Did Jesus Christ teach "there is only one God"?

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD!" (Deut. 6:4)

This is the clarion call of the strict monotheism of Judaism. "God" is declared to be a unique individual. "God" is the only god-level being. This is reflected in the Islamic statement, "Allah is one. He begets not and He is not begotten and there is none like unto Him." But does this interpretation of the nature of God accord with the revelation of the Father through Jesus Christ?

The Apostle Paul writes, in probably the earliest surviving Christian writing: "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 means of whom are all things, and we by means of him." (I Cor. 8:6). Paul makes a clear distinction thoughout his Epistles between "God the Father" and the "Lord Jesus Christ".

So how are we to reconcile these two statements. "God is Lord" (Deut. 6:4) and "God is the Father, Jesus is Lord" (I Cor. 8:6)?

The Shema, meaning "Hear!", is an essential creed of Judaism. It includes, from Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!".

The meaning of "one" is ambiguous in Hebrew. It could mean "There is only one god, the LORD". Or it could mean, "Only one god is the LORD". Or it could mean "Our only god is the LORD". Or ....

The Hebrew word for "one" is echad. It is used in Gen. 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." If a similar meaning applies to Deut. 6:4, then it would be saying "The LORD our God is a single-minded LORD", i.e., "constant, unchanging in one intention and one direction", implying that the 10 Commandments, immediately following in Deut. 6, are also constant and unchanging (e.g., Mal. 3:6). It could also mean "I'm the only one involved. I did it all by myself." (e.g., Deut. 32:39)

The Doctrine of the Trinity is one attempt at a solution. The term "God" is redefined such that the Father, the Son and the personified Holy Spirit are combined into one quasi-individual to accord with Deut. 6:4. This quasi-individual can then be unpacked into three distinct entities when theologically convenient as, for instance, in explaining I Cor. 8:6

But we haven't yet heard from Jesus!

" The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? [Psa. 82:6, Jewish Publication Society "divine beings", which means the same thing!] If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:33-36)

What is Jesus talking about here? He is saying that the "strict monotheism" of the Jews does not accord with Scripture! He is saying there can be many gods!

Indeed this is the promise of the Christian "good news"!

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)

How can we be like Jesus, if he is part of a fixed "Trinity"? We can't be! What does it mean to be a "Son of God", and yet not be able to attain to god-level status?

Jesus came to reveal the God as a Father (Matt. 11:27). In other words, that the Supreme God is a Father, the head of a Family. Jesus is the eldest son, also a god-level being:

"And Thomas answered and said unto him [Jesus], My Lord and my God." (John 20:28)

Jesus is the "firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). All Christians, begotten as children of God by means of the Holy Spirit, will also be god-level beings, part of the divine family:

And [the Lord] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:18)

Our Father's purpose, from the very beginning, was to create us in His image (Gen. 1:27). This is exactly how all parents start their families!

The wonderful message of Jesus is that the supreme God is a Father, who wants a large family of god-level Sons and Daughters. Our Father wants you in His family to share, in love, all His wonderful attributes for all eternity!

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation! (Heb. 2:3)

Compiled by John M. Linacre, Chicago, 2002

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