in a Name?
not, for I have redeemed you;
have called you by your name; you are Mine" (Isa 43:1)
people are converted from non-Christian background, the question arises at
water baptism whether their original names should be changed. In India,
especially among Hindus, most names are associated with deities. Therefore
some preachers of the Gospel insist a name change for the baptismal
candidates. Is it a must?
Indian Christians often think that all Indian names are Hindu, and all
Western names are Christian. To us Western names appear superior to
Indian. "Blackstone" in English sounds to us better than the
same name in an Indian vernacular. "Murugan" is the Tamil name
of a Hindu deity, but it just means "Beautiful!" We will not
accept this name, whereas we will name our son as "Apollo" and
our daughter as "Diana." Both these are actually names of Greek
deities! (Acts 19:27,28). "Apollos" means a
"destroyer" and it is the name of a youthful god of music. One
of the apostles had this name and he didn't change it! I regret for
dropping the name, Jeyachandran, given to me by my aunt.
who insist on changing names quote Exodus 23:13 and Joshua 23:7 where we
are commanded not to make "mention" of the name of other gods.
This simply means that we should steer clear off idolatry. If we take the
above commandment literally, how can we read so many passages of the Bible
where the names like Ashtaroth and Baal are repeatedly mentioned? And how
can we call or address people with such names? The apostles did not change
the name of the first gentile convert (Cornelius) or that of the first
European convert (Lydia). We commonly say that Saul became Paul. He
already had both these names given by his parents. This was not a name
may be advisable to drop community names like Nadar, Pillai, Mudaliar and
Achary. Otherwise change of names causes unnecessary problems in
society and government records, especially in rural and tribal areas.
Non-Christian parents feel that they are disrespected when the names
lovingly given by them to their sons and daughters are changed when the
latter believe on Christ. This may lead to unnecessary alienation and
antagonism. The furtherance of the Gospel is stopped. If the candidates
themselves strongly request a name change, we can comply with. Even here,
we must help them choose names in the local vernacular and cultural style.
What is promised under the New Covenant is only a new "heart"
and a new "spirit" (Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:25-28). But if we
wait, we all will be given a new "name" in New Jerusalem! (Rev