“God” is not God’s name

God language can tie people into knots, of course.  In part, that is because “God” is not God’s name.  Referring to the highest power we can imagine, “God” is our name for that which is greater than all yet present in each…

Proposing that “God” is not God’s name is anything but blasphemous.  When Moses asks whom he is talking to up there on Mount Sinai, the answer is not “God,” but “I am who I am,” or “I do what I do.”  That’s what the word “Yahweh” means.  When the Hebrews later insisted that it not be written out in full, they were guarding against idolatry: the worshiping of a part (in this case the word-symbol for God) in place of the whole (that toward which the word-symbol points).

So it was for the biblical Jacob, who wrestled for life and meaning with a mysterious heavenly messenger.  When dawn finally broke after a nightlong struggle, Jacob demanded to know his adversary’s name.  “Don’t worry about my name,” God replied.  “It is completely unimportant.  All that matters is that you held your own during a night of intense struggle.  You will walk with a limp for the remainder of your days.  Yet that is simply proof that in wrestling for meaning you did not retreat, but gave your all.  Therefore, though my name is unimportant, I shall give you a new name, Israel, ‘one who wrestled with both divinity and humanity, and prevailed.'”

-Forrest Church in The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology (Beacon Press: 2009), p.3

2 thoughts on ““God” is not God’s name

  1. I love this. I wrestle with how to speak of the Great Mystery and showing either respect or common pursuit by intentionally using GOD or G-d, but often find these just as unsatisfying. Are we stuck with “God”, or is there a way of speaking we haven’t found yet?

  2. Pingback: “God” is not God’s name | The Theological Wanderings of a Street Pastor | Drew Downs

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