Sunday, November 20, 2011

God's name in English ought to be "Jehovah" not "Yahweh"

The use of the name "Yahweh" in the place of "Jehovah" in sermons has been jumping out at me for some time now and finally I want to say a few things about why I think it's a very bad practice. I think this discussion belongs here rather than the Bible Hoax blog because it's a more general issue than a translational issue. The King James has "Jehovah" in only four places in the Old Testament. Westcott and Hort used neither "Jehovah" nor "Yahweh" but substituted "LORD" for "Jehovah" in their miserable revision, never content to leave the King James unmolested wherever they could make a change on the flimsiest justification, but at least the use of "Yahweh" can't be directly blamed on them -- indirectly, yes, I think so.

Here's Wikipedia on the Name Jehovah, a paragraph showing one place in the text where some of the modern versions have used "Yahweh" while "LORD" was the choice in others (where apparently Westcott and Hort's example was followed), whereas only the King James continues to use "Jehovah:"
At Exodus 6:3-6, where the King James Version has Jehovah

...the Revised Standard Version (1952),[34] the New American Standard Bible (1971), the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), the New Century Version (1991), and the Contemporary English Version (1995) give "LORD" or "Lord" as their rendering of the Tetragrammaton

...while the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the Amplified Bible (1987), the New Living Translation (1996, revised 2007), the English Standard Version (2001), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004) use the form Yahweh.
Even the name of God has to be a matter of democratic choice in our churches these days thanks to the current attitude of "scholarship" that leaves it up for grabs.

Many pastors and preachers rather pointedly use "Yahweh" as if it had some kind of established validation, however, apparently more concerned about meeting some notion of accuracy they've learned from somewhere than about contributing to confusion among Christians created by the use of new terms.

Is it more accurate? I don't know what weight to attribute to the Wikipedia article but it sounds like there's far from scholarly consensus on the subject, and why do we have to be accosted with changes that are a matter of scholarly dispute anyway? Shouldn't there be a conservative mindset that respects the poor Christian in the pew, protects us from matters that are beyond our judgment and from innovations that have to be unsettling at some level of our consciousness? This is one of Westcott and Hort's great crimes against the Christian church and their example no doubt inspired the use of "Yahweh" in later translations: Once it becomes acceptable to make casual changes in the text everybody feels free to get in on the act.

I've come to regard the change to "Yahweh" as an attack on the minds of believers, many of whom have spent a lifetime accustomed to the term "Jehovah." "Jehovah" is in the English-speaking mind, the English culture, in English literature, old sermons and old Christian books, and a few old hymns as well. But moving the ancient landmarks that would preserve the old territory intact is of minor importance to minds infatuated with "scholarship" and sounding erudite. Apart from the confusion -- and I even think it's cruelty of a sort -- of foisting novel terms on English-speaking Christians, the name "Yahweh" is mostly a scholarly conceit. There is nothing wrong with "Jehovah" and there is apparently good scholarly support for it too.

The name "Yahweh" sounds puny in comparison to "Jehovah" as well. Maybe that's a subjective judgment born of familiarity with "Jehovah" --I don't know-- but it sounds like a tribal deity rather than the God who made all things.

"Yahweh" is also much loved by the followers of the Hebrew Names heresy, which ought to be one good reason to resist it.

Heaven Stories article at Worldview Weekend

An article on various "heaven" stories: by a Justin Peters:

Here's part of the Summary from this lengthy article:

Thus far we have examined specific, current, and popular accounts of people claiming to have been to Heaven and to Hell. With these specific accounts still in view, we will now look at some of the broader challenges, both logical and theological, confronting anyone claiming to have made such journeys.

There is a logical problem with these accounts that is so glaring, it is hard to understand why more people do not take note of it; namely, these various accounts often contradict one another. The three individuals examined in this article only scratch the surface of those claiming to have been to the other side. Mary Baxter (who claimed she went to both Heaven and Hell), Betty Malz, Roberts Liardon, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Richard Eby, Todd Bentley, etc. also would have you believe they were given a sneak peek into the afterlife. It takes only a cursory reading of these stories to realize that they all contradict one another – and often even contradict themselves! Colton Burpo reports that everyone in heaven, even God Himself, had wings. Piper saw many people in heaven but they apparently did not have wings. Some report that heaven is completely urban whereas Duplantis[43] says he saw homes out in the country. Some saw God on His throne, others did not see Him at all, and some, like Don Piper, can't seem to remember whether they saw Him or not. Colton claims that those in Heaven show no signs of age, yet Piper claims that his grandfather, Joe Kulbeth, still had his "shock of white hair."

Some heavenly tourists say that Jesus has brown hair, others say it is blond. Some report Jesus as having a purple sash about his waist, others say it is blue. Benny Hinn claims to see Jesus often and can even describe what He is wearing from day to day. Some, like Colton Burpo, say Jesus' eyes are blue, others say they are brown. One thing that all of the supposed accounts of Heaven have in common is a minimized description of the glory of Christ. Rather than a description like that in Revelation 1:14: "His chest was girded with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire," these accounts describe Jesus as being rather ordinary and non-glorious. God would never be the source of a vision which downplays the glory of His Son.

The list of contradictions is almost endless. The obvious point is that these accounts cannot all be true. In all likelihood, none of them are.

Now let's turn to the theological issues with all of these accounts. Though with varying degrees of specificity, all who have been to the hereafter and have returned describe people as having physical bodies. They report that the heavenly residents are perfect in every way showing no signs of sickness, disease, arthritis, handicaps, etc. They describe these glorified bodies as beautiful in appearance and perfect in function. There is only one problem with this: the redeemed in Heaven do not yet have their glorified bodies. This statement will likely surprise many readers and, unfortunately, the theological nuances are too involved to fully address here. It is, however, sufficient to note that the Bible teaches that those presently in Heaven are not yet in possession of their permanent, glorified bodies. In fact, Heaven itself is not yet in its perfected, eternal state. Those events will not transpire until the timing of Revelation 21. At present, Heaven is in its "intermediate" state, if you will, and the redeemed there are also in an intermediate state. In Revelation 6:9-11 and 20:4, John saw the "souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God" and the "souls of those who had been beheaded" respectively. Those that John saw were not in possession of physical bodies but rather were in a non-corporeal state. The redeemed will be given glorified bodies at the rapture or Christ's return to earth (Parousia).[44] Therefore, the reports of people in the intermediate Heaven as possessing glorified bodies must be rejected.

The second theological problem is one which plagues all the books in the "I've been to Heaven and/or Hell" genre; they are all an attack on the sufficiency of Scripture. Even if an account does not directly contradict the Bible per se (and most do), these accounts propose to add to biblical revelation. In these accounts, for example, we learn that hell is 3,700 miles below the surface of the earth, that it is inhabited by ghastly creatures and giant spiders, the pit of fire is shaped like a giant human or maybe it's one mile in diameter (depending on whose account you read) and is ruled by demons – none of which can be found in the Bible. Likewise, Heaven apparently has suburbs, the flowers turn themselves to watch you as you pass by, the fruit is copper colored, individual homes are furnished with ball and claw Queen Anne furniture, people have wings or they don't (again, depending on the particular account), and the souls of babies fly around God on His throne. None of this is biblically supported.

All of this information is unbiblical at worst and extra-biblical at best. This leads us to the issue of new divine revelation knowledge. Is God giving certain individuals new revelation and speaking to them apart from and in addition to the Bible? If any of these accounts are even partly true, then the inescapable conclusion is "yes."

The implications of new revelation are huge. If it is necessary for us to know this information, why has God delayed nearly 2,000 years in giving it to us? Did the saints of previous generations have inadequate revelation of Heaven? Did they not have a sufficient supply of God's truth? If they did, then these and all other accounts of visiting the other side are entirely unnecessary and of no profit to the church.

Whatever God reveals and says to these individuals (most of these individuals quote God directly) should carry with it the very same authority as any verse of Scripture since God cannot speak less authoritatively on one occasion than He does on another. In other words, God cannot speak to us in the Bible and "really, really mean it" but when He speaks to individuals outside of the Bible whether in a dream, vision, audible voice, or trip to Heaven still mean it, but somehow mean it less so than He did in the Bible.