I read this quote somewhere:
'A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.'
While I don't necessarily agree to this (at least not in all the cases), I would probably agree to a slightly modified version of it:
A great many people think they are "proving" when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
Once my Mom told me, if you want you can prove that there isn't any God, using Bible verses. She is not a philosopher and I am pretty sure she heard it from someone else. But there is some truth in it.
Often times people go into the mode of 'proving' AFTER making up their mind. They confront others in an effort to make them buy their ideas while using Bible as a means. "Bible says so...", so I believe. A good example would be, today's churches using verses from the book of Malachi to establish the practice of tithing.
They search Scriptures after making up their minds. They find verses which support what they want to believe. It is like writing the story of the movie after fixing the actors.
This is exactly the mindset behind the religious pragmatism. They think truth is whatever works. If I get results it has to be good. Tithing works, it gives results, so it should be good. The next step is simple: find verses supporting it. "Law" works, it gives immediate results, so it should be good, then follow the simple step of finding the verses. Universalism sounds good, lets find verses supporting it!
To quote AW Tozer on this, he says it like this:
...Preoccupation with appearances and a corresponding neglect of the out-of-sight root of the true spiritual life are prophetic signs which go unheeded. Immediate "results" are all that matter, quick proofs of present success without a thought of next week or next year. Religious pragmatism is running wild among the orthodox. Truth is whatever works. If it gets results it is good. There is but one test for the religious leader: success. Everything is forgiven him except failure...
The sad part is, the results (success) achieved through these practices are merely external. It gratifies only feelings, emotions, insecurities, appearances and our superstitious fears. It isn't good for setting people free, instead it puts them into much bondage. It encourages people to fake.
Ask a Catholic, he would say he 'feel' good when he attend a Mass. So it should be good and spiritual. The thing is everything that feels good is not spiritual. Even, not all good things are spiritual. Everything that 'works' isn't spiritual either. Anything to be called as spiritual, it has to be based on some absolute, unmoving TRUTH. Such absolute truth is not of this world because this world and the people in it are not absolute and unmoving. What works today may not work tomorrow. Everything changes - culture, moral standards, ethics, climate, economy, technology, theology, religion and pretty much everything.
Churches have found a lot of things 'working' and made it into traditions - altar calls, tithing, pastoral authority, organizational structure, pew and pulpit system and all that.
God's grace is a contradiction to 'practical theology'. Grace isn't practical in human terms. It is the impracticality what makes it grace. If it was practical, why call it grace? This is where I have problem when people say God's grace enables them to obey the law. What an oxymoronic statement! You might feel good when you think you are obeying the law. But pls. don't mix grace with your stupidity. Grace is grace! You cannot comprehend it with your dumb mind. You can live in it if you have the mind of Christ.
Yes, it is a fact that our puny brain cannot understand God's grace. I think it is a good thing, because grace was never meant to be understood with our head. Grace is against everything our head want to believe. Our head is so very practical. Grace is totally contrary to any human logic.
It's a heart thing. It's a God thing.
And it comes to our heart through REVELATION. Our heart can accept an impractical/illogical thing only through revelation, not through education. So lets lean on God so that He will reveal this thing called grace, and once you have it, you can pretty much live the rest of your life in total amazement, with an overflowing heart of gratitude towards God. That is what Christian life is all about. It defiles human intelligence.