Portland Author John Mark Comer Explores the Ancient Meaning of God's Name
His pastorate at Bridgetown Church has attracted, and mobilized whole swaths of millennials to engage and live out the ancient truths embedded in the Christian and Hebrew Scriptures. His latest work, God Has a Name, is fresh— with a relevant and insightful recapturing of what God's name actually is, and what his name means for all of our lives.
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Tackling a heady topic, like God's name, is not something that should be enter into lightly. Yet at the same time, in a toxic cultural climate where we are quick to vilify anything "other" than our own tribe, persuasion, and race, there is something essential about asking significant questions and dealing with them in fierce yet delicate ways.
John Mark Comer's latest book does just this. He knows that he is dealing with a controversial topic, but when you pick up the pages, you are met less with controversy and more with the sense that the ancient meaning of who God is and what he is like is sometimes misunderstood and often plain forgotten.
Take this quote:
"God shows mercy to all."
The reality and depth of God's love and character is drowned out in the flood of vitriolic media that would have us believe otherwise about all Christians and the core Christian message—whose roots can be traced back to the ancient Hebrew text that Comer's book haunts.
We read the words "God shows mercy to all" but we have a hard time believing them when see all hell breaking loose around us.
The fact that God's base emotion toward us is mercy is hard for us to fathom in a world where everyone is quick to judge and for some of us the people we judge most harshly is ourselves.
We are often intimately acquainted with our failure and brokenness and yet God does not see us this way. We are not defined by everything that has gone wrong in and around us.
"God's not like that."
Much in our modern world is transient and fleeting. Relationships form and fail. We cycle through jobs like the wind. Much of our consumption and commerce are rigged to be disposable—this rigging has rewired our brains and reared its ugly head in nearly all of our cultural constructs.
The simple, freeing truth that God remains—that he stays in spite of all our fickleness is astounding and freeing.
YHWH is God's name—in it's not-to-be-pronounced ancient Hebrew form.
This construction and it's revelation has (and will always be) something very sacred and personal.
God exposed his character and nature in an intensely personal way. This is something we miss in most modern Bible translations (with the exception of Adam Lewis Greene's masterful Bibliotheca).
John Mark brings us back (over and over) to this truth, reminding us that the ancient God who became a man in the person of Jesus is the same personal God who has always, always, always had a desire to dwell with his people.
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If you have ever read any of John Mark's books you will know that they are all executed with a certain minimalist style and verve. Ryan Wesley Peterson again does not disappoint with the latest book in executing the cover design, interior layout, and illustrations.
Whether you are a Christian, spiritual and curious, or someone who has never ventured into spiritual exploration, I would highly recommend that you engage with this book, as it might surprise you to peel back the layers of misunderstanding and see some of what God is actually like.
And to learn that...