Unity of God and Mankind
The Unity of Humanity
The first place we often seek for unity is in our common humanity. We see so much division that our hearts yearn for unity in the brotherhood of mankind. We are all of one blood, one race – the human race. We are one species. What keeps us so divided?
The Unity of God
Over the ages countless thoughts and imaginations have arisen in the hearts and minds of men and women about matters of the Ultimate and how we can live together in harmony. Do we live in a world of warring gods, condemned to constant conflict, or is there one God overall whose ultimate desire and plan is to bring us together in unity?
Believing in one God is called monotheism and is still considered by many students of mankind to be a form of evolutionary progress in thought from paganism and animism through polytheism, to a more unified apprehension of spiritual reality. The theory behind this notion was developed in the late 19th Century by the English scholar Edward Burnett Tylor under the prevailing train of thought that favored materialistic evolutionary explanations for the physical, social, and cultural conditions of humanity. Tylor maintained that all human societies historically pass through three basic stages of development: from savagery, through barbarism to civilization.
Tylor’s evolutionary speculation remains very popular, even though his theory has been discredited by a growing accumulation of studies over the past hundred years pioneered by Andrew Lang, Wilhelm Schmidt, and others documenting that ancient societies, prior to their descent into barbarism and savagery have virtually all been apprehended by an awareness of a universal, overarching and monotheistic “sky-god” with many characteristics familiar to those found in the Hebrew Bible. Ongoing scholarship continues to document that monotheism came first, followed by scattering and degradation that has been progressively altered and redeemed, at least in part, by the spread of Biblical knowledge and insights.
The question that remains with monotheism, however is: “who is this one God”? We have three primary choices, including Yahweh (יהוה) of Judaism, Allah (الله) of Islam, and the triune God, Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) of Christians. On superficial examination, one may speculate that all three might be the same entity since they can be spoken of as “the god of Abraham”. Unfortunately, closer study suggests that the second, traced from Abraham’s extramarital son Ishmael, the father of the Arabic peoples, is more likely to be a counterfeit of the first whose spiritual transmission is linked to Abraham’s promised son Isaac, the father of Jacob (Israel). History is filled to this day with profound enmity between the spiritual descendants of Ismael and Isaac, begging the question of how a god of unity could be motivating both.
Moving on to the third option we meet another puzzling question: how can a “triune” God be one God? This is the Christian mystery of the Trinity, one God in three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), as revealed in the combined scriptures of Hebrews and subsequent followers of Jesus (Ἰησοῦς). How do we work this out? Fortunately, since this is not a question that can be answered by scientific analysis, there is a straightforward and satisfying approach that involves spiritual discernment:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9
Too simple? If you’re serious about knowing the answer, just try asking, seeking, and knocking with an earnest and open heart, and you will be answered. Would you like a very clear answer? Offer your prayer of inquiry in Jesus’ name:
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 10:7 and 14:6
When the peace of God comes over you in your personal spiritual search, erasing enmity and replacing it with forgiveness, humility, and love, then your answer is close at hand.
Unity in God’s Word
The question of the unity of scripture must be taken seriously if the Bible is to be saved from disuse and misuse. But it is not a question that can be brushed aside with an easy answer. In one sense the Bible exhibits more diversity than unity. It is a very variegated book; rather, it is not a book at all, but a whole literature. It was written over a period of well above a thousand years by men of the most diverse character and circumstances; its parts are addressed to all sorts of situations; it contains every conceivable type of literature. To level the Bible off, as it were, and to impose upon it an artificial unity, or equality or value, which ignores this amazing diversity would be to manufacture a straight jacket. It would also be to leave unanswered the question, In what sense is Christ the crown and norm of revelation. John Bright
How, then, does it come to pass that so many scholars have been able to trace innumerable threads of continuity that weave together into a seamless tapestry that presents a remarkably unified worldview in the face of such obvious diversity?
The secret lies in the common inspirational source behind each writer, an Author who unifies the whole. This has come about through the discovery that there is a window or perhaps a gate or doorway, so to speak, from the world of our 6 neurologically defined senses, into the spiritual realm of our 7th sense that has allowed humanity to be apprehended by and experience the Divine. Having had such an awakening, as did Adam and Eve in the Garden and countless men and women over the ages, the human authors wrote down what they perceived. Over the centuries and even millennia since then, the works of inspired writers have been filtered down to a purified collection that demonstrates the unity we see in the Bible.
Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it. Jeremiah 33:8-9
One of the many rewards of seeing the living God is being apprehended by the unity of design, purpose, and worldview that He has imparted to His Word as recorded in the Bible.
Unity of Divinity and Humanity
How do each of these proposed Gods, and the religions that have developed surrounding each one, imagine unity coming, if they imagine it coming at all? Will it be through law and force or through grace and persuasion? Jesus’ response is recorded in this prayer:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23
Can you sense the hopeful unity of God’s purposes?
Let’s study further by examining together what is involved in developing a comprehensive worldview that embraces the unity of mankind.