What term should we use to refer to God?

Let me start by differentiating between a generic title and a personal name. A generic title is a title that could refer to any number of people. A personal name refers to one specific person. For example, “President of the United States” is a title that has been held by about 4 dozen different men, but the name “Ronald Wilson Reagan” is a personal name that refers to one specific President.

Examples of generic titles are composer, president, actor, and god. Examples of personal names are Ludwig Van Beethoven, Ronald Reagan, and John Wayne.Now let’s talk about god. The word “god” is a generic term that could refer to any number of gods from any number of religions, but if you want to refer specifically to the God of Christianity, how would you do that? Does the one true God of the Bible have a personal name?

The one true God does have a personal name, and His name is used many times in the Old Testament. However, within 21st century Christianity we don’t use His personal name. Let’s determine what this name is, then I will talk about whether or not we should be using it.

The personal name of the one true God is first used in Genesis 2:4. Read the following verses and notice that the word LORD is in all capital letters.

Gen. 2:4-9 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In the NASB and ESV translations, whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, the Hebrew word that was used there in the original text is the word “Yahweh”. “Yahweh” is the personal name of the one and only true God of the Bible, and it is used over 6,000 times in the Old Testament. The name “Yahweh” distinguishes the God of the Bible from the false gods of every other religion.

Think about something. “Yahweh” is the personal name of the One True God of the Bible. However, in Bible translations this name is translated “LORD”. “Lord” is a generic title. Why do we replace God’s personal name with a generic title?

Furthermore, we live in a world that has many different religions; thus, there is a huge need to be able to distinguish the God of the Bible from all other gods. The Bible provides a personal name that distinguishes our God from all other false gods, but we don’t use it.

I believe that we should use the name “Yahweh” to refer to our God. A major tenet of the Bible is that there is only one God, His name is Yahweh, and He is the creator of the universe and everything in it. There is a name to distinguish the God of the Bible from the false gods of every other religion and we should be using that name and making that distinction.


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”