"that a movement built on megachurches, megaconferences, and megaleaders, does the church a disservice in one very important way that is often missed amid all the pizzazz and excitement: it creates the idea that church life is always going to be big, loud, and exhilarating and thus gives church members and ministerial candidates unrealistic expectations of the normal Christian life. In the real world, many, perhaps most, of us worship and work in churches of 100 people or less; life is not loud and exciting; big things do not happen every Sunday; budgets are incredibly tight and barely provide enough for a pastor's modest salary; each Lord's Day we go through the same routines of worship services, of hearing the gospel proclaimed, of taking the Lord's Supper, of teaching Sunday School; perhaps several times a year we do leaflet drops in the neighbourhood with very few results; at Christmas time we carol sing in the high street and hand out invitations to church and maybe two or three people actually come along as a result; but no matter -- we keep going, giving, and praying as we can; we try to be faithful in the little entrusted to us. It's boring, it's routine, and it's the same, year in, year out. Therefore, in a world where excitement, celebrity, and cultural power are the ideal, it is tempting amidst the circumstances of ordinary church life to forget that this, the routine of the ordinary, the boring, the plodding, is actually the norm for church life and has been so throughout most places for most of the history of the church; that mega-whatevers are the exception, not the rule; and that the church has survived throughout the ages not just - or even primarily - because of the high profile firework displays of the great and the good, but because of the day to day faithfulness of the mundane, anonymous, non-descript people who constitute most of the church, and who do the grunt work and the tedious jobs that need to be done. History does not generally record their names; but the likelihood is that you worship in a church which owes everything, humanly speaking, to such people."
Let us not undermine the solid foundation laid by those before us who were content to labor under/in/with the 'mundane' things of a life marked by genuine faith in Christ alone.

HT: Upward Call

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