Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Should we pronounce the Sacred Name?

posted by xscot mcknight

In a recent news item in Christianity Today we learn that the Vatican has decided to remove the word “Yahweh” from public pronunciation and liturgy and song. A professor from Reformed Western Theological Seminary in Hope MI agrees. Here are my thoughts:
First, as Protestants we affirm and follow the Scripture first principle. The Bible reveals the name “Yahweh” (YHWH) as the Name of God: Exodus 3:13-15.
Second, the Bible never prohibits pronunciation of God’s Name. It warns strongly of using the Name of God in vain (Exod 20). The point needs emphasis: the Bible does not ever say “do not pronounce this Name.”
Third, there developed a “hedge around the 2d commandment” in Judaism: if you never say “Yahweh,” you never use the Name in vain. Which is, of course, quite true. But, which was also taught, the Bible also clearly connects “in vain” with more than pronunciation: how one lives either brings honor to God’s Name or dishonor to God’s Name. I respect not pronouncing the divine Name; I do not consider it a biblical teaching. Another way: The interpretation of the 2d commandment in this way nonetheless remains an interpretation.
Fourth, in the presence of observant Jews who are offended by public pronunciation of God’s Name, Christians will do well to avoid using that Name. In writings for an audience that might include Jews, I recommend writing “YHWH,” something I myself have not done consistently in my career, though since about 2000 I think I have.
Fifth, in the public worship of God in Christ, in the company of Christians, Christians should have no scruples or hesitations in using the Name that God reveals and nowhere prohibits pronouncing. I do not think rabbinic scruples about the Sacred Name should change how Christians speak of God when they are in the presence of one another or when they are addressing God personally.
Sixth, but consider this: Why is the sacred Name never used in the New Testament? Does that indicate that the early Christians simply shared the custom of not using the sacred Name? Does the absence of the sacred Name constitute a teaching not to use the sacred Name?



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Richard Scheenstra

posted September 17, 2008 at 4:38 am


My take: under the New Covenant, the name God wants to be known as is Jesus. “The Father” is no more a name than “the Son.” Even the words “Holy Spirit” imply function more than name. Jesus claims to be “I Am” (see especially in the gospel of John), that many suggest is the basic meaning of the name Yahweh. I wonder if, in that early Christian hymn the apostle Paul quotes in Philippians 2, we have implicit if not explicit suggestion that the name “Jesus” has replaced “Yahweh:” “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” I think that this direction raises interesting questions about the “humility” of the Father before the Son, or, in the context of Philippians 2, one could even speak of the kenosis of the Father as well as of Jesus Christ.



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Michelle Van Loon

posted September 17, 2008 at 5:36 am


I’ve always cringed when I’ve heard the Name used casually among Christians, most specifically in a few worship songs. (On the other hand, I’ve rarely heard YHWH from the pulpit, except in the context of explaining a specific OT event.) I am a Jewish believer, and I am very, very uncomfortable hearing this form of address of God. It is worth noting that there are a lot of us Jewish believers worshipping in evangelical churches these days, and I’d imagine a pretty fair number of us might feel the same way. For that matter, I have a feeling there are quite a few Gentile Christians who agree.



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Michelle Van Loon

posted September 17, 2008 at 5:38 am


Last line of that post should read “For that matter, I have a feeling there are quite a few Gentile Christians who share this discomfort.”



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Matt Dabbs

posted September 17, 2008 at 6:00 am


I guess in 6 you are suggesting they would transliterate it into Greek or do you think they would just put it in as Hebrew? I wonder if they would consider a transliteration to still be the divine name?



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Rick B.

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:00 am


One slight correction, it’s *Western Theological Seminary.
Also, what do you think about the practice in LXX mss to use the Paleo-Hebrew script for the sacred name, or also the practice of using the nomina sacra in the NT?



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Richie "Rich" Merritt

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:11 am


I sent this to a couple friends of mine, and here is a comeback that I thought was interesting and I tend to agree with. Thoughts?
“The author does not comment here about Jesus calling God “Abba” “Papa”
Jesus obviously didn’t have any problem offending observant Jews.
BTW it’s what he told us to call God.
So Yahweh shouldn’t be either.
Let’s not stop being the church :-)”
IHL,
Richie



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Daniel

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:15 am


A very thought provoking post to be sure! And a topic that I really haven’t spent much…if any…time thinking about. My first impressions are that I’d agree all the way down the line with your thoughts. And now I’m going to have to look into the questions you ask in #6. There definitely was a shift in the New Testament, because God had come to earth to dwell among us!



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Scot McKnight

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:17 am


Rick B,
It reflects the theology/praxis/custom of copyists, and it would indicate that Christians treated words for God (not just the sacred Name YHWH) with fundamental respect and awe. I’m not convinced that these textual matters indicate they did not “pronounce” these words.
Richie,
I meant to say something both about Abba and Phil 2:5-11 in my last point; yes, YHWH may well have given way to Abba as the Name of God. To be sure, Jesus did not have trouble offending, but he didn’t offend them about the sacred Name to our knowledge.



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Stephen Barkley

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:31 am


This is a thought-provoking post!
Here’s my two cents: Why would you reveal your name to someone if you never wanted that person to use it?
We’re still awaiting our authentic names (the ones given on the white stones). We have, however, been given YHWH’s — what a treasure we ignore for the sake of tradition.
That said, I fully understand not needlessly offending our Jewish kin.



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Miguel Mesa

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:36 am


Perhaps my view is an oversimplification but I think the incarnation of God renders the “unutterable” posture obsolete. God did come and dwell with us, sup with us and touch our infirmities. The Kingdom of God being ‘near’ and the immanence/proximity of the incarnation strike me as the most profound argument for all of creation to draw near to God in Christ and utter his name.
I believe we do need to be contextually considerate to all of our neighbors and their convictions/dispositions of tradition but I too think that if Jesus is God and God is YHWH and we confess him to be Lord of all and he is our brother and King it would be right for us to live in this reality by calling him by his name as He is and acknowledg His many names.
The Word is in our heart and on our lips.



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Daniel

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:48 am


Miguel (#10)”but I too think that if Jesus is God and God is YHWH and we confess him to be Lord…”
That’s enough to offend many. :-) May that be the reason we offend and not our own foolishness.
Great comment.



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Mark Begemann

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:48 am


Another vote for “Jesus” replacing (maybe that’s not the best word) “Yahweh”, though it doesn’t appear to me that Philippians 2 is a proof-text for or explicitly speaking of this.



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Kyle

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:09 am


Hey Scot,
Obviously Yahweh is an Anglicized transliteration. So your comment about it not being in the NT made me wonder about early Christian literature, and I can’t find a similar Hellenized form of the tetragrammaton in BDAG…was there one? If the common temple/synagogue practice was to read Adonai instead of YHWH, do we have something similar with Kurios or some other term in the NT?



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Bob Smallman

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:48 am


I have always felt a certain discomfort with using the name, “Yahweh,” in my preaching since our Jewish forbearers respectfully substituted, “Lord.” (Unless I am explaining the Name while preaching on a passage that contains it.) And, of course, “Jehovah” is just plain wrong! But this is simply a personal “scruple” of mine, and I would never insist that someone else has to follow it.



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Tyler

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:53 am


An argument based on silence is never a very strong one.



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Derek Leman

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:57 am


Scot:
Good overview. Of course in Messianic Judaism, we follow rabbinic custom and do not pronounce the name.
I think the fact that the New Testament uses kurios instead of the sacred name suggests respect for Jewish tradition. It may be that until Messiah comes it would be a good idea for all of God’s people to follow the New Testament’s example.
Derek Leman



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Kyle Fox

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:59 am


Here are two thoughts that I have had on the issue:
1. I am not so sure the divine name isn’t mention in the NT. I have wondered in the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” is the new form of it, especially since James uses this form both times that he mentions the name.
2. I have found that when I use Yahweh in my preaching and in discussions with non-christians, it is actually helpful because (and I wish there was a better way to say it) it more narrowly defines who “god” is. There are so many different ideas that come up in people’s minds when you say “god.” But when you say “Yahweh” or “Yahveh,” that strikes a different chord in people.



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Derek Leman

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:05 am


Richie (#6):
You said Jesus didn’t have a problem offending observant Jews. I’m sure you meant that respectfully :-)
I would nuance what you said. Jesus didn’t mind offending anyone when there was a good reason. The sacred name issue must not have presented such a reason. Note that Matthew uses the euphemism Kingdom of Heaven.
Derek Leman



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Rick in Texas

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:09 am


Here’s a funny. At a youth retreat our youth leader had the kids write the sacred name on the back of their hands with a sharpie – as best as they could represent it – as a reminder that they are the posession of God. (Several college aged students from our church have this tattooed on their hands). One mom I know was upset because her daughter came home wanting to get it tattooed permanently on her hand. Her father finally agreed to let her get a temporary henna tattoo, much to the Mom’s irritation. but when the young lady took a picture of the sacred name to the tattoo shop, the artist refused and even threw her out! Wouldn’t you know she walked into the only shop in Austin where the artist had been raised as an observant Jew!



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Richie "Rich" Merritt

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:31 am


Rick#19 – Now that is funny! :-)
Derek#18 – I didn’t say it, but knowing my friend, he said it with respect and respectfully yes. He is a worship pastor who has and will sing the song “Signature Divine” in which the chorus bellows out the word “Yahweh”.
So.., anyway.., I am torn on this issue personally. Is a word Sacred? I mean is it like some folks getting offended if you say “Poop” from the pulpit? Whom do we revere the word or the person of God whom I deem as Sacred and Holy and to be revered? I understand the historical and contextual nuances, but if it is incorrect to deem a “word” as “sacred” – would it not be prudent to explain that for the sake of our Jewish bretheren?
This kind of reminds me of my asking a former Catholic Church about the use of their facility which they are vacating. She said, well that could be costly? Why I asked? Well.., all of the sacred items would have to be removed per the Vatican rules? I asked what the sacred items might be, and they covered the alter, the statues, the wall hangings, and even the stained glass windows? Being a former Catholic – I just scratched my head, smiled, and said – ok? My point being – what is sacred to one may or may not be sacred to another even if it is wrong to deem that item, word, etc…. as “sacred” and “holy”. Am I making sense?



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MatthewS

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:32 am


I agree with the sentiments of this post, including respect for orthodox Jews in their presence, yet not making such a rule for Christians.
In general, I am opposed to making “hedge rules” for others to follow. While the immediate issue is much different, the background concept seems the same as making the rule “never drink” just to make sure one never abuses alcohol.
Respectful use: because of grace, I enter the throne room boldly. He knows my name; I know his. He calls me friend. It seems better to use his name with respect and love than to never use it all. Not a ditch I would die in, just my present personal belief.
I am surprised at how many believers use God’s name in vain as an expression of surprise. Frankly, I suppose it would be better to never utter the name than to abuse it so.
Also, is there really any different between using the name of Jesus and using the name of YHWH? (I think this is part of Richard’s point in #1 as well)



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Jon

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:41 am


Of course, there is always the aspect of what the sacred name means. By describing himself as YHWH, God is claiming a name above all names. He (unlike us) cannot be contained in a name. There is no description big enough to describe God, and so the name YHWH is not necessarily a name in the same sense we understand it to be. How much idolatry has been caused by God allowing himself a name for our sake? By allowing himself to be addressed, God made himself personal for us, and allowed us the ability of trying to box God into a name. In that sense, I do not think there is anything wrong with choosing to pronounce or choosing not to pronounce God’s name.



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B-W

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:41 am


Worth noting: Many English-speaking Jewish believers don’t limit the prohibition to using the Divine name to “Yahweh,” but also avoid the English word “God.” (I’m sure most of us have seen the form “G-d” or something similar in print.) This would argue that translations (and probably transliterations, to respond to post #4) are also considered under this prohibition.
Make of that what you will….



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ChrisB

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:42 am


While I think the Jews over did it about the name, even if it was warranted, what does the ripping of the veil say about the separation of God and His people under the new covenant vs the old?
But I’m on the side that says God’s name is now Father or Jesus.
Does the NT’s not using the Name (using “kurios” in place of YHWH) simply reflect the cultural norm the Jewish writers grew up with? I’d say so.
What about Jews today? They’re going to be offended by much more than that. We think God became a man!
What about Jewish believers? Do we avoid cheeseburgers for their sake? It’s time they accept that the Rabbinic rules don’t apply to us.



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Jon

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:49 am


B-W, is that by any chance a prohibition of using your name? I just noticed your post and name, and the irony made me smile. Good insight



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Jon

posted September 17, 2008 at 9:51 am


#24, Chris B, You suggest that jewish christians should just accept that we aren’t under rabbinic rules. How does that relate to Paul’s discussion of eating meat sacrificed to idols in his letter to the Corinthians?



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ChrisB

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:24 am


B-W, good point.
Jon, you’re going to have to be more specific.



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Jon

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:36 am


Chris B, hope this helps clarify
I am wondering if maybe the discussion of pronouncing the holy name of God or eating cheeseburgers in the presence of Jewish Christians might be similar to the gentiles who ate food sacrificed to idols in the Corinthian church. Paul seems to indicate that if it will cause our brother to stumble, we should submit in simple matters like these. If this is the case, then I believe that when in the presence of those who would be offended, put off, or otherwise stumble, we should submit and refrain from those practices. While they might be having difficulty experiencing the freedom Christ gives us from the law, we ought to be willing to lay down our freedom for their sake from time to time. What do you think?



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Derek Leman

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:50 am


Chris B (#24):
Messianic Jews who understand Acts 15 would not ask you to forego a cheeseburger or even a bacon cheeseburger. If you have met Hebraic roots groups who made you feel guilty for eating a cheeseburger, I am indeed sorry, but this is not the prevailing view of Messianic Judaism. I have no doubt you and I would interpret Acts 15 very similarly (only I believe Jews remain Jews while some Christians would dispute that).
Derek Leman



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MatthewS

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:52 am


Jon, good point. If the truth of the Incarnation offends, then gently tell the truth and let it offend. If pronouncing God’s name offends, then show respect. It is a needless offense.
This is what I see Paul modeling at Mars Hill. He could leave thinkers, Epicurean and Stoic, not to mention Jewish, interested in more conversation. He was willing to engage them on their own terms as much as possible (think of the “unknown god” as well as the synagogue visits). It shows humility and respect, even love, for the other.



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Wonders for Oyarsa

posted September 17, 2008 at 11:29 am


I think the bigger issue here isn’t whether we should respect Jewish (and longstanding Christian) tradition – which is certainly not a small issue. The bigger issue is that of speaking of God rightly. When we talk of YHWH as “God’s name” and try to reintroduce it into our worship, it seems to me that there are warning signs that our picture of the gospel is disjointed. On the subject of the name of God, Paul writes:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The name of Jesus is the name above all. God spoke through the prophets in the former times, and was called YHWH in the burning bush, but the Son is the exact representation of his being. Thus part of the danger in disregarding these traditions is that we prove ourselves numb to some of the reasons behind them. Christians spoke of God using the names “Father” and “Jesus” because that is how Jesus himself taught us, and then viewed the Old Testament through the lens of what Christ had accomplished and revealed.
To try to resurrect this early OT way of speaking of God seems to me an exercise in reading the Bible without the larger significance and context of the story that it tells and our place in it.



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Keith Schooley

posted September 17, 2008 at 11:49 am


All excellent points, Scot. We should note that the OT scriptural use of the divine name places it on the lips of Abraham (e.g., Gen 14:22), Moses (e.g., Ex 10:3), David (e.g., 1 Sam 20:8), and many other heroes of the faith. There is no prohibition and not even any sense of hesitation in the verbal, scriptural use of the divine name. Choosing not to pronounce the divine name is evidently a development in postbiblical Judaism. It is not biblical; it is not even a tendency within the biblical narrative.
That having been said, its absence in the New Testament is interesting. My guess would be that God revealed Himself by that name to the Hebrew people because of its resonance with “I am” in Hebrew. When transliterated into another language, it loses that resonance, and thereby its point. The NT practice of using “lord” in place of the divine name, as was the cultural practice during first-century Judaism, is both an accommodation to this fact, and also prepares for the resonance of Jesus also being called, “Lord.” There is no real point to bringing Yahweh out of Hebrew and using it in English (or any other modern language) as though it were either a magic word or some more spiritual or familiar means of addressing God.
But I think the most fruitful point on which to focus is tucked into the middle of your third point. We tend to take the second commandment as a prohibition against profanity, or specifically misusing a name or reference to God verbally. But Israel was a name given to Jacob by God and applied to all his descendants, and we as Christians bear the name of Christ. Wouldn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” refer much more significantly to us taking His name for ourselves (identifying with the people of God) but not living in a manner consistent with taking that name? I think that this is a much, much larger issue than whether we verbalize “Yahweh” or not.



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Bob Smallman

posted September 17, 2008 at 12:16 pm


Thomas Cahill has brief excursus on this issue on pages 108-110 of “The Gifts of the Jews.” His (admittedly somewhat quirky) conclusion:
“But for me, when I attempt to say the consonants without resort to vowels, I find myself just breathing in, then out, with emphasis, in which case God becomes the breath of life. This God of the fathers now manifested as YHWH in the bush that burns but is not consumed, is more awesome than in any of his previous manifestations — not only because of the fireworks, but because of the symbolic nature of this epiphany, which suggests that this God, as dangerous, tempering, and purifying as fire, can burn in us without consuming.”



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Bob Brague

posted September 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm


I don’t know about the “quirky” part, but I heard years and years ago — in a sermon in our church by a Jewish believer who was a missionary to South Florida Jews — the same thing Bob Smallman is saying in #32, that YHWH was a breathing in and a breathing out, indicating an existence, if you will, not “I was” or “I will” be but eternally “I am.” This YHWH put his name into Abram (AbraHam) and Sarai (SaraH) as well. “The God Who is there” if you will.



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Bob Brague

posted September 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm


correction: “I will be”



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Mary Rodriguez

posted September 17, 2008 at 3:03 pm


Let me say, I am not a Biblical Scholar and do not claim to be. I do, however, seek to know the LORD my God who is portrayed in the Bible.
I appreciate everyone?s points so far; thank you all for sharing.
The Name that God gave to Moses to say to the children of Israel in Exodus 3:14-15 is a special Name given specifically to the people of Israel, setting them apart and claiming them as His people (Exodus 3:7) and even claiming them as His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22). This people is a sanctified people, and this Name ? the Holy name. This is The Name God is to be remembered and experienced by for all the generations, forever.
This Name is given out of a time of Deliverance by the Powerful God who is Mighty to save, who cares for His people, who will bring them to the Land, who will shine His face upon them if they follow Him. This Name is Sacred and above all Names for God, the God of Israel. Never to be treated lightly/taken in vain (whether by style of living or verbally ? for the mouth is the outpouring of the heart).
Question: Is this Name just for Israel? It appears so from the text; Jesus never claims this Name for His followers. And that is also my guess as to why The Name is not mentioned in the New Testament.
The audience of the Gospels: whether Jew or Gentile ? they did not need to have The Name written. I believe the writers would not want to offend righteous Jews by writing such a Holy Name that only the Scribes were allowed to write, in utmost reverence to the Holy God. The writers of the Gospels and Hebrews (definitely written to Jews) seem to be learned men, but would probably not have been trained scribes to write The Name. A Jewish reader, believer or not, would possibly be offended.
If written to a Gentile audience (like the epistles of Paul), there is no point to use this Holy Name. Keith (#32), I like your point that outside of the context of Hebrew, The Name does not the same resonance/language, so the understanding is completely different and even lost.
I believe that Paul did not use The Name, because his Gentile audience would not only not have the language for appreciating/understanding the Name, but also would not have the history necessary for truly being able to remember and experience The Name as the people of Israel do. Kurios is used instead. (One: Greek, Two: Gentiles did not need nor understand the special Name of the Lord for His people Israel.)



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Wonders for Oyarsa

posted September 17, 2008 at 3:49 pm


It just occurred to me that “the name” is used (in a sense) in a very prominent place in ancient Christian iconography. The three Greek letters in Jesus’ halo are “O W N”, or “He Who Is”. What was in the later part of the OT a secret name has been revealed with a human face, and thus the name of Jesus is the name above all names. The problem with trying to refer to God the Father as “Yahweh” in our worship is that we risk not letting this insight permeate our actions – that it is Christ himself who is “I AM”, and that him who the ancients worshiped by that name we know as Jesus.



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B-W

posted September 17, 2008 at 4:27 pm


Jon in #25,
B-W, is that by any chance a prohibition of using your name? I just noticed your post and name, and the irony made me smile. Good insight
LOL! I hadn’t thought about that. B-W is just shorthand for “Baker-Wright,” my last name. I should post more with my full name “Mark Baker-Wright,” but the habit of using B-W is hard to break.



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Aaron C. Rathburn

posted September 17, 2008 at 4:54 pm


Scot, it’s interesting that you point this out.
Actually, I literally do the exact opposite. Whenever I am reading the text, whenever it says, “And the LORD said…”, I always mentally say/read “And Yahweh said…,” just to familiarize myself more with the true text itself.
I have often mused that if I ever chaired a committee on Bible translation, I would translate “the LORD” properly as just “Yahweh,” and perhaps even “Christ” as “Messiah.”
-ACR



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AUDREY O'HANLON

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:14 pm


IN EX. CHAPTER 3.. MOSES ASKED GOD TO TELL HIM WHO IS SENDIG HIM AND WHAT IS YOUR NAME? GOD TGOLD HIM THAT EHYEH ASHER EHYEH WAS HIS NAME, HOWEVER HETOLD HIM THT HE WAS TO BE CALLED EHYEH AS A PERPETUAL MEMORIAL UNTO ALL GENERATIONS. NEVER DID HE SAY THAT ABOUT THE SO CALLED NAME OF TETRAGAMMON (YAHVEH OR YAHWEH). IT SEEMS NONE OF THOSE PROPONENTS OF THAT CONFUSION HAS BEEN ABLE TO HONESTLY COME UP WHICH ONE IS CORRECT. I HOWEVER HAVE COME TO THINK THAT THIS IDEA WAS DONE ON PURPOSE TO CAUSE HIS PEOPLE T FORGET HIS NAME. LOOKS LIKE THEY DIDN’T THINK HOW TO MESS UP THE NAME GOD GAVE MOSES AT THE BURNING BUSH. I AM A CHRISTIAN TRINARIAN AND PRAY IN JESUS NAME. MY NAME IS AUDREY O’HANLON. THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME HAVE MY SAY.



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GregF

posted September 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm


It might be useful to refer to the actual document to understand what, specifically, the Holy Father is directing the Church to do (and why).
Letter to the Bishops’ Conferences on “The Name of God”
http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/NameOfGod.pdf



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Daniel S

posted September 17, 2008 at 8:49 pm


My thoughts are that it doesn?t so much matter what names we use for God, but rather how we use those names. Is God?s name hallowed in our hearts and on our lips? Does our utterance of God?s holy name (even the word God, Jesus, Christ) come through a heart bowed in reverence to our Creator? Or does our utterance sound like we?re talking to our buddy or colleague. When we use the names of God are we deeply aware that He holds all life in His hands, He is everywhere present, has all power, and has all knowledge? He sees everything, no one is at any time hidden from his presence; He is the creator and author of life. He deserves much more than our loose handling of His name as though He is just someone we know. I believe that our utterance of His name should be through lips that are aware of our unworthiness to even know His name.



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Grant

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:02 pm


Like a lot of things in life we have freedom, but we are not to abuse that freedom for fear of offending our weaker brothers. I have no problems using the name Yahweh or YHWH. I agree with the comment posted near the top #10 – surely if Jesus was God and put on flesh and dwelt among us, called us his friends, brothers etc. If we are now Gods children and Jesus told us to pray “Our Father” (even if the Jesus seminar didn’t think he really said that) then we should have no problems addressing God personally. The miracle and wonder of the intimate communion we have with God should mean we always act in a way that communicates our deep love and respect for the Lord.



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Mike Mangold

posted September 17, 2008 at 10:25 pm


This really is a fun post watching Trinitarians (“3 G-ds in 1″) backpedal on the oneness of G-d! Boy, if I had a nickel for every pat answer in this blog I could buy lunch for 3 at Panera.
In John 20:28, “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” (apekriqh Qwmav kai eipen autw, O kuriov mou kai o qeov mou). So, not being an academic theologian can anyone else answer this: why does Thomas differentiate between “Lord” and “God” and why don’t Trinitarians? Because Trinitarians are smarter or more clever than an apostle? How did Jesus’ Lordship morph into his Godship?
Oh, and as for Acts 15: our family does not eat pig or shellfish. This isn’t a legalistic or even a hedge issue: we figure that God’s good advice is good forever. Remember, the pig didn’t change his physiology on the cross.
Besides never feeding people unclean food, I think Jesus’ main occupation should have been in landscaping: he was the biggest hedge-trimmer of all time. Why? So ALL could approach Father G-d without jumping through hoops. Or should I say, Yahweh, Yahweh, Yahweh!



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danny

posted September 18, 2008 at 10:19 am


Interestingly, my brother’s church insists that you must call God “Yahweh” rather than any other name, so they’re going in the exact opposite direction as the Vatican on this one.



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Carl

posted September 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm


For something totally different related to the divine name, check out the song YHWH by Apologetix. It’s a parody of the Village People’s YMCA. Here is a YouTube video (not done by the group, but worth a laugh). If for no other reason, it’s worth listening to any song that manages to work the word tetragrammaton into the lyrics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNWEqrduEZE#
I realize that this is a serious conversation. I was given an assignment to do a study on the divine name (YHWH) in seminary. It was a very profitable exercise. I see no reason not to use and pronounce,although I don’t so often because many people give me a blank look when I say Yahweh. Some interesting thoughts above on the relation to the name of Jesus, but ISTM that YHWH refers to God the Father, not the Son. (contra the LDS thinking).



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mariam

posted September 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm


I don’t use YHWH or Jehovah in either prayer or worship for several reasons, none of which, I confess, are particularly biblical.
1. YHWH was the name God gave to the Israelites. It was partly because the Israelites lived in a culture of many Gods and they needed a name to differentiate this God from others. I feel like I am appropriating something that belongs to another culture, and doing it in a “bull in a China shop” sort of way. As my Jewish friends say: “Why can’t you get your own God?” The Jewish understanding of God is one person, not three. The Christian understanding of God is three persons. Plus He Is (They Are?) God. There are no other Gods for us to differentiate from. He Is. Jesus told us specifically how to address God in prayer: Our Father. Not being a literalist or anything, but if it was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me.
2. I do not know how YHWH is supposed to be pronounced. It is foreign and does not feel natural to me. It feels like an affectation (OK, that’s just personal) I have never learned Hebrew. I know how to pronounce Father and Lord however. I imagine God cringing when I say YHWH or Jehovah and “Oy vey, I should have never told them my name. Listen to how they massacre it.”
3. It feels disrespectful. Even though I know my father was Robert and I might tell others that that was his name, I never called him Bob. Call me old-fashioned.
4. I would be a little cautious about the “taking God’s name in vain” rule, if we actually take that seriously. Although often this is often interpreted as using God’s name as an expletive (although I haven’t often hear anyone utter “Oh Yahweh d*** it!” lately) it seems to me there are a lot of possibilities for misusing the Holy Name. What about praying to Yahweh for a victory in war, or on the soccer field? What about calling your children Yahweh, or your cat, even if you mean it reverently? What about singing praises to Yahweh, when our lives are a hypocritical mess? Seems to me safer to leave it on our hearts, rather than our lips.



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Anonymous

posted September 18, 2008 at 9:53 pm


The Tetragrammaton : Subversive Influence

[...] Scot McKnight noted the other day that according to an article in Christianity Today, the Vatican has decided to remove the word Yahweh from liturgy — or at least its pronunciation. “In recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel’s proper name,” said a June letter from the Vatican. “As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: Adonai, which means ‘Lord.’” In August, U.S. bishops were directed to remove Yahweh from songs and prayers. [...]



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GregF

posted September 19, 2008 at 7:08 am


RE “…in the public worship of God in Christ… Christians should have no scruples or hesitations in using the Name that God reveals and nowhere prohibits pronouncing…”
What if it’s not about what we CAN do, but what we SHOULD do? Isn’t it everybody’s desire to worship as the Apostles did? If so, and if there are indications in the Bible and in tradition that YHWH was not used in a liturgical setting, should we not respect the prohibition against pronouncing YHWH?
Perhaps if we spent some time ruminating on what the liturgy is all about and why we should NOT do something as *seemingly* harmless as saying YHWH then the awe of God would return to us. (Or, maybe it is not harmless, maybe He is not a tame lion.)
Letter to the Bishops? Conferences on ?The Name of God?
http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/NameOfGod.pdf
Liturgiam authenticam
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20010507_liturgiam-authenticam_en.html
SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM
http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html



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Anonymous

posted September 19, 2008 at 10:52 am


The Name of God: Revere or Reclaim? « Theology & Culture

[...] He asks: “Should we pronounce the Sacred Name?“ [...]



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Aminidav ben Avraham

posted September 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm


I would just like to point out the obvious….Yeshua never used the sacred name. His practise was to use traditional cicumlocutions or evasive substitute names such as ‘Heaven’ Power or more commonly just My father. This trradition had been in place for over 3 centuries prior to Yeshua’s ministry. Even when he read from Isaiah (Luke 4) he could not have used the name, since the text indicates that the people were speaking well of him which would not have been the case if he had used the YHVH. Also of interest is the quotation of Isaiah 61 from the Septuigint(Greek) translation. This translation uses ‘Kurios’ in place of YHVH



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Jihan

posted November 17, 2012 at 5:36 am


Many women (and, sadly, most men) may wonder why a man is rndiaeg and participating in this new blog. “Manly” men would never give a second glance to a “women’s” blog. My answer to this sentiment is short and simple: Hogwash!As a male Christ-follower, I completely subscribe to the Scriptural Truth that men and women are equally commanded, and equally equipped, to proclaim the Gospel to a hurting world. Further, I submit that women are uniquely qualified to minister to women, just as men are so equipped to serve each other in certain areas. There are women’s issues, emotions and circumstances that I cannot hope to comprehend or understand. This statement doesn’t preclude my having or desiring empathy with my sisters in Christ; it just admits that I have no shared experience from which to relate.As Gabrielle says and I agrree, too often the male of the species pictures himself as the master and his “woman” as his servant. Again I say hogwash! My prayer is that all men will someday soon stop beating our chests and start heeding our hearts.Indeed, Genesis tells us that we’re ALL created in God’s image. I recall no Scriptural reference to a second set of standards for this measurement. May God bless us all.



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