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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

There Is But One God

J. L. Dagg

From the Manual of Theology: A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, 1859

There is but one God. The heathen nations have worshipped many gods, but the inspired volume throughout inculcates the doctrine, that there is but one God. Moses said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. 6:4) and, in the New Testament, the same truth is taught: "There is one God, and one Mediator..."(I Tim. 2:5); "To us there is but one God." (I Cor. 8:6)

It is not clear that the unity of God can be proved by natural religion. In some of the reasonings which have been relied on, the thing to be proved is assumed. The most satisfactory argument is derived from the uniformity of counsel, which appears in the works of creation and providence. The same laws of Nature prevail everywhere so that, in passing from one region to another, we never feel that we have entered the dominion of another Lord. Light which emanates from the remote fixed stars, possesses the same properties, and obeys the same laws, as that which comes from the sun of our own system.

The proof from revelation is clear and decisive. It is true, that plural names of the deity are frequently used in the Old Testament; but it is manifest that they were not designed to teach the doctrine of polytheism. In Deut. 6:4, the word "God" is plural, in the original Hebrew; but the whole passage contains the most unequivocal declaration of the unity of God.

In Gen. 1:1, the name a God is plural, but the verb "created" is singular, and therefore bars out all inference in favour of polytheism. In several passages, plural pronouns are used when God speaks of himself. "Let us make man" (Gen. 1:26); "Let us go down" (Gen. 11:7); "The man is become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22). These passages, and especially the last of them, cannot well be reconciled with the doctrine of God's unity, so abundantly taught elsewhere, without supposing a reference to the doctrine of the trinity, which will be considered hereafter.

The unity of God renders his moral government one, uniting the subjects of it into one great empire. It leaves us in no doubt to whom our allegiance is due, and it fixes one centre in the universe to which the affections of all hearts should be directed. It tends to unite the people of God as we have "one God," so we have "one body, and one spirit."