Insight on the News
An “Offensive” Name?
Not speaking the divine name, transcribing it at most as JHWH, and pronouncing it as “Lord,” is a recommendation that should be accepted, says the Catholic periodical Com-nuovi tempi. This was the reaction to a petition raised by the “Association for Jewish-Christian Friendship” of Rome and signed jointly by eminent Catholic and Jewish theologians and scholars. The petition requested that “publishing firms and the editorial staffs of newspapers and magazines” stop using the name “Jahweh” because it is “offensive to Jews, who consider the name of God to be unpronounceable.” Their appeal, the Association says, is based on a “long-standing Jewish tradition” that “has been maintained without interruption” until today.
But should Christians be guided by Jewish traditions? Would it be right for them to put God’s name aside and avoid pronouncing it? The Bible shows that God wants all to know that he, “whose name is Jehovah,” is the Most High. (Psalm 83:18; Ezekiel 38:23; Malachi 3:16) Jesus set the example in this. Rather than following Jewish traditions that “made the word of God invalid,” he taught his followers to pray: “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9; 15:6) And only a few hours before his sacrificial death, he said in prayer: “I have made your name known to [the disciples] and will make it known.”—John 17:26.
Engagement: A Contract?
The young Brazilian woman and her fiancé had just finished furnishing their new home. The invitations had been sent out, and everything seemed in order for their wedding, just three days away. Anticipating her new life, the bride had quit her job. Then, without any notice, the groom broke the engagement. Stunned and disappointed, the rejected bride sought legal recourse. Her lawyer argued that the ‘marriage engagement is a preliminary contract, and if broken unjustifiably, the innocent party should be compensated for any damages suffered.’ The court agreed and ordered the man to give to his ex-fiancée ‘a dowry equal to a legally preset salary and to pay court costs and lawyers’ fees.’ Commenting on the decision, lawyer Nereu Mello, wrote in the São Paulo newspaper Jornal da Lapa: “The marriage engagement is a very serious contract and breaking it is not viewed with indifference before the Law.”
This concept of the seriousness of the marriage engagement is not new. Under the Mosaic Law an engaged woman who committed fornication received the same punishment as did an adulterous married woman. She was thus treated differently from the single woman who fornicated. (Deuteronomy 22:23, 24, 28, 29) Back then the engagement was viewed as binding—as if the couple were already married. (Matthew 1:19) Christians today also recognize engagement as a serious step. They do not view it lightly.—Compare Matthew 5:37.
Adapted to Modern Technology
After Martin Luther railed against the sale of indulgences (exemption from certain forms of punishment for sin), the Roman Catholic Church outlawed the practice in 1562. But Vatican official Pedro Albellan stressed recently that the teaching on granting indulgences remains “unrenounceable and immutable.” A revised Roman Catholic manual on indulgences shows that the Vatican has harnessed this ancient belief to modern technology. According to The Times of London, bishops can now “grant a full indulgence to their faithful by radio or television three times a year when they impart a blessing in the name of the Pope.” However, there is a restriction. “It’s got to be a live transmission,” says Luigi De Magistris of the Vatican’s Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the office that deals with indulgences. “Watching a replay is not sufficient.”
But whether sold or given in person or by TV, are indulgences Scriptural? While Jesus, at times, freely forgave sins, he said nothing about the need of indulgences. Neither did the apostles. “The blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin,” the apostle John wrote. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7, 9) If all sins are thus forgiven, what is left to be paid for by punishment or covered by indulgences?—John 3:36; Romans 5:10.