I was just bumming around my house this morning doing laundry and trying to get my basement bedroom in order after a week of mostly ignoring it. I pulled up some podcasts to catch up on as I folded and hung clothes and puzzled over the seemingly universal ability of the dryer to eat half of my socks. Seriously, where have all these socks gone? Do they disintegrate into the lint trap? Is there a trap door in the bottom of my dryer that the laundry monster comes out of and snatches only the mates to the socks I really love? Why doesn’t he eat the socks that already have holes in them?
But I digress … as I gave up trying to solve the mystery of my missing socks I listened to @PirateChristian’s latest podcast which was called: “Words have specific meanings.” As a professional writer you might imagine how appealing such a headline would be to me. In the podcast, Chris tackles what he called the “crazy words” of Dr. Cynthia James, who spoke at Potters House church in Dallas, Texas. (listen here) It was like mad libs preaching. Words and bible phrases all strung together in ways that conveyed nothing. Sad of course, but I’ll admit I found myself laughing. Sometimes when faced with laughing or crying, you have to choose laughing.
The fact is that words do have meaning and when we speak or write we should remain faithful to those meanings in order that we may convey truth. Passion is no substitute for meaning. Dr. James is very passionate in that audio clip, but the without accurate meaning the result is nonsense. And I know nonsense! I live in D.C., the flim-flam capital of the U.S. (if not the world). Some people here trade words without meaning like it is a form of currency.
In the example of Dr. James, I think it easier to realize that words require meaning than in other cases, such as postmodern thought. Postmodernism denies absolute truth and, in practice, rebels against rules of definition. At least in my experience, postmodern writers also frequently abuse literary devices like metaphor and allegory. The result is confusion. And since we know from 1 Corinthians chapter 14 that God is not the author of confusion, this is a problem.
Nothing frustrates me more than trying to read something by an emergent author or a postmodern. Their refusal to admit that words have specific meanings (or perhaps willingness to ignore them) is a nightmare to my logical/analytical mind. Trying to read a page of a Rob Bell book or even the title of a Brian McLaren book makes me want to gouge out my eyes (Hyperbole? Yeah, maybe a little). Yet, both are wildly popular authors!!!
Others have roundly exposed Bell and McLaren for their unbiblical teachings so I won’t broach that here right now (although I can point people towards more information if anyone needs/wants it). In the meantime, I have a room that still needs cleaning and may need to go buy more socks.