What’s in a Name?

I have spent a fair amount of time over the past view days responding by phone and email to Jehovah’s Witnesses or those studying with JWs. In nearly every case the questioner would at some point insist that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is God’s organization because they are the only ones that put the designation “Jehovah” in their Bible. Most of the time they are surprised to learn that even the Watchtower acknowledges this is not really God’s name. For example, on page 28 of the 1969 edition of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures they write:

While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yah-weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.

So, I ask, since the reasoning for using a designation which they know is not correct but use it because of “people’s familiarity with it…” if a great number of people are more familiar with the word LORD why wouldn’t that be okay? Instead of pressing that point too hard though, I sometimes go back to a something which Joy pointed out some years ago in a short essay she calls, “Terms of Endearment.” Her father has gone home to be with the Lord since she originally penned these words but she demonstrates something that is more important in this discussion and so as if opening a time capsule she wrote:

Jehovah’s Witnesses often argue online that they are the only true Christians, because they are the only ones who know and use God’s name. Of course the counter argument could be made that God’s name is NOT Jehovah at all, but YHWH, but this essay is my online response to the JW charge that the churches disrespect God by not using His name…

My dad’s name is Vaughn. It is a great name, and I hope that all revere the man behind the name. But I don’t call my dad “Vaughn”. I call him “dad,” and have done so since my earliest infancy. I have never even thought about calling him Vaughn, because I have always sensed that would not be an expression of honor or respect coming from me, but perhaps even an expression of dishonor.

Now that does not mean that other people outside the family would be insulting him to call him by his name. In fact, outsiders do not have the right to call him “dad” as I do. They would be presuming upon a relationship that the do not possess to call him “dad” or “Daddy.” So he has been called different things by “outsiders.” To some, neighbors and friends, he might be referred to as “Vaughn.” To others, he is “Mr. Nielsen.” Still others might have referred to him as “the boss.” But I had a special relationship to him, so I never referred to him as “the boss,” with all of the intrinsic insecurity that title suggests. He was, and is, my dad. I am sure there were prettier little girls than me, and smarter girls too, and some were perhaps better behaved. But, I was my daddy’s little girl. Such is the wonderful nature of family relationship, to be loved for who you are rather than what qualities you possess or what you may do. And such is the nature of daddies.

In thinking about this, I don’t think the name “Vaughn” was heard too much around our house, although of course all seven kids knew my dad’s name. We were his kids. We just called him “dad.” That is what we were taught to call him, and we never considered calling him anything else. We certainly never would have imagined addressing him by his name. And even in discussing him among ourselves, we still did not use his name. It was, “Where is dad?” Or, “I’m gonna tell dad on you.” What would be considered disrespectful familiarity to an outsider was our very birthright. He was out protector, provider, and out disciplinarian, but we belonged to him, and he loved us deeply, beyond any doubt.

This of course does not imply that it would be wrong for me to ever refer to my dad as “Vaughn” when speaking to others about him. There are appropriate times to do so, such as this essay. “My dad’s name is Vaughn,” is an appropriate statement in the third person.

Funny thing is, my dad cannot see the passage of time in his little girl, is seems to me. He hasn’t seemed to notice the (miniscule amount of) grey hair I have acquired, nor gives any attention to my reading glasses. He still calls me by the same pet name he has always used of me and which shall never be breathed in this forum by me (you can use your imagination as to what horrible appellation my dad might have assigned to his youngest daughter). For my part, I still call him “daddy.” Expressions of familial love … terms of endearment.

Galatians 4:4-6: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons, and because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!”

Terms of familial love … Terms of endearment.

Joy Veinot


Comments

What’s in a Name? — 2 Comments

    • How wonderful, Joyful, it is to read this response on so many levels! Your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Years ago you sent me a newsletter on JWs complex and unbiblical belief on the bodily resurrection of Jesus (starting with Russell alleging “the body dissolved into gases.” I’m responding by letter to a JW who, visiting our church last Sunday, heard me say JWs don’t believe in the resurrection. She challenged me. I wanted to add those references to my response, but I can’t find that newsletter. Send it please. I will look for it on the website. I will send some “fellowship” this Friday! Much love, Poray

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