Do Christians Worship One or Three Gods?
This is a good question since people hear Christians and those who go to church talk about God as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. In fact, the bible makes it clear that the Father is God, the Son Jesus Christ is God, and the Holy Spirit is God or the Spirit of God.
So, do Christians worship three Gods or just one? Both Muslims and Jews claim to worship only one God. But Christianity is also considered a monotheistic faith that worships only one God. So how is this possible if they talk about three different Gods?
It is a difficult concept to grasp. It is like trying to explain to someone how a very large airplane can fly or why the sky appears blue. These are tough questions. As parents, we know how tough some of the questions our kids ask us can be – such as why does the moon appear so close when it so far away? or who made God? But the question we are looking at today is no less daunting.
In fact, it is a question that has been asked and wrestled with for almost 1,700 years. The early church dealt with this question and it came to a head at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. After many years of confusion and controversy, the Council of Nicea affirmed the deity and eternal nature of Jesus Christ and defined the relationship between the Father and the Son as “of one substance.” It also affirmed the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three co-equal and co-eternal Persons [the word person doesn’t mean as in “human”, but as in three distinct living beings].
This is a question that both people inside the church and outside of it still wrestle with – it is still something people have a hard time wrapping their minds around. I won’t pretend to have any easy answers for you, but I will share a few analogies of other things in our world that work in tangible threes. These are things that are one, but can be observed in three parts or forms (these will not exactly explain the awesomeness and greatness of God, but they may help you).
Let’s begin with water. It is one substance, but can be observed in three forms – in liquid form (such as drinking water), gas (steam coming off your morning coffee) or in a solid form (such as frozen ice). Perhaps the Trinity – God as three yet one might be similar in some ways to this.
Humans have millions and millions of cells running around in their bodies. Yet each of these cells are much more complex than you realize. And inside each cell is three main parts. Each part is not a cell, but together, they make up one cell – much like the Father, the Son and the Spirit are three distinct Persons, yet one God!
Human beings are one, yet we have three major components within us. We have a physical body (this is the part we can see that has skin on it and organs in it, and other things like bones and muscles), we also have a soul (our mind, our emotions, our feelings and thought-processes) and we have a spirit (that part of us that is made in the image of God and connects with God). Though we can’t see our soul or spirit, we know they are as real as our physical body. But we would also say that we aren’t just our physical body. We know that our soul and spirit are real as well. Therefore, we know that while we are one person, we have three very real, distinct and necessary aspects to us as a human being
And this leads us to God. While we as Christians affirm what the bible teaches in that God is One, but manifests Himself in three Persons. He has done this both in scripture and in history. While no one can fully begin to explain the complexity of the creator and sustainer of the universe, it could be said that all three are one in the sense that they share one nature, mind, ethics, morality, are of one heart and are of one essence. As the Council of Nicea stated, “they are of one substance” – in other words, they are made up of the same divine substance that no one else or nothing else is made up of.
I think what is important is to remember that God acts as one in your life. He can be trusted whether He is revealing Himself or coming to you as the Father, the Son or the Spirit. He acts the same…He acts consistently…and He acts to complete His will in your life!