By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
WHAT IT IS
A harmful thing has become the guiding principle of many Bible-believing churches, and it needs to be understood and repudiated. It is pragmatism.
THE PRINCIPLE IS NOT ALWAYS BAD
But, first, let me say that pragmatism is not always bad. For example, a pragmatic person is one who figures out how to get along with others, or how to get something done, or how to reach a goal. So, a pragmatic person knows that, to get along with others, one must not unnecessarily say things in an abrasive manner. And, a pragmatic person will use a wheelbarrow to move a pile of rocks from one place to another, instead of carrying a few at a time. Therefore, as stated above, pragmatism is not always bad.
THE PRINCIPLE HAS ITS DOWNSIDE
But it has its downside. And we see its downside at work in Bible-believing churches and Bible-believing ministries in a variety of ways. The goal of these churches and ministries is good: they want to reach as many persons as possible with the Gospel message. But often their mistake is to use pragmatism in ways that contradict Biblical teaching and Biblical principles.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE PRINCIPLE APPLIED BY CHRISTIANS
A clear example of this mistake regarding pragmatism is the fact that many Christians have accepted the false and unbiblical idea that to reach the world with the Gospel, we must use music that conforms to the world’s music. Therefore, many Christian musicians dress like non-Christian musicians. This is most notable in what are called Christian rock bands. Not only do they deliberately dress like secular rock musicians. Their appearance in other ways also conforms to the world. And although the words to their songs might be good, they use the same techniques as secular rock bands in the presentation of their music, which includes very loud music, unnecessary light shows, and excessive movement on the stage or platform. These techniques are used by Christian bands to give their audiences what they assume is a Biblical worship experience. But, intentionally or not, these bands are manipulating their audiences, just like secular bands intentionally do. This provokes some similar physical responses seen at secular rock concerts.
BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT THE MATTER
While these persons intentions might be good, their method is wrong because it is based on conformity to the secular world. The apostle Paul, in chapter 12, verse 2, of his letter to the Roman Christians, said Christians are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. And in chapter 6, verses 14 – 17, of his second letter to the Corinthian Christians, he made some powerful statements about the fact that Christians are to come out from the world and be separate from it. This applies in many ways to daily Christian living. And it certainly applies to Christian music and Christian musicians. Read, also, verses 13 – 16 of the first chapter of the first letter by the apostle Peter, and note what he said to Christians about not being conformed to the world, and what he said about our need and duty to be holy. Christian music is supposed to draw us closer to God, which results in our holiness. And this requires it to be unlike the world, which, when given the opportunity, draw us away from him. But the principle of pragmatism, if not under control, makes us think, “If it works, don’t object to it.” But Biblical teaching and principles lead us to sometimes reject what “works.” Such is the case with the kind of music I’ve just brought to your attention.