THE SINGULARITY OF GOD
by Josiah Audette
Continuing in our teaching series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism we come upon a singularly simple and short inculcation of Christian doctrine. Despite its short measure in pronouncement, it’s profoundness in thesis is without measure. For many there is not a more repudiating doctrine to be averred than in all Christendom. The eminent theologian, John Owen wrote, “This is the whole faith’s concernment in this matter as it respects the direct revelation of God made by Himself in Scripture, and the first proper general end thereof. Let this be clearly confirmed by direct and positive divine testimonies containing the declaration and revelation of God concerning Himself, and faith is secured as to all its concern, for it has both its proper formal object and its sufficiently enabled to be directive of divine worship and obedience.” To put it in layman’s terms, this doctrine has the greatest effect on our worship and obedience. But in our egalitarian and pragmatic age such a declaration by the Catechism is interpreted as a doctrinaire parti pris. This one question is the point of departure and indeed many have departed. To the Legal Positivist, monotheism cannot be observed. To the pragmatist, monotheism has no practical outworking. To the existentialist, monotheism is yet another discussion of vanity. To libertarian theology, monotheism is elitist. To the new age cultist, monotheism is a heresy. To the feminist who sings “A Mighty Goddess is our Forte”, monotheism is masculine and stereotyping. Yet, this question is a necessary conclusion of the last question we studied and furthermore the premise for the next question. If one answers this question in any enigmatic terms or with any dubious, dithering dubiety we will have sure cause to be concerned. With a doctrine of this magnitude there is no place for cunctation, but only concurrence.
Q: Are their more God’s than one?
A: There is but one only, the living and true God.
ONE BEING. ONE ESSENCE.
Why only one? Foremost, because He asseverates so. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” John Owen in his treatise on the Trinity taught we are simply to accept this declaration. “It is not to be prostituted to the captious and sophisticated scanning of men of corrupt minds, but to be humbly adored, according to the revelation that He has made of Himself.” Secondly, He forbids otherwise. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In this last passage God affirms His Aseity, that is, His self-existence. As was stated previously, numerically speaking, only one Divine Being can exist. Furthermore this one Being must have a oneness of inner unity in His essence. He cannot be any more divisible in essence than He can be multiplied in being. There are not parts of God (Essence) and there are not gods in part (Being). We cannot consider God to be composite even to the most exiguous point of essence or that of being. There is not room for more than one God or more than one essence in God because both the essence and the being of God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. There is mathematically not sufficient room for two coterminous beings of such nature. The riposte of the Greeks and Romans was to celebrate multiple gods. But as Francis Scheffer acutely observed, the problem with many gods is they are not big enough. Scheffer wrote that, “Plato understood that you have to have absolutes or nothing has meaning. But the difficulty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of reference or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and controlling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in this thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God.” There is no room for multiple infinite Gods and finite gods are no gods at all.
ONE GOD. ONE LAW.
Because there is on infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God there can only be one infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law. Morecraft noted, “To abandon God’s law revealed in the Bible for another system of law and morality is to change gods.” Rushdoony wrote, “The strength of man is in the absoluteness of his God.” Law is the revelation of righteous character and consequentially the outward expression of inward holiness. Man has denied the righteous character and holiness of God by renouncing his law in various and sundry manners. The legal positivist claims the only absolute is there are no absolutes and consequentially in denying infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law, must in return deny it’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable lawgiver. The pragmatist is one who holds himself as his own law-system because there is no universal order in his worldview. The pragmatist in his anarchy denies the King of kings in His monarchy. The libertarian in affirming his own economic order denies God’s created order when it is in contradiction to his. As Rushdoony wrote, “Men’s social applications and approximations of the righteousness of God may alter, vary, and waver, but the absolute law does not.” The new ageist confuse the separation between God and man and thus abjure God’s exclusive law order. The feminist in throning her own social order dethrones God of His in the process. Two infinite Gods is one to many and two law orders likewise. Many little gods are not enough and many law orders either. You cannot abandon God’s law without abandoning the God of that law first.
ONE GOD. ONE TRUTH.
Rather than their being a nimiety of hierologies there is one truth. Only God sets the terms of the law. Man does not set the terms of obedience, repentance, salvation, and peace with God. Only God sets the terms of reconciling us lawbreakers to Him, the lawgiver. Only God sets the terms of both the present remedial judgment and ultimate, final judgment of lawbreakers. Because there is one God there is one truth, the Gospel of God. Whosoever will may come, but he must come according to the one God’s terms in His one Gospel.
ONE GOD. ONE OBEDIENCE.
God does not require our ceremonial sacrifice but rather our obedience to His law. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth. David Chilton in his excellent book, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulation”, stated “The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture.” Some would attest my approbation of Biblical law and obedience would border on legalism. This misjudgment is due to an incorrect understanding of true legalism. If indeed legalism was an ardent and zealous application and maintenance of the law, then Jesus Christ would be the prevailing legalist of all times. Legalism, rather, is based on justification by works and obedience to man-made regulations. Righteousness is based on God’s one Law, or to state it in reverse, God’s Law is the basis of righteousness. Whereas, legalism is based on man’s myriads of laws. Righteousness is the response to grace. Legalism is a response of antinomian rebellion. You may reasonably question how I can logically annex legalism with antinomianism. As one understands, that Antinomianism seeks to dispose of God’s authority in human affairs. Furthermore, Antinominaism can only replace the void of God’s law with the legalism of man’s. Legalism and antinomianism are not diametrically apposed, but fundamentally agreed in the rebuffing of God’s law. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20. Without obedience to God’s law we only face obedience to man’s law. It takes Biblical wisdom to connect all of life to God’s laws. It takes a fool to disconnect all of life from God’s laws. Otto Scott wisely wrote, “The figure of the Fool is widely misunderstood. He is neither a jester nor a clown nor an idiot. He is, instead, the dark side of genius. For if a genius has the ability to see and make connections beyond the normal range of vision, the fool is one who can see – and disconnect.”