Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A #5

Q: Are there more Gods than one? 
A: There is but One only, the living and true God. 
Isaiah 44:6: Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 

Monotheism isn't unique to Christianity. Islam teaches that there is one God, Judaism teaches that there is one God. And while these religions have a perverted, limited, and downright wrong doctrine of the one, true God, it gives us a starting point in any conversation we engage in with a Muslim or Jew. But even beyond these religions, the Western world generally accepts this notion as well. When was the last time we heard a skeptic say, "Well, if there are Gods", or an atheist say, "I don't believe in the existence of Gods". Western society simply doesn't talk about God plurally. Not yet, anyway. It is a presupposition in our culture that as we discuss the existence and nature of God, we are talking about one God. However, in the undercurrents of the American way of life, and certainly in the mainstream spirituality of our culture, we can see that society is far from being monotheistic. In fact, for all practical purposes, our culture is essentially polytheistic.

As followers of the one, true, living God, we have to ask ourselves this question. Are we living in a way that is truly monotheistic? We may reject polytheism on the surface. We may reject the modern, pop-spirituality that we see around us, but are we fleshing this out? Are we living our lives in a way that brings glory and honor to the one true God, or, are we too, for all practical purposes, essentially polytheists? Let's be honest with ourselves. We worship many things as gods. As Calvin said, man's heart is an idol factory, and the Church is not immune to this reality. We worship ourselves, money, careers, success, status among other men, our material possessions, even our loved ones become objects of worship. And we shower our praise, adoration, and affections on these other gods. Not only do we worship them, we go as far as to put our faith in them. We trust these gods with our safety and security. We look to them for a sense of peace. We look to them for guidance and wisdom. You see, when we do this, when we worship these things as gods, not only do we steal from God the worship that only he deserves, we undermine the very foundation of the Christian faith! We do not live out our belief that there is one God, he is "the first and the last", apart from him there are no other gods. 

This realization about ourselves is painful, and it is ongoing. None of us will be free from idolatry until we are in Glory. But brothers and sisters, we must make every effort to break free from our polytheism. We know there is no hope, comfort, security, wisdom, or peace that comes from these other gods. We know that only in the one, true, living God do we find our eternal joy!  Let us pray every day that God, through the working of the Holy Spirit in us, would show us our idols so that we may repent and worship him alone! Let us pray that God would be, as CS Lewis put it, the great "iconoclast" in our hearts so that we would truly testify, both in our words and deeds, that he alone is God, and is worthy of our worship! 

 

Posted on February 4, 2015 and filed under Teaching.