Wearing Human Names

Foy W. Vinson
Elgin, Ill.

The wearing of human names in religion is almost as old as Christianity itself. In spite of such teaching as is found in Acts 1:1,2 where Pe ter affirms that "there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved", still we find multitudes of people wearing such names and at the same time avowing adherence to God's word.

When we speak of human names one's mind immediately thinks of such terms as "Lutheran", "Calvinist", "Russellite", etc. These are certainly human names, for such are wearing the names of men, but these by no means exhaust the list. Whether we wear the name of a man or a name invented by man we are in either case wearing a human name. The name "Baptist" or "Methodist" or "Presbyterian" when used descriptive of those who claim to be disciples of Christ is just as inappropriate and sinful as the name "Lutheran".

The Apostle Paul dealt with this very problem when he wrote to the church at Corinth. Hear him as he speaks of it: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos and I of Cephas and; I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" It is obvious that Paul was alarmed about their use of human names. How different this is from the "what difference does it make?" attitude of today! In his rebuke it seems that he is more severe with those who wore his name than with those who wore the names of Apollos and Cephas, though all are condemned. "Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in "the name of Paul?", he asked. In other words, Paul was not worthy of such honor. But who was Paul? We know that he was an apostle, for he so affirmed in nearly every epistle he wrote. Furthermore he says that he "was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." (2 Cor. 11:5). In defense of his apostleship he further states: "Are they Hebrews? so am I? Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent,in deaths oft. Of the Jews f ive times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:22-27). THIS WAS PAUL! THIS WAS THE KIND OF LIFE HE LIVED AND THE KIND OF SUFFERINGS HE ENDURED! Certainly no greater and more godly a person has ever lived this side of Christ. I doubt that Paul even has a peer. Yet this man was not worthy to have his name worn by others! However, today multitudes have the effrontery to consider men this side of Paul, perverters of the gospel, worthy of this honor! Such presumption! In my mind Paul the Christian and Apostle of the Lord will ever stand as the strongest argument against the wearing of human names.

Truth Magazine I:9, pp.1, 13
June 1957