The Church’s belief in one God

Cathal Barry takes a look at the Church’s teaching on God

“I believe in God” is the first affirmation of the Apostles' Creed and also the most fundamental, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Catechism states that the whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God. The other articles of the Creed all depend on the first, it says, just as the remaining Commandments make the first explicit. The other articles help the faithful know God better as he revealed himself progressively, it adds.

“I believe in one God” are the words with which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed begins. The confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God's existence and is equally fundamental. The Church teaches that God is unique; there is only one God. The Roman Catechism states: "The Christian Faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance and essence."

To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other… Before me every knee will bow; byme every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength’.” (Isaiah 45: 22-24)

Jesus himself affirms that God is "the one Lord" whom you must love "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength". At the same time, the Church teaches that Jesus himself is the Lord. To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith. This is not contrary to belief in the one God. Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as "Lord and giver of life" introduce any division into the one God.

As the Fourth Lateran Council decreed: “We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.”