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God by any other name


According to an article on the Christianity Today website a storm is brewing again over the use of Yahweh as God’s name. The Vatican is asking for the divine name to be removed from all liturgy. Some Protestants have also been following this line for a while. According to the article that’s why we sometimes find ourselves singing “Guide me O thou great redeemer

This of course isn’t a new debate. Jews for centuries have avoided pronouncing the personal name of God, apparently out of respect.My understanding is that the Masorete scribes added the vowel marks to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament (Hebrew was traditionally written without vowels). When they did this they added the vowels of the Hebrew word Adonai (Lord) as a reminder to readers that they should not pronounce the divine name but substitute the word Adonai instead. This apparently lead to the pronounciation Jehovah familiar to us from the King James Version and some hymns.

Neither is this the only debateĀ  about what we should call God. There is a long running controversy about the use of Allah by Christians writing in languages such as Arabic. See this helpful article by Mark Naylor for helpful thoughts on that one. Some would question the appropriateness of our English word God since the word is originally the name of a pre-Christian pagan deity.

Personally I believe that since God has revealed his personal name, he intends us to know it, and I find no biblical injunction against saying it. If I pronounce it, then I certainly intend no disrespect in doing so and I don’t believe that anyone who does pronounce it is showing a lack of respect by doing so.

What do you think? Any comments appreciated.

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