gcrobmd wrote:"No one ever says, “Gee, I wished I
hadn’t obeyed this or that commandment!”Among the two
thirds of "inactive" people on the Church's rosters, I hear a
version of this all the time. Perhaps you need to get out more.
Living a sufficiently long time to experience enough personal and witnessed
history, I have seen in very pragmatic ways how living the commandments is
living after the manner of happiness. No one ever says, “Gee, I wished I
hadn’t obeyed this or that commandment!” Rather, we usually wish we
had followed the teachings of the scriptures and prophets. As Jesus said, by
their fruits you shall know them. Yes, gospel principles at times
seem contrary to pragmatism, but that’s because we can’t see
sufficiently far ahead. That’s where present and past seers and prophets
help guide us when we are young (and old). The gospel of Christ teaches us to
be healthy, to honor parents, to cherish life, to get educated, to be useful to
society, to love spouse and children and care and nurture and provide for them,
and to contribute positively to community, nation, and the world. The word of
God (correct principles) teaches people to govern themselves responsibly. I
think it is in the character of God to confirm our sacred whisperings of the
Spirit by the fruits of happiness they produce.
Very interesting approach to use pragmatism, even citing the philosophers who
invented it, as a bulwark for religion - best to avoid Peirce in this effort
though… he would not approve.But for the guy who is said to
have invented Pragmatism as a defense of religion, James is your man. His
Varieties of Religious Experience especially is a masterpiece and can make even
the most staunch agnostic (may be a stretch to include atheists here)
sympathetic to the cause.That said, James’ theory of truth
– to paraphrase, “if it works for you and does not contravene known
facts” – and James himself would likely support any religion or
belief system where the effects of those beliefs or practices produced real
(beneficial) results for the member/practitioner.I doubt this notion
is truth would ultimately satisfy many religious believers who often belief they
possess the Truth (with a capital T).
RE: timpClimberAn excellent base on which to build a conversation. True,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. Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what
"works" and what doesn't. We know from Scripture, for example, that
the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22, 23;
2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite
effective (Matt. 24:23, 24; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4). Majority reaction is no test of
validity (cf. Matt. 7:13, 14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf.
Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed.
This is no surprise. Think of the social problems that would be greatly reduced
if not eliminated if we would love our neighbor as ourselves; if people
didn't covet, lie or steal; if people lived chaste lives and respected
human life? This way of life is the opposite of the appeal of the natural man.
Mormons and other real Christians are mocked and ridiculed by natural men as
being impractical when they encourage a high behavioral standard.
Interesting. I'm not sure if they consider themselves among the
'social elites' or 'intellectual snobs', but it appears that
some of these items, especially 4, 5 and 6 (Caring little, violence, and
selfishness) are also heartily encouraged by todays' modern conservative.
And while these behaviours listed are, or can be, destructive and therefore
should be avoided by practical, pragmatic people, pragmatism and practicality
are by no means exclusive to christian gospels. In fact, a practical evaluation
of the gospels can simply leave you wondering, trying to wade through vague
language, contradictions and just plain weird dailogues, wondering how this all
is given by so many to be irrefutable 'truth'. In the end, recognising
and avoiding destructive behaviours is part of our innate sense of morality;
we're born with it otherwise we wouldn't be here as a species. The
only thing different now is we're better at mitigating consequences of bad
behaviour. Plenty of religious people, and leaders, are among those that know
how to do this.
An excellent base on which to build a conversation about values, especially
teens. Thanks for writing such a useful article.