To: K___ B_____ From: "Phillip R. Johnson" Subject: Cr--t-r?!
> I serve M-ss--h in a Jewish > context. Hence the omission > of the vowels in the names > of G-d. You have my per- > mission to publish any part > of my messages you choose, > but I have one request: Please > do not edit my words so as to > add the letters I have omitted. > > Were my post to come into the > hands of a Jew, my credibility > with the community would be > suspect for writing out the > name of the Cr--t-r. See what > Rav' Shaul (the apostle Paul) > wrote in 1 Cor. 9:20-21.
Perhaps you could explain this practice further. It seems to me that this is an accommodation to a superstition that is grounded in an unbiblical notion of what it means to take the Lord's name in vain. And as far as I can tell, it is not even the whole Jewish community who follow this superstition, but a fairly narrow segment of Hasidim.
Since the whole idea behind this practice goes against what Christ taught, I've always felt it is inappropriate for Christians to cater to it. We don't cross ourselves or bow to the communion elements in order to accommodate the superstitions of Roman Catholics. Why omit vowels in order to accommodate selected Pharisaic-style superstitions? (And even in the word Cr--t-r?!! That's the first time I've seen that.)
This isn't a case of obeying any law or tradition that reflects the true intent of the Old Testament commandments. In fact, it tacitly seems to sanction a perversion of God's law. It's precisely the kind of thing Y'shua refused to accommodate for the sake of pleasing overscrupulous Pharisees (cf. Mark 7:2-9). In fact, He attacked the myth that lies behind the superstition against pronouncing or spelling out the name of God (cf. Matthew 23:16-24).
I also think it's a huge and totally unwarranted logical leap to portray this practice as a legitimate application of the 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 principle: "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law . . . that I might gain them that are without law."
Since you've appealed to that text, I have four questions for you:
Have you carefully considered the possibility that your observing this practice is perpetuating a myth about the appropriate way to express one's reverence for God's name? Again, I refer you to Mark 7:2-9 for our Lord's own example of how to deal with Jewish traditions that subvert the true meaning of the law.
If the no-vowels-in-God's-name rule is a perversion of the law rather than a legitimate application of the third commandment, do you really imagine Rav' Shaul would have sanctioned it?
Do you follow both sides of Rav' Shaul's maxim? When you write to me, you're writing to a Goy. So why do you insist on retaining (and to a large degree, it seems, flaunting) the ceremonial and religious accoutrements of Jewish culture? What about becoming as one who is without law to them who are without law? Do you ever do that? Or are you treating certain Old Testament ceremonial requirements as inviolable, even among the Goyim?
Are you really Jewish? Because in my experience, a high percentage of Christians who imitate Hasidic practices are not really from orthodox Jewish backgrounds at all, but Goyim-born Hebrew-wannabes (or secular Jews who have embraced Christ as Meshiach)with the mistaken notion that cloaking the Christian faith in the robes and phylacteries of Orthodox Jewish religious traditions somehow makes Christianity seem more "authentic." (As if Christ were not Savior of the Goyim, too.) That's the very mindset that gave rise to Galatianism, and it's a troubling and persistent tendency of Messianic Judaism, I fear.
> As a trained Rav', surely Shaul > would have not have shown such > disrespect to G-d's name as to > write it out when corresponding > with fellow Jews.
However, he did just that, in his epistle to the Romans, which included Jewish recipients.
And he certainly would not have shown such disrespect to his Gentile brethren as to insist on treating God's name as unspeakable in his correspondence with them. Nothing you have said explains why you insist on observing Hasidic superstitions in your correspondence with me.
Thus my objection to the missing vowels still stands. This is not a legitimate principle of Old Testament law, but a manufactured tradition invented by men, or worsea matter of superstition based on a serious corruption of the law.
And I think it is a serious mistake for Christians to play along with such superstitions.