Name of God
I thought my participation in a group hike up the McKenzie River one September Saturday was a good illustration of my Christian walk, especially to share with Christians who like to be "one of the guys," but I need to preface it by saying, don't laugh. That probably won't do any good, not after we've heard sermons on joy. I title my story:
Everybody Else Crosses by the Bridge.
You know, that reminds me of Christians, always wanting to do things together, and that is fine. But think of it, how was I going to accomplish my business there in the outhouse if I told the leader to stop the group to mill around and wait until I am done? I'd just be too self conscious. Similarly I feel that sometimes in the journey of a Christian walk a man feels the need to get away and do something with a woman which he can't accomplish with a whole group looking on. I've had arguments with other Christians who are opposed to any kind of dating except going to church activities together. My response is that learning to relate to the opposite sex requires "going out" or as Genesis puts it, leaving father and mother to cleave to the woman. One has to go through this whole process to learn a new dynamic of an eventual family unit which cannot be properly done doing the churchy things together exclusively. I think Christians need to cut each other some slack for this, just as the hiking group should have made allowance for a stop at the outhouse.
That's just one of my pet peeves with Christians in general, not about any particular church.
So I was back on the trail, skipping and cavorting, and having a jolly good time capering about. Just as the sermon on joy said. But I was in the awesome presence of nature all the same, just as the Christian life is done with an awesome God. Both God and nature deserve our respect nonetheless. At points on the trail there were bridges over the ravines. These bridges were nothing but a big log shaved on top with a handrail on one side but open on the other. And the log we walked on was covered with ice.
I think that there are places on the trail of our happy Christian walk when we should hold the name of God in reverence, and the Bible is like that rail to lean on, giving us stability. In the car on the way back one girl commented about her horror at a four foot gap in the rail on one of those bridges where she had to inch her way in the open. Man! When I got to the single log bridges, I just sauntered along in my sure grip snow boots with my hands in my pockets. I wasn't going to grab any cold rail.
Maybe you or I can respect YAHWEH in Exodus 6 or Isaiah 12 without the Bible specifying it, but some Christians might appreciate there not be that gap in modern translation.
In my dance class one Sunday night we were practicing a move called "fall off the log" where we kind of throw up an arm and fall back as if we'd slipped off a log. As much fun as that was, I wouldn't want to do that crossing on a real log above a chasm. I think it's fine that we can use the general name God in our day to day conversation, but where in the Bible it calls for the more respected name YAHWEH, I don't think we should be importing that day to day conversation into sacred text.
To be sure, the Septuagint which the apostles quoted uses just o, but if Greek doesn't have JEHOVAH which the English does, then we could hardly use that word in Greek, while in English we have no excuse not to.
I refer you to (Malachi 1:6) "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where if my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?"
Well, how do we honor every minority and special group?
"Calm down, honey," Bob says. "To you he's an African American. Five years ago he was black, before that a Negro, before that colored. How am I supposed to keep up? To me he's a nigger. His own friends call him nigger. What's the difference?
Why do we use terms of lower respect for God's name: "The Lord" (NIV) when we have higher respect terms for God's name: "JEHOVAH" (KJV)? Moreover, why does my church then call a service using the NIV traditional? If we are so careful not to disrespect minorities by using lesser terms, where then is our respect for God who deserves it more than anyone?
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Copyright © 2004, Earl S. Gosnell III
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper—with credit given, of course—in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.
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Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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