The name of God

Christians say that God’s name should be hallowed. God is so unreachably beyond any cognitive human knowledge that even his name is holy to us.

The name of a being or an object is something that a group of humans decides to use for referring to it. Giving a name implies that we know what we are talking about.

But do we know what we are talking about when we say God or Will of God? We can believe something about God or his plans, but we cannot know them. The name of God is not definable by any human science.

This is what the first commandment tells us when it states “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” or when Jesus instructs us to pray “Hallowed be your name”.

Which in turn simply means that we must not hurt each other in the name of God.

Humans can have very opposing answers to controversial questions and still respect each other. Because the name of God is holy.

Idolatry, in that context, is not the creative act of trying to paint or grave a picture of God, but the spiritual attitude of believing that you know God.

As Christians we believe that we have been given a name for God: Jesus Christ. But this does not mean that we know God, it means that we can talk to him, that we can enter into relation with him. Standley Hauerwas describes this beautifully in his article Naming God: The Burning Bush, the Cross and the Hiddenness of the Revealed God where he concludes:

Yet we believe that the God we worship has made his name known. We believe we have been given the happy task of making his name known. We believe we can make his name known because the God we worship is nearer to us than we are to ourselves – a frightening reality that gives us life. (…) By being consumed by the Divine Life we are made God’s witnesses so that the world may know the fire, the name, Jesus Christ.

The Jewish culture usually used “JHWH” as the name for God. Which is translated to “Lord” in modern Bibles.