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God Has Many Names, But Do We Need One More?

Can’t Christianity think of a better name for its god than “God”? While modern Jewish authors sometimes refer to him as “G-d” so that they don’t violate the fourth commandment, there is no such fear of blasphemy among Christians. A god named “God” is like a cat named “Cat.”

The fourth name of God

While we’re talking about names, if Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the persons, what do you call the union of these into one god? Ice, water, and steam are three states of H2O. Shell, white, and yolk form an egg. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit form who?

You need a fourth name. Do you call it “God”? But the Bible tells us that “God” is the one who created everything, and that’s supposed to be the Father. The Father can’t be both the first person of the Trinity and the overall god at the same time.

Calling this union the Trinity commits the heresy of Partialism, the claim that the three persons of God are three separate parts. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit don’t form a what, they must form a single, unified who. Another problem with “the Trinity” is that’s an odd name for a monotheistic god. It’s a label, not a name. Call the three persons “a council of three” if you want, but that doesn’t make clear the unity like a proper name would.

That the Old Testament uses one name for God (okay, it uses lots of names—Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim—but that’s a different issue) makes clear that they saw no distinction between God the Father and this Trinity. Without this distinction, it’s clear that there is no Trinity in the Old Testament.

Let’s see this another way. Consider this passage from Isaiah 45:5–6:

I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am Jehovah, and there is no other.

There are two interpretations of this passage.

  • If Jehovah is a synonym for “the Father,” this means that he reigns alone (since “there is no other”) and we must discard the Trinity.
  • If Jehovah is a synonym for “the Trinity,” then it makes nonsense of the singular pronouns (Me and I) in these verses and confuses passages such as “Then Jehovah spoke to Moses” (Ex. 40:1) or “After Jehovah had spoken these things to Job” (Job 42:7).

The problem, of course, is demanding a Christian interpretation of a Jewish text. There’s nothing confusing here from a Jewish viewpoint, which was the intended audience. There is no Trinity, and the only god that exists is Jehovah.

Well, at least the only god at this time in the evolution of Judaism. It’s a little more complicated because Old Testament Jews didn’t begin as monotheists. The Old Testament documents their evolution from a kind of polytheism (that’s an aside that I explore more here).

Admittedly, one handy trait of the Trinity is that it gives Christians a way to salvage some embarrassing passages from the Old Testament.

Let us make mankind in our image (Gen. 1:26)

The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:22)

Let us go down [to Babel] and confuse their language so they will not understand each other (Gen. 11:7)

These are no problem if “us” refers to the three persons of the Trinity. But if God were a trinity, it’s hard to imagine him not making this clear from the beginning. Judaism’s evolution from polytheism explains this nicely. The concept of the Trinity confuses, it doesn’t clarify.

See alsoThe Long, Strange Story of the Trinity.”

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used
against unintelligible propositions.
— Thomas Jefferson

(Some of this post was originally published 11/11/11.)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • AskAnAtheistBecky

    Incidentally, “kitty” is routinely recorded as one of the most common names for pet cats…. ;)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      So Father + Son + Holy Spirit = Kitty? I’m sure the Trinity®
      appreciates the suggestion!

      • Kodie

        Killer, pooper, fur-shedder = Kitty!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    That the Old Testament uses one name for God (okay, it uses lots of names…)

    Exod 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

  • Rain

    The problem, of course, is demanding a Christian interpretation of a Jewish text.

    Speaking of Christian interpretation of a Jewish text…

    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

    The “heel” in there is supposedly Jesus. So yeah, Christian interpretation of Jewish text? Not a problem at all. Christian interpretation of Jewish text is the “What, me worry?” of pulling things out of thin air. Not. A. Problem.

  • RichardSRussell

    My favorites were the people who wanted to sound sophisticated, so they gave their pets faux Italian names: ciati for the cat and diogi for the dog. (Pronounce them out loud to get the joke.) Here that would yield giodi.

    • Kodie

      Holly Golightly called her cat “Cat” (“poor slob without a name!”) The cat cast in the film to play “Cat” was named “Orangey”. Lol. I call my cat about a dozen names, no problem. People think cats don’t come when they’re called like a dog would, but she seems to know when I free associate words out loud, that must be her name, and she arrives to keeps me company. I don’t know why people give pets “people” names (my cat officially has a person name but I didn’t name her, and I know a person with her name also), since it’s total freedom to call them any of those weird rock star names you don’t dare name a child, or a word or a pun or whatever amuses you. Nobody at school is going to make fun of your cat because its name is stupid.

      • Kodie

        Also any dog I meet is automatically called “pup-pup”, but I lean toward the descriptive – chewy or barky or scooty or something like that (such are names similar to ones my cat has) beyond meeting a dog and actually being responsible for naming one.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I used your logic to name my two dogs Snort and Wheezer.

  • Norbert O.

    But if God were a trinity, it’s hard to imagine him not making this clear from the beginning.

    The unexamined presupposition shines through right here. You hold a very particular belief that “reliable” holy texts would be written in the form of 20th century systematic textbook, where substantive questions of the metaphysical nature of God’s identity are explored–probably in logical argument form–in the first chapter.

    Tell me, why do you hold this belief?

    I find it a little strange that you impose expectations from your own cultural setting (with its very parochial Western post-Enlightenment worldview) on the writings of a pre-modern civilization. You must hold a similar disappointment for most of the world’s great cultural works that fail to meet the expectations of your own culture’s standards.

    • Kodie

      I don’t think anyone is surprised that an ancient culture didn’t make that clear. It’s the people who still believe god wrote that book and why god wouldn’t have made that clear to the authors that doesn’t make a single bit of sense. It’s very obviously written by people who were making it up as they went along, not dictated by an authoritative deity, which, in turn, makes it difficult to understand why any modern person would believe any of it and keep on making up new ways to persuade non-believers based upon the veracity of god’s authority explained thoroughly well therein!

      It’s total bullshit.

      • Norbert O.

        You sound very open-minded.

        • Kodie

          You haven’t given any reason to believe a botched text from a perfect god. You haven’t given me any reason to believe an outdated manual for living authored by pre-civilized humans applies to me and that we don’t have better guides for living that help much better.

        • Norbert O.

          You must be mistaken: I’m not here to give you reasons to believe in a perfect god.

          There are plenty of good reasons to do so. There are plenty of good reasons not to do so.

          I can only hope you’re at peace with where you’ve landed with your beliefs–many atheist blog commenters exhibit a high amount of anxiety and insecurity with their beliefs, far higher than any religious people I know.

        • Kodie

          I don’t have any anxiety or insecurity with atheism. Perhaps you are implying that dealing with the real world head on is too much for you and you require answers that comfort you so you can avoid it. I don’t really know what you’re saying because you are vague and withholding about your implications. I don’t know why you religious people think all you have to do is show up.

        • Norbert O.

          I don’t have any anxiety or insecurity with atheism.

          Then why are you here? Cheerleading the cause?

        • Kodie

          That’s a loaded question. You are building up to a rumor invented about atheists by Christians, I can tell. The problem is the people – there is no god.

        • Norbert O.

          Rumor? Do tell.

        • Kodie

          many atheist blog commenters exhibit a high amount of anxiety and
          insecurity with their beliefs, far higher than any religious people I
          know.

          Why did you say “with their beliefs”?

          You sound very open-minded.

          Why did you say that to me?

          You think you’re the first Christian I’ve talked to? You think you have something original to say?

        • Norbert O.

          Sorry, I don’t follow.

        • Kodie

          Sorry, I don’t follow.

          Ok, here is how it goes:

          1. I ask you a question.
          2. You answer it.

          That’s how that works. HTH.

        • Norbert O.

          You never told me this “rumor” Christians are spreading.

          It sounded so intriguing….

        • Kodie

          The one where we’re anxious and insecure “in our belief”. I referred to it TWICE. You are slow.

        • Norbert O.

          Oh yes, the “anxiety and insecurity” rumor. Yep you’re totally onto us. Who told you?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Tell me, why do you hold this belief?

      The belief I hold is that a perfect god who deigned to explain his perfect plan to people would get it right the first time. He wouldn’t dribble it out over 1500 years. He wouldn’t slap his forehead centuries into the project and say, “Doh! I forgot to tell them about Jesus being the pathway to heaven! What a doofus I am!”

      I find it a little strange that you impose expectations from your own cultural setting (with its very parochial Western post-Enlightenment worldview) on the writings of a pre-modern civilization.

      I guess I’m a strange guy. I expect perfect beings to act like I would expect perfect beings to act. Of course, they might not act that way (my brain is quite limited compared to such a being), but in that case, why believe them? Sure, they might well exist, but I demand evidence. I’m funny that way.

      • Norbert O.

        You demand the writings of an ancient culture take on the genre and rational form of argumentation that your own culture valorizes. In other words, if something’s not written in the style and form of Western Enlightenment-inspired philosophical proofs or a peer reviewed scientific paper, you’re not buying it.

        It’s a fine belief. We all hold certain beliefs. Now we know yours.

        Again, most of history must be a great disappointment to you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Norbert:

          Ri-i-i-ight. I’m the weird one.

          Does God exist? Then he gave me this big brain to use. I follow evidence. You give me no evidence, and I have nothing to follow. Don’t blame me.

          You want to pretend that following evidence and reason is just a cultural convention conjured up in the last couple of centuries? Godspeed.

        • Norbert O.

          A new unexamined presupposition has emerged: If a perfect God exists, he will meet whatever criteria of evidence I choose to impose upon him.

          This is a fine belief to hold. We all hold beliefs like this.

          You should know that you’re not actually debunking the God of orthodox Christianity here, however. Nothing in orthodox Christianity says a perfect God meets whatever criteria and conditions for belief set before him. The God of Scripture puts forth surprisingly little effort to jump through the hoops of every person’s self-created “rules” for belief.

          So you’ve rejected a God of your own creation, not one of any organized religion. It’d be like me rejecting a self-created version of atheism that required belief in unicorns. Other atheists will rightly be underwhelmed by my means of evaluating and rejecting their belief system.

        • Kodie

          A new unexamined presupposition has emerged: If a perfect God exists, he
          will meet whatever criteria of evidence I choose to impose upon him.

          That’s not new or unexamined. That is how people make their religious beliefs.

          There is zero evidence for a god. Every quality he has is supposed or attributed by people based on clues in their environment. Like a tree or a sunset or an old book and the preacher who interprets select passages for them. I think the bible is as good but not better than any other way to discern god. It’s certainly used as a basis for more modern interpretations but those modern interpretations, in turn, have no credible basis for an actual true deity. It’s based on an old legend, not historical fact, and it wasn’t clear then, why should people try to force it to be more clear now instead of moving on?

          Take for example: a story I’ve never read – Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I don’t take a story from 170 years ago to be fact. I know it contains ghosts. A lot of it could have really happened, but its value is fictional. It has one simple moral value to illustrate, and if you are familiar with the story, as I am, having not read it at all, is meant to persuade the audience to come to the same conclusion as the author. The reason I am so familiar with this story is that it has been remade over and over again to demonstrate the same exact theme – a cold cruel boss begrudges his worker a day off for Christmas with his family, including the bait, a disabled child. To correct the cruelty of the boss, he is visited by a ghost of his old partner, and 3 more ghosts representing his life. They show him that he didn’t used to be like this, that other people are worse off because of him, and they show him that he is destined to die alone. So the fuck what? I know I’m supposed to hate Scrooge and feel sorry for Bob Cratchit – that’s what the story intends. This melts everyone’s heart, the end.

          Every year.

          Everyone identifies with poor Bob Cratchit. It tells a story that could never happen in real life because the audience is Bob Cratchit. Scrooge never reads this book. It’s not a book for Scrooge, it’s a story for deluded people who think they are righteous and scare them with ghosts from turning into a lonely miser. At the end, magically, the lonely miser reforms and is a welcome guest at the Cratchit home. Bullshit. Never happen. The Cratchitese live with their poor lot wishing for a change of heart in someone else. They didn’t invite Scrooge to their humble poor dinner because they were any kinder than he was, he brought them dinner. They waited for ghosts to show him the path to kindness and generosity instead of extending their home to him. Scrooge wasn’t a bad guy or greedy. He was isolated and psychologically damaged and everyone let him fall through the cracks. They remained impoverished out of spite toward a fellow human being, and only consider Scrooge reformed by ghosts and now a generous person who is welcome to come by anytime. Of course he can!

          We are all in this together buddy, nothing in your supernatural beliefs adds anything to that true story.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Norbert:

          A new unexamined presupposition has emerged: If a perfect God exists, he will meet whatever criteria of evidence I choose to impose upon him.

          Sure, we could go down that path of starting with the idea of a perfect God and then rearranging the rest of reality as necessary, or we could evaluate the claim “a perfect God exists” just like we evaluate every other truth claim. Y’know, with evidence and all that.

          I evaluate this claim using common definitions for those words, and I find it wanting.

          The God of Scripture puts forth surprisingly little effort to jump through the hoops of every person’s self-created “rules” for belief.

          So it just makes the claim, gives minimal evidence, and says “take it or leave it”?

          So you’ve rejected a God of your own creation, not one of any organized religion.

          I would be lots o’ laffs to invent silly claims, knock them down, and then pretend I’m dancing on the dead corpse of Christianity. But, no, I take the claims of Christianity (God exists, God created the universe, and so on) fairly and see if evidence supports them. So far, not so much.

        • smrnda

          As a mathematician, most other things are kind of disappointing to me as there’s a lack of precision which cannot be avoided. I accept the limitations of other types of knowledge and try to get as much use out of them as I can.

          I admit that they do not and cannot provide the most accurate type of knowledge. An ancient historical manuscript cannot be ‘correct’ at the level of a peer-reviewed scientific journal – its contents cannot be verified to the same degree. We can’t do experiments, etc.

          For me, history isn’t a disappointment, just an area where I know that the highest level of reliability I can get is lower than the level of reliability I can get in other fields.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s odd that Creationists will try to divide science into the experimental (reliable) part and the non-experimental part. They want an excuse to discount biology. And yet as bad as they pretend they can portray biology, they rely most on history, which is far less substantiated.

        • Norbert O.

          So it just makes the claim, gives minimal evidence, and says “take it or leave it”?

          Yep. In quite a few cases. It’s a “here are my claims” and then an invitation to come along should you find it compelling.

          Would you really want an all-powerful God vowing to overwhelm whatever possible objection we could raise? Sounds rather maniacal, like a desperate ex-boyfriend asking what he can do to “prove” his love to you. Add omnipotence to that scenario and you can certainly count out the idea of freely, rationally consenting to his pursuit; you could merely be brainwashed as needed. Not good.

          But again, we’re taling about your self-created god, not one anyone actually believes in.

        • Kodie

          But again, we’re taling about your self-created god, not one anyone actually believes in.

          You can’t describe any god that wasn’t created by a person’s imagination. No matter what you say about god, I’m telling you, is a person’s speculative version of any possible god.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Norbert:

          Would you really want an all-powerful God vowing to overwhelm whatever possible objection we could raise?

          I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking if I’d like God to show me that he exists? Well, yeah. Obviously. Existence is the very first thing that we must get straight before I can figure out if I want to worship this guy.

          like a desperate ex-boyfriend asking what he can do to “prove” his love to you.

          Not even remotely close. No one questions the existence of the ex-boyfriend, but existence is Problem One with God.

        • Norbert O.

          Okay then.Your faith belief is: a god that exists is one who will conform to the demands of any criteria imposed upon him to prove his existence.

          We are in full agreement. A god like that doesn’t exist.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your faith belief is: a god that exists is one who will conform to the demands of any criteria imposed upon him to prove his existence.

          Wrong again. We’d probably make more sense if you’d stop trying to fit what I say into the prepackaged bins you already have.

          I demand that a perfect God (1) exist and (2) match the definition of “perfect” that any of us native English speakers understand. How about that god? Does that one exist?

          Seems to me like quite a fair demand.

        • Norbert O.

          2) match the definition of “perfect” that any of us native English speakers understand.

          and that is….what?

          All native English speakers couldn’t agree on what a perfect anything would be: a perfect house, a perfect government, a perfect spouse, a perfect job….but you’re telling me there’s some consensus on what a perfect omniscient/omnipotent being should be? Do tell.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is that the problem here? We don’t share definitions for the words we’re using? That surprises me—this lexicon seems pretty simple—but it’s happened before. Maybe you’re right. But then it seems irresponsible of you to blather on knowing that we don’t share a common vocabulary.

          We’re not here to define a perfect being. What we can get our arms around is comparing the actions of the god of the Old Testament and see if they match “perfect.” Nope—the evidence is against that claim.

        • Norbert O.

          It’s very odd how much we agree.

          You have accumulated a long list of “A perfect God who exists MUST…” at threat of you denying his existence. (Questionable logic there, but that’s an aside…)

          I could probably go through your entire list and nod and say “Yep, you’re completely right, THAT god doesn’t exist, I agree….”

          But again, you’re tearing down sandcastles in your mind. It’s not clear what else that accomplishes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll try once more. It’d be easiest if you’d respond to the points the first time I make them so I don’t have to repeat.
          I take (1) the claim that the god of the OT exists and is perfect and (2) the diary of some of his shenanigans as transcribed in the OT.

          “Bob,” I say to myself, because I like to call myself by name, “Bob, do these two fit together well? A perfect god who condones slavery and commands genocide?” In short order comes the answer, sometimes in a different voice so I can pretend that I’m a crowd: “No, by golly. That makes no sense at all. The evidence is simply self-refuting.”

          So there you have an overly long summary of my thought process. I encourage you to respond to it instead of something else so we can make progress with this discussion.

        • Norbert O.

          A perfect god who condones slavery and commands genocide simply can’t exist.

          There, your belief can’t be more simply stated than that.

          Again, it’s a fine belief. Lots of people hold it. And then, lots of people don’t. Perhaps you should read up on the Problem of Evil.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A perfect god who condones slavery and commands genocide simply can’t exist.

          Wrong again. I’d let it go, assuming that you more or less meant what I was talking about, but you seem to be eagerly pedantic about this, so it’s probably best to be precise.

          You have a hard time paraphrasing what I say, so maybe you oughtn’t. Drop the “can’t exist.”

          The evidence argues that such a god doesn’t exist. That’s all I’m saying.

          Shake your head in disbelief at what I actually say, if you must, but let’s focus on what I actually say.

        • Norbert O.

          …somewhat insignificant modification, but sure, you’re the boss here.

          You are still 2000 years behind in the Problem of Evil literature.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Specifics, please. I make lots of mistakes, and (as seems certain to you) you may well have found lots more. Doesn’t help any of us if you keep ‘em to yourself.

        • Kodie

          Ok, say what you want to say. Criticism is so easy when you don’t reveal what you believe so Bob or any of his commenters can criticize whatever you think is true. Fucking stop hiding behind your little trolly-do and get on with it already. By the way, you are rude and off-topic. Are you DrewL?

        • Norbert O.

          You guys are quite the little duo. Are you sitting in the same room writing this?

        • Kodie

          So you admit you’re a troll.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Pwned! Whoa–I gotta hand it to you, you really hit home with that one! Or something!

        • Kodie

          A perfect omniscient + omnipotent god has a definition. ALL means ALL. I’m not even looking for perfect, let’s start with adequate. An adequate god would not favor one high school football team over another. An adequate god would feed starving people. An adequate god would stop people from raping other people. A god who can do anything can defy physics and uncrash a car. A god who can do anything can just knock it off already with the cancer. An adequately omnipotent god could, while a so-called “perfect” one handles slight coincidences and helps people who don’t really need any help accomplish ridiculously unimportant feats in the scope of the universe neighborhood where they live, and inspires dodgy stories about what a dick he’s been for several millennia. But call him “perfect” or he will give you cancer, or call him “perfect” and he will give you cancer anyway and you can thank him for the cancer because without cancer, we wouldn’t know that sunshine is warm and cats are soft.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      on the writings of a pre-modern civilization.

      You admit it the writings of a pre-modern civilization, not of an omniscient Being who couldn’t be lebeled pre-modern because He is also alleged to be “outside of time”. (whatever that means)

  • Bo Bannister

    Just because the trinity is a mystery doesn’t mean it’s inexplicable. It does take some work, though. But this is one of the more beautiful pieces of Christianity. God IS love. God is by nature love, and cannot choose not to love. How can God love before creation when there was no one to love? There are three beings who all share the same nature and have been eternally one union of love in one Being. The unity is called God, but of course that won’t do. Come up with another name, that’s just fine. But this Trinitarian God is an entirely different kind of being, so that’s where it gets hard to explain. The doctrine was come up with because the New Testament clearly affirms that there is one God, but that Jesus is also God and the Holy Spirit is also personal and divine (though this is a little less clear) and the three appear together several times in strange ways like they are assumed to belong together as the one we worship. Trinity in a nutshell, if you really want to begin to understand. It actually makes God different than the usual character, more concrete in beauty and love, more abstract in mystery and logic. But still somewhat rational in its own right.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Bo:

      God IS love.

      So these words are just synonyms?

      God is by nature love, and cannot choose not to love.

      Doesn’t seem very loving to create hell and put billions of people in it.

      How can God love before creation when there was no one to love?

      This raises an interesting tangential question: why did God create the universe? And why didn’t he create it sooner? If a 3-way lovefest was good enough before the universe was created, why create it? And if it wasn’t enough, why not create the universe a trillion years earlier?

      The doctrine was come up with because the New Testament clearly affirms that there is one God, but that Jesus is also God and the Holy Spirit is also personal and divine (though this is a little less clear)

      Let me try another way to cut the Gordian Knot: the New Testament is contradictory. Some authors had a monotheistic viewpoint and stressed the one-god thing. Others wanted to elevate Jesus to godly status. Result: contradictory claims. Munge them together if you want, but don’t imagine that that’s the simplest or most plausible interpretation.

      Trinity in a nutshell, if you really want to begin to understand.

      Just say that Christianity is polytheistic. It’d be a lot more sensible.

      • Bo Bannister

        BB: God IS love. BS: “So these words are just synonyms?”

        In some sense, yes, but both the words “love” and “God” in Christianity have a more specific meaning rooted in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

        BB: God is by nature love, and cannot choose not to love. BS: Doesn’t seem very loving to create hell and put billions of people in it.

        Very true. Good thing that the New Testament does not say that God created hell and is putting billions of people into it. There is a way of working through that, but I understand, it’s a lot simpler to believe that there is no God and we all just die the same and there is no next life where we are accountable for this one.

        “Why didn’t he create the universe sooner? Why not create the universe a trillion years earlier?”

        How do you know he didn’t? Or maybe he created it later? We’re talking the eternal past, here. Not sure how far into that eternity God thought of creating, but the analogy is that, like the standard love relationship among humans, love makes babies. Trinity begets creation.

        “Just say that Christianity is polytheistic. It’d be a lot more sensible.”

        If that’s sensible to you, I’m not 100% invested in the name. I personally don’t think it’s polytheistic. One God, three persons sharing that Deity in one entity. That’s different from polytheism, which has more than one god. There are no other gods in Christianity, except the one who is Father, Son and Spirit. I would call it a very distinct form of monotheism. But yeah, it’s a bit strange. That’s also one of the reasons I like it. Of course, there’s a lot to God that I do not understand, but the Trinity is more graspable than most people assert.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bo:

          In some sense, yes, but both the words “love” and “God” in Christianity have a more specific meaning rooted in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

          The definition of “love” in the dictionary is satisfactory, seems to me. Let’s use that as our starting point and then compare God against this.

          This “God is love” thing seems like nothing more than an attempt to take something everyone accepts and then say that this thing that they believe in is what the Christians have been talking about all along. Yes, I believe love exists. So that makes me a theist?

          Good thing that the New Testament does not say that God created hell and is putting billions of people into it.

          You tell me then: Did God create hell? How many souls will eventually inhabit it after God is done?

          Heaven isn’t available to me according to most Christian thinking. I don’t believe in Jesus (and also leprechauns, but apparently believing in them doesn’t get you much). Nor can I. Sux to be me, eh?

          it’s a lot simpler to believe that there is no God and we all just die the same and there is no next life where we are accountable for this one.

          I don’t know about “simpler,” but it is certainly more intellectually satisfying because it follows the facts where they lead.

          How do you know he didn’t? Or maybe he created it later?

          Sounds like you can’t explain it either.

          One God, three persons sharing that Deity in one entity.

          Partialism or Modalism make sense. A Trinity that avoids these concepts doesn’t.

          But yeah, it’s a bit strange.

          By “strange,” I assume you mean “completely contradictory and unintelligible to all humans.”

        • Bo Bannister

          About charges of polytheism, yeah, we’ve gotten that from Jews, Muslims, atheists, you name it. When so many friends say you have a drinking problem… :) So when we’re dealing with tradition-specific definitions, no Christian has ever claimed to be polytheistic. That term does not sit well with us. But if there is a common definition of “god” as “a supernatural being, who is worshipped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force” (World English Dictionary), then Judaism and Islam would be monotheistic (though believing in other supernatural beings who are not to be worshiped) while a charge of polytheism to Christians is understandable, because we do have three supernatural beings who are to be worshiped (but yet they are one God). If it helps you to charge with tritheism, I understand your point and say it’s a decent yet incomplete start of an understanding. One can also say we are henotheistic, as Paul says, “In fact there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:5-6). (The Jew Paul, because of his encounter with Jesus, can’t help strangely tacking Jesus onto the Jewish Shema. That’s what modifies Christianity’s monotheism.)

          In all respect, Bob (I know I’m on an atheist blog as a non-atheist), to say that the Trinity is “completely contradictory and unintelligible to all humans” is a place I don’t think you really want to go if I understand some of the purpose of this blog. You speak of the moral inferiority of Christians. It’s not religion that creates evil, it’s a feeling of in-group superiority and out-group inferiority, without trying to understand the “other” on her own terms. Religion feeds this; irreligion can as well. The Trinity was thought up by humans as a way of making sense of Scripture and experience. If humans formulated and propagated the idea, than it should be understandable to other humans. I think you understand some caricatures, but I don’t think you really get the Trinity (you claim that no one can – some Christians also do, so you may have heard that from us.) A Christian poking at atheism shouldn’t deconstruct concepts like Lawrence Krauss’ “instability of nothing” without understanding it and answering on its own terms. Same with trying to debunk evolution or global warming without understanding it. Your blog looks for arguments against Christianity and there are many decent ones, including the Trinity. I just think you don’t understand what it means to Christianity. Fair?

          About the hell thing, without getting too off topic (but related to the claim of Trinity helping understand God’s nature of “Love”) – you should know that there’s a lot of diversity within Christianity on that one. We’re Christians because the center of our faith is Christ, and so non-central areas are interpreted through the lens of God’s love in Christ. This makes many Christians uncomfortable with the idea of God ‘creating’ hell or almost everyone going there. Some Christians haven’t quite thought that through. I’m a concrete person myself. War is hell; poverty is hell. Did God create those? Or did people create those? Jesus came to rescue us from that kind of hell, as well as any other kinds. That being said, I’m not sure what to make of afterlife hell, but an angry God being very picky about what people are supposed to believe and do and very unclear about his specific demands sending people to everlasting punishment for not believing and doing things that they had no idea they were supposed to believe and do – makes no sense to me. Other options (none are robust enough to be widely accepted): hell is just death without rising again to take part in the new heavens and the new earth; hell is not infinite and is locked from the inside with hope for second chances; or hell is the same place as the new heavens and the new earth, but selfish people don’t like it. I have no clue, but I know that whatever hell is, Jesus came to rescue us from it, and I prefer to spell that out in as concrete and this-world terms as possible. (Maybe I’m going to hell for that belief.) But know that there are many types of Christians!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          no Christian has ever claimed to be polytheistic. That term does not sit well with us.

          Why not call a spade a spade? Is there some terrible problem that comes along with being polytheistic? Will believers in other religions laugh at you or something?

          I understand your point and say it’s a decent yet incomplete start of an understanding.

          So you’re saying that you do understand? Most Christians admit that the Trinity is a mystery.

          ”for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ

          What’s a Lord and what’s a God?

          I know I’m on an atheist blog as a non-atheist

          Not a problem. I prefer talking to theists.

          to say that the Trinity is “completely contradictory and unintelligible to all humans” is a place I don’t think you really want to go

          I thought many Christians said exactly this. No?

          You speak of the moral inferiority of Christians.

          Certainly not intentionally. Many Christians say it’s a mystery. Surely you’ve heard the, “Well, I’ll have to ask God that when I get to heaven.”

          The Trinity was thought up by humans as a way of making sense of Scripture and experience.

          It took 400 years. Seems to me that the NT writings have a contradictory mix of claims, and the church fathers were stuck trying to cobble together some rationalization. Hence the Trinity. It doesn’t make sense of everything, but it’s an attempt. They get an A for effort, I suppose, but the Bible itself has arguments against it.

          If humans formulated and propagated the idea, than it should be understandable to other humans.

          Like square circles? Like magnetic monopoles? Like invisible pink unicorns?

          I just think you don’t understand what it means to Christianity.

          You portray Christianity as being a lot more monolithic than I think it actually is. But if you claim that there’s one understandable definition of the Trinity that all Christians accept, I’d like to hear it.

          We’re Christians because the center of our faith is Christ, and so non-central areas are interpreted through the lens of God’s love in Christ.

          Hell is “non-central”? Lots of Christians disagree, I’m guessing.

          This makes many Christians uncomfortable with the idea of God ‘creating’ hell or almost everyone going there.

          Just like Christians are uncomfortable with God’s support of slavery and genocide in the OT. Luckily, they’ve dropped any biblical support for these ideas. Then you’ve got guys like Rob Bell who cobble together a kinder and gentler hell. I wonder if modern civilization will continue to chip away at biblical claims.

          Jesus came to rescue us from that kind of hell, as well as any other kinds.

          Jesus didn’t rescue me from hell. (Sorry to be a bit self-centered.)

          [that hell] makes no sense to me.

          If you grant yourself the power to reject the nutty claim of hell, why not the same for the Trinity?

          I have no clue

          But you can find NT passages that support the idea of an infinite hell, right? Sounds like a pretty big clue to me.

        • Bo Bannister

          About hell – Christians are not monolithic here. Rob Bell said nothing new. Discussions about eternal hell, temporal hell, annihilation, universalism, etc., have been around for even longer than Christianity, but also within the Church since the Fathers. Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of Christians, especially in the US, who almost center their faith on hell and what it’s like and who’s going to be there. That’s because the “good news” they preach relies on convincing people of the bad news that they are going to a postmortem place of judgments because of even one violation of God’s law. Scripturally, it seems that the ‘good news’ is that the king of the world is not Caesar, it’s this Jewish peasant who advocated for a non-imperial way of life and was killed for it, but through his death and resurrection a new world has opened up for us to be free and fully human and know the love of God.

          It’s unclear how much of what Jesus and others are talking about is worded in metaphorical language. Could be referring to dying, could be referring to being dumped out on a burning garbage heap by the Romans, could be some kind of post-mortem suffering, but whatever it is, Christians who have struggled with it have centered around the idea that it is a natural consequence of dehumanized and selfish living and that it’s something that Jesus came to rescue us from.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like the discussion of the Trinity. Believe it faith-ishly if you want, but it’s when you claim that the Bible is unambiguous on the subject (I suppose you don’t) and that there’s good reason to believe that I’m not following.

        • Greg G.

          “Just say that Christianity is polytheistic. It’d be a lot more sensible.”If that’s sensible to you, I’m not 100% invested in the name. I personally don’t think it’s polytheistic. One God, three persons sharing that Deity in one entity. That’s different from polytheism, which has more than one god. There are no other gods in Christianity, except the one who is Father, Son and Spirit. I would call it a very distinct form of monotheism. But yeah, it’s a bit strange. That’s also one of the reasons I like it. Of course, there’s a lot to God that I do not understand, but the Trinity is more graspable than most people assert.

          Don’t forget Satan, angels and demons. They are supposedly more powerful than the gods of many polytheistic religions. Simply not calling them gods is just pretending to have monotheism.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Acknowledging the existence of other gods while worshipping only one would technically be called henotheism. And it’s still a big leap to grant the Christian that the Trinity is a valid concept.

        • Greg G.

          It seems to me that the first century Roman Empire was past henotheism. The Christians got in trouble for not honoring gods from other religions. They rejected the practice as polytheism but insisted they themselves were monotheists, despite some angels and human characters from scripture being adapted gods. The syncretism brought in some conundrums which would be a reason to reject their religion but faith is reductio ad absurdum proof.

    • smrnda

      I get what you are trying to say about love not existing in a vacuum (you must have at least 2 people, or possibly 3.) The problem is ‘love’ is a very idiosyncratic experience. When I see Christian couples who are married talk about ‘love’ their experiences seem about as desirable as a decade in a Siberian gulag. When I talk about my own version of “love” people like that get utterly horrified.

      I guess I’m a very concrete person. Capitalizing words like “Union” or “Being” just seem to be sleight of hand tricks, whereas vague, ordinary words that typically don’t mean much outside of a context (“Joe joined the *union* and they went on strike.” “I don’t like *being* outside in the rain.”) get the inflated capital letter and now sound big and profound. To me, all the “Being” “Union” “Oneness” “Cosmic” are just a bunch of hot air balloons that need to be popped.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Yeah, except for “Truth.” When you capitalize that, you get super-duper evidence-transcending truth, instead of just, y’know, truth.

      • Greg G.

        To me, all the “Being” “Union” “Oneness” “Cosmic” are just a bunch of hot air balloons that need to be popped.

        For that you would need a Needle.

    • Greg G.

      There are three beings who all share the same nature and have been eternally one union of love in one Being.

      That’s Partialism, Patrick. (See the video posted by Karl in the comments of Bob’s previous article.)

      • Bo Bannister

        Funny, but no. I agree with the Irish twins. Three persons, one God. It’s the love that makes them one, but a love more pure than what human beings really get to experience. And I agree with you about over-capitalization and over-abstractness. Thank you for keeping me grounded.

        • Kodie

          It’s an imaginary kind of love, you’re saying. We can’t experience, we can only speculate, i.e. invent such creatures.

        • Bo Bannister

          Only if it’s not true. Just because one hasn’t experienced something doesn’t mean it’s not true. But this goes into a ‘belief in God’ place. I have reason to believe. I have reason to disbelieve. To me, what draws me to believe is more compelling to me. That’s another story, though. I’m sure you have your own.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bo:

          Just because one hasn’t experienced something doesn’t mean it’s not true.

          True, though that’s hardly resounding support for that claim.

        • Bo Bannister

          Oh, I know. I’ve never experienced leprechauns, either, but no matter what you say, I. Refuse. To believe in leprechauns. But then, not too many people do, do they?

          To describe my own belief in God in a convincing way, I would have to combine my life story, philosophical arguments about how I come to certain conclusions because of my life story, and then buy you plane tickets to come see how it plays out in my life. And even then, you may not be convinced.

          I’m here only to say that the Trinity doesn’t have to be nonsense. You can’t say that Christianity is incomprehensible when a lot of people comprehend it just fine. That being said, it doesn’t mean that it’s a simple rational formula that I can convince anyone of. God is personal and not a concept and works through human experience. This is a cliche that will back me into the corner you want me backed into, but I can just pray that God shows up in your life and leave it to God.

        • Kodie

          You said it was beautiful, that doesn’t make it true. It makes it merely an appeal to emotion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You can’t say that Christianity is incomprehensible when a lot of people comprehend it just fine.

          I say that the Trinity is incomprehensible because Christians have told me that it is. If I’ve been misinformed, tell us how the Trinity makes sense.

          Do you have any reason to believe your religion except that it works for you?

        • Bo Bannister

          I understand. I’m not going to deny there’s a lot about God we don’t understand. Saying that, of course, is fodder for those who say that it makes it less credible. So we may part ways there. I understand that Christians often say things like the Trinity is incomprehensible, but people have written whole books on it. People pray to the Trinity. Trinity is a lens through which to understand reality. It’s not hard, so long as you don’t define God in Platonist “Ultimate-perfect-being-concept” or in pagan “god/supernatural power over us” terms.

          It does make sense as a modified Jewish monotheism. The Old Testament, for instance, Daniel 7, making reference to a human being conquering the beasts of the world and sharing, basically, the throne and worship of God with God. There you have a pre-Christian basis that laid the groundwork for New Testament understanding of The Messiah being a divine and human figure who shares worship along with God. John 1 makes more clear what sort of a divine figure Jesus was, and that was a huge leap. It took a while to formulate the precision for how the Trinity worked, but it’s only because for 300 years it had been a part of Christian worship without being explained, and that leads to problems. But then they explained it, and I think they got it right, but the point is – it’s explicable.

          And Christians are extremely monolithic on this when it comes to the actual doctrines of different Christian groups. Christians universally, except for some fringe groups, accept the ancient creeds regarding the Trinity. Not everyone understands it or seeks to, because many Christians also are more Platonist in their understanding of God that scriptural, but it’s doable.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We may have two different approaches. You seem to be trying to make the best sense of the Bible. That is, given the Bible and Christianity (presupposing Christianity), how do we best interpret it? My approach is quite different: given all the facts, what best explains the Bible that we have?

          Sure, people have written books on the Trinity. That doesn’t mean that even those authors say that the Trinity is comprehensible. I imagine some don’t.

          It does make sense as a modified Jewish monotheism.

          Sure, new religions come out of old ones. That’s one way that people invent religions. I’m sure you agree (except in the case of Christianity).

          John 1 makes more clear what sort of a divine figure Jesus was, and that was a huge leap.

          One more step along the way of people trying to make sense of what they had. Doesn’t give much confidence that it’s true.

          It took a while to formulate the precision for how the Trinity worked

          And what does that tell us? That you’ve got a handful of competing ideas (ignoring the very different Christianities vying for supremacy) again suggests a manmade philosophy.

          the point is – it’s ex plicable .

          And you can explain it to me so that it makes sense?

        • Bo Bannister

          Quick explanation. You might actually know it, but still dismiss it. But this is it: Three Persons, One God. The God part is really the Union part, the team aspect of it all. What that means is that there is a redefinition of the word God around that eternal relationship of love. It’s not a monarch imposing his will, but a dance inviting creation to participate in it. If you believe it, that’s beautiful.

          Now why redefine in the first place? Why believe it at all? Yes, there is a sense where I’m already captured by the Bible and I don’t want to claim to be a blank slate of objectivity (Is anyone really?). I believe the accounts. I saw your Naysayer stuff as suggested, and haven’t read the comments yet, and I can see the logic, but not with how that jives with what I know about that particular time and place. Because of that history that I believe, and because of personal experience, I want to believe, and I want to believe in the God who is made known in the face of the suffering love-and-justice-preacher rather than the perfect supreme being as in Islam.

          Thank you for your time. I’m just dipping in to what it’s like to have these conversations online as opposed to in person. You’ve given me new stuff to think about. I may be back.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The God part is really the Union part, the team aspect of it all.

          I’m imagining a work team of three people. Yes, that does indeed exist. But there’s nothing counterintuitive here.

          What that means is that there is a redefinition of the word God around that eternal relationship of love.

          I’m struggling to say something nice here, but I gotta say that that just sounds like an empty-headed and meaningless, “Golly, isn’t God just so cool and fabulous?” Just because you throw the word “love” into a sentence, that doesn’t make it understandable or believable or plausible.

          I saw your Naysayer stuff as suggested, and haven’t read the comments yet, and I can see the logic, but not with how that jives with what I know about that particular time and place.

          If you find an error, fire away with comments there. In short, the idea that eyewitnesses would’ve shut down any false story is so slam-dunkingly refuted today (does the internet contain nothing but true statements by the same logic?) that I can’t imagine why the naysayer hypothesis continues.

          http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

          You’ve given me new stuff to think about. I may be back.

          I’ve enjoyed the chat. Yes, please come back.

        • Kodie

          You can’t say that Christianity is incomprehensible when a lot of people
          comprehend it just fine.

          I wouldn’t say they comprehend it just fine. I would suggest if it makes sense then you’re not comprehending it at all. It’s not intellectual, and mostly I hear, it’s not supposed to be poked at by intellect.

          This is a cliche
          that will back me into the corner you want me backed into, but I can
          just pray that God shows up in your life and leave it to God.

          Nobody wants to back you into a corner. It just sort of happens. That also doesn’t speak to the “just fine” comprehensibility you claim.

        • Greg G.

          Hi Bo

          Just because a person has experienced somrthing means that their interpretation of the experience is true. When I was about 12, I had an intense dream that my aunt had died. I wondered if I should warn my mother but didn’t. Every time the phone rang, I expected it to be the bad news. I decided it must have been a premonition and dreaded the phone ringing for days.

          Forty-some years later, my aunt is still alive (knonk wood). Obviously it was just a random dream. There’s a non-zero chance that she would have died shortly before or after the dream and I would then have interpreted it as a supernatural event.

          I’ve since learned the importance of accepting things according to the strength of the evidence or logical implication. I am willing to change my acceptance with better evidence. I’ve learned that dreams can seem very real but are unrelible substitutes for learning.

        • Bo Bannister

          If I staked my life on just a dream, that would not be enough. I’ve had crazy dreams and crazy supernatural encounters, but I’m personally skeptical about ‘supernaturalism’ for the most part. I’ve sought to base my belief on more than just my experience. In a nutshell, the biggest case for me intellectually is that I really believe something happened in that tomb. I believe that Jesus was dead and then the tomb was empty and then disciples saw him and had to shape their understandings of God and resurrection and life after those encounters. Knowing what I know about 2nd Temple Judaism, about the strange social movement that just happened and took off based on one particular event that could have been easily disproved – I know that this stuff has been talked about and doesn’t convince everybody, but I’m convinced by it, looking at the history. I’ve looked at it, but aside from the fact that dead people don’t come back to life, the evidence suggests there might be an exception to that rule.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the biggest case for me intellectually is that I really believe something happened in that tomb.

          Why?? The claim that the gospel story is history strikes me as incredibly farfetched.

          one particular event that could have been easily disproved

          Balderdash (if you’ll excuse my French). Look up “Naysayer” on this blog for more.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bo: Are you saying that the concept of the Trinity is understandable by we stupid humans?

        • Bo Bannister

          Yes. Humans came up with it as a way to understand God, so I think it’s understandable. There is tension, and generally heretics seek to resolve the tension. But as long as that tension exists in your understanding, then you understand it. You’ll have to redefine your concept of God. I tell people that God is a party. I believe that I’m still in the clear.

          Lots of things in life are confusing, but sometimes you need to roll with them a while to get it. It could be true that you do start with accepting/believing it first, just like if your brother becomes a woman, that might take some getting used to. Just because it’s confusing, doesn’t mean it’s not true. You may have to redefine your concept of gender. But once you reconcile with this change of understanding, you’ll get used to it, and realize that your earlier concepts regarding your brother were missing some key information that led you to faulty conclusions, and you’ll know her a lot better. Now I might be getting out of line…

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s a clumsy rationalization. Just because smart Christians from centuries past thought it up, that doesn’t make it believable.

          “There is tension”: you’re sounding like Tertullian’s “I believe because it is absurd.”

          Does God exist? Then he gave you that big brain to use. When God’s gift is telling you that something doesn’t make sense, it’s kind of a slap in God’s face to ignore it.

        • Kodie

          Humans came up with everything about god. They start with the belief that the universe wants something and then do a little dance to appease it. A little dance, a prayer, purity rings. Little ceremonial human bullshit to please the complex god. What is god. God is love, it’s a rope, it’s a father, it is the personification of everything that happens – that it even can be pleased or forgive or sort you into worthy and unworthy. Please tell me why people are so superstitious. Do you think a can of soda or a lamp or a rock is all about you? All you are doing is on a grander scale, personifying inanimate objects that have zero concern who you are or what you are like.

        • Bo Bannister

          Sure, it makes sense. It’s possible. It might jive with your own experience of theists fitting a certain type of person. But… is it true? Were you there for the beginnings of superstition in the human race? Do you really know this, or are you making up a narrative that helps make sense of the world? Sure, there’s evidence, but it’s a faith in something that makes you feel better in the end. We’re all painted into corners at some point.

        • Kodie

          I’m not painted into any corners. I see the sky and it looks like a dome, kind of like it says in the bible, right? It’s not really a dome. My perception was inaccurate. You are looking at the same world I am and coming up with grand anthropomorphic ways of looking at it. That’s not merely a tree, it’s a tree made for me to appreciate god. That’s not really a tornado, that is god punishing us for [insert "sin"]. You are just painting an elaborate picture to describe ordinary things because you can’t believe it’s just there, and you can’t understand why you are alive. You’re alive just like a cockroach is alive, and you can get caught in a trap just like a cockroach can get into a trap, and you can learn to avoid traps, just like a cockroach can avoid traps. Meanwhile, you form a society like a cockroach does, you focus on survival like a cockroach. You eat and poop and reproduce like a cockroach does. It’s a being granted life in a different form in you – that’s what you can’t handle, not being more magnificently purposeful in life.

          Humans and cockroaches really don’t get along, but the cockroach has no idea how disgusting they are. If they did, they might be self-loathing and invent a god too.

  • avalon

    It would be incorrect to say God has many names. The bible gives many titles to God, but never reveals his name. The reason, like most things in the bible, is superstition. It was thought that knowing a gods name gave one the power to summon that god. So when Moses asks God for his name, God’s answer is evasive, it’s literally, “I am who I am”. God’s real name remains secret. This led to the stories that only the high priests were privy to God’s real name and they whispered it only once a year and eventually not at all.

    “God” is merely a title for the unnamed god of the bible. Google “God’s secret name” and you’ll find lots of people today still trying to find out God’s real name.

    God Has Many Names, But Do We Need One More?
    God Has Many Names, But Do We Need One More?

    • Reginald Selkirk

      The bible gives many titles to God, but never reveals his name.

      You lose. contradiction already cited above.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Isn’t “Yahweh” God’s name (assuming that we got the vowels right)?

      • avalon

        Hi Bob,
        “Yahweh” is literally “I am who I am”.

        If you just met someone and asked for their name and they answered, “I am who I am”, would you consider that an answer?

        • busterggi

          If Popeye said it I would but he dioesn’t claim to be the ruler of the universe.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Dang! You beat me to that one.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Jehovah then. Or Elyon. God’s name?

  • http://manojpontificates.blogspot.com/ Manoj

    Hey Bob,

    Question about Isaiah 45:5–6. I see that some translations have LORD, some translate it to Adonai and a few as Jehovah. Does the hebrew manuscripts have “YHWH” in that verse? Would you know?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Let me suggest the NET Bible. They have lots of useful notes. The user interface is a little confusing, but there’s a lot there. If you hover over any word, it will give you the word number. You can look it up (double click) there or find a Strong’s lexicon to look up the word.

      Keep in mind also that some English translations might use the original Hebrew and some the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint). Hope this helps.

      • http://manojpontificates.blogspot.com/ Manoj

        Thanks Bob!

  • wtfwjtd

    In reading this article, I couldn’t help but think of this scene from “The Life of Brian”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIaORknS1Dk

    Sorry if this is OT, but it seems relevant (and hilarious). Who could use another name for God? Some of these people sure could, LOL!

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