I’m better at asking questions than I am answering them. Today’s poll at Christianity Today asks us to decide whether the church is doing its job when it’s (a) culturally relevant or (b) culturally dissonant. My answer is, “Yes.”
We are called to be culturally relevant enough that people in the world can get some idea what we’re saying. We’re called to be culturally dissonant enough that people in the world can get the idea that we’re not just an echo chamber for what everyone else is saying.
Unlike Islam, Christianity is committed to translation. We believe the bible can be translated into every language, and that the reality of the gospel can be incarnated in every culture.
I like the way Michael Slaughter put it years ago (I paraphrase): “We want to speak clearly enough so people can understand enough so they can know when to be offended.” we’re not called to go sit in our little spiritual fortresses and do our own little spiritual things. We’re not called to go out there and dance to the world’s tune. We’re called to represent Jesus in a world of lost, broken and hurting people. Some will rejoice in what we do and find life. Some will be scandalized and seek to restrain us. Some will find us boring and ignore us. Some will be curious and want to know more.
So which is it: relevant or dissonant? Yes – though with both qualities defined in terms of the gospel.