By Brannon S. Howse
Williams James is known for many things, including his lectures entitled Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. But concerning pragmatism, Dr. John MacArthur warns:
Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences….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…But when pragmatism is used to make judgments about right and wrong, or when it becomes a guiding philosophy of life and ministry, it inevitably clashes with Scripture.
MacArthur is right to be concerned. Pragmatism has influential advocates within the Church. for instance, the Rev. Jim Garlow, pastor of an evangelical church, was a guest on a talk show in January 2012, one day before the Iowa caucuses. In this interview Garlow explained why he believes Christians should vote for Newt Gingrich. His choice of candidates is not the critical issue here. The problem is the reasoning he brought to defend his recommendation. He called for Christians to practice “biblically founded pragmatism”:
…we do not as Christians assess the problem quickly enough with a healthy, biblical, biblically founded pragmatism. For example, I see people hyper-spiritualizing this election. They say, “Well, God parted the Red Sea.” Well, he did it once! But he told Noah to build a boat. In other words, get in there and float on this thing. So we’re being out-fought, unfortunately, because we hyper-spiritualize way too much.
Ironically this is coming from a man who worked with “prophet” Lou Engle of the New Apostolic Reformation in prayer and fasting events in California. The NAR and Word of Faith members are well known for their “hyper-spiritualizing” and spiritual allegorizing. Charisma Magazine reported on this prayer rally sponsored by NAR and WOF:
Organized by California pastor Jim Garlow and Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson, Pray & Act has gained support from a cross-section of Christians, including Bible teacher Kenneth Copeland, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Generals International co-founder Cindy Jacobs, Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, Atlanta pastor Creflo Dollar, and Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder Vonette Bright….The Pray & Act kickoff, to be broadcast on the American Family Association (AFA) website Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern, will feature leaders attending the AFA’s Values Voters summit this weekend. The speakers—ranging from conservative politicians to pastors—will be interviewed by Garlow and will join him in calling Christians to 40 days of prayer and fasting. A final simulcast will be held on Oct. 30 from the Lincoln Memorial.
It is pragmatism at work when self-described evangelicals unite with false teachers in prayer, fasting, and other spiritual enterprises in hopes of winning the culture war, passing legislation, or winning elections. For several years, I have warned against the New Religious Right and today’s neo-evangelicals’ practice of pragmatism.
Jim Garlow (who has also appeared on the television program of New Age Mormon Glenn Beck and who participated in Beck’s Restoring Honor rally in August of 2010) shows his pragmatic approach to spirituality:
Glenn Beck is being used by God—mightily….Based on all I know about him, I am proud to stand with him at the Restoring Honor Rally this weekend. Glenn does not see that this about him, because it is not. It is about Restoring Honor. That is the issue. It is much bigger than Glenn Beck and he knows it. And God knows, we need it.
To the contrary, I believe Glenn Beck has been used by Satan—mightily—and that he is a victim of Satan’s strategy to leverage President Obama for satanic purposes. The president scared self-professing Christians right into the waiting arms of Glenn Beck, his ecumenical friends, and the Church of Rome. The strategy has been successful so far in getting evangelicals to embrace false teachers, their false Jesus, and the accompanying false gospel. The process will culminate in the building of the harlot church described in Revelation 17.
Glenn Beck is a Catholic-turned-Mormon who bragged that when he was at the Vatican, he was shocked to discover that they knew who he was. His comments were recorded:
BECK—We are entering a, we are entering a dark, dark period of man. I was, I was in the Vatican, and I was surprised that the individual I was speaking to knew who I was. And they said: “Of course we know who you are. What you’re doing is wildly important. We’re entering a period of great darkness, and if good people don’t stand up, we could enter a period unlike we have seen in a very long time.’ It was odd to stand in the Vatican and hear those words. Of all places that would understand the Dark Ages. We are dealing with people who want to deconstruct the world. They say they are for progress, but their progress is to deconstruct. Their progress is to go backwards. Instead of inventing our way out of something. Instead of heralding achievement and merit, they destroy it. Instead of respecting life, we devalue it.
In February 2012, Beck’s website proclaimed that Beck had once again traveled to the Vatican, and this time it was for very high level meetings to discuss a global spiritual plan “to build bridges between various faith traditions so that the collective can have a stronger voice in fending off secular attacks.”
His website also reported that “In addition to the support Beck offered to the church, he also announced the ‘We Are All Catholics Now’ movement…” which further plays into the ecuemencial agenda of the Church of Rome.
The Hegelian Dialetic process is not only a favorite tool of Satan but also of the Church of Rome and its Jesuit Order, which was founded in 1540. It is interesting how political and religious opposites are pitted against each other with the end result being a political and religious campaign that declares “we are all Catholic now.” Former Jesuit Malachi Martin wrote in his 1987, New York Times Best-Seller The Jesuits that Francis Carney, a prominent Jesuit of the 1970s argued that “dialectical conflict” should be “treasured as the key to the future of Catholicism.”
Former Catholic Glenn Beck, the Vatican, and the “we are all Catholics now” agenda lie at one end of the spiritual and political spectrum. At the other end is President Obama who was helped into office largely by a Jesuit priest. While researching the Jesuit Order for the next book in this series (The Coming Religious Reich), I discovered this remarkable revelation in a Chicago magazine:
It has now been more than four years since Barack Obama threw an arm around Gregory Galluzzo in Iowa and confided that whenever anybody asked how his presidential campaign had so quickly assembled its grass-roots operation, he would credit Galluzzo’s mentorship. A former Jesuit priest who’d been drawn to Chicago by the work of Saul Alinsky, the father of community organizing, Galluzzo had good reason to feel proud: He was indirectly responsible for bringing young Barack Obama to Chicago to be an organizer. Obama’s subsequent election was “like a son winning an office,” says Galluzzo.
Obama’s campaign “quickly assembled its grass-roots operation” through the efforts and mentoring of a Jesuit. If this begins to help you understand how the game is being played, you are one of the fortunate few who do. Because so many do not, some of the biggest evangelical leaders in America and around the world have been “useful idiots” of the Church of Rome. Many of today’s evangelical leaders, knowingly or unknowingly, have assisted in building the Harlot Church, the one-world religious system described in Revelation 17 as “the woman that rides the beast.” (I’ll explain in The Coming Religous Reich how the Church of Rome takes both sides of every major issue because of its “dialectical conflict” strategy.)
As I will examine in more detail in Chapter 4, there are many problems with Glenn Beck’s theology and doctrine, and I do not believe God is using Glenn Beck to restore righteousness in America. Nevertheless, a Christian broadcaster emailed me in August 2010 to say he was aware of my criticism of the Restoring Honor Rally and of the evangelicals who were publicly standing with Glenn Beck in his “spiritual” events. The man asked me if I didn’t think it would be just like God to use a former alcoholic and his messed up Mormon theology to ignite revival in the American Church. I told him that God’s Word specifically forbids Christians from uniting in spiritual enterprises with nonbelievers (see 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 John 9-11; Romans 16:17-18), and thus God would not contradict His Word and bless that which He forbids.
In Summer 2011, pragmatism led this same broadcaster to promote The Response prayer rally in Houston, Texas, which included a circus of false teachers from the Word of Faith movement and the New Apostolic Reformation. Listed and pictured on The Response website as “endorsers” were individuals including Jim Garlow, David Barton, Cindy Jacobs, Cheꞌ Ahn, Mike Bickle, John Hagee, Catholic Priest Bob Hogan, and C. Peter Wagner, just to name a few. The honorary co-chairs listed and pictured on the website included James and Shirley Dobson, Tony Evans, Tony Perkins, and others. I believe many evangelicals and members of the Religious Right, whether knowingly or unknowingly, have embraced pragmatism in order to “reclaim the country.”
In the January 2012 interview I mentioned earlier, Garlow also emphasized his call for biblically founded pragmatism in a wide range of political involvement:
Let me make it real, ground-tested and practical, and this will probably disturb some people. Michele Bachmann is wonderful, but she has no cash and no traction. Rick Perry is wonderful; I think he’s absolutely fabulous; I hope he has strong influence in the nation in the future along with Michele Bachmann. He has lots of cash, but his articulation skills have harmed him seriously, and he cannot overcome them, not now. Rick Santorum is wonderful, but he has no cash and no machinery. If he wins Iowa, he needs to be spending $3 million a week minimum to carry him through to try keep up with the Romney machine, so Romney’s best interest is to land Rick Santorum right up there at the top. People are not thinking through a strategy, and by lack of a biblically founded pragmatism that the Holy Spirit can show us, the lack of a strategy, we are being defeated and frankly humiliated, and our biblical rights are being robbed from us.
I believe calling for “biblically founded pragmatism” is like calling for “biblically founded moral relativism” or “biblically founded situational ethics.” Pragmatism, moral relativism, and situational ethics are fundamentally at odds with Christianity. Christians are not to practice them but are to make decisions based solely on the absolute truth of God’s Word. John MacArthur agrees:
What is pragmatism? Basically it is a philosophy that says that results determine meaning, truth, and value—what will work becomes a more important question than what is true. As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside. Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse.
William James would likely be pleased that his term “pragmatism” is being used affirmatively by evangelical leaders and even more pleased that it is being tied to the Bible. Why? When pragmatism is tied to the Bible in a positive manner, it undermines the authority of God’s Word. What more could an enemy of the cross and radical like William James ask for?
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