The gospel of man or the gospel of God?
The gospel is all about the Son of God who came from heaven to die for our sins. It is concentrated on God who became flesh for us; this includes history and ancient prophecy that spans thousands of years.
Rom. 1:16-18: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. “
When one believes in Christ they receive His righteousness (Rom.3:21, 25; 2 Cor.5:21; Eph.4:24) as a covering (breastplate) for their sinful state. They are forgiven of their sins, they are declared not guilty (justified) and they are being sanctified as they become more obedient to the words, will and ways of God through His son Jesus Christ. They are no longer judged for their past sins, especially those who worshipped other gods, which the Bible calls idolatry.
In history many missionaries have given their lives to bring the worship and knowledge of the true God to native people. God had called their gods false and evil and the missionaries understood the God they served and were willing to tell the native people the differences by delivering the truth. But much has changed in time we live in….
Missionaries going into other countries are confronted with a history of hostility toward Christianity. Because of this pressure they are trying to appease people by presenting the gospel to them in a culturally relevant way that is now compromising the name of God and Jesus, and the very nature of the gospel. They are doing this by adopting the name of their former gods names so that they are not offended by Jesus Christ. Some are even putting these former gods names in their new bible translations in the language of the people they are trying to reach. To summarize the argument- some say, “what’s wrong with that, we should use every means available to reach people, even borrow what is close in their religion and culture.”
Consider what Paul wrote-1 Thess. 2:4-5: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words.”
When you tell people they have portions of the truth (when they don’t) and use that to bridge the differences you are flattering them. When you use their former gods names as if they are the true one you are sending a message that they were not completely wrong, but partly right. You are also making God a liar, who said thousands of years ago among of other religions Isa. 45:5: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me”
Religions have not progressed, they are the same, and the people in them are in the same position- without God.
There were only two groups God recognized in the Old Testament the Jews and the gentiles. Today they are called believers and unbelievers. There are those who God personally gave the truth to (Israel) and those who did not have it and had invented their own ways to God. The Bible speaks directly on this matter of the Gentiles knowing God, Ephesians 2:11-12: Speaking of the Gentiles “-- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
Paul further writes in Eph. 4:17-20: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ.” Paul is referring back to Romans 1 in this statement making it clear that they have strayed and have no true knowledge.
Before Christ's time, Israel was warned “For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you” (Exod. 23:33). Deut 6:13-14: “You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you” (also Deut. 4:27-32). These gods had names and practices contrary to what God gave to Israel.
In the New Testament times when the Judaizers came to Galatia professing to believe in Jesus they tried to convince the Church of adding the Old Testament law to the gospel, Paul objected and condemned this concept to protect the sheep. He stated in Gal. 2:5-8: “to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Paul called them false brethren, why? Because they changed the gospel, thereby removing themselves from the saving message.
Missionaries carried on this work to heathen cultures and not until recently did they ever consider using the native names of the cultures God[s], as some propose that God formed it or left truths in it.
In almost every culture around the world, the religion found in these cultures usually had a supreme creator God (above other gods) who may live in the heavens. Egyptian http://socsci.colorado.edu/LAB/GODS/ Supreme Being Amen - “The Hidden One,” a primordial creation-deity .
Hittite- http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102197.htm Supreme Being Alalu(s) former king of heaven before Anu.
Laws were invented by these people to please their god or gods. Many did not have one god as in Monotheism, but multiple gods who often were associated with nature (Romans1 explains this). As the civilization moved further away from the time of Genesis, their knowledge of God that was already corrupted became more corrupted until we arrive at where we are today.
The true God is accurate and specific. Having portions of the truth or pieces of the flood stories does not mean they have a record given by God but a faint memory from tradition passed on. Cultures used the name of their own gods and people inserting them in the corrupted portions of the creation story or flood that they carried.
The evidence of the creator was corrupted long ago; this is why Abraham (Chaldean) was brought out of his country. “In Canaanite mythological texts Baal is sometimes called the son of Dagon. Dagon (Judg. 16:23; 1 Sam. 5:2-7; 1 Chr. 10:10) was the chief god of the ancient Philistines… With the recent discovery of documents at ancient EBLA in Syria, it is clear that Dagon, or Dagan, was a much more ancient and prominent god. These texts show that Dagon was being worshiped before Abraham entered Canaan about 2000 B. C. Dagon continued to be worshiped by the Canaanites up to the time of Christ” (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
Certainly some of the supreme gods of the nations were cruel but that does not mean that if they have a benevolent God it is the same one revealed to the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- and the Israelites. Baal was a supreme god and according to the above quote, he was the son of Dagon. It would be foolish to use Baal as Jesus to reach those who believed this? There is a chasm so wide that no bridge built can change the circumstances of history or the religious beliefs held. They must be severed to adhere to the truth.
In 1 Samuel 5:2-4 it records the Philistines bringing the ark into the temple of Dagon and set it before the idol Dagon. V.3: each morning they found Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. It was judgment on the false deities of man that stood in the holiness of the true God. They concluded in 7: “And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.”
The men of Ashdod knew their God was different from Yahweh. The true God is not benevolent toward false worship- He calls it evil, and does not overlook it. He will try to reach the people so they will understand. The premise that God loves everyone despite what they are doing and was actively benevolent to all the people is wrong. God loves them enough that he tells them to forsake their idols and false worship. Why did the Lord have the Hebrews and even personally destroy the nations surrounding them? The answer is simple- because their God was not the same and they were against the true God and his people.
As far back Genesis God has already pronounced his judgment on these Gods. If he did not consider them another name for himself, why should we. After all He should know. Not one culture around the Mesopotamia area was accepted except for the one God formed, the Israelites. 1 Chronicles 16:26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Bible societies have been using compromising concepts for years and no one has questioned them on it. You can read more on this philosophy at http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/blasphemizingthebible.html
For example Wycliffe ministries writes: From the outset one has to deal with identifying the name for the Supreme Being, God. This can be difficult and potentially divisive. However, each language and culture appears to have within it a ‘“homing instinct” for God – deeply buried by the sin and corruption that affects all cultures, yet still there’ (Williams, 2004: n.p.). Each religion has a different understanding of deity that is based upon how the Supreme Being is defined (Thomas, 2001: 305). The characteristics of the local deity must be identified so that it can be determined how these will impact the understanding of God. Is it possible for any language to totally explain the meaning of God? Or is there a need to add further definition or explanation? The challenge is to identify what intrinsic capacity exists within the language that helps provide the meaning of God. (Theological and Cultural issues in Bible Translation, A lay person's guide to a basic understanding of what is important, Article by Kirk Franklin, Executive Director Wycliffe Australia, (http://www.wycliffe.org.au/html/missiological_articles/missiological_article007.htm)
It appears that some of the Bible translators have moved into “reach the culture by their culture philosophy.”
It’s not a matter of calling a certain god supreme by its name, but whether one can prove that this God is actually the supreme God, the one spoken of in the Bible. If each culture has a different view of God and was shaped by that corrupted version of God, are we to connect with their wrong views or have them connect with the correct views. To associate with the name of the god in the religion regardless of its past is sloppy thinking and corrupted evangelism. One has to consider what this god taught the people previously before one can attribute him to be the God of the Bible and use his name for God’s name. We do not need to depend on language to explain God and climb over cultural boundaries. We already have a book written that gives us insight into all that He is. One only needs to be faithful in transferring those word from the original language into the cultures language that they are reaching. Of course certain words can bring difficulty but the weaknesses may not lie in the inadequacy of language. The fact that one is aware that each religion has a different understanding of deity is the very point that we should not be using their gods name, because they are all different religions with different gods.
Some have become aware of the problems. Mongolian Bible (Mongolian Bible Society Version) - God=Burhan.
The name of God in mongolian (Bible Society Mongolia) Christians worldwide are being asked to pray that Buddhist terminology would not be used in Mongolian churches as the Principal of a Buddhist College has said it is dangerous and will lead to the formation of a new religion. Most churches in Mongolia use Buddhist terminology when referring to the God of the Bible. The Bible Society of Mongolia and translation consultants from the United Bible Societies and Wycliffe Bible Translators continue to work on translating the whole Bible into Mongolian using a term for God which was used during the Communist era. The term, which refers to God as the Lord of the Universe, is clearly understood by all Mongolians to be a god who is not the same as the Buddhist or Shamanist deities they have traditionally worshipped. http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/10685.htm
Haitian Bible (Haitian Creole Version) - God=Bondye Gen. 1:1 - Nan konmansman, Bondye kreye syèl la ak latè a.
Adherents of Vodou acknowledge one superior god, known as Bon Dieu or Bondyé, who is beyond the reach of mere mortals and communicates through a pantheon of spirits, who act as divine messengers. http://www.gede.org/lwas/bondye.html
In the eighth century the first Christian missionaries to China arrived. Instead of utilizing any of the lingering monotheistic belief, missionaries introduced a completely foreign name as the God of the heavens. They emphasized that the God of the Bible is foreign and different from any God the Chinese had heard of before. China continues to enjoy a revival throughout its land.
Paul specifically stated, Gal. 1:9-10: “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
We must keep in mind the gospel is focused on a person and the name represents that person's nature and the name is equally important as the work that person (who is the Lord) did for us. Paul did not compromise with the Judaizers that were near believers. to allow the ritualistic former practices of Judaism under the Old covenant be carried over into the new covenant.
It is so very important that we do not bend to the pressure of culture or the result of numbers or any other thing to adjust the gospel message. We are messengers water- we break up the fallow ground but it is God who gives the increase. We cannot convert anyone. This why we must do God’s work God’s way to see God’s results. His name must be exalted. God does not bend to men’s influence or compromise his message, and He does not expect his messengers to do so.
It is tempting to make peace and say, as the universalists do, that we all have the same god, only different names and views of this god. It was Celsus, who said there is one God, who can be called by some other names And, “It makes no difference whether the God who is over all things be called by the name of Zeus, which is current among the Greeks, or by that, for example, which is in use amoung the Indians or Egyptians.” [Origin, Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 24].
We find Allah is the name of god that Arab-speaking Christians use in the Arabic Bible. From Genesis and ending with Revelation the word Allah is used. The Malaysian Bible in Malay or Indonesian language, called Alkitab, calls God Allah. Jesus Christ is even called the son of Allah in the Arabic Scriptures…Allah is believed to be the word or term for God. Some claim that Allah was used before Islam. The Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151 was discovered at St. Catherine monastery in Mt. Sinai in the 1800's. It is the oldest Arabic translation of the Bible in existence is from 867 AD. That is over 200 years after the advent of Islam, there is no Arabic Bible before the 9th century.
Arabic Christians claim that no other term can be found in Arabic for the God. Not all names are equal, whether it’s Hananim in Korea, Amenominakanushi in Japan, Shang Ti in China or Allah in Islam. The fact is- Allah is not equivalent to the English word for God. Allah is the unique name of their God not a generic name for God. The closest “word” for Allah (Allawh) is found in the Old or New Testament in Hebrew is the name for oak (tree) (Josh.24:26). Both the word elohim (God) and 'allawh (oak) are used in the same verse and sentence. Obviously God knows the difference of words that apply to Himself.
Some argue of bridging the distance between Muslims and Christians, using Allah. If they take this position it would have to be applied to all other religious groups. Which we see is already being done.
History shows us that Allah is the name of a well-known deity among the pagans before Mohammed even challenged the people with his brand of monotheism. It is not the generic term as the English word for God, like the French Dieu, German word Gott, or the Spanish Dios. The generic word used for God throughout the Qur'an is Ilah, Allah is for The God, the God of Mohammed. Islam's position is that God has one name only and it is “ALLAH.” In other words, to a Muslim God is Allah. The Qur'an uses Allah as a proper, personal name, any Muslim who calls Allah by another name would be considered shirk. For example: “Allah is only one God [Ilah]” (sura: 4:171). This is also clear from the shahada “There is no God [Ilah] but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” The Arabic Christians that use the name Allah are carrying the name of a God who has repeatedly given the opposite message contrary to the Bible. To substitute Allah for the name of God in Bible or use any other ancient gods name brings confusion and perpetuates the religion this God is from. Many primitive religions develop a belief in a High God, who is sometimes called the Sky God…But they also carried on worshipping the other gods, who remained deeply important to them.” (Karen Armstrong, Muhammad, (New York: San Francisco, 1992), p. 69.) “The source of this (Allah) goes back to pre-Muslim times. Allah is not a common name meaning “God” (or a “god”), and the Muslim must use another word or form if he wishes to indicate any other than his own peculiar deity.” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, (ed. Hastings), I:326. There are stories in the Sira of pagan Meccans praying to Allah while standing beside the image of Hubal” (William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca, p. 39). “Allah: Before the birth of Muhammad, Allah was known as a supreme, but not sole, God” (Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, p. 48). “Allah is a proper name, applicable only to their [Arabs’] peculiar God” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, I:326).”Allah is a pre-Islamic name…” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, I:117). “Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities” (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb, I:406).
These are not my opinion but scholars and there are dozens more in depth quotes that I can use to make the point that Allah is a specific name for a specific God.
When Paul was asked to speak to the Greeks who had nearly every name known presented at their Mars Hill ecumenical convergence, he did not use any name of their gods, be it Roman or Greek but gave a general word of god to communicate to them that Jesus Christ is their creator. Paul sums it up by stating in Acts 17:31: “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Here again, we have the concept of righteousness, his anointed one- God, who became man, who is the only one raised from the dead to live eternally. Notice their reaction in the next verse (v.32), “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
Paul when writing his epistles connected Jesus with the Old Testament and Israel; no other people or culture. This is the God we are talking about the one who died for sins and raised.
It is not necessary to get into the beliefs or the history of each God being used. This concept can be addressed by its collective belief system and logic along with Biblical principles.
If one is in another religion and wanted to convert to Christianity (meaning to become a believer and follower of Jesus) they do not keep the good portions of their religion and carry it over into Christianity. This is what would likely happen when they continue to use the same gods names.
When one speaks of a creator- what is he and who is he, has to be answered. We must deal with “who” is behind the name, not just the name itself. Just as the cults who profess and claim Jesus is the Son of God, we need to ask what is behind it, the meaning of the name. If he has communication with these tribal people what did he teach them. If their god did not teach them Judaism, or about a coming Messiah of Israel (having prophecy) then how can he be the same God we worship. Furthermore, where did they get the knowledge of this god whose name they now use for the true one. Because they did not have a Bible, they did not have prophets they were not connected to the people God specifically revealed Himself to (Eph. 2:11-12, 4:17-20). If the god of these religions does not have the same standard of sin and righteousness, can He be the same god? If the god of these religions did not come in flesh to die for mans sins inherited from the first man (Adam) then can He be the God presented in the Bible. How can this be the god of prophecy if this god has another belief system he gave? How can he be the God that fulfills Biblical prophecy if he already gave the people another religion?
What would be the justification for taking this gods name and attribute to him all the things of YHWH. When the name of that god is associated with a belief system, another religion it can not longer be considered Generic .
The names used in the cultures are not a derivative of the true God but of a god who formerly mislead the people into corruption and bondage. It is a name of another god who has a false belief system attached to him. It is not the same God of the Bible. And one needs to consider if they are calling on these God’s names or praying to these names that they are not connecting to the true God. I King 18:25: “Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god.” Calling on the name of a god was to invoke that god; this is nothing to fool with. When you call on the names of these foreign gods, thinking they are the true one, you have made another religion. You can’t just attach any god of another religious system to Jesus or Christianity. When you call upon the Son of God to save you, you are calling upon the God of Israel, not the son of another God, of another culture. Acts 15:17: “So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name.” Who this name is, is made clear, as we are told to call upon Jesus to be saved, there is no other name for salvation. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That excludes names of all other gods. If these gods names are acceptable then why would Scripture say this? If they substitute their gods name in the Bible how can one we saved by them? This is a corruption of the word of God.
John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
If the name of god was used previously in a false religion then it has all that this religion attached to it because it has been referring to this god. Then it is impossible to separate it from its years of former use, instead it must be abandoned.
Can you imagine the Christians everywhere calling on the gods of their nation as God, such as Hananim, Io, Shang Ti, Allah, Ameno-mi-nakanushi, etc.. Why are we trying to use the native name[s] of God in the culture we are trying to reach? They are not the true God- that’s not my opinion- God says so. The God the nations worshipped is not Yahweh.
Hosea 2:17: “For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more.” Jeremiah explains what actually took place by the (false) prophets who made believe they represented God to the people, “who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal” (Jer 23:27).
When making a Bible to communicate the truth - word for word (not thought for thought) one must be as careful as the Jewish scribes were when they copied the Old Testament. The name for God needs to be transliterated, to be equal that is what Jesus is from the Greek, Iseous, and from the Hebrew Yehoshua or Joshua. It means God is salvation (Which God? The God of Israel). If there is not equivalent in their language then there must be a new name introduced that has the same meaning or better yet, use the original name from Hebrew. The proper name of God, YHWH in the Hebrew language is derived from the verb HaYaH (to be, eternal one). The implication is the eternal one - who always existed, who brought all things into existence.
These other names find their origin in other religions, there is no way possible that they can correlate to the name in the Bible. They are of other gods who had other ways to worship. The name represents the other god and that religious system- not the God of Israel.
Mal. 1:14: “And My name is to be feared among the nations.” Jer. 16:19-21: “… the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.” Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods? “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know my hand and My might; and they shall know that My name is the LORD.”
Syncretism destroys the Bibles message of God. At all costs we should avoid crossovers with former names used in these religious systems. There is a safer way to reach the people without adding confusion.
To use ancient names of other gods from other religions opens the door to a one world church- It is back to Babel. Where this philosophy of evangelism is headed toward is universalism. We are told not to add to it or take away from the word. This principle continues in the New Testament. Rev. 2:13: “you hold fast to My name.” In Rev. 3:7 Jesus commends the church for keeping both his word and his name.” It become apparent that God wants us to know him by name for his name represents to us who He is.