Pragmatism is the only philosophical system unique to America. This system was a hand and glove fit with the rugged individualism that was the hallmark of the American spirit through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Even today conservatives, and even many Christians, elevate rugged individualism to the status of one of God's commandments.
Some of the tenets of the doctrine of rugged individualism comply with Biblical principles. C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not distinguishing between right and wrong, discernment is distinguishing between right and almost right.” This is the great weakness of the American Christian today. He gets it right on big issues, like abortion and homosexuality, but when it comes down to the right and almost right, most of the time American Christians have bought into the almost right.
As a reaction against entitlement and government intervention many conservatives have bought into a radical rugged individualism. There are two major problems associated with this philosophy. First, it denies the concept of community that is taught throughout scripture, and is summarized in the second great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” When the implications of the second great commandment is taught in a conservative church it often evokes a bristling in the soul of the “self sufficient” Christian.
It is true that there is opportunity in America for everyone, but sometimes your neighbor has been knocked down by the system. Capitalism, even though superior to any other system of economics, does not create utopia. Scripture teaches that families and churches are to help the poor, the widow and the orphan. It may be that some of these people would like to make capitalism work, but they just need a leg up to get past destitution in order to make it work.
Certainly, many in this country have been deceived into thinking that they cannot take care of themselves, and to demonstrate love to them would be to teach and encourage them to work to take care of their family. Being part of a community is not always simple. It takes wisdom to discern how to rightly help your neighbor. If the rugged individualist will take his focus off himself he will find the wisdom to deal with his neighbors.
The second problem with the philosophy of rugged individualism is in a lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God. Contrary to the axiom that it's all about me is the truth that it is all about God. The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism reads; “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A correct understanding of God's sovereignty informs you that any success that you have achieved is only by the grace of God. The rugged Individualist needs to beware that He who gives can also take away.
The Biblical alternative to rugged individualism is Christian self government. Are you fed up with government intervention into your business? Rule your life by the Law, the Word of God. The founding father Robert Winthrop stated it succinctly, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”