Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Relevant” as 1) having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand, b) affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion (c ) having social relevance.
However, when used in evangelicalism, it carries the polemical definition of the following:
Inherent coolness*; being trendy and likable to popular (and often, pagan) culture.
*Coolness is defined as, ” aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style which is generally admired.” This is a fitting synonym for the way “relevant” is often used in evangelical culture.
An evangelical church will advertise itself as “relevant,” not implying that they are relevant to the Scripture, but that they are relevant (likable) to the culture, meaning that they do not have the trappings of religion that is out of style among pagans.
Most of the time, the claim of being “relevant” is accompanied by modern stylistic or aesthetic appeal, rather than a reference to the Scripture’s applicability to the modern world.
Big Box Megachurch puts up a billboard of their skinny jeans pastor preaching from a Hollywood movie clip while sitting on a stool with a laser show in the background, and it includes the caveat written over the photo, “Relevant.”
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