Dr. Daryl Eldridge is the President of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully-online seminary built on the five purposes of the church. He served as the Dean of the School of Educational Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and on the faculty of SWBTS from 1984 through 2003. He is the editor of the textbook, The Teaching Ministry of the Church and is the author of numerous articles and curriculum materials.
Recently, Dr Eldridge wrote me an enlightening email about Christians attaching God's name to what we do (i.e. "God spoke to me and said," or "God led me to do this," or "God called me to go," etc...) and how this is, at least in the Jewish mind, taking God's name in vain. I am reprinting his email here, with permission, to provoke some thoughtful consideration on how often we are careless using God's name:
I read with enjoyment your blog on how we use God to justify our reasoning and actions. I had a life changing discussion with a rabbi a couple of years ago about the 3rd Commandment, “Thou shall not use the Lord’s name in vain.” We typically interpret that commandment as a prohibition against cursing or profanity--which is only a portion of the meaning. The rabbi explained the Jews see this commandment as a legal term. In other words, it forbids you using God’s name to win an argument. If you say, “God told me,” then it ceases all discussion.
The rabbi could not understand why any preacher, from the pulpit, would ever say, “God told me that we should do……” The rabbi believes that statement, or one similar, would be a violation of this commandment.
God’s name is never to be used as a trump card. Judaism and Christianity are both founded on a dialogical faith. Faith is something to be passionately argued, debated, or discussed. Unfortunately, I believe we have made it monological. We have the answers. Christians leaders are no longer “seekers,” of truth, but those who have all of the answers.
Conservatives, by the nature of the word, “conserve.” They protect or conserve the status quo. A heretic, on the other hand, challenges the status quo. We forget that Jesus was a heretic, as was Paul and the disciples, Luther, and Calvin. Baptist come from a long line of heretics. Thanks for being a heretic in the finest tradition, by challenging the status quo.
Good word Dr. Eldridge.
In His Grace,