Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Does God Care What He is Called?

This is the text describing the article as I went to email it to someone:

Dutch bishop: Call God 'Allah' to ease relations A Roman Catholic Bishop in
the Netherlands has proposed people of all faiths refer to God as Allah to
foster understanding, stoking an already heated debate on religious
tolerance in a country with one million Muslims.
To quote Bishop Tiny Muskens, ""Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem."

Does God care what we call him? He names himself "I AM". "YHWH" is the usual English translation. He calls himself the self-existent one. He is named "Adonai" (Lord), "Adonai YHWH" (Lord God), "Elohim" (a plural, often seen as evidence of a triune God from the story of creation on), "El" ' A Elyon(Most High God), "El Shaddai" (God Almighty), "El `Olam" (Everlasting God), "El Hai" (Living God), "El Ro'i" (God of Seeing, or the God who sees me), "El Elohe Israel" (God, the God of Israel), "El Gibbor" (God of Strength), "YHWH Jireh" (God who provides), YHWH Rapha (The Lord that Healeth). . God reveals himself through prophesy to Isaiah: "Wonderful", "Counselor" "Everlasting Father", the "Prince Of Peace".

When one makes such an effort to reveal himself through his name, which describes who he is, what he is you think we should idly decide to name him something other?

For instance: my name is Kim. "Kimberly" to government types and doctors who don't bother to read beyond my given name to my preferred name. I am known as "Mom" to my kids, "Aunt Kim" to my nieces and nephews, "Mrs. Bentz" to some very well-brought-up children of my acquaintance, "honey" to my husband, "Kristen's mom", "Craig's mom" or "Alex's mom" depending on who you might be talking to, "Kim Carlson" to those who knew me before I got married, or even "Norm Carlson's daughter" or "Kris's sister". I have been called "the writer", "the singer", "the herb lady" and even "the hat lady". These names and descriptions all fit me. The are who I am or describe who I am. You cannot just walk up to me and begin to call me "Sally Kirkland" because you wish me to be that. I will not respond. I will be offended that you do not use the name with which I introduce myself.

When you ask me to do things for you, I won't do them, or if I choose to do so, it will not be with the warmth and intimacy that I wish to share with you.

Why would someone who calls them self a follower of God (such as the bishop) insult his creator by offering him up the name someone else calls their own god? Given his flawed logic, should we then begin to call YHWH "Thor"? or "Baal"? "Zeus"? Shall we call upon him by the names of Hindu gods? Ptuiy! May it never be!

It is discourteous, impolite, even rude to call one by the name of another. When it comes to God, the creator of the universe, our master, maker, savior and Lord, it is treating the Holy One as common. It is without decency or respect for the divinity and majesty of God. What disdain this man shows for his creator.

Why not ask the Muslim world to call upon YHWH? Because they understand that names mean things.

I occasionally get someone's name wrong in my head when I meet them. For a time I had registered in my head that my friend Becky's name was Peggy. One day I called her by the wrong name when introducing her to my husband. I was mortified when she quietly corrected me. Why? Well, you know why. My gaffe revealed that I hadn't made the effort to ensure that I NEVER called her by the wrong name. I have since, by repeated utterings of her correct name whenever I see or think about her, completely erased the Peggy connection in my head.

Such should be the nature of man when he finds that he has not used the correct name for God. Out of respect, he should retrain his brain, his thoughts, his emotions, his very being, to know God as he wishes himself to be known. He has given us many names by which we can call him, even, for those who are his, "Abba" or "Daddy" as it translates into English. Why would you call the Holy God, your Abba, by any other name but his own?

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