“When we think in terms of pragmatism, what is wrong is not so much what is done as a fruit of pragmatism, but it’s the foundation from which what is done is being done. In other words, it’s working from the premise that if something works—if it produces the results—then its good, and therefore, let’s go that way. So, if this is what will bring the people to church, then let’s do it! Now, that’s the wrong way of thinking. I keep saying, we need to begin with the fact that, not just the earth, but the whole universe in it’s vastness is about God revealing Himself—His glory, His beauty, His majesty, His power, His Love. It’s about God! Once we have been mesmerized by this, we want to worship Him.
Now, if we keep those things central and we find that in declaring all this, we are not, as it were, “attracting” the population, it’s going to throw us back to God. It’s going to make us more prayerful. It’s going to make us say, ‘Lord, reveal Yourself!’ Because, ultimately, it’s not just about God having revealed Himself in creation, it is about God revealing Himself by His Spirit in opening blind eyes to see Him in what He has made and also in His word.
And therefore, what it does: if we begin in the right place, it makes the church a praying church. So one of the proofs that we are not really being godly is, that, a lot of the ‘successful’ churches, go to their prayer meetings. And you find, if they have them, the people, they are not interested in calling on God to hallow His name, to extend His kingdom, to cause His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. They are not interested. That’s not Biblical Christianity, that’s the fruit of pragmatism. You’ve got a pastor with powerful qualifications, you’ve got a beautiful church with a beautiful choir or band, we’ve put everything right, we’ve advertised on the TV on the internet on the local paper, it’s drawing in the crowds, we’ve got wonderful programs for young people… Is God revealing Himself there? Are souls coming under true conviction of sin and turning to God in genuine conversion, knowing Him, living lives that are God-centered, glorifying Him in all aspects of life? Is this happening? Is God Himself melting human hearts and bringing them to Himself? Only He can do it, and He does it as God’s people come to an end of themselves and implore Him to, as it were, fold His sleeves and make bear His holy arm in today’s world.
So that to me is what should make us shun pragmatism. It’s not that we, therefore, should not have good buildings and everything else, it is the premise on which we are moving. If God’s people recognize that it’s about God, and seek Him and pray and do everything because they want God to come down and honor His name, and then they are doing all this – Yes! – all they are doing is seeing the two sides of the shield of truth: the sovereignty of God and human responsibility, but it’s coming from the right premise, and it is not the premise of pragmatism. It is the premise of true, Biblical Christianity because it begins with God.”
This clip is the sixth video to be released from the “Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically” extended interview archives, circa 2012. You can learn more about the 12-week multimedia Bible study “Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically” by John Snyder with Paul Washer, Anthony Mathenia, Conrad Mbewe, Richard Owen Roberts, Andrew Davies, Eifion Evans, and Jordan Thomas here.