Don't you believe in God? Christians often respond in amazement that anyone could possibly not believe in their One True God. Christians often view the non-believer condescendingly, as deservedly Hell bound immoral rebels. But, for objective observers the question has become: Is the monotheistic Christian claim of knowing the One True God rational, let alone moral?
The self evident fact is that for practically every Christian denomination there is a different, even contradictory description of God. But, Christians are unfazed by the implications of their multiple descriptions of God. Somehow Christians, especially bible-believing fundamentalists, are so engaged in affirming the correctness of what they believe, that it never occurs to them that their own multiple descriptions of God preclude belief in a singular God who is the one and only God. Thus, when asked if one believes in the Christian God, it is only logical to ask: "Which God are you asking about?" The Christian response of "Our God is the One True God", reveals a disturbing lack of integrity, let alone candor to say the least.
For example, there is the one-headed God of the Oneness Pentecostal denominations. This segment of Pentecostal Christians consist of over 100 denominations worldwide. They believe the bible clearly teaches the Father is Jesus, The Holy Spirit is Jesus, and the Son is Jesus. All are manifestations of the One indivisible God, not three separate persons. Oneness theology teaches that dividing God into separate persons misrepresent the monotheistic God of the Bible and dilutes the deity of Jesus. The Oneness doctrine was considered so serious a heresy just 500 years ago that Servetus, an eminent physician from Spain was burned at the stake for his Oneness beliefs in 1552 C.E. by John Calvin, a hero and namesake to many Protestant believers.
There is the two-headed God of Arius, early 4th century presbyter of Alexandria. The 18th century scientist and mathematician Isaac Newton was an Arian advocate. Arians believe the true Greek translation of John 1:1 states that "the Word was a God" and Jesus, the Word who became flesh in John 1: 14, was a lessor god because he was "begotten " of the eternal God Jehovah. This Jesus could not be of one substance or co-eternal with the Father. Today's best known followers of Arian theology are the Jehovah Witnesses started by Pennsylvanian Charles Taze Russell in the late 19th century. Russell caricatured the Trinitarian God as "three gods in one person." The controversy over the divinity of Jesus was settled when the Roman Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. The outcome was to declare the Arian doctrine a heresy, exile Arius as a heretic, and declare Jesus as very God of very God, of the same substance and co-eternal with the Father. Note that at this point in time the Christian God was still a Binitarian or two-headed God.
It was not until the late 4th century when the three-headed God of the Trinity was sanctioned. The Trinitarian doctrine is the belief of most Protestant denominations today. The Trinity teaches that God is divisible consisting of three separate persons who are of the same substance, eternally begotten with one another: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity doctrine is assumed by most Christians to be the belief of the early apostles, though this doctrine was in fact undocumented until the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. The Trinity doctrine has virtually no biblical support. I John 5:7-8 attempts to explain the Trinity, but bible scholars acknowledge these verses to be fraudulent insertions of a later period. So the Trinity's incomprehensible three equals one God was established as the "orthodox", "must believe" mystical doctrine of the Christian church. Its orthodoxy in Catholic/Protestant theology is the offspring of the Roman Empire's determination to side-step accusations of polytheism, establish unity, even if concomitant with torture and imprisonment for non-believing heretics.
Then there is the four-headed God of Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholic theologians will vehemently deny that Roman Catholic Mary-ology makes Mary into a member of their Godhead. Nevertheless Catholic doctrine has made Mary the focus of Catholic religious practice by alleging Mary's immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, assumption into heaven, intercessory role, apparitions, rosary beads, shrines, and medals. In reality Mary is treated with an awe and reverence equal to the other members of the Roman Catholic Godhead. Consequently, Roman Catholics pray to and worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and Mary, the Mother of God.
Other Christian denominations know no limits in creating their own various God descriptions. There are the Latter Day Saints known as Mormons founded by Joseph Smith following a visit from God's messenger angel Moroni. The Mormon God progressed from mere man to becoming God establishing the pattern for his followers who in the same fashion desire to become a God dwelling together on the planet Kolub. There are Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Scientists who believe God is an eternal principal, and Jesus is the highest corporeal concept of the divine idea. There is Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, famous for its Plain Truth magazine, which teaches that the Holy Spirit is an "it", an impersonal aspect of God's life and power. The many Christian denominations, each with their unique contradictory description of their Gods are worshiping a different Gods.
To further compound this cognitive dissonance, all these Christian theologies claim the monotheistic Jewish God, Yahweh, in some mystical sense as being father of Jesus. Yet the Jewish Bible does not contain one hint of the Jewish Messiah being Godís son let alone God incarnate. Is it any wonder that orthodox Jews not only reject Jesus as their Messiah, but the entire Christian God concept as blaspheme? To the Orthodox Jew, Christianity is a parasitical religion which has attached itself to the historicity of their Yahweh to gain legitimacy for its pagan, gentile religion.
The irony of ironies is the fact that each Christian denomination claims to have: "The revealed, infallible truth of the One True God." God-believers with differing God descriptions are seen by one another as being deceived by some strange, even heretical doctrine. Nevertheless, Christians overlook each other's heretical God beliefs tentatively accepting them as the less fortunate who "at least" have some kind of God belief which is seen as certainly preferable to non-belief or, heaven forbid, atheism.
Maybe Christians will someday consider the alleged words of their Lord and Savior Jesus who said to take the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of someone else's eye. To keep pace with civilizationís progress Christianity is grudgingly at best, acknowledging the import of rational inquiry and critical thinking. However, for any faith-based religious thought process, a conflict arises because serious rational inquiry or critical thinking violates the spiritually esteemed "child-like faith." Faith rejects a questioning attitude. Faith does not base its actions or beliefs on evidence (Heb. 11:1). Faith and critical thinking are at opposite poles. The revered apostle Paul stated, "whatever is not of faith is sin" (Rom 14:23). To "lean not on thy own understanding" (Pr 3:5) is the ultimate in spirituality. To think or question for yourself is the essence of sin. Every religious heretic is labeled as such because they have thought for themselves. Christianityís multiple denominations are simply multiple heretical groups each claiming to be the only one with the real truth. Ask any of them and they will tell you! Objective thinkers cannot help question the rationale and/or morals of God believers who condemn non-belief when these same believers are so comfortable in their self-ordained orthodoxy regarding so basic an issue as which of their multiple Gods are the one true God.
In the U.S. this issue becomes tragically humorous when it is legislated that citizens pledge they are "One Nation Under God." Which God? Whose God? Further, why? Where was this God on 9/11/01? As comedian Robin Williams suggested, wouldn't "One Nation Under Canada" be more accurate? At least we would then have some tangible evidence for the truthfulness of such a statement.
Christianity's multiple denominations with multiple Gods, each doctrinally condemning as heretics the non-conforming within its own religion is so psychologically addictive that for the unyieldingly religious in need of a mythical heaven any ole God will do!
Lee Salisbury, Stillwater, Mn., was a former bible-believing Pentecostal pastor 1972-1986. He is founder/director of The Critical Thinking Club of MN, is a Columnist forwww.axisoflogic.com and participates in public speaking/debates. Lee's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright (C) 2004 Lee Salisbury