Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter has announced his determination to jump to the Democratic party. The reason? He is up for election this year and is quite sure he cannot defeat the Republican primary contender, Pat Toomey. By becoming a Democrat, he doesn't have to worry about that. He has the President's assurance that he'll back him and campaign for him, and, as Senator Specter himself admitted, his continuing in the Senate is more important to him than party principles. This is pragmatism, pure and simple - do what you have to do to get what you want and the principles to the dogs. Mr. Specter will be roundly criticized in the days to come - especially since his action is precisely contrary to what he himself recommended a few years ago, and what he asserted just a few days ago - and plenty of Christians will wring their hands in dismay at this bald display of pragmatic ethics. But we should proceed with caution; after all, hardly anyone is more pragmatic in personal matters than Christians. We profess to believe one thing, but in many ways we live like everyone else. We don't think about the large issues of the day; we feel free to live our lives as we please with little more than a tip of the hat to anything like a consistent Biblical ethic; and we continue trying to "do church" and "be Christians" on terms and in ways that have little or no explicit Biblical or historical grounding. Why? Because it's what gets us what we want from our faith - whatever that may be. The specter of pragmatism has been around for a long time, and it's Christians who are dressed up like spooks.
T. M. Moore