What is the Sacred Name Movement?
Question: "What is the Sacred Name Movement?"
Answer: Related to the Hebrew Roots Movement, the Sacred Name Movement developed from the Church of God (Seventh Day) in the 1930s. Supposedly, the movement began in response to study of Proverbs 30:4, “What is his name, and what is the name of his son?” The Sacred Name Movement teaches that only “Yahweh” is to be used as the name for God and only “Yahshua” is to be used as the name for Jesus. According to the Sacred Name Movement, the use of any other name is blasphemy.
In addition to a strong emphasis on the use of the original Hebrew names for God and Jesus, the Sacred Name Movement also teaches that followers of Yeshua must obey the Old Testament Law, especially the commands regarding the seventh-day Sabbath, the kosher food laws, and the Jewish festivals.
From the original Sacred Name Movement, several subgroups have formed, including the Assemblies of Yahweh, the Assembly of Yahweh, the House of Yahweh, and Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry.
The Sacred Name Movement errs in many ways. But the primary error is the same as that of the Hebrew Roots Movement. The Sacred Name Movement fails to understand that the Savior did not come to expand Judaism or the Old Covenant. The Savior came to fulfill the Old Covenant and establish the New Covenant. Messiah’s death and resurrection fulfilled the requirements of the Law and freed us from its demands (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). The Old Covenant was but a shadow (Hebrews 8). The New Covenant, established by our Savior/Messiah, is a fulfillment, not a continuation.
The particular focus of the Sacred Name Movement on the names of God and Jesus is unbiblical. The human authors of the Old and New Testaments, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had no qualms about referring to God as Elohim (Hebrew) and Theos (Greek) or referring to the Son as Iesous (Greek). If it is biblically appropriate to use generic terms to refer to God and to use a Greek version of Jesus’ name, why is it wrong, in English, to refer to the Heavenly Father as “God” and the Messiah as “Jesus”? Why would it be wrong to use the Chinese, Spanish, or Russian pronunciation and spelling of those names and titles?
Further, not even the adherents of the Sacred Name Movement can completely agree on what the sacred names actually are. While “Yahweh” and “Yahshua” are the most common, some propose “Yahvah,” “Yahwah,” “Yohwah,” or” Yahowah” for God and “Yeshua” or “Yahoshua” for Jesus. If there is only one non-blasphemous name each for God and Jesus, we better be sure to get it right. Yet adherents of the Sacred Name Movement cannot even agree on the very core of what their movement is supposed to be all about.
The Sacred Name Movement began with an unbiblical premise and has continued by building unbiblical doctrines on top of that premise. Our salvation is not dependent on our ability to properly pronounce God’s name in Hebrew. Our relationship with God is not based on our obedience to the Old Covenant that our Messiah perfectly fulfilled.
Recommended Resource: Faith of Israel, 2d ed.: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament by William Dumbrell
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