A Christian religion page on how to read and understand the Bible, authored by
Frank Ellsworth Lockwood

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WHAT IS THE REAL NAME OF GOD (Or: How Woman saved Mankind from USERGABCOAT)

By F. Ellsworth Lockwood

(Warning to readers/disclaimer: This article may be considered entirely unreliable, as it resorts to quotations from antiquated translations of poor manuscripts of ancient texts.)

My God, you have a lot of ugly and misleading names!

This morning I got an email squabbling over the name of God. According to this message, God's name has been deleted from the Bible. Not just once, but deleted over and over again. "God's name has been deleted, over 7,000 times from the original bible," I was told. That, along with other things, supposedly, has caused multitudes to "blindly stumble."

My answer (modified for the web) was this: "God is what God is." The name has changed down through the centuries because the naming of things, including the naming of God, is a human activity.

A close look at scriptures (KJV) will reveal that Moses was just as perplexed about what name to use for God as we are. According to Exodus 3:13,14 Moses asked God, "When ... (the people) shall say to me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say unto them?"

Indeed. Perhaps naming a God among the Israelites was too fractious a thing to risk at that time. Possibly the people of Israel had too many names for God already. (Things don't change much in two thousand years do they?) I imagine that for Moses to select one group's name for God would have angered a lot of the other groups. Moses must have believed in a spiritual world view, but for whatever reason he was unwilling to select any of the existing names for God. It would seem that Moses was as perplexed as any of us about what to call God, but then a very simple solution came to him:

"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (See Exodus 3:13, 14).

In other words, Moses decided to just admit the truth of the matter: There is no name that adequately expresses the Ultimate Reality. Names of God are not from God. Names are purely men's inventions. Or sometimes, perhaps, women's inventions.

The opening chapter of the Tao Te Ching, written perhaps six hundred years before Christ, points this out with a startlingly modern view: "The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name. Having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth."

What an insight. Today's bible scholars unanimously agree that the language found in the bible has changed again and again, including the words used for the name of God. Language is constantly changing, whereas God is still usually conceived as the great constant. As S.I. Hayakawa put it, "The map is not the territory, and the word is not the thing it represents." Or words to that effect.

Or as Shakespeare might have said, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.



Honey of my rib, I need your advice

Since children of Israel are not being nice,

What I should call Him, who claims only "I AM"

Who speaks from creation,

From the mouths of the babes,

And from bushes that burn?

And not turned to ashes?

Should it be: The Ultimate Spiritual Super Reality?

The Dreadful and Fearsome Eternal Entirety?

Do I dare to dub him the Ultimate Reality

And Ground of all Being and Creator of All Real Estate?

I tell you what, I will call him just USERGABCOAT!

MRS. MOSES: You silly man, just call it what it is, no more or no less.

Call it: "I AM!" and you won't go wrong.

And that way the Israelites just might go along.

I AM that I AM: That's the obvious choice

For the awesome god with mysterious voice.

And so it was. And that's how Woman saved mankind from USERGABCOAT.

Underlying message: Lighten up!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


"You cannot be a Christian and a liberal at the same time," my friend told me as we ate breakfast together one morning. A few weeks later she took that comment to the next level -- complete rejection -- a logical but sad step.

The L-word is not the only foul label that has been applied to me: I have been dubbed liberal, agnostic, unAmerican, and now ... get this, "non agricultural."

When one takes a controversial stand he expects to be called names, but "non agricultural"? Modern analysis of scriptures makes one inelligble to grow wheat, to pick apples or to make wine!

Yes, that is true, at least in the minds of many people, some of them friends or former friends of mine. I invite my readers to follow the (below) link to my personal blog titled, "Crazed Liberal Left in the Dark," which describes a mondern experience in the ancient practice of shunning.

Crazed Liberal Left in the Dark

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P.S. Did you know that Frank Ellsworth Lockwood is also the author of the novel, "Captains All"? If you like, you can pre-view or purchase the book here: