Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Brief Thought

Many Christians believe that we can and should make the Word of God culturally relevant. However, due to its very nature, Christianity is countercultural to all cultures in all ages, and is also already highly relevant to the same. To act as if we can "make the Word relevant" is to falsely assume it has no living power, and further, it is to arrogantly claim that mere human beings have power over it. Instead, Christians must remain humbly but steadfastly faithful to the Word, and in doing so, speak the timeless and culturally transcendent truth in love to others(Ephesians 4:15).


Abu Daoud said...

Regarding being relevant you might enjoy this:

Damian M. Romano said...

Sarah, well said. I think you make a great point at the perspective our modern (church) culture has on the power of the Gospel, or lack thereof.

Kevin Winters said...

Language and meaning always emerge from a culture with its own particular values, goals, and background understanding. Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self has extensively documented, for example, how our view of the Good, which has changed in various important ways, particularly with the Reformation, how we view human nature. Surely a similar account can be given of language and to divorce language from the realm of human living and striving is to make it meaningless, not "universal." Thus to find relavence is not to try to find some universal meaning, but rather to enact the moment of grace in our lives, to develop a living relationship with God (only secondarily on his word, as the latter without the former is practically useless) through Christ. While this doesn't completely destroy the need for propositions (something most so-called 'postmodern' primary thinkers would argue), it certainly places the proposition in a secondary role, with the relationship between human and divine being primary.

Kevin Winters said...

Sorry...a correction:

"Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self has extensively documented, for example, how our view of the Good...alters how we view human nature."

Jon said...

I do agree that we as the church need to be true to God's Word first, but there is something to be said for making our presentation of the faith culturally relevant. For instance, denying the reality of Hell would be wrong, but bluntly telling a nonbeliever that he or she is going to Hell probably will not lead to a conversion (granted, it depends on the situation).

Stan McCullars said...

You're 23 years old?!

I was referred to your blog by Christians in Context: from orthodoxy to orthopraxy.

I think MDiv students the world over should have to memorize that paragraph. Churches might want to consider asking pastoral candidates to sign a pledge to uphold it.

Well written.

Sue Bohlin said...



(Just thought I'd offer a little culturally relevant balance to all the well-spoken, well-deserved compliments above. . .)

Thanks so much for putting a link to Probe on your blog! And thanks to you and your parents for letting me have a part in your wedding. You mother just dropped off your wedding invitations for me to address. What fun!

Enthusiastically in Jesus,


Sarah Scott said...


Thanks for the thoughts! However, what if the Gospel presentation was less about "cultural relevance" and more about relational grace? Paul, for example, shared the perpetual cultural relevance of the Gospel with nonbelievers while being culturally informed. I am convinced that he was not seeking a culturally relevant way of transmitting the information. Further, one does not necessarily eschew the doctrine of Hell when they are wary of opening conversations with this reality. I agree, it does not tend to help the discussion! I believe that in the Gospel presentation, we should not strive for "cultural relevance", but rather, for gracious and loving truth.


Yes, I'm 23; just finished my undergrad. Many thanks for the words of encouragement!


Thanks for visiting the blog and posting! I'm so glad you are able to do our invitations. I wish you and your calligraphy hand well. :)


Daniel said...

I'm reminded of the term coined by Os Guinness: sola cultura, to describe some Christians dangerous infactuation for imitating culture.

Mrs. Gunning said...

Wow, I love all your posts about "cultural relevance" in the church today. My jaw is dropped to the floor.
I am writing a series on Cultural Relevance for my blog, Dancing Among Infinite Love, Yahweh's, right now (in the works) and trying to figure out where this little "Christianese" slogan came about to begin with... seems to have just slipped right in without us catching it.
I really enjoy your posts about cultural relevance, I will keep digging around for more goodies.

God's blessings to you,
Mrs. Gunning

Mrs. Gunning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Scott said...

Thank you for your kind words, Mrs. Gunning.

I agree- the cultural relevance phenomenon seems to have snuck up on us but it certainly hit hard!