Back to Basics

WSC Q5: Are there more gods than one?

WSC A5: There is but one only, the living and true God.

It was once inconceivable that this belief, that there is only one God, would be abandoned by Western Society. Christianity had held sway for so long, and even as the Reformation challenged (and in some places broke) the power of the Catholic Church, there was still clear agreement between the different groups that there was one God.

Today we are surrounded by many spiritualities and religions. You can imagine, if we were writing an explanation of the Christian faith in the 21st century, monotheism, the belief that there is only one God, would be important to include. God is a mystery to our world, and we would need to go back to basics. This is something the world, new converts and our children need to hear.

But why include it in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC), written in the 17th century? This was known and believed by everyone, Catholic and Protestant alike!

The reality is, we always need to go back to the basics. We can never assume that everyone believes or knows the basics. People are continually being added to the church. They need to hear this news, they need to know the basics.

And for those of us well familiar with the basics, we need it too. Like Israel, we can be tempted to believe in other gods – gods of our own making. Gods that are more convenient, that demand less from us, that make promises we prefer, who are easier to understand and fit with our morality and view of humanity.

It’s good to get back to basics. Our God is the living and true God. He is one. And he alone is worthy of our worship.