We Want To Erect No Barriers To Christ – The Failure of Pragmatic Theology

Seldom have I witnessed a more succinct and poignantly phrased reason obscuring a hairpin turn down a disturbing path. Across the table sat an articulate, successful, and insightful executive of a Christian-based organization. Methodically, he outlined this ministry where in the name of Jesus the needy were blessed with a cup of cold water and a whole lot more. The best way to describe what I heard was love in action.
Seeking to appeal to the highest of values he confidently unfurled the banner, “we do not want to raise any barriers against accessing Christ,” as he described a broad and ecumenically pleasing message endearing itself to popular support. The message and practices feeding those being blessed in Jesus’ name had more in common with culturally conditioned palates than the actual biblical message. Common false assumptions about faith and grace, which I’ve written about elsewhere, were stamped all over his message.
Shock instantaneously launched a momentary brain freeze feeling like an eternity which was succeeded by an ensuing flood of overwhelming thoughts and questions.
1) His reasoning obfuscates the situation. Certainly we must not erect any barriers to Christ, but what paths does Christ recognize as leading to him? His statement assumes that humanity, not Christ, is the judge.
2) Beautiful actions of love are promoting a ministry whose message is headed in the wrong direction. On-target ministry is selling bad theology.
3) This spiel sounds so appealing. How will sincere and genuine hearts longing to serve Christ respond when faced with this type of reasoning appealing to the wonderful ideal of not creating barriers to Christ?
4) This is just one more example how the hierarchy of priorities determines the paths an individual or entity will pursue. Unlike Jesus, who demonstrated he valued truth more than a large following, a subsequent discussion revealed this ministry’s motives were in the reverse order.
My thoughts drift back to a large crowd whose full stomachs led them to follow Jesus to the other side of the lake. Jesus had them! His ministry was a success! Sunday’s headlines were sure to read, “Pragmatic Theology Triumphs Under God’s Blessing: Thousands Follow Christ!”
But with hard words Jesus challenged them with the truth about himself.
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60,66).
How much do we really look like Jesus? Jesus valued faithfulness to God more than a large following.
At the heart of things, it is all about priorities. What do our hearts value most? The bottom line? The security of being a part of a large crowd? Growth rate? Size? Loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind erupting into submissive obedience?

5 thoughts on “We Want To Erect No Barriers To Christ – The Failure of Pragmatic Theology

  1. Barry,
    You hit the nail on the head! Thanks for expressing so well what many have thought for a long time.
    In His Great Love,

  2. Barry, do you remember the Blisses from Randolph, NJ? We were in Tabernacle, NJ for 10 years and now we are down in Mt. Dora, FL. Are you and Sophia still at Central in San Jose? Hope all is well with your ministry and family.

  3. Hi Bob!
    Of course we remember you. Nice to connect with you again. I trust you are well.
    After eleven years in San Jose, we moved seven months ago to San Antonio. By God’s grace we are doing well.

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