Tradition or Pragmatism

Studies from the 1940’s and 50’s showed that integration of Major League Baseball increased attendance as well as the quality of play.  The fear of the day was that opening up the majors to non-whites would decrease attendance.  However, there were some owners who resisted integration, even though it cost them on the field and at the box office.  Some, undoubtedly, were racist and wanted no part of black or Latino people.  Others, however, were (By there own testimony) admittedly addicted to tradition.  “We’ve always done it this way” was the weak claim that came from the lips of those old time executives.  That refrain is a common theme in many businesses of yesterday and today, several of whom are failing.

Of course, many racist owners embraced the arrival of black and Latino players because of the money.  They still hated non-whites, but were happy to use them to advance thier goals.  Pragmatists to the core, these folks are alos omnipresent in Western capitalism and government.

America tends to be drawn to the opposite poles of pragmatism vs. tradition. Either “We’ve always done it this way” or “Whatever works” are the twin siren calls of our age.  Sometimes, it is hard to hear the quiet voice encouraging believe to avoid these two idols for the idea of “What would God have us do in this situation?” 

As we get ready for the elder’s meeting tonight, these thoughts struck me.  SBC chose to move to a biblical model of eldership, not because it was faddish or traditional, but because the Scriptures lay out God’s design for church governance.  I am so glad that we made this choice, but I wonder if there are other areas of our church life (not to mention my own life) that need this kind of examination.  Please continue to pray for the staff and elders, that we may not here these sobering words of our Savior: 

Mark 7:9  And (Jesus) said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

KS