Jewish and Christian tradition avoid the use of the name Yahweh. Is this biblical?


Some theologians, following Jewish tradition, avoid using God's name, or even spelling it, because they are afraid they might take his name in vain. By contrast, the Bible exhorts us to "call upon the name of Yahweh" (e.g., Gen. 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 1 Kings 18:24; 1 Chron. 16:8; Pss. 105:1; 116:4,13,17; Isa. 12:4; Joel 2:32; Zeph. 3:9; Zech. 13:9), as well as to bless and give thanks in his name (Deut. 10:18; 21:5; 2 Sam. 6:18; 1 Chron. 16:2; Neh. 9:5; Ps. 122:4). In fact, to withhold blessing in the name of the Lord is a curse (Ps. 129:8). And the only ones in Scripture who fear to say his name are the ones who are already under his curse — they fear to say it because they don't want him to notice and destroy them (Amos 6:10).

To me, the connection between "respect" and not saying a name is completely incomprehensible. We are supposed to honor the Lord by name, proclaiming his mighty works (e.g., Deut. 32:3). His fame is associated with his name, and his fame is part of his glory (e.g., Deut. 28:10; 1 Sam. 17:45; Ps. 102:15,21; Isa. 56:6; 59:19). We proclaim his name in order to spread his fame and increase his glory. And we are to worship him specifically by blessing and praising his name (e.g., Job. 1:21; Pss. 113:1-3; 135:1; 148:5,13; Isa. 24:15; Joel 2:26). Yet somehow many still imagine that we do him more honor when we hide his name from the world.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.