Growth Points 30: Liberty, Pragmatism, and the Next Generation

April 22, 2013 by Paul Chappell

There is no doubt that God’s grace is amazing and that His liberty to believers is abundant.

But what happens when we mix the truth of liberty with the spirit of pragmatism?


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We live in a pragmatic age. Our culture’s default mentality is “If it works, it must be right” or “if I like it, I should be allowed to do it.” In many cases, we’ve carried that logic into local church ministry and then defended it by claiming Christian liberty.

I thank God for Christian liberty. I want to give that liberty to others, and I want to receive it from them. But I also want to be discerning enough to consider how my liberty will affect the generations following me.

A spirit of pragmatism mixed with an extreme position on liberty is like oil and fire—not only does it create a combustion, but it easily gets out of hand, running faster and further than we can control. When pastors and Christian leaders mix pragmatism with liberty, they move toward philosophies that—extrapolated out over the next decade or so—will lead to the next generation attending churches with very little semblance of doctrinal integrity or good, biblical traditions.

So what do we do with Christian liberty? We use it with the warning given us in Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

We use liberty to serve one another. And serving the next generation includes avoiding a spirit of pragmatism, trying the spirits to see whether they be of God, and asking God for His wisdom.

When it comes to ministry, we don’t need to chase every new method that comes down the pike. God’s Word is enough—it will do the job if we will get back to a focus on sharing it and rightly dividing it.

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