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Archive for July, 2010

The Name of God

Many people know that I don’t consider Wikipeda to be of much use as an authoritative encyclopaedia. This is true of God’s Name. In fact, they have several pages – Tetragrammaton, Jehovah and Yahweh when they should only have one.

I feel the need to explain this because I’m going to reveal what God’s name actually is and how to say it, according to 3500 years of Jewish knowledge and tradition. That is, from the point when God revealed his name to Moses.

The Wikipedia article on the Tetragrammaton begins by citing the Tetragrammaton as “YHWH”; this is simply not true. The Tetragrammaton is written as: Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh. Or it is rendered as Yodh, He, Wawe He, in Old Aramaic script. It is not four English letters. That’s one way of reppresenting it, but that’s all.

The Jews know, and have always known since Moses how to say God’s Name. This is proven by the fact that in the 9th or 10th century the Masoretes perfected a system of adding vowel points to the Hebrew text. This is the overwhelming view of scholars. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls assisted greatly with all future translations of Hebrew texts and shows that indeed Hebrew used to be written without the Masoretes vowel points. These were added to preserve the texts. Another feature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is that the Tetragrammaton is usually written using the Ancient Paleo-Hebrew Script, but the scrolls themselves are written (mostly) in the modern script.

I’m establishing this to show the position that the vowel points for “Adonai” (Lord) were added to JHVH, as is claimed by Wikipedia, are unfounded. Furthermore, while the Masoretes did indeed write the vowel points six different ways, more than 6,500 occurrences (the overwhelming majority) are the same, whereas the variant appears a mere 300 times. The main vowel is schwa, which is completely absent in the “Yahweh” pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. The other vowel is o – also absent.

Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish Historian, undoubtedly knew how to pronounce God’s Name. In fact he records that it consists of four vowels. This is because he knew that in Hebrew writing there were four letters that could potentially be pronounced as vowels, and three of them are Yod, Heh and Vav. However Heh could only be a vowel at the end of a word. This produces [I/Y]H[O/U][A]. This is extremely close to the actual pronunciation of God’s Name. You can prove this by using a name we know how to pronounce correctly – Judah, or in Hebrew Yod-Heh-Vav-Dalet-Heh, then simply drop the Dalet, the pronunciation would be Yehuah, except for the fact that two vowels can not be said together, hence Vav has to also appear as a constant, this renders: Yehuwah. By the way, “Y” is also a constant, so it is more pleasing to write it like this: Jehuwah (Y is used more as a vowel than as a constant in English). This does take care of both the “o” and “schwa” vowels indicated by the Masoretes text.

I know I’m no scholar, but I’ve come to the Jehovah translation very easily, and with a deep understanding of the pronunciation. [I/Y/(Je)]H[(O)/U:(W)/V][(A)] (“Je” as pronounced “Ye”, with a slight hint of the first constant). In case you’re wondering, Josephus is not the only one to have said that the Tetragrammaton consists of vowels.

We’re going to have a look at the Islamic name of god “Allah”. The Islamic view is that the Tetragrammaton is not God’s Name, it’s only his Title. Like “Dr” or “Rev”. They also think they know more about Hebrew than the Jews. Even though their religion started in AD 610. The Jewish tradition has always been that God’s Name is Holy and it is in written form in their scriptures but it is not to be spoken out of fear for blasphemy. That’s an oral tradition, not a written tradition. The written tradition is different – nothing with God’s Name on it could be destroyed, that’s the written tradition. It could be stored, it could be hidden, but they wouldn’t dare destroy it.

Islam teaches that the Tetragrammaton means Adonai (Lord). This is clearly not true, as I’ve already mentioned – the dead sea scrolls (for the most part) have the Tetragrammaton written in ancient text surrounded by modern text, why would they treat a “Title” so specially? All of this evidence is ignored by Islam. They think therefore that the Name of God was lost by the Jews. Which is ridiculous. Islam is a “Sacred Name Movement” just as the Jehovah Witnesses are.

We’re now going to move on to the “Yahweh” transliteration. This understanding assumes that the Jews indeed “forgot” how to pronounce God’s Name and assumes that the Masoretes deliberately altered the Name of God in its written form.

This understanding is fundamentally flawed. Firstly, you can arrive at Jehovah (or as it would be spelled today Yehowah) from the pre-Masoretes material very readily. There’s a mountain of evidence that supports it: the spelling, written clues from Josephus and others, similar Hebrew names we know how to pronounce through transliteration (like Judah), the very fact that God’s Name was indeed known and spoken by Ancient Jews in the Bible. It was NEVER a Jewish tradition to refrain from writing God’s Name in scripture, it was only ever a spoken tradition; it was a well established tradition and there was absolutely no need to, or use in, placing incorrect vowels onto the Tetragrammaton. Christians are the ones who made it a written tradition, not Jews. Christians are the ones who substituted “LORD” in Writing when the Jews were happy to leave the Name of God to be READ but not to be SAID. Christians are the ones who created that written tradition, not Jews. Therefore the idea that the Jews were doing it is ridiculous.

The Masoretic vowels that were added to the Old Testament were accurate, it has been confirmed mostly through names of either people or places that were transliterated into other languages. This is the strongest evidence. Judah, as I previously mentioned, in one such name that we know how to pronounce through this method, it is spelled with only one additional letter, and it has the same vowel points as the Tetragrammaton.

Here is how the claim is made – the Tetragrammaton has “borrowed” its vowels from Adonai (Lord), and the Jews forgot how to say it. The shortened version “YH” is pronounced “Yah”, and about this there is little contention. There are, however, two opposing views on how it is derived – one is that it’s the first letters, the other is that it’s the first and last letters. This moves the “ah” either to the start or the end of God’s name. The claim is then made that early Christian Church leaders in the first and second centuries of Christianity give clues. The problem here is that we know the Jews knew how to say God’s name at the same time, and therefore their “clues” should be given higher weighting as evidence when against gentile Christians with no Jewish history regarding this matter. Christians were not even able to preserve their own authoritative copies in Hebrew of the Old Testament, why else is it that we use the Masoretic Text, written some 1,000 years after Christ died by Jewish scribes? Yet despite this, they claim early gentile Christians in the first two centuries of Christianity with no Jewish or Hebrew knowledge or tradition (even their Old Testament texts were in Greek not Hebrew) had a better understanding of how to say God’s Name than the Christians in the late 1400’s who used the Hebrew texts as the basis for their Old Testament, and clearly had a better understanding of the Language. The Jews didn’t forget how to say all the names in the OT, and they didn’t forget how to say God’s Name either.

You’re probably asking how could the Jews know when they weren’t allowed to say it? It’s simple. They taught it one syllable at a time, being careful never to say God’s full Name. If the first syllable was really “Yah”; which everyone agrees was the shortened version of God’s Name, then they could not have said it, and therefore could not have taught on it. Therefore it had to have been “Yeh”. Christians have forgotten their history; Jehovah is God’s correct name, and it has been known by Christians for centuries. It is not based on misinformation. Today it would be spelled Yehowah to convey the original pronunciation. It has three syllables, not two.

The bitter stench of BP’s oil

You know, the oil spill is bad enough, especially its environmental implications, but then to politicise this escapade insults the intelligence of every human being on the planet.

We’ve forgotten that thirteen people were killed. The news isn’t interested in that; but is more interested in the political aspects. The Poms blame Obama, and Obama blames BP, and BP blames the oil rig. The British aren’t happy about this, after all they do own 40% of the shares.

There are only a finite number of possibilities arising from this disaster, and the least likely is that BP will rebound in its own right. More than likely it will be brought out by another company to avoid bankruptcy. This is where, though, the deceptiveness of world leaders shows: Obama has held nothing back in attacking BP for this environmental disaster; and Cameron has defended BP saying that “It is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company”. Actually, what he means is that it’s in his best interests because the UK has so much invested in it. Political corruption; ahh isn’t the taste sweet?

Obama and Cameron could not possibly be further apart on their opinions of the disaster. It would not surprise me if the UK government attempts to bail out the oil giant in the future; but what is nonsense is the argument that has been made. Who care’s about British superannuation funds (aka pension funds)? Well – okay – lots of people, fair enough; but that does not override the integrity of a company. You can’t just say “oh because such and such owns this company you must accept that its a reputable and important company that should not face hardship”, that’s ridiculous! There’s a word for what that is: communism. In a free-market economy you’re just going to have to accept the facts that in any investment there are risks, and this is one of those times that those risks turned out for the worst.

I’m not saying that BP meant this to happen, no. Just that they need to be held accountable for what they’ve done. I’m no tree-hugger, but even I sit up and take notice when something of this magnitude happens; when decent folk have oil all over their beaches and when marine life is adversely affected.

For those of you in some way affected by this, you may be interested in this website.

The End Is Nigh…

Well not for a while but within the life span of our kids (if anyone bothers to have more than one). Is this about the second coming? No, it’s about decline of the West. More specifically about the unsustainable social welfare state. Now don’t get me wrong I believe that we should help those in need, but surely not at the cost of future generations. What am I talking about? I’m talking about debt.

I can’t think of a single modern Western welfare state that isn’t racked with debt. All for what? To kept the economy from recession, what a waste. Anyone who done any economics studies at school will know that booms & busts are how the economy works. If an economy is in a bubble it will eventually correct itself no matter how much money one throws at it. The bigger the bubble the bigger the bust. Basically what we’ve done to avoid recession is stolen from the next generation to pay to keep the recession away for a little longer. The day of Reckoning will strike and no amount of stimulus packages will save us (no one will have any money to lend). Basically the west is involved in a form of inter-generational tyranny, making them pay for our (and our father’s) unsustainable lives. Now I’m not advocating that we form a massive hippy commune with free love, sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and everything else (is there much else :P). We need something that is nationally and globally sustainable.

Currently the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece & Spain) are the big worry when it comes to debt. But they shrink in comparison to Japan. The Japs for every Dollar they earn owe two Dollars (their debt is 198% of GDP). Japan’s economy had been in taters since the Asian financial crisis of 1998. Co-hosting the 2002 World Cup saw Japan’s economy “stimulated” by the construction of stadia using government funds. One of the Islands that had a stadium built on it would fit the entire population of the Island. Is that really forethought? “But its infrastructure” is a common argument I’ve heard about the Labor GFC Stimulus package. Yes but infrastructure is only beneficial if it’s used. Japan’s other problem (like most western nations) is it’s ageing population. Unlike other most other nations you pretty much can’t emigrate to Japan. So there is no influx of young workers to fill the gap.

The Important thing is balance. Liaise fair approach to markets enables all kinds of things to go wrong. Just look at BP and the US sub-prime markets. But to strict regulations hampers growth & innovation. But perpetual growth is unsustainable. To ensure the growth that is ‘required’ to keep a social welfare state functioning the population must grow. Western population pyramids are skewed nowadays as younger couples are not having kids (for various reasons). So the answer that western governments have is to import skilled migrants to make up for the lack of children.

So how do we create a sustainable global society? That is the big question. What things must we give up or cut back?

I’m not young enough to know everything anymore so I don’t have a complete or total answer. I’m (hopefully) going to address this with some solutions next time. Some of which I’m sure will annoy the PC people of this world.

I’m not a fan of Rick Warren, never have been, never will be. I think he gives Christians a bad name, and that he’s a lukewarm Christian at best. Most of all though, I think he completely fails to preach the good news, and instead preaches a “feel good” gospel filled with practical advice.

It didn’t surprise me at all to hear that Warren wants to work with Muslims, but it’s so counter productive to Christianity I just wonder what his real agenda is. So firstly it’s important to understand what and how he preaches to Christians, and specifically his “PEACE” plan that tackles the “Global Goliaths”, you can read in Rick’s own words here:

  • P – Plant a Church; to tackle “Spiritual Emptiness”.
  • E – Equip servant leaders; to tackle “egocentric leadership”.
  • A – Assist the poor; to tackle poverty.
  • C – Care for the sick; to tackle disease.
  • E – Educate the next generation; to tackle illiteracy.

He then claims that these are the five things that Jesus did; he’s wrong, but we’ll get back to that later. According to Rick, Jesus 1. Planted a Church, 2. Equip Leaders, 3. Cared for the Poor, 4. Healed the sick, 5. He taught.

Firstly, Jesus never planted a church. Never, in fact these were his own words in John 2:19: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus compares his ministry to that of Noah! Luke 17:26: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” Jesus is talking about the future events of his own ministry, clearly not comparing it to “planting a church”, or for that matter any of the other “global goliaths”. In fact the very first thing Jesus does is study the scriptures, he would have done this under a mentor and if we are to follow in Jesus example this should be the very first thing we would do; before “planting a church”, it’s more important. But even then Jesus came to bring us Grace in his name and the Good News, if you were to say that was his primary ministry when he was on Earth (ignoring future events) then it’s still very far from planting a Church.

On the second point of Equipping Leaders, Rick could not be missing the point further than he currently is. Indeed Jesus taught his disciples, but this wasn’t to tackle the kind of “leadership problems” that Rick is rattling on about. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:15-18: “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” It’s not the leadership that’s the problem, it’s the teaching – and that’s where Rick goes astray – but more on that later. Just look at the way Jesus chose his disciples – Matthew 4:19 “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” Clearly he’s appealing to Simon Peter and Andrew’s egos! Of course Jesus later says we are to humble ourselves and be last if we were to be first. Not all of this directly translates through to leadership, except the idea of being as a servant to be great.

Actually the sending out is probably where we learn the most about leadership from Jesus. Luke 9:1-2 Jesus calls the twelve and bestows power and authority on them over daemons, disease, and sends them to evangelize and to heal. Luke 9:3-5, Jesus gives them clear instructions: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” What is interesting though, is next chapter he sends out the 72, and bestows upon them exactly the same instructions of how to go out. Luke 10: 2-12: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the labourer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

In any case, the first and primary message derived from that text is follow exactly the plan as set out from God, as opposed to making your own plan. Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the daemons are subject to us in your name!'”

I’m not saying that Jesus doesn’t want earnest leadership, I’m saying that the message is to spread the Gospel, it’s not about who or how. And we need to be careful of who we trust to tell us God’s word, we can’t simply take Rick “at his word” we’re supposed to test his message against scripture. In fact Paul warns us against false teachers 1 Timothy 4:1-5 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of daemons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” In fact, the KJV and NIV translate “insincerity of liars” as “lies in hypocrisy”/”hypocritical liars” respectively; and we know that Rick Warren is both a liar and hypocritical which clearly proves his message is not from God – but more on that later. For now the message is that Leadership problems arise from Theological problems, or to be more specific, from not preaching God’s Word/God’s Grace and substituting another message.

We will cover the last three points, but at this point I want to move to Rick’s message to Islam. You may read on it: here, and here. He is speaking to the Islamic Society of North America, and specifically talks about his “PEACE plan”. So now we can see that he believes it’s not only compatible with Christianity, but also with Islam!  “You know as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ,” Warren stated. “But you also need to know that I am committed not just to what I call the good news, but I am committed to the common good.” These are Rick’s own words. Apparently Rick believes that the Good News is great, but that there’s an even greater good! And what is this “greater good”? Well his PEACE plan, of course! To combat what he thinks is the five biggest problems in the world: spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy and lack of education. This is why I stated critiquing this message as it is preached to Christians, because now we’re at the point where Rick wants Muslims to also be a part of this “greater good”. So now we’re going to look at it as it is preached to Christians and to Muslims. Not surprisingly the “P” changes, it is no longer “Plant a Church” it is now “Promote Reconciliation”; the “greater good” according to Rick.

  • P – Promote Reconciliation; to tackle “Spiritual Emptiness”.
  • E – Equip servant leaders; to tackle “egocentric leadership”.
  • A – Assist the poor; to tackle poverty.
  • C – Care for the sick; to tackle disease.
  • E – Educate the next generation; to tackle illiteracy.

Rick told Christians that the “P” in PEACE was the most important, the “E” is the next most important, and so forth. Now he has come up with the same list, but without what he called the “most important” calling of Jesus to “Plant a Church”! He said it “always starts with a Church”.

Then he says this:

“You know what I discovered is when you walk down the middle of the road you get hit coming and going.”

We’re not called to walk down the middle of the road, we’re called to walk the long and narrow path. Matthew 7:13-14 “”Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Rick needs to stay on the narrow path, instead of trying to walk in the “middle” of the wide path; also known as fence-sitting it’s also referred to as lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). By his own admission he is not interested in that path.

I think it’s sickening the way in which he portrays faith. What the fuck would Muslims know about “spiritual emptiness”? Excuse my French! What I meant to say was “what the fuck would Muslims know about anything let alone spiritual emptiness”. The greatest threat to Christianity in this lifetime is Islam, I truly believe that.

Moving on to “servant leaders”. Rick needs to learn that Jesus is not considered to be the son of God by Muslims; his ideas of leadership – which are essentially where Rick claims to draw his ideals from – are very different to Muhammad. In fact we know that he sanctions violence in the Qur’an, it’s not even debatable, it’s a fact. Yeah, Christians understand, or should understand, “servant leadership” but that theology is sadly foreign to Islamic Idealists who consider the Bible largely flawed and filled with unreliable teachings.

The last points are purely academic. There is no “greater good”. The Gospel is the ultimate Good. The first and great commandment is: Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” There is no greater good than that. According to Jesus the second greatest commandment is to love thy neighbour (Mark 12:31). There’s no need to go any further than that. One of the rare occasions when the Synoptic Gospels cross with John is on this, John 12:1-8. John 12:4-5: “Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?'” Do not underestimate this verse. Three hundred denarii represents about one full year’s wages, and in fact if you had tithed it would be a little less. Imaging spending three months wages on an engagement ring, in these times, and then compound that to a year’s salary instead of three months. John 12:7-8: “Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.'” I only use this passage to illustrate that there is no greater good. What could a years wages do for the poor?

Rick Warren is a pathological liar. I say this because he lies when telling the truth would be simpler. When Prop 8 was going in California (aka “Californi”) he issued a video statement saying that if you’re a Christian you need to support Prop 8; it’s on You-Tube and freely available to everyone who wants to see it, I’m not lying. On Larry King Live he denied ever supporting Prop 8 saying that he was not an anti-gay activist, that he never once went to a meeting, issued a statement, or blah blah blah. Of course, in the video of Rick Warren he says he asked the presidential candidates point blank “what is your policy on marriage?” He’s a liar. He lies, and I’m no fan of lying. If you lie once, you have to lie 2-3 times to cover that first lie and then 10-12 times to cover the second lie, until you have to keep on lying to everyone forever. Friends I applaud you, I have done things I’m not proud of, but I do certainly do not lie in a futile attempt to further my agenda.

If Rick wants to fight spiritual emptiness he cannot do it with Muslims. That is absurd. Think about it. Yeah, we’re spiritual beings, we’re also sexual beings and what Rick is suggesting is as absurd as seeking advise on sexuality from homosexuals. Without Christ any possible spirituality is empty. Leadership is way out of context, the only leadership Jesus challenged was that of the Jews, he didn’t challenge Rome. The sick? Just how are Muslims supposed to drive out daemons in Jesus name? Excuse my language; how the Fuck are Muslims supposed to exorcise daemons in Jesus Name?

Rick Warren doesn’t preach the Good News; by his own admission he believes in a “greater good”. He doesn’t walk the narrow path, he walks the wide road in the middle! He’s more interested in preaching works (practical ways of serving God) than he is of faith and grace. In fact, he never mentions Grace, Sin or Repentance in the “Purpose Driven Live” or the “Purpose Driven Church”.