Thursday, March 20, 2014

Christian Issues: The Unity of God

What are the issues that Christians divide over? Which ones are important? Which are unimportant? I wish here to begin a series dealing with those issues. One of the most basic affirmations about God, going back into Judaism, is that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-13; James 2:19). Does this really make a difference?

One of the problems with any idea of more than one god is that we have not reached ultimate reality. If there are a number of gods running around, there needs to be some higher principle that explains them. Who are they, and how do they relate to one another? The distinctiveness of Christianity, and Judaism before it, is that it cuts out the middle men. The conclusion is that there is only one God, who is exclusively to be worshiped (Deuteronomy 4:33-39; Isaiah 44:6-8; Matthew 4:9-10). This leads to the idea of Jesus being the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Now this kind of exclusivity flies in the face of our modern attitudes. But is it really surprising? In the physical realm, things work in certain, often narrow, ways. Should we be surprised if the same principle applies in the spiritual realm? And it must be remembered that this one God offers salvation through free grace (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Titus 3:5,6). If someone offers to give me ten million dollars, is it unreasonable if they require me to accept it from their hand rather than obtain it  through the person of my choice? Jesus says for all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him, and He will give them rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Is it surprising He will not let us come in the name of Zeus?

But the problem with belief in a multitude of gods is that it drags God down to our level (Romans 1:22,23; Acts 17:24-29; Isaiah:44:9-20). We can start to believe in gods we can negotiate with or manipulate or who are simply capricious. We can start to believe we can somehow manage to rise up to God's level (Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:2-6). This also can cause us to ignore the danger of putting something other than God in the center of our lives (Colossians 3:5; Matthew 6:24; Deuteronomy 6:5). Therefore, the implications of the unity of God are that He alone should be put in the place of God and that we should approach Him in His way and on His terms. It may be asked if God is selfish for demanding this. But if God is God, then we, as His creations, cannot expect to function properly without putting Him in His rightful place. To put something or someone else (including a major distortion of who God is) in the center leads to us totally misunderstand the universe and who we are made to be. Which is always destructive.  

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