Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As part of the theology course I'm doing, we have an online forum for students to discuss. Its a lot like a blog really, except its only for students studying that particular class.
One of the questions for us to discuss on the forum really caught my attention and made me think, so I thought I'd post it on here too, for the sake of discussion.

Here's the question:
"When, if ever, should pragmatism take precedence over obedience to fundamental principles? (The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer struggled with this dilemma when he joined the group planning to assassinate Hitler)"

What do you think?

I put my answer from the forum below in a comment, if you're interested.
I'm interested to know what you think though.

Megprobálom magyarra fordítani a kérdést:
"Mikor, ha egyáltalán, van elsőbbsége a pragmatizmusnak az alapvető alapelveknek való engedelmességnél?"

Mit szóltok hozzá?


  1. I think that pragmatism sometimes should take precedence over obedience to fundamental principles, but only in extreme cases. I think
    that Jesus teaches this when, being accused of breaking the Sabbath by letting his disciples pick heads of grain and eat them while passing
    through a field, He says – “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I think the overlying teaching here is that the fundamental principles are intended to be a blessing to us, and there are times – extreme cases – when pragmatism can take precedence.
    There are some good examples of this in the Bible – like when Jesus healed a sick man on the Sabbath (He could have just as easily healed
    them man the next day…) and then asks the Pharisees: “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Luke 14:5
    Another example is Rahab, who lied in order to protect the spies in Jericho, but her lie is portrayed as an act of faith in Hebrews 11.
    Another example is when David and his men went into the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which only the priests were allowed to
    eat. (Mark 2:25-26)
    In the words of President Palmer on the TV show “24” : “Sometimes you have to do something bad to do something good…”
    The obvious question would then be: "What constitutes an 'extreme case'?"
    I think the key is in our attitude and motive, meaning that these “extreme cases” should never be an excuse for us to ignore the fundamental principles (i.e. licentiousness, or using grace as an excuse to sin), and these so-called “extreme cases” should never become normative.

  2. Gyorgyi4:25 PM

    welcome to christian philosophy and such :) sorry i do not want to be sarcastic about this, but i had been part of such discussions before and ususally they were very long, exciting and lively conversations but not leading anywhere really :)you just can not predict how someone will respond to certain situation. in other words if you asked me would I lie or hurt someone to save someone else's life? I would say yes, no doubt about. But would I really do it? only God knows...

  3. Hey Györgyi,
    Good point. Here's a good verse for you:
    Of making many books there is no end, and v much study is a weariness of the flesh.
    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
    Ecclesiastes 12:12-13
    I enjoy theorizing on this stuff though. Better than theorizing on Gray's Anatomy...

  4. :) Cool verse. One of my favorites. and I totally agree on the Gray's Anatomy part. Everything is better than theorizing on Gray's Anatomy lol I seriously hope you will get lots of blessings through your studies.