Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Idol of Relevancy

In a review of D.G. Hart's, John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist (P & R Publishing), which I read in the Westminster Theological Journal (Vol. 67, No.2), there is the following quote: "Christianity's primary influence needs to be evaluated not by the church's ability to influence society, but by its performance of sacred rites and recitation of holy words through which the body of Christ grows." Nevin, one of the Mercersburg theologians, believed the church to be principally a divine institution whereby grace is mediated. In our age, the idol of relevancy has diminished the idea of the church as an agent of grace through word and sacrament. The church today resembles a marketing agency, seeking to sell the gospel at any cost. The result is a dilution of the gospel until it becomes no gospel at all, but is rather a reflection of the society it seeks to transform. The church has never been "relevant." It has, when it has been true to itself, offensive to society, a scandal, and a nuisance.


Blogger Stan said...

Wow! Can you say that? Is it church-politically correct to suggest that relevancy is an idol??

I've sat under too many preachers who have been told to "make it relevant" rather than simply to teach it. In so doing, they have so often stripped it of meaning to make it "applicable" that I couldn't follow the actual intent. I have to agree with you wholeheartedly.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An important observation here: There seems to be an assumption that to be "relevant" is to be in agreement or compliance. Scott's comment that the true church has never been "relevant" reveals the lie behind the cultural assumption. Well said, Scott!

11:26 AM  

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