Rome, the PCUSA, and God’s Name
From the Witteberg Door archives . . .
Retiring Netherlands bishop Tiny Muskens (not to be confused with any inhabitants of Middle Earth) offered the following proposal to the religious world:
"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.”
Drawing upon their centuries-old tradition of dealing ruthlessly with heretics, Rome responded with a scathing rebuke . . .
"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning.”
Meanwhile, in Our Own Backyard
Fresh off their recent triumphs of supporting Palestinian terrorism, endorsing the use of marijuana (for medical purposes, of course), and granting local congregations the authority to ordain practicing homosexuals, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has also decided that God’s name needed a little sprucing up.
In an attempt to top those slackers at the Second Ecumenical Council who took a year to produce the Nicene Creed (381), the PCUSA spent six years developing "fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God." Knowing how much God loves the theologically novel, PCUSA churches may now refer to God in any of the following ways:
- Rock, Redeemer, and Friend
- Lover, Beloved, and Love
- Mother, Child, and Womb
And if these don’t strike your liturgical fancy, the PCUSA offers seven other nifty, new names to choose from!
PS. Rumor has it that the PCUSA is already working on a follow-up to their Trinitarian Greatest Hits. It’s an updated version of the Bible where you’ll read about “. . . the Womb of God moving over the face of the waters.” (And if you’re a Trinity Hymnal fan, just wait until you hear the new version of O for a Thousand Tongues!)
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Q. What is required in the third Commandment?
A. That we must not by cursing, or by false swearing, nor yet by unnecessary oaths, profane or abuse the name of God; nor even by our silence and connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and in summary, that we use the holy name of God in no other way than with fear and reverence, so that He may be rightly confessed and worshiped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.
The Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 99
God’s name represents who He is. Our human languages are woefully inadequate when it comes to revealing the glories of God’s nature. For this reason the Scriptures use many names to cast a ray of light upon His character (e.g., Yahweh Jireh, The Lord will Provide, Gen. 22:14; Yahweh Sabbaoth, The Lord of Hosts, 1 Sam. 1:3; Yahweh Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness, Jer. 23:6). But this is done by the Scriptures and not by us. It is God Who chooses how and by what name He’ll be called; in other words, He has the right of self-definition and self-disclosure. He retains this right as sovereign Lord and creator, and as such is not a wax nose to be toyed with by self-aggrandizing bishops or wayward Presbyterians.
The names of God are not of human invention, but of divine origin, though they are all borrowed from human language, and derived from human and earthly relations. They are anthropomorphic and mark a condescending approach of God to man.
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology
Commenting on Bishop Muskens, Father Jonathan Morris said that referring to God as Allah was “impractical.” What if I started referring to the fetching Mrs. Catechizer as Selma Hyach. Would that be “impractical”? Anyone who knows my wife will tell you that several minutes will pass before I regain consciousness. How much more forcefully will our Righteous King respond when He is called by the name of a false god? Or when our Creator, who revealed Himself in masculine terms, is told that He can no longer be Father because it’s not politically correct?
I ask Rome (considering their weak-kneed response to the bishop), and especially the PCUSA, to consider the Third Commandment and its New Testament counterpart, The Lord’s Prayer (“hollowed be your name . . . Matthew 6:9); I also ask that they—and all the rest of us—observe the following three points from the Institutes of the Christian Religion:
. . . first, whatever our mind conceives of God, whatever our tongue utters, should savor of his excellence, match the loftiness of his sacred name, and lastly, serve to glorify his greatness.
Secondly, we should no rashly or perversely abuse his Holy Word and worship mysteries either for the sake of our own ambitions, or greed, or amusement; but, as they bear the dignity of his name imprinted upon them, they should ever be honored and prized among us.
Finally, we should not defame or detract from his works, as miserable men are wont abusively to cry out against him; but whatever we recognize as done by him we should speak of with praise of his wisdom, righteousness, and goodness. That is what it means to hallow God’s name.
Labels: Doctrine of God