Naming God

Long-time readers of Per Crucem ad Lucem will know of my abiding interest in discussions about naming God; which reminds me, my friend Rick Floyd has two fantastic posts here and here on this topic. Anyway, inspired by Robert Jenson, Stanley Hauerwas has written a stimulating piece on this same topic. Here’s a few snippets:

‘… it should not be surprising that in a culture which inscribes its money with “In God We Trust,” atheists might be led to think it is interesting – and perhaps even useful – to deny god exists. It does not seem to occur to atheists, however, that the vague god which some seem to confuse with trust in our money cannot be the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt’.

‘… We, like the people of Israel, would like to think we get to name God. By naming God we hope to get the kind of God we need, that is, a god after our own likeness. We can make the “more” that must have started it all after our own image. But God refuses to let the people of Israel – or us – assume that we can name the One who will raise Israel from Egypt. Only God can name God. That, moreover, is what God does’.

‘… The God we worship is not a vague “more” that exists to make our lives meaningful. The God we worship is not “the biggest thing around.” The God we worship is not “something had to start it all.” The God we worship is not a God that insures that we will somehow get out of life alive. The God we worship is not a God whose ways correspond to our presumptions about how God should be God.

That God has come near to us in Christ does not mean that God is less than God. God is God and we are not.

Yet we believe that the God we worship has made his name known. We believe we have been given the happy task of making his name known. We believe we can make his name known because the God we worship is nearer to us than we are to ourselves – a frightening reality that gives us life. We believe that in the Eucharist, in the meal of bread and wine, just as Jesus is fully God and fully man, this bread and this wine will, through the work of the Spirit, become for us the body and blood of Christ.

To come to this meal in which bread and wine become for us the body and blood of Christ is to stand before the burning bush. But we are not told to come no closer. Rather we are invited to eat this body and drink this blood and by so doing we are consumed by what we consume becoming for the world God’s burning bush.

By being consumed by the Divine Life we are made God’s witnesses so that the world may know the fire, the name, Jesus Christ’.

[Image: bLaugh]


  1. On a bit of a tangent but kinda related to the whole whats in a name and the baptism poem by Franz, My little boy Eli said to me the other day, Dadda when we die will God give us a new name?
    Blew me away cause I had never thought about that, in Christ we are transformed and made whole and does that include a new name, the name God has always had for us? Is it different from the name that we are gifted by our parents?
    Anyway made me think…


  2. Strange you should mention that Raz because I’ve been in a similar conversation with my whanau. For what it’s worth, my answer to Eli is ‘Yes’, though I would want to argue that that death takes place at baptism, and it’s for that reason that children should be ‘re-named’ at their baptism, for one’s baptismal name is precisley, in your words, ‘the name God has always had for us’.


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