In a sane world Bon Jovi and Green Day would never be considered classic rock. But our culture jettisoned any pretense of sanity some time ago so now I must endure the aforementioned along with Bush, Poison, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers whenever I tune in to our classic rock station. The apocalypse is surely upon us.
But as one obscure pastor has said: Don’t waste your sorrows. Even the heart-breaking heterodoxy of 105.5 will prove redemptive as it further convinces me of an unalterable truth: definitions matter.
Now certainly some definitions are more important than others. Stretching the boundaries of classic rock so that Nirvana makes the playlist is delusional but in the long run it’s of little consequence. [even so, I’m considering a petition to the FCC]
Still, if a radio station’s misnomer can ruin your ride home (Pearl Jam?!?) it’s worth considering that a greater ruin hangs in the balance when the terms of our faith become too elastic.
On this point a passage from Chesterton is particularly poignant:
Last and most important, it is exactly this which explains what is so inexplicable to all the modern critics of the history of Christianity. I mean the monstrous wars about small points of theology, the earthquakes of emotion about a gesture or a word.
. . . if some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness. A sentence phrased wrong about the nature of symbolism would have broken all the best statues in Europe.
. . . A slip in the definitions might stop all the dances; might wither all the Christmas trees or break all the Easter eggs. Doctrines had to be defined with strict limits, even in order that man might enjoy general human liberties. The Church had to be careful, if only that the world might be careless. [Orthodoxy]
Mind those definitions.