• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 64 - No Other Gods

Exodus 20:1-3 ASV And God spake all these words, saying, (2) I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

The Israelites are camped before Mt. Sinai which is trembling with flames and smoke and awesome with the presence of God. God speaks from the mountain and says the "Ten Words" - which we now know as the Ten Commandments. As Christians we still have nine of them to follow - except the Sabbath which was a Jewish national day of rest, which was fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews chapters 4 & 5).

(For information on what OT commands apply to Christians and which do not see my ebook Temples and Tithes - http://www.aibi.ph/tt/).

This first commandment is a Christian, Jewish and Islamic tenet of belief - there is only one God - the God who created the heavens and the earth and He alone is to be worshipped. The belief in one God gives coherence to thought and to religious practice and creates a central point of accountability for all actions. In contrast the Greek belief in many gods meant the devotee had to figure out which god applied where and which was more powerful in what season and led to a view of life as complicated, unreasonable and determined by the complex jealousies of a hundred immortals.

Monotheism allows the view of a coherent and lawful universe, designed by a rational and just Being. It has thus given rise to mathematics, science and the rational exploration and explanation of the natural world.

Now there are three basic types of monotheism -impersonal (Islam), personal (Judaism) and communal (Christianity). The Trinity places community in the Godhead. Christian society, derived from this notion of the Trinity, has been by far the most successful form of society developed so far. The Trinity is not just a theological puzzle, it is a deep truth. Our God, and the universe He made is complex, personal and communal. God, and His world, are irreducible, there is no single simple essence at the bottom of it all. When you get to the very base of all things, the very ground of Reality - you find it is three-in-one. The ground of our being is a love between three Persons in one Being. If God is just One in the Islamic or Jewish sense, then justice, which can be singular, would be His deepest attribute. But since God is Three-In-One, in the Trinity, in Christian belief, then love - which is between Persons, is the true foundation of all things.

If there is only one God, and all other gods are fantasies and non-existent, why does God get so upset when worship other gods? They don't exist after all, what is so harmful about wasting our time? He seems a rather paranoid deity to be so concerned about us chasing after wind. Because while there are no other gods - but demons abound - and the worship of false gods is actually the worship of the demonic. Its an invitation straight into darkness and confusion.

The twenty poorest countries in the world (in the Human Development Report 1999) are all animistic, and involved in magic and the ritual of tribal gods and folk religion. On the other hand of the twenty wealthiest countries seventeen are Protestant, 2 are Catholic with strong Protestant influence and the other is Japan where the corporate sector had strong Protestant influence after World War 2. The contrast is stark.

Paul writes to the Corinthians, who were once idol worshipers and explains why they should stay away from them even now, when they were in Christ: 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 ASV (19) What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? (20) But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with demons.

So we see than the belief in one God, is logical and rational, and is the very foundation, not just of good theology, but of good societies and good science. On the other hand belief in idols is bad theology, demonic, irrational and unscientific and leads to darkness, disorder and poverty. A world of voodoo and witchcraft, of idols and spells, of curses and hexes and potions is not one that will ever make progress or know true justice and social order.

God did not just give the Jews the commandment to worship Him alone because He was paranoid, or jealous or a theological tyrant. He gave this commandment as a blessing, as a belief that would lead them to believe in a coherent, just and safe world order based in an unchanging and singular God. A belief that would form the basis of nationhood, society, science and mathematics and give them insight and wisdom about reality and how it functions.

Belief in no God leads to anarchy, selfishness and despair, belief in many gods leads to fatalism, superstition and darkness but belief in One God makes sense of all things.

{Still puzzled about the Trinity? Try http://www.aibi.ph/articles/trinity.htm }


John Edmiston


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