Saturday, October 13, 2007

One God

I'm sure everyone reading this blog is very familiar with the "proof texts" used to support the case for the oneness of God.

Here is just a smattering of them:
  • But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Cor 8:6)
  • One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Eph 4:6)
  • For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Tim 2:5)
But have you noticed that these verses not only state the oneness of God, but also positively reinforce a belief in monotheism i.e. there is one God, and only one God, and there are no other gods whatsoever?

That's why I am always surprised when I read statements like the one posted as a comment on my post about a worship song by Joel Houston. An anonymous commenter wrote (about Hillsong) "they worship a different GOD".

It's strange that some Christadelphians can say that trinitarians "worship a different God", yet the very verses they quote to disprove the trinity say "there is one God"! They cannot worship "a different God" because there is only one God.

James actually makes this point when he writes: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder" (James 2:19). Just because someone has "wrong doctrine" doesn't mean they worship a different God, or just because they are right about the oneness of God doesn't mean they are right about everything. James's point is that doctrine must then be reflected in character and by actions. This was also the point made by Jesus in His famous statement about Israel's creed: "The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God ... and your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:28-31). The shema is saying something even more than "The Lord is unique, a one-of-a-kind God", true though that is, because the next verse begins with a vav - "and". The Lord is one AND you shall love the Lord ..." So the statement is relational: we are to love because He is one. Jesus then added to this the second part "And you shall love your neighbour as yourself". The first half of the Jesus creed has no purpose without the second.

So it doesn't matter what someone thinks about God, there is still only one God. Just because someone calls God "Allah" doesn't mean they believe in a different God. (Actually, the word Allah comes from the same semitic root as Eloah, or Elohim, in Hebrew, or Alaha in Aramaic, the language of Jesus). Regardless of whether someone calls God Allah, or Jehovah, or Yahweh, there is only one God. And just because someone's understanding about God is wrong, it doesn't mean they believe in a different God. I think this kind of language ("they worship a different God") builds unnecessary barriers and erodes the foundation of our belief that there is one God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Steven. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this most important subject. The only thing I still need to get my head around, is.....if we all perceive Yahweh, Jehova, Allah, God in our own unique way - ranging from subtle to vast differences, and base our relationships on this personal understanding, it doesnt change the Objective (who God is and how He/She responds/relates to us) but it does affect the subjective (who we are and how we respond/relate)
Salvation ramifications, goats and sheep, wheat and the crux. Therefore, it must come down to, I believe, our own perosnal relationship with our God, the Creator and Sustainer of Life - our motivations and consequent actions.....Will sincere peace loving Muslims from the line of Esau be saved?? Who can say they will not?
This is timely as I wrestle with this issue with my girlfriend who is RC and very devout and steeped in its traditions and sacraments, but also has a very real and personal relationship with Jesus.