Progressives and Pragmatists April 28, 2021


The progressive Christianity of our day is nothing new. Those who have studied history will recognize it as a resurgence of theological liberalism. Solomon was right: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Lies, like bad styles, always come back around eventually.

Yes, there is a revival in progress – a revival of rationalism, and what William Booth called “religion without the Holy Ghost.” Wallace Henley in his recent book on the Welch revival wrote,

Some young evangelicals in a fury to be relevant, have also abandoned the gospel of the kingdom and embraced the message of the emergent culture. They have rightly adopted new styles of communication to get the gospel across, but they have made the mistake of allowing style to drive theology. This has produced the same outcome of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century rationalism; they have trimmed and coiffed sermonizing that has difficulty proclaiming, “Thus saith the Lord…”

And “progressive Christianity” is anything but progressive – it is corrosive and destructive. Sinful men want a god of their own making, not the Holy One of the Bible. The god of progressives is a construct of culture instead of a revelation of the Creator. Men have created a Christianity that is culturally acceptable and palatable to all people.

Like the citizens of ancient Athens many modern Christians spend their time in “either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). This world does not need another new thing. We need a fresh look at the eternal, unchanging truth of God.

The real issue is authority. If you want to know the true and living God then you must get acquainted with Him in Scripture. Today’s liberals suggest that the Scriptures are “a human response to God.” But the Lord teaches that the Scriptures are divine revelation to man. Truth is nonnegotiable.

Even those who would not consider themselves to be theological progressives all too often follow the same philosophical reasoning in their pragmatism. It is now popular to claim to hold a sound, orthodox doctrinal position but to employ worldly, fleshly methods in church ministry.

I fear that much change going on in churches at this time is driven by pragmatism and not theology. Ask yourself: Why are we changing? To appeal to unregenerate men? To be approved by carnal men? A religion that begins with man never leads to God.

No revival ever grew out of spiritual compromise. Man’s way is a cheap substitute for God’s way. To borrow a character from John Bunyan, “Mr. Worldly Wiseman” is not so wise when compared to divine wisdom.

Christ is coming, sin is advancing, and men are searching. This is no time for experimenting with progressivism or pragmatism – this is the time to rededicate ourselves to biblical principles.

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  1. Kyle Powell on April 29, 2021 at 10:59 AM

    Very True message! Young men, hold to the plow! Early in my personal ministry I was pressured that I should turn to progressivism and pragmatism in order to grow crowds and prosper in ministry. I thank God for men like Rev. Clarence Sexton and Rev. Scott Pauley whose influence God used to keep me from diving off the Gospel rock and into the devil’s sand.

    • scottpauley on May 3, 2021 at 4:51 PM

      God bless you as you press on!

  2. Dean Dwyer on April 30, 2021 at 8:36 PM

    Great reminder. Oh how you have blessed me with your insightful words brother. Will look forward to meeting you when we cross into the land eternal.

    • scottpauley on May 3, 2021 at 4:53 PM

      Amen. Thank you.

      • Fred Fies on June 19, 2021 at 4:11 PM


        • scottpauley on July 2, 2021 at 2:22 PM

          Thank you my friend.

  3. Prentiss Yeates on May 1, 2021 at 8:57 AM

    Incredible words of wisdom. Our historical fall will be centered on the process of deconstructing ; first the text the evangelical used, from majority text to critical , secondly from the hymnal to the wide screen popular music sing along and thirdly, from pastors reminding friends and family how much money they left on the table when they accepted the call to the church they serve now.

    • scottpauley on May 3, 2021 at 4:54 PM

      Appreciate you taking time to read the article.

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