Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Is Pragmatism & Why Is It Bad?

By John MacArthur

In a column published some years ago in a popular Christian magazine, a well-known preacher was venting his own loathing for long sermons. January 1 was coming, so he resolved to do better in the coming year. "That means wasting less time listening to long sermons and spending much more time preparing short ones," he wrote. "People, I've discovered, will forgive even poor theology as long as they get out before noon."1

The church has imbibed the worldly philosophy of pragmatism, and we're just beginning to taste the bitter results.

What Is Pragmatism?

Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. It is closely akin to utilitarianism, the belief that usefulness is the standard of what is good. To a pragmatist/utilitarian, if a technique or course of action has the desired effect, it is good. If it doesn't seem to work, it must be wrong.

Pragmatism as a philosophy was developed and popularized at the end of the last century by philosopher William James, along with such other noted intellectuals as John Dewey and George Santayana. It was James who gave the new philosophy its name and shape. In 1907, he published a collection of lectures entitled Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, and thus defined a whole new approach to truth and life.

Pragmatism has roots in Darwinism and secular humanism. It is inherently relativistic, rejecting the notion of absolute right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error. Pragmatism ultimately defines truth as that which is useful, meaningful, helpful. Ideas that don't seem workable or relevant are rejected as false.

Continue reading....


Whateverman said...

Pragmatism ultimately defines truth as that which is useful

This is patently false. As defined in this article (how much of it is yours and how much of it is quoted, I'm unsure), pragmatism rejects absolute truth. So to then claim that it defines truth as something is inconsistent.

At best, Pragmatism says the most useful action is the best course of action. It has nothing to say about whether this choice is truthful (whatever that means).

It seems to me someone is trying to redefine terms in order to make an argument.