QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
♦ Is it wise to encourage the use of ‘Father’ instead of ‘Jehovah’ in our prayers?
On September 14, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Your recent articles regarding the Good News booklet that was released at our summer conventions has really hit the mark. When I first received the booklets at the assembly and opened to the introduction, my spirit sank knowing this is not the real Good News of The Kingdom. Again, they were written for those who need “skim milk.”
I have only one personal observation in regard to the “Who is God” article. It has to do with using the divine name. Brothers, I encountered the reasons you offered before why there should be reluctance to using the Divine name personally. You suggested that it might even be disrespectful based on how children address their parents in our culture. For some time after I was first introduced to this line of reasoning, I thought I did not want in any way to be offensive to our Great God. So for a time I only referred to him as father in my prayers. I found that I felt totally alienated from my father as if I was talking to an entity referred to as God instead of my heavenly father. I resumed using the Divine name in my prayers and after this I again felt that close attachment.
Since your article, I have approached Jehovah in prayer and asked him to direct me so that I do not become offensive to him in my prayers and have not felt any indication that the father feels offended by my using his name. In my humble opinion I think it not wise to suggest that one should not use the father's name in prayer since the scriptures do not clearly teach that one should not do so. Other than this one point I feel your articles were wonderfully fulfilling.”
To the author, we are so glad you are enjoying the new series. And thank you for your observations about the ‘Divine Name.’ There are a few topics that we will cover in response to the Society’s “Good News From God” brochure that we anticipate will cause a little discomfort for some. That was one of them. So we are happy to provide a response.
You commented that when you called God ‘Father’ in the past, you felt alienated. Perhaps that was because at that time, you were not convinced you were a son. If you truly believed in your heart that you were merely a friend of God, then it is understandable that you would feel a bit awkward. But now that ‘the spirit bears witness with your spirit’ that you are a son of God (Romans 8:16), we wonder if your spirit now cries out ‘Father’ rather than ‘Jehovah.’ If not now, as you draw closer to your Father, we believe it will. Think about what happens when an older child is newly adopted into a family. It may take a while before that child can comfortably call the parents ‘mother’ or ‘father.’ Well, welcome to your new family, brother!
Whatever the case, you must deal with your heavenly Father according to your own conscience and the way you view Him. If you find using the name is better for you, then you should do so. You should not violate your own conscience. As you grow spiritually, you will find that your conscience expands, contracts or otherwise changes responsive to that growth. You will need to keep step with yourself. At the same time, we hope you understand that others are more comfortable using the term ‘Father.’ We are among that group.
You wrote “I think it not wise to suggest that one should not use the father’s name in prayer since the scriptures do not clearly teach that one should not do so.” Brother, the scriptures do not ‘clearly teach’ either way. But we do have the example of Jesus who apparently did not call God by a name, either in his teachings or in his prayers. He repeatedly referred to Him as ‘Father,’ as did all of the Christian Bible writers (though it is ‘assumed’ that they must have used the name when they quoted from Hebrew scriptures where the name appeared.) We do not think it wise to overlook these facts when deciding how we will, individually, refer to God.
Finally, we encourage you to let go of the idea that you can offend the Father by using or not using the Hebrew name. He is not so easily offended. He accepts our worship based on the spirit behind it, not the words we use.
“In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the [problem of] what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered. Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.” – Romans 8:26-27
The error we suggest you avoid is ‘sinning against your own conscience’ in this regard. It is your own personal decision, and we wholeheartedly support your God-given freewill right to so choose. If you have any further questions in this regard, please email us again.
♦ Why do we keep calling the Father Jehovah?
On December 4, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Quick question for you guys...Why you keep calling the Father: Jehovah... if that is a name invented by a Catholic monk? Isn't Yahweh more appropriate? In fact, we shouldn't be using the NAME in vain... right? So why use it at all? Looking forward for your response!”
To the author, thank you for your email. We addressed a similar question in Question and Response 9/14/12. Feel free to read that in addition to what we present here.
History does indicate that the name Jehovah did not come into use until about the 12th or 13th century and originated as a hybrid of the tetragrammaton YHWH and the vowel points of the word “Adonay.” Controversy continues as to whether “Jehovah” is an appropriate rendering of the tetragrammaton. But these historical matters have little meaning to us. We refer to God as “Father” unless we are quoting from the New World Translation or appealing directly to Jehovah’s Witnesses. To us, we view it as disrespectful to call our heavenly Father by a name, just as it would be for a human child to call his or her father by his name. To us, God is Father, Papa, Abba. (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) We deal with God in terms of a parent/child relationship, not as a friend or a subject.
We know there are many who are conditioned to use the name Jehovah for our heavenly Father, and we respect their decision to do so. But we follow in Jesus footsteps. While in his model prayer, he prayed that the Father’s name be sanctified (Matthew 6:9), we find it interesting that Jesus never used the name in that prayer. And though he said he made the Father’s name known (John 17:6), there is no record that he ever used the name, though it is speculated that he may have said the name Yahweh or some form of the tetragrammaton when reading from Hebrew scriptures. We think Jesus meant that he was making the Father’s fame known, not necessarily a literal name.
♦ Do you think the Watchtower Society will soon be making an adjustment in their teachings and start helping people meet the basic needs?
On February 19, 2015, we received the following inquiry from one of our brothers in Spain. Translated to the best of our ability, this is what he wrote:
“Hi, as you know, in the days of the early Christian church, all Christians shared what they had, and the widows and orphans were helped in their trouble. So whether a person is to be classified as sheep or goat is a result of how they treated Christ's brethren in their basic needs, ... since the [Watchtower] does not promote these good practices do you think there will soon be an adjustment of understanding to come about?
“In my humble opinion, and as we express our Lord Jesus Christ, wheat and tares look very similar and are growing together, and the angels and the Lord are in charge of making this separation. Since God's judgment begins from home, it is logical that even when the Lord comes with his mighty angels there will still be room for improvement. This should make us humble and honest with God and we should reject people and falsehoods, and primarily our loyalty should be always the Lord and His Son Jesus Christ.
“I rejoice that there is a place where we can express our questions and you give us answers, greetings.”
To the author, thank you for your email. Although we are optimistic and hopeful, we are not holding our breath in expectation of meaningful change in the Watchtower leadership, at least not in the next couple of years. We do, however, see a gradual change in the individual Witnesses. More and more are turning away from the servitude of men and are beginning to follow Jesus as ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ (John 14:6)
While some continue to follow ‘the blind’ (Matthew 15:14), more and more are opening their own eyes and beginning to follow the leading of the spirit. (Romans 8:14) They are training their powers of perception (Hebrews 5:14), being guided by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) and allowing the spirit to teach them.
(1 John 2:27) And they are rejecting the ideas foisted upon them by the Watchtower publications that their salvation is dependent upon them following the direction of the Governing Body ‘whether it is sound from a human standpoint or not.’ (The Watchtower, November 15, 2013, p. 20, paragraph 17) We are very grateful to see and be a part of this change in our brothers and sisters.
As far as the separating of the sheep and goat, this is a work done by Christ Jesus and the angels (Matthew 25:31-32), and so we leave them to their work. It is not our place to judge our brothers, no matter what we think of their choices. (Matthew 7:1-5)
And again, we thank you for your email and if you have any other questions about anything we publish, please do not hesitate to write us again.
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