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Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Orthodox dogmatic theology

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The unity of God.

“Therefore, we believe in one God: one principle, without beginning, uncreated, unbegotten,

indestructible and immortal, eternal, unlimited, uncircumscribed, unbounded, infinite in power,

simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, unchanging, dispassionate, constant, unchangeable, invisible,

source of goodness and justice, light intellectual and inaccessible; power which is not subject

to any measure, but which is measured only by His own will, for He can do all things whatsoever

He pleases; one Essence, one Godhead, one power, one will, one operation, one principality, one

authority, one dominion, one kingdom, known in three perfect Hypostases, and known and worshipped

with one worship” (St. John Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 1:8;

Engl. tr., p. 177).

The truth of the oneness of God is so evident now to human awareness that it needs no

proofs from the word of God or simply from reason. It was a little different in the early Christian

Church, when this truth had to be set forth against the idea of dualism . the acknowledgement

of two gods, good and evil . and against the polytheism of the pagans, which was popular at the

time.

I believe in one God. These are the first words of the Symbol of Faith (the Creed). God possesses

all the fullness of perfect being. The idea of fullness, perfection, infinity, omnipotence of

God does not allow us to think of Him other than as One, that is, as singular and having one Essence

in Himself. This demand of our awareness is expressed by one of the ancient Church writers

in the words “If God is not one, there is no God” (Tertullian). In other words, a divinity limited

by another being loses his divine dignity.

The whole of the New Testament Sacred Scripture is filled with the teaching of the one

God. “Our Father which art in heaven,” we pray in the words of the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9).

“There is none other God but one,” as the Apostle Paul expressed this fundamental truth of faith

(1 Cor. 8:4).

The Sacred Scripture of the Old Testament is entirely penetrated with monotheism. The history

of the Old Testament is the history of the battle for faith in the one true God against pagan

polytheism. The desire of some historians of religion to find traces of a supposedoriginal polytheism

in the Hebrew people in certain Biblical expressions, for example, the plural number in

the name of God, “Elohim” — or to find a faith in a “national God” in such phrases as “the God

of gods,” “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” — does not correspond to the authentic meaning

of these expressions.

1. Elohim. For a simple Jew this is a form of reverence and respect (an example of this may

be seen in the Russian and other European languages, where the second person plural, “you” as

opposed to “thou,” is used to express respect). For the divinely inspired writer, the ProphetMoses, the plural number of the word without doubt contains, in addition, the profound mystical

meaning of an insight into the Three Persons in God. No one can doubt that Moses was a pure

monotheist, knowing the spirit of the Hebrew language. He would not use a name that contradicted

his faith in the one God.

2. The God of gods is an expression that sets faith in the true God against the worship of

idols; those who worshipped them called their idolsgod,” but for the Jews, these were false

gods. This expression is used freely in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul; after saying that

“there is none other God but one,” he adds: “for though there be that are called gods, whether

an heaven or an earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many), 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 Whom are all

things, and we by Him” (1 Cor. 8:4-6).

3. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is an expression that expresses only the chosen

Hebrew people as the “inheritor of the promisesgiven to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Christian truth of the oneness of God is deepened by the truth of the Tri-hypostatical

unity.




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