David Mills has written an interesting piece on the use of “relevant” language in preaching. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:
The attempt to replace the biblical language almost inevitably results in the loss of some and perhaps much of the biblical meaning. Not always, but very often. By using words the world commonly uses, a preacher conveys only ideas the world understands already, without his help. Or, worse but likely, he unconsciously promotes its errors…
“Relevant, contemporary” preaching will have proved that the Church is contemporary and relevant. I do not doubt that it will do some good: a man in church on Sunday morning is a man not brooding on his boss’s bad habits or passively letting into his mind whatever the television offers him or lusting after the nearly naked girls in the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated.
What it probably has not done is prove to him that Christianity is true, and changed his heart and expanded his understanding. It has probably not brought him to the paradigm-shifting encounter with the reality of God. One prays that the hearers of such sermons have discerned the gospel despite the misleading language, but our Lord noted that many would think themselves friends of his who were not.