Sacred Name Onlyism

Sacred Name Onlyism


I’m J.K. McKee, editor of Messianic
Apologetics. If you are new to the channel, be sure to subscribe for future
teachings and updates. In encountering various materials and teachings that
carry labels like “Messianic” or “Hebrew Roots,” have you seen the proper name of
God, YHWH/YHVH, used quite affluently? Has it even been implied that
various scribes and religious authorities have purposefully hidden the
Divine Name? What is Sacred Name Onlyism? Anyone who encounters the Hebrew
Scriptures will see that our Creator has a proper name composed of the four
Hebrew letters yud, hey, vav, hey, often represented by the English
consonants YHVH or YHWH. They compose what is theologically designated as the
Tetragrammaton, a term meaning “a word of four letters.” In almost all major English
Bible translations of the Tanach or Old Testament, the Tetragrammaton has been
rendered as “the LORD” in SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Some Jewish Bibles use the term “HASHEM” meaning “the Name.” Messianic versions may
use ADONAI, Hebrew for “Lord.” Customarily in Bible translation, proper names are
always transliterated, meaning that their sounds are communicated as
closely as possible from one language into another,
but titles are always translated. Yet in the case of the Divine Name YHWH, most English Bibles have rendered it as a title, respecting
ancient Jewish protocols going back to the Second Temple period. No honest
Christian or Jewish examiner will disagree with those who strongly point
out that our Creator indeed has a name. He first revealed His
name to Moses in Exodus 3:13-15: “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold I am going to
the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent
me to you.” Now they may say to me, “What is His name?” What shall I say to them?’ God
said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘ God, furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you
shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘THE LORD [YHWH], the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This
is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations'” (NASU). The
proper name of our Creator was revealed to Moses as he was preparing to go back
to Egypt with His help to free the Israelites in slavery. He needed a name
to distinguish YHWH from the pagan gods of the Egyptians. The Jewish
Study Bible comments that while the name “YHVH is
often represented by the word LORD…it is connected to the verb h-y-h [hayah], ‘be’ or ‘become,’
most likely in a causative sense, ‘he who causes to be.'” Another possible
meaning of YHWH is simply “Eternal One” or perhaps even “Transcendent.”
While there is no uniform agreement on how the name YHWH is to be
pronounced, a broad consensus of Hebrew and Semitic scholars posit that it was
either Yahweh or Yahveh or something close. Most English Bibles today use the
title “the LORD” in place of YHWH, following Second Temple Jewish protocols.
The Jewish sages who returned from Babylonian exile did not wish God’s name
to be brought to shame, as misusing God’s name was believed to have been one of
the significant reasons that caused the exile. Substitutions were used for the
Divine Name, such as Adonai meaning “(my) lord,” or HaShem, meaning “the Name.” Whenever
YHWH would appear in a Biblical text, Adonai or HaShem would likely be
pronounced instead. And it is important to note that both of these titles appear
independently in the Scriptures to refer to God. Most Jews who returned from
captivity in Babylon considered it blasphemous to speak the Divine Name. The
Talmud states how the “sages say, ‘On account of using the ineffable Name, one
is subject to the death penalty, but as for euphemisms, one is subject
ooh the admonition [not to do so, but to the death penalty if he does so]'” (b.Sanhedrin 56a). Post-exilic Judaism has historically maintained that if a person
were to curse using the name YHWH in a sentence, he was to be given
the death penalty. If it were just a curse used with the title in place of
the Divine Name, then it was not worthy of death. This is one of the reasons why
the proper name of God was not spoken by the First Century C.E. The intention was
to disallow instances where pagan individuals would curse using the Divine
Name. Some think that the Third Commandment of Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy
5:11 is violated by those who refuse to use or speak the name YHWH, and
by rendering YHWH with a title such as “LORD” or “HASHEM” in English Bible
translations. Is the Third Commandment broken when people do not speak the name
YHWH? Jeffrey H. Tigay, in The Jewish Study Bible, identifying that the
Creator indeed has a name, reflects on the tradition of why Jewish people over
the centuries have avoided saying it. He remarks, “the LORD is actually a
translation of ‘adonai’ (lit. ‘my Lord’) because that is what Jews now pronounce
whenever the consonants YHVH appear. YHVH was probably originally pronounced
‘Yahweh,’ but in Second Temple times, as an expression of reverence, Jews began to
avoid uttering it, substituting ‘adonai’ and other
surrogates.” The Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period mirrors
these remarks, adding, “When the high priest addressed God in the Temple’s Holy
of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he uttered this name. When the priests
blessed the people in the Temple, they used this name. By the Third Century B.C.E.,
God’s name had become so hallowed that it could not be pronounced outside of
worship, and the term adonai (my lord) was regularly substituted.” While
certainly recognizing that our Creator has a name,
YHWH, both the Jewish and Christian traditions have avoided its
pronunciation due to its extreme holiness. The rendering of YHWH as
“the LORD” is identified in the preface to most major English Bible translations. In
scholastic circles, however, it is not uncommon to see forms such as YHWH or
Yahweh used to refer to God, as Jewish and Christian theologians do plainly
recognize that our Creator has a name. But, in Second Temple Judaism the name of
God was not spoken aloud. As Messianic Believers, we must recognize that this
was the same Second Temple Judaism in which Yeshua the Messiah lived, and from
which the early Messianic community arose. Today’s Messianic Jewish
congregations–no different than mainline Jewish synagogues–do not use the Divine
Name YHWH during their worship services, in deference
to Second Temple Jewish precedents. However, it is not unlikely that the name
YHWH might be spoken either as Yahweh or Yahveh, in piecemiel, during some
kind of a closed Bible study session. The Sacred Name Only movement, while raising
the awareness of the proper name of our Creator, tends to purposefully interject
a great deal of confusion into the Body of Messiah. A Sacred Name Only ideology is
not at all concerned with how avid verbalization of the Divine Name YHWH in the public assembly can wreak unspeakable damage to Jewish
evangelism, offending Jewish non-Believers–and confuse many
evangelical Protestants interested in Messianic things for that same matter. A
Sacred Name Only ideology broadly promotes the idea that if you do not use
the Divine Name YHWH in your regular speech, that our Creator will not
be capable of hearing your prayers. Those who adhere to a Sacred Name Only
ideology tend to be very contentious, and will not hesitate to bring confusion and
derision into a Messianic congregation where Hebrew titles such as Adonai or
HaShem are used. Yet, it is quite ironic that Sacred Name Only proponents tend to
be internally divided among themselves, as they do not often agree on how the
Divine Name YHWH is to be pronounced. Standard forms proposed by
scholars such as Yahweh or Yahveh, now have to compete with other
renderings such, as Yehovah or Yahuah. While it is important for us to be aware
of how our Creator has a proper name, appearing in the Hebrew Scriptures, a
Sacred Name Only ideology most probably is going to bring great damage to your
Messianic congregation or fellowship. if you all found this content enjoyable and
useful, please be sure to drop a thumb’s up for this video. As always, we thank you
for your continued support of our ministry efforts. God bless and shalom,
and we’ll see you again with our next update.

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  1. I don't believe in sacred name onlyism, but since God wants his name used, as he mentioned in the verse you mentioned in Exodus 3:15, does substituting his name with titles make one guilty of adding to God's word?

    Also, why can't education on not using the name being a man-made tradition, be part of Jewish evangelism at some point? There are a lot of traditions in Judaism that are not Biblical. And Jesus has issues with some of them as mentioned in the Gospels.

    I don't believe in being fanatical about sacred names, but I do admire sensible Sacred name believers speaking out against this tradition and making God's name more well known.

  2. JK, I agree in the broad strokes, coming out of the Sacred Name movement, but I have to ask why we should defer to traditions of men from the Second Temple period when it is clearly not what is being taught in the TaNaK?
    I get that the Name was substituted with a title to not have unworthy people pronounce it, as the argument goes, but really…
    If we read the TaNaK in Hebrew, in what way, how, is it possible to miss the 6828 times the Tetragrammaton appears?
    It was not substituted before the babylonian exile, the tradition only arose after it. Then the traditions of MEN came and made it a point of expulsion and even death as you cited.
    THIS is NOT in the TaNaK.

    So, with all due respect to you, and to all the learned scholars and their books out there (I have a great respect for it), where is the proof that it was not Commonly used by (even the common) people before the Babylonian exile as seen in the TaNaK?

    Rth 2:4 Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, Yahweh be with you. They answered him, Yahweh bless you.
    [WEB]
    Boaz a nobleman, used the Name in a blessing.
    The reapers, common folk, used the name as a blessing in return.

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