?

Log in

Fri, Jul. 16th, 2004, 04:30 pm
merrywandering:

Let's see. There still aren't many members here yet, so let me post a topic!

It seems like liberal Christians in particular are very fond of using the name "Yahweh." Certainly it was the rage when I was in seminary, and I find very many books that use it. (I read one book recently that refused to; I think it was Bruggeman.)

I don't understand why people insist on using the Name. It is supposed to be sacred. The Bible forbids people from using it, and the Name is translated LORD God in every translation. Many Jews don't even use the word "God." They say "G-d."

So why would liberal Christians be so big on saying Yahweh? Especially since Yahweh is no more accurate than the medieval Jehovah. YHWH would be more accurate, but I still don't see the benefit of using it. We know that names are a way of having power over something, so the modern fad of using the Name looks to me like an attempt to gain power over God.

The Harry Potter books give an excellent illustration of this. Everyone calls the bad guy "He Who Must Not Be Named." But only certain of the good guys: Dumbledore, Lupin, Harry himself, insist on using Voldemort's real name because they believe they shouldn't ascribe so much fear and power to him. In essence, the wizarding community has made a false idol out of Voldemort, and for Dumbledore et al, it becomes an important act of "unmasking the power" for them to use Voldemort's name.

Going back to Christianity, then -- what is behind the insistence in using "Yahweh"? It seems to me the height of arrogance, maybe even idolatry -- idolizing our own power by insisting on using the Name. Who do we think we are to use God's name? God isn't a false idol. God is real, therefore we should show respect by not using the Name.

(You see how I have such an incredibly conservative streak in me?) I'm interested to know what others think. Do any of you choose to use the Name, and if so, why? I've never seen anyone give a theological defense for using the Name. If anything, that disturbs me even more. I mean, if you're going to use the Name, then I think you should have a reason for doing so. Otherwise, you really are taking the Lord's name in vain.

Fri, Jan. 28th, 2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
logodaedaly

I think Brueggemann is not so much saying politicians shouldn't invoke God as that when they do, they invoke a God who cannot actually say anything new or even old and cutting. The God talked about at the prayer breakfasts and the inaugural does not say anything about unreasonable interest rates charged to the poorest Americans or the ways our corporate culture makes us view our brothers and sisters as capital rather than other individuals.

I'm not sure what I think of the solutions he advances, but I feel like the descriptive parts of The Prophetic Imagination are pretty spot on. My real problem with the theology is he suggests that consciously religious prophets are the only sources of hope in a society like ours. That was true with men like Martin Luthern King, Jr., a generation ago, but I think the gay rights movement and other more-or-less secular movements are proving him wrong. Those movements are proving willing and able to speak truth to power even without a consciously religious outlook.