Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Unique Oneness of God

Dawud Jabal

Four thousand years ago, Abraham, a holy man and prophet of God, the Sovereign of the Universe, left his father's home in Mesopotamia. His father was an idolater. There were many different gods and their idols whom people thought would satisfy various needs. But the Most Gracious, Most Merciful God did not want people to be ignorant about Himself. He gradually revealed more and more about Himself and His relationship to man.

But interpretations of some of the revelations given by the Most Gracious, Most Merciful God have lead to confusion. We know and believe that God is One. But, even demons believe there is One God, and so they shudder!

For years many people who are submitted to God and who are in particular followers of Jesus, the Messiah, have been stating that the One God is not simple but that He is complex. They point out that He created very complex living beings and very complex ecosystems. So at least the complexity of those millions of systems must have existed within His mind before the great Creation.

Many followers of Jesus have pointed out various Scriptures that show the complexity of God. The major teachings are to show the existence of the Father, the Son or Eternal Word, and the Holy Spirit, all being One God.

Some friends like to say, "If you think one is three and three is one, I don't want you as my accountant. One is one! And that Christian illustration doesn't make sense either-when they say, 'It isn't one plus one plus one, but it is one times one times one that equals one.' But that doesn't make spiritual sense. What does it mean to have as some Christians would say, 'The Father times the Son times the Holy Spirit.'?"

How are we to understand the Oneness of God? The Oneness and also the Threeness are both shown in Scripture. So I prayed for an answer thinking that perhaps we are misunderstanding something.

The answer which I believe the Lord gave was to study again the concept of Oneness, the way God wants it to be understood, not the way we might initially think. Perhaps we are badly misunderstanding it.

The key verse teaching us that God is One, is the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." However, we should NOT take our feeble and limited understanding of the word "one" (or the same word from other language) and read our meaning into this word which God used to describe Himself.

Friends have asked me in public meetings, "Do you believe that God is One?" I've answered publicly, "I believe that God is One, IF we use His definition of One, which is expansive and unique enough to be used by God when He said, 'The evening AND the morning were one day' and 'the husband AND wife became one flesh.'"

The word "one," does not tell us about the composition of what it is that is one. For instance, a one dollar bill and a silver dollar are both just one dollar each. But, they are different in substance. Just saying here is one dollar does not tell me if it is paper or silver.

In Deut. 6:4, God, through Moses, used a particular word, e'had, in the Hebrew language to describe Himself.

God used the same identical word (e'had) to describe "the evening and the morning being one (e'had) day" (Gen. 1:5) and the husband and the wife becoming one (e'had) flesh (Gen. 2:24). I will discuss "the evening and the morning being one (e'had) day" to show the meaning in which God used that word before He chose to use it about Himself. It was Moses who recorded all of these incidents under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God. Moses knew of the use of the word.

E'had is NOT used in these instances as a mathematical word, but as a word of regarding the relationship and internal composition showing a completed condition SEPARATE AND ALONE from other entities outside itself.

We know that it is not mathematical because the conjunction "and" is used in both places where e'had is used to describe the evening/morning and the husband/wife. In modern times, many different groups of people use "one" to indicate solidarity together by saying "WE ARE ONE!" This is obviously not using the word in a mathematical sense. But it is using it in the sense of unity of a large number of people and they are sort of flexing their muscles, showing their independence from having to rely on other people. I have seen "We are One" statements in the English, Arabic, and Hebrew literature.

When we study the context of the Shema, we find that Moses was reminding his people that the LORD had watched over them. He had: brought them out of idolatrous ancient Egypt; multiplied them; carried them; defeated the king of the Amorites; defeated the king of Bashan; etc. God was with them as He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deut. 1:8 and 6:10) They were NOT to worship the god of the ancient Egyptians nor any other local gods. God, the Sovereign of the Universe, was greater than all of the other gods.

The LORD is the Self-Existent One who will bring about all of the blessings and promises which He gave. He is the YHWH (pronounced with due respect, "Yah-weh"), meaning "I Am, because I Am", or something like, "I Exist, because I want to Exist." He does not depend on any other god to achieve His aims. He does not need any other source of power, indeed there is no other ultimate power outside of Himself. He is ALONE, e'had. He is not merely the god of one geographical location or one tribe or nation of people.

The Shema of Deut. 6:4 is more of a DECLARATION OR STATEMENT OF INDEPENDENCE by YHWH than it is a mathematical statement. We are more concerned with the quantity of gods in a culture. We know that the One is all Powerful and all Bountiful. There is no need to associate any other god with Him. Indeed, to do so would be gross sin. But the people in the culture are more concerned with the quality of their gods. They think they "need" a series of gods to secure health, wealth, happiness, safety, marriage, rain, etc.

YHWH declared and proved Himself independent from and superior to all other beings. He is E'had in the unique and complex way which He revealed through His prophets in the Scriptures.

You are invited to contact the author for further questions.

Further articles on the nature of God and the doctrine of the Trinity.