In short, the “Sacred Name Movement” is or includes any church or denomination that teaches the use of only the original Hebrew names for God and Jesus. Therefore, only “Yahweh” is to be used as the name for the one whom Christians recognize as God the Father, and only “Yahshua” is to be used as the name for Jesus (or the Holy Spirit).[i] Names such as God and Jesus are pagan and blasphemous.
According to many sources, the Sacred Name Movement developed within the Church of God, Seventh Day in the 1930s, chiefly by the instrument of Clarence O. Dodd and his periodical The Faith.[ii] The movement attempts to answer Proverbs 30:4, “What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” In October 1938, The Faith magazine carried an article by Angelo B. Traina, who later developed the Holy Name Bible. Triana’s titled his article “What is His Son’s Name?” In the article, his answer was “Jahovah” for the Father and “Jah-hoshua” for the Son.[iii] The movement wavered and wandered from name to name, Jehovah, Jahovah, Jahweh, Yahvah, and so on, finally settling on Yahweh as the preferred spelling.[iv] By 1941 Dodd was settled, and November of that year he placed the names of Yahweh and Yahshua in the masthead of his magazine. Further, he concluded that the titles Lord, God, and Jesus Christ would no longer appear in The Faith.
Angelo B. Traina created the first “Sacred Name Bible.” In 1950, he published the New Testament. The complete Bible, Old and New Testaments, was published in 1963 – called The Holy Name Bible, Containing the Holy Name Version of the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Name Bible is a reworked King James Version of the Bible. Traina founded the Scripture Research Association, to distribute the Holy Name Bible.[v]
Most of the Sacred Name Movement brings its followers under the Old Testament Law, the seventh-day Sabbath, the food laws, and the Jewish feasts.[vi] However, the body I encountered, the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research (IDMR), distinctly departs from this method in a very opposite direction. Not only does IDMR not hold its followers under the Old Testament Law, neither do they observe New Testament ordinances such as baptism and the Lord’s supper. The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research pronounces salvation as by grace through faith, and not by works of righteousness. However, it must come through the right name. The name chart at IDMR’s website claims the true names are Yahweh (the Father), Yahshua (Holy Spirit), and Yahweh Elohim (Word or Son). On the other hand, Yesu, Yeshua, Yehowah, Jehovah, Adonai, Jesus, Lord, and God are all “false and vain names and titles.”
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research originated with Henry Clifford Kinley, a Church of God preacher, and what he called a divine panoramic vision that occurred in 1931. Kinley thus describes his experience:
I have repeatedly declared and avowed that I, Henry C. Kinley, received a Divine Vision and Revelation in the Year 1931 just as Moses, Paul and other of the Prophets and Apostles and it was one of the most Panoramic and Stupendous visions ever given unto man…. with this Divine Vision and Revelation, I received power to foretell every world-wide event and happening and to heal all manner of physical illness as a witness to the fact…[vii]
Henry C. Kinley founded his teachings in a grand vision, this revelation that he received in 1931. He said he saw “the happenings of all the patriarchs from Adam on down” and “understood the whole Purpose of Yahweh from start to finish.” Nevertheless, the God of his vision inexplicably forgot to inform Kinley about the Sacred Name! Thirty years after the vision – 1961 – Kinley wrote his magnum opus and titled it God: the Archetype (Original) Pattern of the Universe![viii] In the second edition of 1969, he corrected this to Elohim: the Archetype (Original) Pattern of the Universe.[ix]
Numerous flaws exist in Sacred Name theology in general, and in the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research in particular – which I will address next, briefly. Some of the flaws are readily apparent, while others will require deeper digging.
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research considers itself a school of research rather than a church. However, Jesus did not promise to build a school, but said rather, “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). If IDMR is not his church, it is a false church and rightly no church at all (as they admit).
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research is grounded in a vision of its founder. In the vision which purportedly revealed to Henry Kinley the whole purpose of Yahweh from start to finish, the “Sacred Name” obviously was not revealed, since Kinley was not consistently using it until some 35 or so years later. How could one have confidence in a vision that was deficient in the Sacred Name department, if the Sacred Name theology were really true?
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research creates fake history – that the New Testament was written originally in Hebrew. There is zero evidence of this made-up fact. A. B. Traina calls mistaken the belief that “the New Testament originals were written in, nay inspired in, the Greek language.” Yet, there are thousands of Greek manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament. In addition, there are thousands of manuscripts in Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, etc. On the other hand, there are NO Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament.
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research mistakes the text of the Old Testament, which does not have ONLY ONE Bible name for “God.”[x] The Old Testament applies many names – Yahweh, Adonai, Elohim, El Shaddai, etc. In his Bible “Preface,” A. B. Traina writes, “For Yahweh they have substituted Baal, the Babylonian deity, and Adonay, the Canaanitish deity of the Phoenicians, both corresponding to the English word Lord.” Despite Traina’s asseration, Adon, Adonai or Adonay (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי) is found over 400 times in the Hebrew Old Testament referring to Jehovah Yahweh God. It is first used in Genesis 15:2. Cf. Joshua 3:11. Yahweh himself makes clear he does not have just one name – Exodus 6:3 “and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YAHWEH was I not known to them.”
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research fails to follow the example of Yahshua the Messiah. He prays and teaches us to pray using the title Abba/Father rather than a name.
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research does not trust the Bible, does not really believe it is inerrant, and does not believe it is preserved. According to Traina, until 1963 translation efforts were faulty. The “extant translations,” he writes, “have failed to bring out the true message of the Scriptures.” He would have us believe, however, that his random “corrections” of the King James Bible render the Holy Name Bible acceptable “to bring out the true message of the Scriptures.”
The Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research is cultic in their approach to knowledge. They own hidden knowledge. Neither their Bible nor their writings are readily accessible. Nonetheless, if they supply to you and you read their material and do not come to the right conclusion, members will say that you need to attend their meetings to understand their teachings.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that both the Sacred Name Movement and the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research misinterpret scripture and misunderstand language – both the language of scripture and how language works. A word or name is not the thing or person, but represents it. I can be Robert in English, Roberto in Spanish, Robrecht in German, Rupert in Dutch, Robertus in Latin, Bob or Bobby for short, but what matters is who you are talking about, not in what language you are speaking. The God of the Bible and his name transcends languages; he is the God of all the earth who hast redeems us out of “every tongue.”
[i] The exact names are not consistent throughout the movement.
[iii] Jehovah is a Latinization of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton יהוה. The name Jehovah/Iehouah appeared in most early in English Bibles, but not to any great degree. It appears eight times in the 1599 Geneva Bible, and seven times in the 1611 King James (according to Bible Gateway). They most frequently give “the Lord” as the equivalent of the Tetragrammaton. The 1901 American Standard Version of the Bible might be considered the pioneer in a standard translation using Jehovah, the “Sacred Name.” The name appears in the American Standard Version in 5831 different verses of the Old Testament. The Young’s Literal Translation has “Jehovah” in 5787 verses; the new Lexham English Bible uses “Yahweh” in 5824 verses – but does not use Yahshua in the New Testament.
[iv] Though this generally seems to be the preferred spelling, it certainly is not the sole spelling, and some publications choose simply to insert the Hebrew Tetragrammaton יהוה instead of an English translation. The four Hebrew letters, reading from right to left, are yodh, he, waw and he. Curiously, though IDMR makes much of the “Y” in creation – the y in trees, grass, the nose & eyebrows – the Hebrew “yodh” does not look like an English “Y”.
[vi] While the Sacred Name Movement seems very pro-Jewish, it can range from that to ambivalent to anti-Semitic. Traina’s Holy Name Bible “Preface” has an odd footnote that “The Caucasian people are Israel.”
[vii] Elohim the Archetype (Original) Pattern of the Universe, p. 3.