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The Sacred Name Controversy

The name of God is absolutely important. BUT, what is being referenced to when referencing the name of God? Is it that we must say the correct pronunciation, the utterance of the correct sound, or the correct transliteration? The sacred name movement makes the claim that we can only be saved by uttering the correct sound of the correct Hebrew name. This movement is somewhat divided by what the correct name is. Most claim the name Yahweh, others claim some other form such as Yah, or Yahuwah, or even Jehovah, etc. Their argument seems to have some good points on the surface, but we will see that this is a false doctrine that needs to be properly understood in its proper perspective. The ramifications of being apart of this belief is troubling. Many of these people are very sincere and are highly knowledgeable of the scriptures, but their attention has been diverted away from the true message of the scriptures and has been replaced by a false gospel. They claim that the central message of scripture is the honoring and restoration of this sacred name. But don't misunderstand, I personally believe that God's personal name is Yahweh. I don't believe that there is anything wrong with honoring this name and using it regularly. I believe the tradition of the Jews to never use the sacred name is a perfect example of man made legalistic tradition. I encourage the use of God's personal name Yahweh. But the danger is when the sacred name movement replaces the gospel message of scripture with this belief. And mankind has a way of swinging in the opposite extreme as well which would be refusing to use the personal name of God out of pure rejection of the sacred name teaching. We should feel free to call on the name of God by his personal name and titles as God moves us to do so. We shouldn't be pressured into the use of one name based on false doctrine and we shouldn't refuse any name of God either. Both sides of this argument need a voice of reason to a certain degree. But the bigger danger is on the side of the sacred name advocates.

“This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” Acts 18:13-15 (This dispute about words, names, and the Jew's own law was considered a trivial issue. It was the Jew's tradition not to mention the personal name of God. Jesus condemned the traditions of man and of the Pharisees. In other words, it is trivial to not only require people to never utter God's personal name, it is also trivial to require the exclusive use of God's personal name.)

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mark 15:34 (Why didn't Jesus use God's personal name? These Aramaic words are then interpreted into the Greek language. This shows that this was a direct quote from Jesus, and he did not use the Hebrew utterance of God's personal name.)

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as El-Shaddai, but by my name the YHWH I did not make myself fully known to them. Ex. 6:3 (So if the sacred name people are correct that we must utter the sacred name to be saved, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not saved because they never new God by that name, but instead by El-Shaddai.)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matt. 7:21 (It's not about uttering the correct sound of God's personal name. It's not even about calling out to God. It's about doing the Father's will.)

The Meaning Of Names

Names in the Bible have meanings. It's not so much about the sound, but the meaning. For example. God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, Jacob's name to Israel, and Lucifer's name to Satan. All of these examples of name changes were to reveal a different meaning about who they were. God has many names throughout the scriptures such as El, Elohim, El Shaddai, El Elyon, Elyon, El Elohey, El Olam, Elahh, Melekh, Shafat, Palet, Qadosh, Adonay, Abba, Pater, Kurios, Hupsistos, Pantokrator, Theos, and of course the tetragrammaton YHWH. All of these names reveal a certain meaning and attribute about who God is. Sacred name advocates object that these are all titles and not names except for YHWH. That's not entirely true, but even if it were true it doesn't change the fact that God was called all of these things and that it is not wrong to call on him by these other names. The same is true for Jesus. He has many names and titles throughout scripture as well that he is called by that had various meanings. 

The Greek New Testament

The sacred name advocates can only be correct if the entire new testament was originally written in Hebrews. Only the books of Matthew and Hebrews have this possibility, but all the other new testament books were originally inspired in the Greek language. To believe in an entirely Hebrew new testament is to open up a huge can of worms that would do drastic damage and destruction to the reliability of the scriptures that have been past down to us. That would suggest that we don't obtain any of the original manuscripts and that the manuscripts we do have have been corrupted and are no longer reliable. So now who is willing to walk down that road? It takes you down a dangerous path now doesn't it. 

Imagine the editing job that such a task would require. Every manuscript from all over the globe would have to be gathered up and uniformly altered or destroyed. The fact is that the names of God in the new testament were inspired to be translated into the Greek language, which gives permission down to us today to do the same.

Name Means Reputation

And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 2 Sam. 7:23 (For God to make a name for himself is for him to make a reputation for himself, or to reveal his attributes among the nations.)

You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day. Jer. 32:20 (Again, God's name is referencing his reputation.)

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:3 (Here the word "name" is talking about the reputation of God by the righteousness of his people)

And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of YHWH(the LORD) thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, Joshua 9:8-9 (God's name is again referring to his reputation.)

Names Reveal Personal Attributes

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Acts 4:7 (Here the name of God is associated with the power of God. So the name of God also has to do with his attributes.)

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Heb. 1:4 (Here his name is referencing his position of authority by inheritance.)

YHWH(The LORD) shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of YHWH(the LORD) thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of YHWH(the LORD); and they shall be afraid of thee. Deut. 28:9-10 (To be called by the name of Yahweh means to follow his commandments, his ways, and his attributes.)

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2 (Here his name is referencing his holiness.)

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high. Psalm 7:17 (Here his name is referencing his righteousness.)

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Psalm 9:10 (To know thy name is to trust and seek God.)

And he(YHWH) said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. Ezek. 43:7 (God's name was defiled, not by a wrongful utterance, but by the actions of whoredom among his people.)

So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. Psalm 102:15 (To fear the name of God is to fear the authority of God, not a particular Hebrew utterance.)

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. Micah 4:5 (How do you walk in a Hebrew utterance? Obviously you walk in the name of God by following his ways, his attributes, and in obedience to his commands.)

How Do We Honor Or Defile God's Name?

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:3 (Loving God or glorifying his name is an act of obedience, not an utterance of a particular Hebrew sound.)

They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your NameThey said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Psalm 74:7-10 (Did the enemy defile God's name by wrongful utterance, or by their actions of destroying his dwelling place? Obviously it was by their actions. And God's name does not dwell in a place, but his being does. So his name is in reference to his being and who he is.)

The 3rd Commandment

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Ex. 20:7 (The word "vain" means to bring to nothing. We are not to bring God's name to nothing. Is this talking about if we utter his personal name correctly with the right sound? Is is talking about the context in which we use it like saying "gosh" or "geez?" Or is this talking about how we as his people should live our lives in a way that honors and glorifies his name, or his reputation, rather than bring it to nothingness by living hypocritical lives and following commandments of men rather than living by his word? As God's people we must obey his commands and represent him well as ambassadors for Christ. If we claim to be of his flock, yet life an ungodly life, than we bring his name, or reputation, to nothingness, thus breaking the 3rd commandment. Could it be that Jesus was referencing the 3rd commandment when he spoke to the scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 15?)

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? Matt. 15:1-3 (What commandment were they transgressing? Could it be that they were presenting traditions of man as that of God's commandments and thus misrepresenting God's way?)

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Matt. 15:6 (Could this be the equivalent to taking God's name in vain?) 

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matt. 15:9 (Their worship was in vain due to their transgression of the commandment by adding their own man made traditions.)

With All Of That Said...

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. Ex. 3:13-15

So with all that has been said so far in refuting the teachings of the sacred name movement, God does have a personal Hebrew name that we as Christians have no reason to shy away from using. I personally agree with most sacred name teachers that the name of the tetragramaton YHWH is Yahweh. If you feel strongly that it is something else, then by all means use that name instead. But you are in error to suggest that others must utter a particular Hebrew sound in order to be saved as I have demonstrated. And for those that are against the sacred name teachings, that is great, enjoy your freedom to call God by his many names or your preferred name. Just don't let the false teachings of others cause you to reject the use of God's true personal name of Yahweh. I personally like the name. Yahweh is God!