Catholic Church will no longer use "Yahweh" in Public Worship

Out of respect for the Hebrew name of the one God, observant Jews have not used the name ‘Yahweh’ out of respect. In other words, if the name is not spoken, it cannot be misused.

Apparently, the RCC is in agreement and will no longer use the name during corporate worship.

Unbeknown to me, many Protestant Christians are in agreement and have been for some time. One professor from Western Theological Seminary in Holland (dear, dear Holland) says it this way:

“It’s always left me baffled and perplexed and embarrassed that we sprinkle our hymns with that name,” she said. “Whether or not there are Jewish brothers and sisters in earshot, the most obvious reason to avoid using the proper and more personal name of God in the Old Testament is simply respect for God.”

I would like to hear what some of you think about this. Those who have read in the past have come from pretty diverse flavors of Christianity, and I would like to hear from you.

6 thoughts on “Catholic Church will no longer use "Yahweh" in Public Worship

  1. Seriously? Is it really considered to be disrespectful to use the Hewbrew name for God if you aren’t Jewish? HE is the same yesterday, today, and forever…which indicates to me that His name didn’t change either….so why would it be improper for a “gentile” to call Him Yaweh?

  2. the most obvious reason to avoid using the proper and more personal name of God in the Old Testament is simply respect for God.”

    I would think you would want to use the proper and most personal name of God to show respect and to honor….just my two cents

  3. Lisa,

    Great to see you post here! I’ve been without power for the past few days, and I’ve been out of my blog since then.

    The way I see it, there are two different aspects to consider. The first is from God’s perspective. In other words, is God offended by being called YHWH? That seems to be the perspective from which you are viewing the question – and I agree with you. My picture of God doesn’t lead me to believe that God is offended.

    The other is from the human perspective. In other words, are we offending other of God’s children by using YHWH in worship? In this case, the answer is ‘yes.’ By using the proper name for YHWH, people being offended. Now, it may sound silly because we have already agreed that God would not be offended, but let me introduce a passage from Paul for consideration.

    From 1 Cor 8, concerning meat sacrificed to idols:
    7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

    9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

    I wonder, does the principal in this passage apply even though the specifics are different?

    @ Michael: That’s a great point, one that I had not considered. Sometimes the most personal and/or respectful way to address another person is by their proper name.

  4. My other thought …. the term “god” is pagan is it not? I have always wondered why we refer to our heavenly Father as “God” with a capital “G”… why on earth would we NOT use YHWH? If we are grafted in then we also belong to Him and have the same Father. Can we be held responsible if another person or group chooses to be offended at our using the name YHWH?

  5. Lisa,

    In Hebrew, there are two words that are used for God.

    The first is Elohim, which is the generic term for god, and it is used for both the false gods of the OT as well as for YHWH.

    For example, you might read something like this in the OT:
    “There is no god (elohim) like the LORD (YHWH).” In such a statement, the author would be communicating that there is no other God who can compare to Israel’s God. Interestingly (and as a tangent), such statements do not claim that other gods do not exist; instead, they claim that they are inferior.

    However, there are plenty of exceptions, in that Elohim is often used to name Israel’s God. In other words, there are numerous examples in which the Hebrews were perfectly comfortable hijacking the secular to describe the sacred.

    The Hebrew YHWH is usually rendered LORD in English translations and usually in capital letters.

    We Christians usually use the word “Lord” to speak of Jesus, following the early church who claim that Jesus was Lord, not Caesar. This is not the same as calling Jesus YHWH, however,

    Are we to be held responsible? No, not necessarily. But, it is my guess that we don’t really use YHWH that often anyway. I can think of a handful of songs off the top of my head that use Jehovah (which came into vogue when a group of German scholars translated the Hebrew YHWH into German pronunciation), but there are very few examples.

    Should we stop using it altogether? I don’t think so. But, I think Paul is onto something in Corinthians. If we are in the presence of people who would be offended by using YHWH, then what is the point of using it? In a situation like that, we might consider checking ourselves because we might be more concerned about showing ourselves to be right in our convictions than we are with actually bringing glory to God.

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