Friday, March 25, 2011


I AM: YHWH, the Tetragrammaton.
I will Be Who I will Be,” replied God to Moses (Shemot/Exodus 3:14). 
At the base of Mount Sinai, the Lord revealed the Hebraic Divine Name, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I will Be Who I will Be); not a noun as might be expected, but a third-person, masculine verb  hwhy “to be.”

To the nation of Israel, His choice of entitlement announced His absolute existence outside of man’s perception of time. As one God, His name claimed exclusivity. YHWH conveys that no one else is as He is: the eternal creator. He is life and existence; He is Being.
The English translation of the Tetragrammaton is “I AM.”
 When our faith fails and we forget the I AM, we are set adrift in an universal existential odyssey. Against the dark, despairing drift into angst, He tells us that He IS. God’s name powerfully contrasts man’s search for being and confidently points us away from ourselves for the ultimate answers. You are because I AM, is His reply. And when He is not enough for us, we continue to seek for human answers.
The quest to understand the phenomenon of mankind’s being has consumed philosophers from the ancient Greek Protagoras (“Man is the measure of all things”)  to Descartes (“I think, therefore, I am”) to Thoreau (“Being is the great explainer.”) Even our British Bard-of-Avon had his turn with the probing existential dirge of Hamlet:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep...

 Yet the challenge to understand the purpose of mankind’s existence did not originate with Shakespeare, nor even the wily serpent of Genesis. It is the most primordial, cosmic self-examination that Lucifer himself asked and continues to coerce an answer from each of us today:  
“YHWH or not YHWH?” I am not questioning God’s existence, nor is this a question of evolution versus design. What I am addressing is our 21st century Christian worldview that makes ourselves god. God’s claim is that He is Being, the “I AM.” Are we really responding “I am not ?”

Most Christians will recoil at the statement that American Christianity is substituting the individual for God. However, when you study the Enlightenment (including empiricism and rationalism) which has become the lens by which we process information, atheistic philosophies emerge.  Based on the writings of Voltaire,  John Locke and the deadly-penned Thomas Paine (“My own mind is my own church,” from The Age of Reason), western culture has rejected all authority besides self.  The Declaration of Independence affirms, with the term “the law of Nature and Nature’s God,”that man’s reason alone is capable of conclusive judgment.  This democratic experimentation seeped into America’s religious theory and was adopted by the Puritan population.
Many Christians would be astounded that the idea that truth (“essences”) being buried within the soul is Platonic epistemology. Post Enlightenment Christianity has taken the Greek conception of a Divine Spark within man and adopted it with a minor modifications. Where Plato chose an interrogator to pull out of man his inner genius, many Christians today chose Sola Scriptura as a method to bring us to God. The idea of Jesus and me--or even the Bible, the Holy Spirit and me--cannot be found within scripture or anywhere in historical Christianity.
Americanism has crowned the individual--no matter the intelligence, maturity or educational level--as the primary source for authority. Infused into our American spirit is a religious fervor for equality and liberty erroneously broadened to suppose a divine right to follow our own spiritual path.  It is now almost universally accepted among Christians that the Holy Spirit infuses complete faith and the full understanding of the Bible directly into the heart of the born-again believer. This has never been the orientation for the followers of Christ. Christianity theology has never supported an autonomous understanding of the Word of God.

Scripture clearly teaches that God appoints shepherds and teachers, authorities of His choosing who help us to understand our faith. Nothing within us--independently--even after being filled with the Holy Spirit, implants within our breasts the completeness of God. He binds us together as the body of Christ and it is within that body--dependent upon God’s authorities and authoritative interpretations of scripture--that we discover the rich, vibrant clarity and intensity of truth. Grace is freely given so that when we find truth from without ourselves, we will have faith in it.  We do not look within for our own understanding. This is anti-scriptural. (Judges 21:25)
Now post-Enlightenment man was free to see himself as God. The Father of Lies has convinced an entire Christian culture that we are each the “I AM.” We are like God, having tasted the seeming freedom of deciding within ourselves what is good and evil. We have chosen in effect, even if  subconsciously, to be God. 
Am I the I AM? Am I YHWH? Very often we confuse our personal interpretation of scripture with God’s truths. In actuality we have become our own authority, as Paine, believing “my own mind is my own church.” With prideful spiritual independence, we argue that we have been given theological freedom and sovereignty. Yet, scripture and the vast span of Christianity from its inception declare that our personal opinion of God’s laws and desires are irrelevant. 
I AM not the one to decide whether babies should be baptized. 
I AM not the one who decides whether the communion wafer is the real presence or a symbol.
I AM not the one who decides whether we worship on Saturday or Sunday or every day.
I AM not the one who decides whether God is a Trinity.
I AM not the one who decides whether Jesus was fully God or dictate on His divinity.
I AM not the one who decides whether the worship music is what God enjoys.
I AM not the one who decides whether unclean meats are now clean.
I AM not the one who decides if there is a real hell.
I AM not the one who decides who is saved or is among God’s children.
I AM not the one who decides if I have a calling to be a minster of God.
As if God parades His sovereign truths in front of us for our approval! You see, Christian individualism is careening across scripture with chaotic understandings, authoritatively pronouncing that each inspiration is infallibly given by the Holy Spirit. Today’s Christianity has tempted many to fall to the ultimate deception, that we do not need anyone, not anything but scripture-- “just Jesus and Me”-- which practically speaking turns our Christian spirituality into making us the I AM.