A friend who is going through a difficult time right now, because of loving and sticking to the truth in the Bible instead of blindly accepting the teachings of men, was asked by one of his elders to explain his decision to stop attending meetings. In the course of the e-mail exchange, the elder noted that my friend had not used Jehovah’s name. This bothered him, and he pointedly asked him to explain its absence in his e-mails.
If you’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, you may not understand the implication here. For JWs, use of God’s name is an indication of true Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they alone have restored God’s name to its rightful place. Churches that do not use God’s name are classified as “false religion”. In fact, use of the divine name is one of the key identifiers of true religion in the mind of Jehovah’s Witnesses.[i]
So when my friend didn’t pepper his conversation with Jehovah’s name, a red flag went up in the mind of the elder. My friend explained that while he had no problem using the divine name, he didn’t use it often because he considered Jehovah to be his heavenly father. He went on to explain that just like a man will rarely refer to his fleshly father by name—preferring the more intimate and appropriate term, “father”, or “dad”—so he felt it more appropriate to refer to Jehovah as “Father.”
The elder seemed to accept this reasoning, but it raises an interesting question: If failure to use the name “Jehovah” in a Bible discussion flags someone as a member of false religion, what would failure to use the name “Jesus” indicate?
The elder felt that my friend’s failure to use Jehovah’s name indicated he was falling out of the Organization, possibly going apostate.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot?
What is a true Christian? Any Jehovah’s Witnesses will answer, “A true follower of Christ”. If I follow someone and try to get others to do the same, should not his name be on my lips frequently?
I recently had a three-hour conversation with some good friends in which Jehovah was referred to in praiseworthy terms repeatedly, yet not once did my friends refer to Jesus. This is hardly unique. Get a bunch of JWs together socially and Jehovah’s name will pop up all the time. If you use Jesus’ name as often and in the same context, your Witness friends will start to show signs of discomfort.
So if failure to use God’s name flags someone as “not a Jehovah’s Witness”, would not failure to use Jesus’ name flag someone as “not a Christian”?
[i] See What Does the Bible Really Teach? Chap. 15 p. 148 par. 8