Friday, June 30, 2006

Duncan, Mohler, and "Relevance"

Relevancy is one of the most difficult matters that Christians face in our time, and thankfully Dr. J. Ligon Duncan has recently posted an entry on this topic on the Together for the Gospel blog. I commend this post to you: "Relevance, Customer Needs, and Faithfulness."

For those of you, such as myself, who like succinct overviews of various Christian topics, this is a great post to check out! Unless it's the issue of infant baptist, I find Dr. Duncan's material to be helpful, and he has spoken here at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in previous years.

Also, it seems that Dr. Mohler has weighed in on the issue as well (The Cutting Edge Has No Edge), and he basically argues that the churches that strive for relevance end up becoming some of the least relevant churches. His first paragraph summarizes the thought of Richard John Neuhaus, and I agree with them both on this matter:
Looking back farther than I would like to remember, I recall as a seminary student reading an article by Richard John Neuhaus (back when he was still a Lutheran) on the issue of relevance in ministry. In essence, Neuhaus argued that the churches most determined to be relative at all costs were destined to be the churches which were actually least relevant of all. Making an idol of relevance is a form of self delusion. Authentic relevance is represented by the transforming Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the faithful witness of the church throughout time.
I think he's on to something here! If we strive for relevance, we'll never hit the mark, because "relevancy" is always in the very immediate present. Once a church arrives at what it considers "relevant," it is already outdated. Instead--as Mohler and Neuhaus have reminded us--our relevance should come from the fact that we have a relevant message, the gospel, and it is as relevant for the 21-st internet porn addict as it was for the 1st-century temple prostitutes at Corinth. Since the 1st-century writers were inspired to pen the words of God, very little has changed...we've simply hidden our sins and sought to sophisticate them. Unfortunately, it's as futile as dressing a corpse. The sin and death is only buried beneath a facade of fatal beauty.

Let us carry the message of the gospel in stark contrast to the "gospel" of this world. May we strive for the relevant message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a message that is relevant to the God who inspired it!

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