A Moral Definition of Monotheism

I don’t normally like to pilfer from blog posts at other sites, but this quote is great and fits well with a major theme of my blog:

The affirmation of monotheism – that there is only one God – is a moral statement, not a mathematical deduction. If there is only one God and He demands moral behavior, then there can be such a thing as good and evil. (Technically speaking, right and wrong are matters of fact: Who stole the money? Good and bad are matters of morality: Should I take the money?) When there are many gods, as in pagan legends, the issue is not: What is good? The issue is: Which God shall I serve? Which one has the power to protect and reward me? Think, for example, of the conflicts of Homer’s Illiad, where the gods take sides. What pleases one displease another. A person offends one of the gods but is under the protection of another, stronger one. The issue is not what is right but who has the might.

The assertion that there is only one God is the assertion that issues of moral behavior are not matters of personal taste. We cannot decide by majority vote that it is all right to steal and lie, any more than we can decide that winters should be mild or cookies more nourishing than vegetables.

Harold Kushner, “Who Needs God?”

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One comment on “A Moral Definition of Monotheism

  1. Nathan000000 says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I have always felt that this is the Lord’s main point when he says in the scriptures that there is only one God, or that the Father and the Son are one. He’s not doing math, and Trinitarian formulations completely miss his point. In fact, the reason he emphasizes it is because it’s clear that there are three distinct people involved. His point is, while that is the case, they are nevertheless ONE in the sense of morality. Unlike the Iliad, obeying the Son will never put you at odds with the Father. Commitment to one never conflicts with commitment to the other. THAT’S his point, not some metaphysical oneness of substance.

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