One God the Father almighty                 (E.J.Tyler)

1. At the heart of our Christian faith is the doctrine of one God.

We believe that all that we see and everything that exists whether it be visible or invisible, comes into being from the free decision of one great Being whom we call Almighty God. All that exists continually depends on this one almighty Being. For this reason we state at the beginning of the Creed that we believe in one God, the Father almighty. It is the fundamental truth in our Catholic faith and it is the starting point of all the other truths about God and man. It is the basis of our entire life, and we ought meditate long and prayerfully on this fundamental revelation from God that there is no other god but he. We read in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (6:4) the words, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord..” The prophet Isaiah proclaims that “there is no other” (45:22). A revelation about this is needed because we see from the history of religions that man tends to think that there are more gods than just one. The Greeks and Romans took for granted that there are numerous gods, and I suppose it is extremely difficult to imagine how all things could be created by one single being, let alone created out of nothing. After all, our human experience is of numerous causes or agents of influence, and it is to be expected that it is the same in the supernatural realm. Furthermore, it would be very difficult for a person to arrive at the notion that this one single being is infinite in his power, that he is almighty. While many scholars maintain that Hinduism really involves the worship of only one God, it does seem that great numbers of Hindus in effect worship many gods. If we consider the vast number of indigenous religions, it is clear that primal man typically worships many beings who have supernatural and god-like features. So the first thing we must appreciate ever more profoundly is the revelation that has come to us from on high that there is only one God and that he is the Father and the Source of all things. The point is that we are to look to him alone and to no other.

2. God has revealed his very name, Yahweh

 Not only did God reveal himself, but he told us his very name. The ancient peoples gave names to their gods. The highest god among the Greeks was Zeus, but of course his power was limited by the numerous lesser gods and goddesses that also had their own proper spheres of influence and power in the world. They all had their names, and those names had been given to them by the peoples who worshipped them. The Romans had their chief god, and he had his name as did the other gods and goddesses. The Egyptians and the Mesopotamians had their gods and goddesses with their names. Into this confused and tangled religious world of gods and goddesses the true God intervened and revealed himself and what he is like, and in doing so he also revealed his name. In introducing himself to Moses in the burning bush he said he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 3:6). Then Moses asked him for his name because the other gods had names. His answer was “I am who am.” Theologians, philosophers and students of the Sacred Scriptures have considered this name ever since, and while it is a name full of mystery, it is also a name which conveys so much about God himself. The name of each person and the names of all the gods and goddesses of the various religions of man have been given to them by others. All too often people do not like the name they were given as often it does not properly express the image they have of themselves. But God’s name comes from himself. It came from God when it was requested by Moses. It is Yahweh, I am who am.  I am the one who simply is. In the Old Testament this mysterious name was replaced at times by the title, Lord, and we remember Thomas using this of our Lord when addressing him after he rose from the dead. My Lord and my God, he said to our Lord, recognising that our Lord was Yahweh of the Old Testament. We remember how our Lord said to the leaders of the Jews at one point in his public ministry that before Abraham ever was, I am - implying that it was he who gave his name as Yahweh, I am.

3. The meaning of God’s name: I am and I am with you.   

(A) I am who am  If God gave this as his name, what does he mean to reveal about himself by this name, I am? God’s name, I am, tells us that God simply is. He is without qualification. We cannot say of anything else in our experience that it simply is. Anything in this world exists, but that is not the final word about it. It exists, but it is yet to be something more or less or different. It will change, it has been affected and changed by other things acting on it. It once was not and now it is, and it will pass away. It is, but it has within itself the seed of not being exactly what it is at this point. It is, but it will pass away. In it there is an element of both being and yet of becoming and even of not being at all. It is, but there are limits to the extent to which it is. But God simply is what he is, with no element of anything other than being. Nothing at all limits the extent to which God is. There is nothing other than being in God and there is no element in him to limit or alter his being. I am - he simply is. So his being is unlimited or unqualified by anything, and in this he transcends every other thing that has come from his creative hand. He transcends the world and all of history. Everything about him, his holiness, his power, his love and his fidelity is unchanging in being without limit. Everything about God is God, above all his mercy and his faithfulness. All that he is simply is,  without limit.

   (B) I am with you  But scholars generally point out a further meaning in the name God gave in answer to Moses’ question. It is that He is also for us and with us, his people. The name carries the connotation similar to that of Bridegroom. He is, and he is with us unfailingly. I shall be with you as I am. He is rich in mercy and faithfulness for us unchangeably. He is beyond, and he is indescribably near. He transcends us and he is unimaginably near and immanent.

       This is the being who revealed himself to Moses, even if Moses did not realize the utter transcendence of God in every respect, nor perhaps his nearness to us in every respect. I am the One who is, and as the One who is I shall be with you for ever. All this can be said to be contained in germ in his name: I am the one who simply is, and I am always for and with you. In revealing to us the name he gives to himself, God reveals so much about himself.  Because God is utter truth, and because Christ his Son came to bear witness to the truth, we believe. More than anything God revealed to his chosen people, and to us through his Son, that he is undying love. To Israel his chosen people he revealed himself as a husband and father. In sending his Son he showed there is nothing he would refuse to save his people from their sins.

4. God is one in being while three in persons  

The central mystery of the Christian faith and the mystery which must be accepted and believed if a person is to be considered a Christian is that there is one only God in three divine persons. Islam insists that there is only one God. There are various scholars who maintain that classic Hinduism involves, so some scholars tell us, only one supreme being despite the appearance in Hindu rituals and myths of what look to be various gods and goddesses. Judaism, of course, insists absolutely that there is only one God from whom everything came and on whom everything depends. So while belief in one God to the absolute exclusion of any other gods is fundamental to the Christian faith, it is not exclusive and distinctive to the Christian faith. What is distinctive to the Christian faith is what Christ taught and claimed to be, that not only is the Father God, but that he the Son is God too, as is the Holy Spirit. Each of them are distinct persons and each of them is the same one divine being. This is something that cannot be worked out by the natural reason of man - it comes from the teaching of Christ. It has been revealed. Our Lord revealed that the Father is not simply the Father of all things in the sense that he alone gives to all things their existence. He is the Father primarily in that from all eternity he has generated in his bosom the Son who is his Word and his perfect living Image. Jesus our Lord also revealed that the Holy Spirit, about whom there are various references in the Old Testament with various degrees of clarity, is the third divine person and equally the same one God as is the Father and the Son. He comes forth from both the Father and the Son as their gift and their love. He is the life of love between the Father and the Son, and is to be adored and glorified just as much as they. Each of the three persons is utterly distinct from the other as a person, and each is the same one God. Their distinction as persons derives from the distinct relationships they have with each other.

5. God is almighty    

The Christian knows that God is all-powerful, almighty, infinite in his power as in everything else that he is. It fits in with human experience of limited power to contemplate the notion of supernatural beings who have great but limited power, but the notion of a supernatural Being of limitless power transcends human experience. God has revealed he can do anything provided it is not irrational, self contradictory or immoral. And when we think of the power of God we ought think not only of the vastness of creation, but of the spectacular step God took in becoming man and subjecting himself to suffering and death. His power was manifested in his mercy and in the depths to which he was prepared to go to save us from our sins and take us to heaven. The one infinite God who is the creator of all became a man like us in all things but sin, becoming as men are and lowlier still to the point of death on a Cross. There were early religious movements that refused to believe this. It was beyond comprehension to them that God could or would do this. The Scriptures insist that the Word was made flesh. One wonders what would have been the reaction of Socrates, Plato or Aristotle with their exalted notions of the First Cause and the Principle of all things had they been confronted with the Christian claims about Jesus of Nazareth. I suspect that these greatest of minds who contributed so much to the intellectual life of the world would have had immense difficulty taking it seriously because of the very thought of an infinite God being crucified. The incarnation and the atonement for sin by God made man is a tremendous manifestation of the almighty power of God. If God could and would do such a thing, what could or would God not do for us? We believe in God the almighty Father.

6. All things depend on God and tend to him  

 We ought think of God’s activity of creating not as something which happened once when God brought things into being, such as the angelic world and then the visible universe. God did not make things to be self sustaining. The only being that exists of itself is God himself. If for one instant God’s sustaining hand were to be withdrawn that thing would cease to exist. So we ought live in the awareness that we live and move and have our being from God. From him we come and to him we shall go for judgement.

7. The purpose of the creation of man   

God has given us freedom, and he asks us to collaborate with him in the fulfilment of his will. Vast as is our world, heaven we can be sure will be far vaster and ever so much more beautiful because it is the home of the holy angels and saints and God himself. This is the permanent home for which God made us and our life here on earth is a time of trial and preparation at the end of which there we shall be judged.  God has made us to know, love and serve him here on earth, and by our choice of the good as expressed in the will of God gradually to become more and more like God who is our common Father.

8. The fall of man and the promise of a redeemer  

 This is our calling, and for this did God make us. The terrible problem is that at the beginning man who came from the creative hand of God, rebelled against him. Thus did sin enter the world, and we see sin present constantly in human history. We see tremendous evidence of it during the last century, the century of two world wars and many minor wars. We see it in our own day of conflict and disregard of God’s commandments. How are we to understand the perennial presence of sin in the world? We can understand it only by the light of what God revealed about it. It appeared in heaven itself, before the world was created. Some of the angels refused obedience to God and were cast out into hell. Thus hell and the devils existed before the arrival of man. At the dawn of human history, Satan tempted our first parents and they deliberately chose to rebel against God and thus sin entered the world. With sin came death and death became part of the condition of the human race - death both spiritual and physical, and all that leads to death. In our first parents, human nature fell and lost its original holiness and justice before God and was profoundly wounded in its natural powers, without being totally corrupted.  It is thus subject to ignorance, suffering, the dominion of death and carries with it a constant inclination to sin.

9. The good news of our calling  

 The good news is that God did not abandon man to his sin and his folly, but promised that evil would be conquered and man lifted up from his self-inflicted misery. In fact, the fall of man proved to be, due to the mercy of God our Father and creator, the occasion for gaining so great a blessing as Jesus our Redeemer. Let us then praise and thank God the Father almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, and the creator and redeemer of each of us. We were created, we wrecked God’s work, but God sent a Saviour, the Saviour of the world. He is able to sanctify us and all men. So in him do we place all our hope and our life’s task is to give our lives to him in love. Let us then resolve to renounce sin and belong to Christ entirely.

CCC 198-420