Is it okay for an Adventist pastor to baptize a member whose name is from a Hindu God? We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and are called by name by God. How would God look at someone with a Hindu name?
Although names can be full of powerful meanings and have generational or cultural significance, we believe a name given by ones parents has no literal bearing upon whether God would decide to call that person into divine relationship, whether that person would answer the call, or whether we as servants or pastors of God can determine if one should or should not consecrate themselves to God in baptism merely based upon their name.
Let us be clear here, anyone who would perform a baptism in the name of God (representing him in this spiritual ceremony – Psa. 63:4) has a duty and responsibility to ensure the one being baptized fully understands the significance and the meaning of the vow they are about to make (Psa. 61:5) and somewhat interpret the heart of the one making the consecration unto God, so as to ensure it is not done out of irreverent fear but of love for God and by an earnest desire to have a spiritual relationship with him. It would not be appropriate for a pastor NOT to baptize one who exhibits the right heart condition and sincere desire to become a child of God merely because of some worldly or traditional reason as one’s given name (Rom. 8:38-39).
When one consecrates to Jehovah as evidenced in baptism, one becomes a new spiritual creation (2 Cor. 5:17). His old ways, character, and personality begin to conform and change to the principles and character of God through his Holy Spirit, his written word and the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. The old things of that person are forgiven him (Gal. 6:15). God sees him in a new and different way regardless of what the world sees. In this Gospel age, we are given a new name by God, a spiritual name (Rev. 2:17) and that name is written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12). From the point of baptism on, we make a new name for ourselves among mankind as well. Not by changing one’s literal name, but by one’s character and growth in spirit and the reflection of the love of God toward those around us (Isa. 62:2). God will use those consecrated ones as living stones to build his spiritual temple for the blessing of all mankind (Rev. 3:12). All other concerns do not matter, for one baptized will make their own name known before man and God (Prov. 10:7).
In scripture, names are used and have meaning to educate us to principles God wanted us to learn. The literal therefore represented the spiritual lesson. We see that Abram’s name was changed by God to Abraham (Gen. 17:5). We see that Saul’s name was changed to Paul (Acts 13:9). We see that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (John 1:42). In these instances, a spiritual truth was shared with us. It was not that their name changed or that we should change our names once baptized, their character, faith, or reverence toward God changed. None of those men changed physically, they were the same person as before. But they changed spiritually. That is what gives them a new name. Today, we do not need the example of changing a name or worrying about one that may have earthly meaning, we have the word of God. Our name becomes new because our mind becomes new. We take on the mind of Christ.
Pastors baptizing called ones with names of Hindu gods has no spiritual effect, as those gods are not the living God, Jehovah. What is important is the new spiritual name those baptized are given and if their name is written in God’s memory. Let all of us live up to that new name, and unto the one who called us (1 Cor. 7:17-19).