My Catechism: Question 5

Q: Are there more Gods than one?
A: No, not really.

1 Corinthians 8:4-6
4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

How’s that for a memorable answer? No, it’s not pithy but I think it captures the essence of the verse I’ve cited. On the one hand, we find Paul telling the church in Corinth that idols are not gods. On the other, Paul acknowledges that there might be beings which others refer to as gods and to whom they give their allegiance.

I think we see something similar among Western Christians today. For the most part, we would deny the existence of any gods other than the Father of Jesus, yet at the same time we might bestow a god-like status upon sex, power and money. NT Wright was once asked what were the false gods of our times and these were the ones he spoke about. While not personal beings, these three objects appear to operate like forces which drive, guide and consume human lives. For some, this is what they imagine a god does. Not so for us. The One True God motivates and directs the lives of those submitted to Him, but He doesn’t consume those lives. He enriches, enhances and increases those lives.

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