Friday, September 12, 2008

Barring Yahweh | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Barring Yahweh | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction:
"Observant Jews have traditionally not used the name Yahweh, refusing to pronounce the so-called proper name of God out of respect, or to be sure they do not misuse it. Now neither will Roman Catholics, at least in their worship services.

'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.

Protestants should be following their lead, said Carol Bechtel, professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. 'It's always left me baffled and perplexed and embarrassed that we sprinkle our hymns with that name,' she said. 'Whether or not there are Jewish brothers and sisters in earshot, the most obvious reason to avoid using the proper and more personal name of God in the Old Testament is simply respect for God.' ..."
An interesting theological dilemma...

Do we go with the familiarity that goes along with knowing God in the flesh, or do we keep our distance?

I have to admit that I have never been comfortable using "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" in conversation or prayer. But I haven't gone so far as some who abbreviate God as "G-d". I tend to use "Lord" (which is how the NIV generally denotes the Hebrew consonants YHWH), and I tend to use "Jesus" instead of "Christ."

Why -- Jesus became one of us, and it somehow somehow seems right to call him by his given name rather than his title. I am conflicted about how to refer to the Lord, though. Jesus called him "Abba" or "Daddy", but it is hard to imagine being on a first-name basis with the Creator. I admit it isn't quite rational, but it is the way I feel.

In any case, the reasons given by Carol Bechtel regarding causing offense to our Jewish brothers and sisters is reason ehough to exercise a little sensitivity to others.


Stushie said...

I have never liked the disrepectful use of the Tetragrammaton. I think it breeds contempt of God. Whenever I had to write it in my Hebrew exams, I always used GOD as the alternative.

As for calling God 'Daddy' - I prefer to call Him Father.

You posted good sources for this discussion. Thanks.

Denis Hancock said...

Well, not being versed in Aramaic, I have to rely on what I've been told, and my understanding is that "Abba" is what a small child would call his or her father.

But I do agree that "Father" is an appropriate form of address, and that is perhaps second to "Lord" in how I address him.