For most Christians, Jews, Muslims, and yes even Hindus at the deepest levels, this affirmation: God is ONE, comes readily. That includes us Trinitarians. I can’t speak for other religions, but your average Trinitarian Christian doesn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about this. It’s one of the tenets of our faith and we simply accept it. If you do meditate on God’s oneness–I mean seriously meditate on it, interesting realizations may come upon you…
Deism is important to this discussion. Most modern-day western Christians have slipped into deism to one degree or another. That is, in my view, at least in part why Unitarian or Oneness doctrine has become more popular of late. Oneness doctrine tries to make sense of an idea that is not, at its foundation, classic Trinitarian Christianity. The doctrine Oneness adherents are trying and failing to reconcile with reason is actually (in many cases) deism.
Deism holds that God in some way built or assembled the world, like the storied “Watchmaker.” He constructed the universe, wound it up (so to speak), and then stood back to watch it all play out, contributing nothing more than a tweak here and there to keep things going in the intended direction. Many of us allow that God can and sometimes will intervene in response to our petitions. Some of us feel we have a personal relationship with Him (or we claim we feel this). The more skeptical may give this concept lip service while privately doubting the objectivity of (or envying) those who testify of “experiencing God” in any truly convincing way. So… not pure deism, but a derivative nonetheless.
The god most of us envision when we worship is closer to deism’s god than to Christianity’s God. I am NOT saying that Christians are following a false religion. What I AM saying is that we often don’t give a great deal of thought to the way we “visualize” God. Thus, we misunderstand. The misunderstanding encapsulated in Deism is so vast that it’s difficult to even see it at first. Deism’s god is not GOD at all. Deism’s god is a magnificent BEING. He is discrete.
individually separate and distinct.“speech sounds are produced as a continuous sound signal rather than discrete units”
Discrete things have edges. You and I have edges. My skin defines the boundaries of my physical being. My universe consists of the part that is “me” and the part that is “not me.” So does yours. Even if you assert that you are in some way NOT limited by the territory of your physical body, you still will not (in most cases) insist that you have no limits.
GOD is, by definition of all the major faiths, NOT discrete. The most universal tenets of the Christian faith affirm that God is eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. Right now I only want to talk about the first two: eternality and infinity.
Our understanding of the meaning of “eternal” must for completeness be coupled with an understanding of the concept of the “infinite.” Christians attribute both characteristics–eternality and infinity–to God. Together these attributes are far more astounding than either of them taken alone.
If God is infinite, there is absolutely no end to God–in other words, God has no edges–God is not a discrete being. God is not a mere being. God is BEING itself. God is the immediate and ongoing source of being. As Paul said to the Athenians, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” If you think of God as the greatest of all beings, you are mistaken. You are certainly not unusual, but if your god has a size at all, however vast, then your god is not GOD. When Moses asked God what His name was, God responded, “This is what you are to say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
I AM. That’s all. We humans have given God many names, but none describe Him so well as I AM.
“Eternity” is not a different sort of “time.” Neither is it some kind of realm inside or outside of this world–someplace where God resides. God does not (as I have so often been told) “dwell” in “eternity.” If God is infinite, how could there be a “place” to contain Him like a house or a land to reside in? There is NO end, there are NO boundaries or edges to God. He doesn’t FILL all; He IS the all. Anything or anywhere in which God were to dwell, which He could be said to “fill,” would functionally have to be bigger, both in time and in space, in order to provide God with a containing shelter. God alone is the shelter. There is no “outside of God” and certainly nothing in any way more vast and thus able to contain Him. How could anything be “bigger” than the infinite God whose expanse has no bounds? How could there be a “before” or an “after” for a God who is infinitely eternal?
GOD is not only eternal; He is eternity. GOD is not only infinite; He is infinity. There is nothing that is outside of God. There IS no “outside of God.” No space to contain Him, no time to enclose Him. God is the ALL.
God is infinity and God is eternity. Where could you go to flee from His presence? There is NOTHING BUT His presence and God’s presence is infinite. God’s presence has NO edges, no boundaries, no end and no beginning.
The more we enter into an experience of God’s presence and His being, the more we experience the bliss, the love, the holiness, the purity of joy that is GOD.
The more we turn away from God and encapsulate ourselves in our small fearful minds–the more we subjectively separate ourselves from God, the more we experience the horror of that separation, the more we will imagine His intentions toward us to be for harm and for evil. Our subjective impressions of GOD dictate the way we see Him.
They do not dictate who He IS.
God is ONE. God is simple–which is to say, God is not comprised of parts. The things we see around us–they are not the parts of God. God is not made of the universe or even of infinite universes or infinite things of any kind. All these things are IN God and OF God, but they are not what God is made of. They are not separate from Him (nor is it possible for them to be separate), but they (and we) are not collectively the components of God. God is Spirit–pure, infinite, eternal.
When you think of God, please don’t think of the Watchmaker. Please don’t think of three beings, members of a divine and unified family. God is ALL. God is all around you, all through you. God is the constant source of your life and light. It is in God that we live and move and have our being. If God were ever to cease to be, none of us nor anything else will ever have been. Think of God (in as much as you can) as being everywhere, all around you and all through you. Think of God as the constant and ongoing source of all light and life and love. Nothing less than this could ever be GOD at all.