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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's In a Name?

I was reading an article about the problem with taking anything from Hollywood and trying to make it parallel Christianity (like Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings) and how you are then left to justify the parts that never agree with scriptures. The specific example is from the last of the Narnia series and the character named Emeth who, after serving the dark side (Tash), sees the lion for the first time (which many say represents Jesus) and confesses his years of sinful servitude. The lion answers, "Child all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.” You can no doubt see the problem with saying these stories parallel the christian life, because our Messiah would NEVER say that someone's service to Satan is now credited as service for our King.

One commenter said we were viewing it wrong to think this way, because the character thought he was serving the good and was seeking truth, and so the name of what he was serving (Tash) was not really what he served, but rather he WAS serving the lion all along without knowing it. The commenter went on to say that a name is just a sound that we use to represent things and that they have no meaning apart from that. I left a rebuttal as to the innumerable instances where names were important in the Bible.

"I cannot follow your thought line at all here. If a name is just the sound that represents someone, how are we able to cast out demons ONLY by the power of the name of Jesus? You would do well to read through the Bible at how important names were. Often when something major happened to someone, their name was changed. Names were also chosen because of the meaning they held. Saying a name has no meaning is definitely a modern concept.

"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Exodus 20:7

"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." Genesis 17:5

"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." Exodus 3:14

"Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore." Psalm 113:2

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Mark 13:13

"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John 14:14

"A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1"

But as I went through the day, the topic continued to run through my mind. I thought about names people had been given that were either comical or utterly embarrassing, like the girl named Polly in my husband's class who's middle name was Esther. My brother is a cop in Cleveland and was guarding an inmate who was in labor at the hospital. She named her child after a beautiful word she heard the doctors say- placenta. I remember in middle school figuring out that I could never marry a man who's last name began with an 'S' or my initials would be A.S.S. There is even a country song about a father who named his son Sue to toughen him up, knowing the ridicule he would receive for it. These are all somewhat benign examples, but names mean a great deal in the negative as well.

How many kids do you know named Judas? Or Benedict? How many Catholics are fond of the entertainer who dubbed herself Madonna? DId you hear about the teacher who was run out of the middle east for nick-naming a teddy bear after their revered prophet? A name has a way of lending a meaning apart from anything one individual might do. If your name were Kennedy, for example, you would have an advantage in politics without even trying. Someone named O'Malley would be associated with an Irish heritage without asking any further questions.

When we adopted our kids, we were allow to change their names. We did so not only to make them more a part of us, but to remove the instant knowledge of who they had belonged to before (small town and all). After marrying and changing my name, I was asked several times, "Are you related to ______________?", someone with the same last name that they did not like. Names are very important. Naming a child is often so delicate a matter, parents consult books, write the alternatives out, and make it a continual discussion throughout the pregnancy. And I think the one thing that sums up completely just how important names are is this:

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12

Obviously a name is a very big deal.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I know three kids named Benedict. Why do you ask?