Religious Pseudo-Pragmatism


The latest in my series on different models of the kingdom of God is up at The Green Room. I propose that “accommodation paradigm” churches – the ones whose critics call them loosey-goosey and marketing-driven – are struggling with what I call “religious pseudo-pragmatism.” I trace it to the decline of pragmatism after its initial success in the early 20th century, when the swindle at its heart was exposed both by the challenge of totalitarianism and the general disintegration of western culture:

The swindle exposed, some abandoned pragmatism in search of certainty in various fundamentalisms, secular or religious. Those who stuck self-consciously with pragmatism, like Richard Rorty, doubled down on the swindle, essentially accepting a world in which they would be forever fighting and killing totalitarians while acknowledging that in this eternal war no one is “right” or “wrong” in a deeply meaningful sense.

But the large majority in the West have retained their phobia toward absolute truth claims, even while they are also (as a result of the challenges of totalitarianism and disintegration) phobic toward not making absolute truth claims. While the swindle at the heart of pragmatism has been rejected, pragmatism’s deconstructive attacks against the making of absolute truth claims has not.

The result has been pseudo-pragmatism: We believe in absolute truth claims but we are afraid or ashamed to act like it.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will discuss how accommodation-paradigm churches can grow toward greater maturity in this area. In the meantime, I welcome any and all absolute truth-claims made in reply to my post!

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