“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
One True God; All Others Excluded
Here’s a quick summary of “theology proper”–the teaching about God. First, the Bible rejects all “gods” as being false, except the one, true living God. In fact, religion is infected with the poison of false worship in every era. Now, it is true that the name of the one God was known in all parts of the world. Even those who worshipped many gods would often speak of one god as if they thought one god was sufficient. This phenomenon was actually noticed by Justin Martyr in his book On the Monarchy of God. He shows that the unity of God is engraven on the hearts of all people. Early church father, Tertullian, demonstrates the same things from common forms of speech.
But everyone without exception have rushed into, or allow themselves to be dragged into, false beliefs concerning God’s unity. Although believing in one God is “natural” to a certain extent, people no longer do and thus render themselves inexcusable. The truly wise easily discover the vague wanderings of their minds when they express a wish for some kind of deity to exist and thus offer up prayers to unkown gods. Although some unbelievers are more sophisticated in their belief system than others, they are still being duped by the devil. Even the philosophers who have elaborate systems of belief are still in rebellion against God.
It is for this reason that Habakkuk condemns all idols and orders all people to seek God in his holy temple so that the faithful may only acknowledge the one, true God who is revealed in His word (2:20).