Here is yet another word with a long patent of meaning in all the Germanic-based dialects. Coming down to us as a conjunction of “all” and “mighty,” the Old English ælmihtig (Almightye or Almightie) early on transcended its adjectival place as descriptive of God’s character to become a folkish byname for God Himself. When this may have happened we cannot know, but an early English form of the creed found dating to well prior to the Norman conquest may be instructive:
I beleue in God the Father Almightye, maker of heauen and earth.
And I beleue in the Sauiour Christ his onely begotten Sonne or Lorde,
Who was conceaued of the Holy Ghost, and borne of Marye the virgyne,
suffred vnder the Pontish Pilate, on the crosse hanged, he was dead
and buryed, and he down descended to hel.
And he arose from death on the thyrd daye.
And he went vp to heauen, and sitteth now at the right hand of God Almightie the Father.
From thence he will come to judge both the quicke and the deade.
And I beleue on the Holy Ghost.
And the holy Congregation.
And of the saintes the societie.
And sins forgeuenesse.
And of the flesh the again-rising.
And the euerlasting life.1
Whenever this folkish term “Almighty” was adopted as an acceptable title for “God” is far less important than the fact that it was so accepted, but there are certain internal indicators in this early English form which, in spite of certain French influences, such as the word Sauiour, hint at its originating under the Celtic See, at a time when they still expressed independence of the Roman church. One such indicator is that though bearing obvious Latin influence, it was written in the vulgar tongue. This, the Roman church of the time forbade. It also omits the term “holy Catholic church” in favor of “the holy Congregation.” Yet we find this form to have more of the additions which we associate with the modern Textus Receptus version than is seen in perhaps any other.
All things considered, this may peg this Anglo-Saxon form as arising far prior to the works of Bishop Aelfric (the Romanist bishop famed for work in the vulgar tongue), and possibly in advance of the writings even of the Venerable Bede, thus making it a possible source of the reforms which later found their way into the Textus Receptus version, circa AD 700 in France. But Rome would be loath to admit that the Celtic-Culdee church, of a See unrecognized by the Roman Magisterium, were among the ultimate refiners of the Western Creed.
Returning to the word “Almighty,” we know the Latin equivalent in the Roman Symbolum to be omnipotens (all-ruling, almighty). These are definite synonyms, adjectivally at least, but omnipotens, or “omnipotent,”strangely never became a title for God as did Almighty. The likely reason for the adoption of this term as a descriptive title for God in the Anglo-Saxon culture is rooted in its relation to the words “God” and “Father,” because both words were drawn out of Odinic use, as our pagan fathers counted themselves descendants of Odin (the Germanic version of Jupiter/Japater/Japheth), whom they had at some point confused with the invisible and “almighty” Alfadur Gott. So the words Alfadur Gott, or ælfather God, easily transitioned into “God the Father Almighty” and “Father-Almighty” blent, supplanting Alfadur with the Christianized iteration, “Almighty.”
The Christian church’s rationale in accepting such appropriations from pagan sources is based upon the apostolic example of preaching the gospel to men in their own respective tongues (Acts 2), in the assumption of the multiformity of Christian culture over against a monolithic homogeny, which is also to presuppose at least some pagan instruments to be reformable for Christian use.
Of course, just because some particulars of pagan culture may be reformable, it does not follow that all are. Though a heathen grove might supply us with perfectly good shade trees, or lumber for the building of churches, temple prostitution has no place under Christlaw. Though the heathen craft of Viking ship-making would have much Christian applicability, ceremonial cremation on such ships was outlawed in favor of a treatment of the body in keeping with the biblical view of man: having been made in the image of God, man’s form is owed a solemnity of its own even in death, and having been taken from the dust, he is returned whence he came in anticipation of resurrection on the last day.
Whether we are speaking of an adjective or a title, “Almighty,” quite different from names like Thor, is found to be a true and good descriptive title of God. St. Paul made use of another such descriptive title from the pagan world as he spoke at Mars hill of “the Unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Yet Zeus and Jupiter would ever be struck down by the Church as irreformable.
Though Arabs scream “Eurocentrism” and “racism” for Christians’ rejection of Allah as a common name for deity, we remind them that we scuttled the names of our own ancestral demigods at the embrace of Christianity, too. But if they will not concede on the use of Allah as a title for the God of the Bible, Christendom regards them every bit as anathema as the Scripture regards the priests of Baal; and incidentally, history shows Allah to be a regional name for Baal. This, alongside the history and doctrines of Mohammedanism, render that name wholly inadmissible to the Christian mind.
Maker of heaven and earth…
Though the creed is arranged as a synopsis of history, and is itself an historical work, line upon line, precept upon precept, laid by monkish hands, it all stands upon the transcendence of God. As it offers coordinates for matters of history, relative one to another, it ultimately does so only in relation to the God who is Himself transcendent of, yet active in, His own creation. The Christian God, sovereign over space, time, spirits, and flesh, is the only thing which offers context to men and things. This is Calvinism.
Albeit, Remonstrants have long denied God’s sovereign right over all things: they deny God’s predestination and superintendence of the soul, because they reject His transcendence. Or, more appropriately stated, they are viscerally opposed to it. They are opposed to this Creator/creature distinction, because they have grasped, on some level at least, its implications – that if God is sovereign and transcendent, He is the source of inequality. This is a distressing concept to them, because they find the distribution of things, whether salvific grace, talents, beauty, intellect, or folk character, to be fundamentally unfair.
The Arminian Alienist, though at loggerheads with Scripture, is at least consistent in this: he imagines ethics as outside and above God’s own character, and applies the same standard to anthropology and sociology as he does in regard to soteriology. If he can deny God having predestined Esau and Pharaoh to inferior existence in hell on the grounds of unfairness, he can likewise deny God’s predestining anyone to an inferior existence on this earth with respect to intelligence, disposition, beauty, or anything else.
Of course, the neo-Reformed Alienist is a slightly different matter, in that he may acknowledge God’s prerogative as Creator to do with His works as He wills in matters soteriological, but in abject self-contradiction, he turns around to deny God’s unequal providential treatment of nations, races, and ethnicities in time, even in spite of such being so well-attested throughout Scripture. Even if the Reformed churches in times past ever taught God’s sovereign predestinational authority to apply, as the creed states, to both “heaven and earth,” they insist to the contrary, just like their more consistent cousins, the Arminians, that God would never do such a thing because He is good and inequality is evil.
Though we know the preconditioning of men, lineages, and races as inextricable from basic Calvinism, there was a time when even Romanists accepted these realities. Romanism knows no luminary brighter than Thomas of Aquin:
Therefore it must be said that as the wisdom of God is the cause of the distinction of things, so the same wisdom is the cause of their inequality. . . . In natural things species seem to be arranged in degrees.2
Of this many have taken note:
Will is essentially discriminatory. . . . The American reader is likely to object not to plurality, but inequality, since equality is [recently become] part of his political creed, and he often treats politics as religion and religion as politics.3
This is a hot topic of late in Reformed circles, because the cultural Marxist’s transvaluation of peoples (insisting that all people are the same) has necessitated, at length, that the sinful predilections of different groups also be regarded as identical. This immediately entails a declared equality of all cultures, thus leveling all aesthetics to the point that Reformed ministers are suddenly, with all the feigned contrition they can muster, arguing that rap and hip hop music are to be regarded as acceptable and holy forms for our churches. (Never mind the fact that the creedal Reformed churches had never even acknowledged the old “Negro spirituals” or “gospel music” as appropriate in our sanctuaries.) There’s a well-worn term for this recent Alienist conclusion: moral relativism.
If anyone dares demure from hearty approval of this newly canonized moral relativism, he is already being accused of heresy by way of “racism” (as dubious a concept as that is). Imagine: White men are suddenly coming under censure for refusing to overturn the entire history of Christian aesthetics by accepting ghetto-jungle drums as aesthetically excellent, reverent, and holy. This racial egalitarian distemper now compels them to excommunicate any who persist in Christian aesthetics. Not seeing holy worship in the vulgar carnality and libidinous rhythms of African slums is being cast as heresy amongst this strange breed, simply because they cannot bring themselves to concede that African aesthetics are, in fact, inferior. In their minds the implications and consequences are simply too great. They’d rather defile and deform the Church than admit the existence of inequality within it or among the different branches of humanity.
But in spite of their protestations, they know all men aren’t the same. After all, it wasn’t the Jesus Freaks’ folk music, nor the Christian speed metal of the 1980s, which brought these Reformed churchmen to their crisis of conscience over Christian aesthetics, but the rhythms of Africans. This is because denial of the liturgical equality of folk or rock music with the choral music of the hymnal and psalter did not bear upon the question of superior and inferior cultures between races. The question of folk music was truly an in-house question, racially speaking; but the question of rap, if it were ruled out as an acceptable worship form, implies a certain superiority of European culture over African culture. That implication begs other, deeper, and even less politically correct consequences in regard to the peoples in question.
What all their egalitarian ethic amounts to is a resolute indictment of God. God, the Maker of all, answers the Alienist: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” (Rom. 9:20-21). And: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use” (2 Tim. 2:20).
Denying the morality of distinction and hierarchy, especially as it pertains to races, is, no matter how coyly addressed, an indictment of God’s character. For He, in His wisdom, made them so, dividing the light from dark, and dispensing gifts as He saw fit, for His own holy purposes, according to aught but His good pleasure.