Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: I AM

Religious communes in Canada

Reading posts by Jnana Hodson about religious communes in the USA prompted me to compile a list of some of the more notable communal groups of the past and present is Canada. Read Jnana Hodson’s posts here, and here.

1. The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy and the Huron Confederacy could be considered as having been religious communes. Each of their longhouses was home for many families and also the place where sacred ceremonies were held.

2. The Children of Peace, founded by David Willson and several other families who left the Religious Society of Friends. They built the Sharon Temple at Sharon, Ontario in 1819. The last service there was held in 1899.

3. The Community Farm of the Brethren, founded at Bright, Ontario in 1941 by Hungarian immigrants on Hutterite principles. The founder was Julius Kubassek. They received some help from the Hutterites of Western Canada but were never united with them.

4. The Apostles of Infinite Love, Mont Tremblant, Quebec. A large community with affiliates elsewhere, professing to be a continuation of the true Roman Catholic faith, but rejected by that church.

5. I AM – Institute of Applied Metaphysics, a New Age group founded in the Ottawa area which once had several communities in other parts of Canada. They believed they had the answers for world peace and tried to share them with governments, but could not remain peacefully united among themselves and dissolved.

6. The Christian Community, Woodstock, New Brunswick, was part of a group led by Elmo Stoll. He was formerly an Old Order Amish bishop at Aylmer, Ontario with a heart for non-Amish people seeking a plain lifestyle. He established the first community at Cookeville, Tennessee in 1990. It quickly grew to five communities, including the one in New Brunswick. The movement collapsed after Elmo Stoll’s sudden death in 1998.

7. Fort Pitt Farms Christian Community, Frenchman Butte, Saskatchewan was formed in 1999 by Hutterites who professed to be born again and were excommunicated. They have retained the Hutterite communal lifestyle and now have affiliates in the USA and Australia.

8. Bountiful, British Columbia is the home of two polygamous communal groups who claim to be the true followers of the Book of Mormon.

9. Lev Tahor is an ultraconservative Jewish sect that was first organized at Ste Agathe des Monts in Quebec and has moved numerous times in attempts to escape government scrutiny of their child care practices. They moved to Ontario in 2013, to Guatemala in 2014 and then to Chiapas, Mexico, where several of their leaders were arrested.

10. Lifechanyuan International Family Society, Vancouver, British Columbia. This group was founded in 2009 in China by Xuefeng, They moved to Vancouver in 2017 to escape legal problems. They have a syncretistic belief in the “Greatest Creator.”

The name of God

LORD, in upper case letters, appears 6,510 times in the English Old Testament. This is not a translation of some Hebrew word meaning Lord, but of YHWH, the name of God.

This name was first revealed to Moses in the account of the burning bush Exodus chapter 3. God tells Moses that His name is I AM. When this was written out in the Scripture it was written YHWH in Hebrew letters.

The Hebrew alphabet is only 22 letters, all consonants. Apparently this is not as much of a problem in Hebrew as it would be in English or French, due to a lesser number of vowel sounds.

Hundreds of years later vowel points were added to Hebrew, but in the meantime the pronunciation of YHWH was lost as it was thought to be a sin to pronounce the name of God. This came from the desire to avoid violating the commandment which says “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.”

Rather than pronounce YHWH the Hebrew people would substitue another word, most often Adonai, which means Lord. Whe vowel points were added to the Hebrew alphabet the voels of Adonai were inserted in YHWH, which gave Yahovah. This is undoubtedly the wrong pronunciation. To be true to the origin of YHWH in the Hebrew word for I AM, the name needs to be pronounced Yahweh (or Yahveh).

I think many readers of the Bible misunderstand the meaning of LORD in the Old Testament. It does not mean that the name of God means Lord, but simpply follows the Jewish practice of substituting Lord for the name of God. Many Jews today will not pronounce God in English and write it as G-D, omitting the vowel.

In French Bibles YHWH is translated as l’Éternel (the Eternal) which nicely captures the meaning of I AM as the name of God. But then in the New Testament French Bibles use Seigneur (Lord) just like English Bibles use Lord. The substitution of Lord for YHWH was so thoroughly entrenched by that time that New Testament writers used kurios, the Greek word for Lord to refer to God.

For I am the Eternal, I change not

The title is taken from Malachi 3:6 as it reads in French Bibles. This use of Eternal for the name of God is found throughout French translations of the Old Testament in places where one would find LORD in the English AV (KJV).

The Hebrew language was first written without vowels and the name of God was spelled YHVH. It is commonly accepted today that the original pronunciation was Yahweh and that the name had its origin in the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush: I AM. However, there developed a superstition among the Jews that a person who spoke this name aloud would be cursed. From then on another word was subsituted when the Scriptures were read aloud, most often Adonai, meaning Lord. In the course of time, the vowels of Adonai were inserted into YHVH, producing Yahovah, which became Jehovah in English.

The English translators of 1611 continued the Jewish practice of substituting LORD for the name of God, setting it in all upper case letters to distinguish God the Lord from other lords. French translators continued the practice of not using the name of God, but opted for a word that reflected the meaning of I AM.

I wonder if the use of LORD for the name of God doesn’t confuse some people.  Who is this Lord? Many people today don’t  understand the significance of the uppercase letters.

Here are a few more examples of how the Scripture sounds when Eternal is used for the name of God:

And the Eternal God formed man of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).

The Eternal is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1).

The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

But they that put their trust in the Eternal shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

There can be no confusion here, there is only one Eternal. To my ears and my mind at least, it lends a greater weight of meaning to read the verses this way. The main thing is to understand that however we spell and pronounce the name of God, we are referring to the self-existing, unchanging Creator and Master of all that exists.

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