Truth and Pragmatism

If you ask any American why the Civil War was fought, you would get a variety of answers. It would be interesting to compare a survey of Northern and Southern states. Some may mention the issue of slavery, many would not.

I recently read a Kindle Single entitled Why They Fought: The Real Reason for the Civil War by David Von Drehle. The author sets out to prove that the Civil War was fought because of slavery. To be sure, there were other reasons that brother took up arms against brother and fought the bloodiest battle in American history Only a fool would suggest that the issue of slavery was on the mind of every soldier as they marched on the battle field. However, the author meticulously proves that slavery was the issue that started the violence which resulted in war.

Christianity can learn something about how this fact was lost, covered up, and forgotten.

After the war was over, Americans were faced with that “radical idea laid bare by the conflict: that all people really are created equal.” The war was over but the fight for equality had just begun. “White society was far from ready to deal with the humanity and needs of freed slaves.”

Truth lost its constituency. To talk honestly about slavery meant talking about equality, and look where that had led.

Leading thinkers in the postwar North recoiled against the idealism of the previous generation of intellectuals. In its place they fostered a philosophy of pragmatism, in which ideals are judged not for themselves but by the results they produce.

The result of this pragmatic skepticism, however, was that “the issue of race got left on the table,” says Stauffer. “People were realizing that the costs of freedom were profound.”

This is the danger when truths are replaced with pragmatism; truth gets swept under the rug for a new ideal, philosophy, or method that produces greater results with less effort.

Choosing Truth over pragmatism may not always garner immediate, observable results. Choosing Truth over pragmatism may not fill the Church’s coffers and line the Pastor’s pockets. Choosing Truth over pragmatism often means hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears. But please remember:

Truth always has and always will work!

It is my prayer that my generation will remember the Truths of the Word of God fought for by those who went before us. Let us not lay them aside for something which ‘works’ (according to man). Truth is marching on and I intend to march with it!

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