Thursday, November 25, 2004

God and Gods for real Christians

One of the spectacular mis-statements in religious discussion is the concept of "traditional" Christianity. Like the myth's of a "traditional" Thanksgiving or Christmas, "traditional" Christianity is actually just a parody of God's Christianity. While there are many wonderful and committed people who firmly believe in Christ and not of the LDS faith, few critics of the LDS Church are willing to discuss the history of many of the Christian "traditions". The answers are obvious upon review, so let's talk about a few of them.

1. The Bible taught there are many REAL gods and divine beings. For various reasons the language of Isaiah has been abused into a denial of the reality of multiple divine beings. But thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls (Dt 32:8-9) and the discoveries of the Ugaritic and Ebla texts revealing Hebrew religious origins, there is little doubt about original Hebrew beliefs. Here are the scriptures: 2Chron. 2:5; Ps 82:1, 6; Ps 86:8; Ps. 95:3; Ps 97:7, 9; Ps 135:5; Ps 136:2; Daniel 2:47; Matt 22:43-44; Matt 26:64; Mark 12:36-37; Mark16:9; Luke 22:69-70; John 1:1-2, 18; John 10:30-38; John 17:3, 21-23; 2 Pet 1:4; Acts 2:33; Acts 5:31; Acts 7:55-56; Acts 17:18, 28-29; Romans 8:5-6; Romans 8:14-21, 34; 1 Cor 8:5-6; 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Cor 15:40-58; Eph 1:17, 20; Col 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8-9, 13; Heb 8:1; Heb 10:12; Heb 12:2; 1Pet 3:22; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 3:2; Rev 1:4-6; Rev 3:21; Rev 5:13; Rev 7:10; Gen 1:26; Gen 3:5,21;

By the way, the viciously uninformed anti-Mormon website, Mormoninfo.org, or Morg, acknowledges that early Christians did believe men could become gods. They say : "Even though the Bible never uses this syntax of "gods" for humans in their glorified state, there is nothing unorthodox about speaking about humans becoming "gods"...". Morg then adds this unBiblical caveat: "...so long one keeps in mind a clear distinction between the nature that God has, and the nature we always will have."

Since we have a clear statement of an anti-Mormon group that the LDS conception of becoming gods is not unBiblical, but instead we are fighting about the question of changing ones' nature, let's discuss that now.

2. Early Christians and Jews believed man would have the same NATURE as God. The pre-trinity Christian Fathers taught Christ would change our nature. Here is a lengthy quote by Irenaeus, dating around 180 AD. For those who do math on their fingers and toes, this is about 200 years before the formulation of the doctrine of the trinity as now accepted by western Christianity:

"For we cast blame upon Him, because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods; although God has adopted this course out of His pure benevolence, that no one may impute to Him invidiousness or grudgingness. He declares, “I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all sons of the Highest.”4419 But since we could not sustain the power of divinity, He adds, “But ye shall die like men,” setting forth both truths—the kindness of His free gift, and our weakness, and also that we were possessed of power over ourselves. For after His great kindness He graciously conferred good [upon us], and made men like to Himself, [that is] in their own power; while at the same time by His prescience He knew the infirmity of human beings, and the consequences which would flow from it; but through [His] love and [His] power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature.4420 For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God, having received the knowledge of good and evil."
(Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book IV, 38:4. The footnote 4420 reads: "That is, that man’s human nature should not prevent him from becoming a partaker of the divine.")

Sorry for the big quote, but this clearly shows the early Christian understanding of men becoming gods like God. It also clearly illustrates that the Morg and other parties who assert orthodoxy because of men not being gods by nature are in fact those liberalizers of the original Christian faith. Morg must demonstrate why we should accept their innovation of the original Christian faith. For my part, I am defending what the Bible says about the destiny of mankind.

I will post a clear discussion of 1 Peter 1:3-4 to show that the text of the New Testament is similarly explicit in discussing the nature and powers of men who become gods.
Peace.

12 comments:

Todd Leroy said...

"The Bible taught there are many REAL gods and divine beings."

Wow, really? I'm actually curious about this. Which of those verses actually speak about actual sentient beings aside from the triune God, angels, and humans? Second, what would be the relevance if ancient Jews believed that other peoples' gods were actual sentient beings? As far as I know, your religion doesn't teach that there are other sentient beings that are not humans, not angels, and not God associated with this planet.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Leroy,
I listed 38 passages from the Old and New Testaments which speak clearly of there being real gods, other than just the Godhead. Let me list several here. Among my favorites is Deut 32:8-9, which was ALTERED by the post Christian Jews in the Masoretic text, but has been restored thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Let's start there:

32:8 When the Most High (F74) apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; (F75) 32:9 the Lord's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share.(NRSV)

The two footnotes are:
F74: Traditional rendering of Heb [Elyon]
F75: Q Ms Compare Gk Tg: MT [the Israelites]

Isn't this interesting. It is fascinating to me that the post-Christian Jews changed the Hebrew Bible in this passage to eliminate the obvious statement of Biblical polytheism, probably because of the role of Jesus in Christian theology. But going on, the Most High means the Most High God, and derivations of the Hebrew Elyon are used in the Aramaic by Daniel 14 times. The word is a comparative. It compares the Highest God to all others. Since all other nations are given to the sons of God for protection, and Israel is given to Jehovah, unless you reach an illogical conclusion that the gods assigned by the Most High are not gods like Jehovah, then this verse is pretty much conclusive that there are other REAL gods than Jehovah. To call these Angels would require ignoring not only the text, but Hebrew culture which teaches that the "son of" someone, in a literary context, has all the attributes of the "father" from which the son emanates.

Thus in John 10:30 Christ says to the Jews:

10:30The Father and I are one." (NRSV)

To which the Jews picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy, and respond to Christ’s question “For which of these [good works] are you going to stone me?” (vs 32 NRSV) by saying:

"It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." (vs 33, NRSV).

So there was no question in the Jews mind that by calling himself the son of God, Christ was making himself a real god. Remember this when you read John's writing in 1 John 3:2 ("Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.") and Romans 8:14-21 (14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God...(16)...we are the children of God...(19)...[we are waiting for the] manifestation of the sons of god...(21)...delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of god.") Contextually, the Jew’s are not saying Christ is making himself THE God, but is giving himself divine quality of nature.

So this leads directly to Christ Quoting Ps 82. and he quotes it verbatim:

10:34 Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, "I said, you are gods'?

He says the OT teaches that those who embrace the words of God can become gods. He then points out that his expression as the Son of God is in fact less “blasphemous” than the OT, which calls them “Gods”. Again, here is his exact wording:

10:35-36 If those to whom the word of God came were called "gods'-and the scripture cannot be annulled- can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, "I am God's Son'?

His words are recorded in Greek in the Gospel of John. This is important, because if John, who was a Hebrew, was translating the Hebrew words of Christ for the Greek readers of his Gospel, he could have picked any other word to illustrate what Christ meant.

Many older, out of date commentaries, which lack incorporating the archaeological discoveries of the past 50 years (and are in Public Domain so they get quoted more than they really deserve) assert the Hebrew PS 82 was referring to Judges. That has been thoroughly refuted, and no modern commentary that I am aware of, conservative or liberal, still maintains that position. The fact the LXX and John also translate it as 'gods' is similar confirmation that it is correct.

Emeritus Harvard Professor Frank Moore Cross’ fine work “Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic” is considered a masterful scholarly description of the roots of Israelite religious thought and history. Though laced with foreign language passages, I highly recommend it for anyone who really claims to “know” what the Old Testament teaches. The context of polytheism and monotheism as taught in the Old Testament, and therefore the foundation for understanding New Testament concepts of deity, are well explained.

Now for just some “drive by verses”:

Ps 82:1 ¶ A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

Ps 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. 7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all [ye] gods. 8 ¶ Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.
9 For thou, LORD, [art] high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

PS 95:3 For the LORD [is] a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Ps 45:6 ¶ Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

These verses are also quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9
8 But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, [even] thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

[The previous verses make it pretty clear there are two real gods involved in the discussion.]

Ps 136:2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy [endureth] for ever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.

Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth [it is], that your God [is] a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

1 Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)6 But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.

Acts 7:55-56 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

I have yet to have anyone offer a scriptural explanation for how Christ can be a Triune God, and be standing next to God. Not the Father, God.

Mark 16:19 ¶ So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

Romans 8:34 Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Col 3:1 ¶ IF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

1Pet 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

James 1:1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

Jude 1:25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Rev 7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Rec 22:3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; [This is not a Granville Sharp construction, so the Throne of God and the Lamb are two different objects.]

It is not a "one off" thought or teaching. All of the New Testament writers include this thought in their explicit writings. For an excellent explanation of this separation of God from the title of god applied to Christ, see Emeritus Cambridge professor Murray Harris' fine work, "Jesus as God", published by Baker Books in the USA (a very conservative Christian publisher), and approvingly cited by no less a Calvinist than Mr. James White in his work "The Forgotten Trinity".

Now I include two quotes from the very first apology of the Christian faith which is still extant: Justin Martyr. A convert to Christianity around 140 AD, he was a trained philosopher, he was born in Samaria near Jacob's well. He was thoroughly knowledgeable about the religous beliefs of the Jews, Greeks, Romans and Christians. He quotes extensively from both the Old and New Testaments. And here is how he describes Christ:

"[Jesus]is said to be, another God and Lord subject to [*footnote or 'besides'] the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things-above whom there is no other God-wishes to announce to them." (Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho the Jew, Chap 56, ANF). I can only encourage you in the strongest of terms to read all of Chapters 55-56 to see Justin is absolutely without doubt arguing a non-Trinitarian relationship between God and Christ. Since this was at least one very early, very well educated Christian's understanding of the Apostolic teachings, from which he was only one generation removed, I must ask you why the Trinitarians or Calvinists have better, more enlightened information than a person who spoke with and was taught by people who knew John, Peter and Paul?

The second quote from Justin is similar:

"...it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming "gods," and of having power to become sons of the Highest;..." (Dialog 124)

My final non-scriptural quote is from Irenaeus, Book VI, 38:4. :

"...For we cast blame upon Him [God], because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods; although God has adopted this course out of His pure benevolence, that no one may impute to Him invidiousness or grudgingness."

Like Justin, he then quotes PS 82, gives an explanation of it meaning men can become gods, and concludes by saying this is the capability of mankind, if they are obedient.

Logically, if men can become Gods, then there is or will be more than one God. We will share oneness with God, as Christ taught:

John 17:22 "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Christ prays for this after starting his prayer by saying:

John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

Christ separates himself from the only true God, but says we mortals can enjoy the same oneness he has with God, too.

John writes in his 1st epistle:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

Remember, according to the Old Testament, no MAN can see God and live, (though it did happen by vision sometimes), but John is saying we will be changed so we can see God the way he really is. Restored from our sins, free from death, exalted by purity and obedience, we will be gods ourselves:

2 Peter1:4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

If we are participants with God, we are divine. Whether we were created beings or not is irrelevant, because God knows how to make something mortal into immortal and eternal. We share all of God's power (Ps 8:4-9, Luke 24:49, Mt 21:22, Mark 9:23, Romans 8:32, 1Cor 3:21-23), Glory(John 17:22; Rom 8:18), Judgement(Matt 19:28; 1 Cor 6:2), Omniscience(1Cor 13:12), his throne(Rev 3:21), Nature (2 Pet 1:4) and even by inheritance the divine name for salvation(Romans 8:17; Heb 1:4).

If these scriptures are true, and being correctly represented by me, then there certainly is more than one god taught by the scriptures. This is very long, but it illustrates that the doctrine of men becoming like God is solidly Biblical. Indeed, even Morg admits it is so. If you care to present scriptures or ideas from the scriptures which support a different view, I would enjoy the exchange. But this is a subject Mormons uniquely own, and is therefore, in my opinion, one of the great signs of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hope this is a thorough enough response, as I wanted to try and provide a lot of the Biblical verses and evidence.
Come, let us reason together.

Todd Leroy said...

"If these scriptures are true, and being correctly represented by me, then there certainly is more than one god taught by the scriptures."
There is ABSOLUTELY more than one "god" taught by the scriptures.

Scripture teaches that there are a multitude of 'gods' people worship instead of the one True God. Jeremiah 10:10, "But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God..." ... 'the' living capital "G" God.

Just because your conclusions are true doesn't mean your premises are true. The scriptures do not have to be correctly represented by you to say that there is more than one god taught by scripture. (Money, Flesh, anything referred to as an idol... these are all 'gods'.)

My question and, probably still what you mean to say when you say 'god', was about sentient beings aside from angels, humans, and the triune-God, and even the false 'God' LDS teaches. Isn't Jesus just a man or an angel in your view? At what point does he progress into becoming enough like 'God' to be called that?

Why don't you argue from the plural "God" in Genesis 1? Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.“"

Yes, your response was very 'thorough' as far as your argument goes but I got all that already. These are the problems my questions were pointing out, restated more clearly:
1.) None of the verses clearly indicate the existence of other sentient 'gods' that are actually ruling, making providence, holding any power, over other peoples.
Note that I do acknowledge Satan is referred to as the "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and I'm curious what you make of that, if it's at all consistent with the way you interpret the 'god' passages you mention.
Also, doesn't your answer make the apologetic for Isaiah 45:5, "I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God;" even more difficult? Even if Jesus is separate in being from God the Father (non-trinity), how would that separation help your argument from other 'god' verses in the Old Testament?

2.) The statement following my second question should have explained the significance... LDS doctrine does not teach, as far as I know, that there are other sentient beings -- not humans, not angels, not the triune-God or LDS' other gods -- having anything to do with this planet right now. Therefore, what is the significance of proving that Old Testament Jews believed other people worshipped other gods who may or may not have been alive? God knows no other God. The distinction between "God" and "god" is clear in the Bible. Please explain how you can blur the two, and, if you aren't, please explain how you are not. If you think your interpretation of John 10 answers any of these questions, just point out how you think it is so, because I don't actually think it adds any weight to your position for the following two reasons: Jesus is begotten, not made. (Acts 13:33) Jesus is "the" Son of God. (True believers are children of God. I would say I am a son or child of God, but never "the" son of God.)

Another question... in what way do we become like God? (Because no one is arguing that we don't become or aren't like God in any way...)

Gen. 3:5, "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Exodus 7:1, "And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.“"

Job 19:22, "Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?"

Can a house be like God? (Zech. 12:8)

Or, are there none like God? "There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty." Deut. 33:26

The point of these verses is that it's not clear what you mean by like God. And, it might be important to note, that I believe the scripture explains more clearly how we are and may become more 'like God', just as it is clear how we may be one with other believers as God the Father and God the Son are one-- in His name.
John 17:11-12,
"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."

As we are one--"keep them in your name"...'let them not become lost'.

Of course I would also disagree with the LDS (or uniquely yours, Bob?) interpretation of these verses:
(Ps 8:4-9, Luke 24:49, Mt 21:22, Mark 9:23, Romans 8:32, 1Cor 3:21-23), (John 17:22; Rom 8:18), (Matt 19:28; 1 Cor 6:2), (1Cor 13:12), (Rev 3:21), (2 Pet 1:4) (Romans 8:17; Heb 1:4).

There is a word for what's really at work here, and what is the root of our differences: sin-- primarily the sin of idolatry.

Bob, why isn't Exodus 20:3 in your list? "You shall have no other gods before me."

Exodus 23:13 says other gods have names? You could probably make an argument out of that. Or, would it be pointless? I say this because because it demonstrates the value (or lack of value) of the similar arguments you have already presented. I believe there are other gods right now, and that they have names--Allah, Krishna, and Goddess, for example. They are not the living God and they are not true. Those gods are idols. Everything worshipped but the triune God is an idol.

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Leroy,
Thank you for the very thoughtful interaction over real topics of difference between us.

Before we go any further in this line of discussion, I guess we should establish a little bit of understanding about why discuss things. I am not foolish enough to think that anything I write will change your mind about the Mormons. But I would ask you to keep an open mind about scholarship in general, and not be dismissive of what I write simply because of your theological bias. I believe Christianity is a revealed religion, meaning it came about through divine revelation and inspired administrative practice. I believe the LDS Church is that organization today, too. But I also am a student of Christian history and thought. I believe I can learn from many of the great non-LDS scholarly minds of all eras. So I love reading Bruce Metzer, Frank Moore Cross, or even Daniel Wallace and JND Kelly. While my library contains these and many, many other non-LDS scholars, I do not have to agree with every conclusion to be enriched by their evidence. So while I attribute my conversion to supernatural knowledge conveyed by the Holy Spirit to my spirit, I don’t close the door that practically every theory about the Gospel could be swept away by new revelation or scholarly findings. My question for you is the same: Are you willing to suspend your theological bias if the scriptures themselves seem to point a different direction?

I ask this because my impression of some of your comments concerning the scriptural evidence I cited is largely a polemical response, and not based on any scholarship. For example, you simply say:

Of course I would also disagree with the LDS (or uniquely yours, Bob?) interpretation of these verses:
(Ps 8:4-9, Luke 24:49, Mt 21:22, Mark 9:23, Romans 8:32, 1Cor 3:21-23), (John 17:22; Rom 8:18), (Matt 19:28; 1 Cor 6:2), (1Cor 13:12), (Rev 3:21), (2 Pet 1:4) (Romans 8:17; Heb 1:4).

I don’t believe I put an “LDS” interpretation on these verses. I tried to let them speak for themselves. Take Ps 8:4-9 for example. I cited it as a proof text that
“We share all of God's power (Ps 8:4-9, Luke 24:49, Mt 21:22, Mark 9:23, Romans 8:32, 1Cor 3:21-23)”.

When I read Ps 8:4-9, it says:
6 Thou madest him [man] to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet:

So the interaction I would be looking for, and perhaps incorrectly, would be a response that God does not actually mean he has given dominion over all his works to mankind in whatever sense you understand it to be. But to me, the words seem very straight forward, and I would literally interpret them to be true, without any conditions. Since you say you disagree with my interpretation of this verse and the others, what do you think this verse really means?

As previously stated, since even Morg acknowledges that it is correct to speak of mankind becoming Gods, we boil down to what are the essential attributes of a saved being called a god? The Old Testament explicitly states there are real gods besides Jehovah who are not inanimate idols worshipped by the heathens. Thus the importance of the Old Testament containing references to non-idol real gods who are in the same class of beings as God means the potential for humankind to be like God is not blasphemous.

Perhaps we need to create a definition of what God is, and what it means to be a “real” god, not just an idol. I would not disagree with anything you say concerning idols. They are powerless, inanimate objects or products of the imagination of men. That is not what I mean when I discuss real gods in the Bible.

As your own Bigger God website would say, God is all powerful. That means that ultimately all things are less powerful than he. He is omniscient. He literally knows everything which has, is or will happen. In LDS scripture we read that:

He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever. (D&C88:41, revealed in December 1832.)

But here is the issue: God promises, in the Bible as well as LDS scriptures, to give all of these same qualities to men who are saved. Let me restate what I previously wrote:

If we are participants with God, we are divine. Whether we were created beings or not is irrelevant, because God knows how to make something mortal into immortal and eternal. We share all of God's power (Ps 8:4-9, Luke 24:49, Mt 21:22, Mark 9:23, Romans 8:32, 1Cor 3:21-23), Glory(John 17:22; Rom 8:18), Judgment(Matt 19:28; 1 Cor 6:2), Omniscience(1Cor 13:12), his throne(Rev 3:21), Nature (2 Pet 1:4) and even by inheritance the divine name for salvation(Romans 8:17; Heb 1:4).

This is a very nice list of the attributes of God which he gives to saved man. So here is the question:

IF all of these attributes of God are given to men, [other than the belief expressed by Morg that God is uncreated and men are created,] what attribute of God does he keep which he does not share? Unless you can name one, then men become real Gods, capital G, because they engage in all of the same divine activities which God engages in.

When you talk about “sentient beings aside from angels, humans, and the triune-God”, I am a little at a loss to understand. There are no sentient frogs somewhere which have been exalted to godhood. But Jesus Christ, according to LDS theology, has always been God. From before the time of Creation, before any creative activity took place, we read this:

And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; (Abraham 3:24 in the Pearl of Great Price).

Mormons do not see Jesus as a ‘Superman’ or Arch Angel. In LDS theology, there is never a time or point in existence before which we believe Jesus was not divine. Many LDS people speculate about what was the nature of God or Christ before they became God and Christ. We don’t know, and any expression is pure speculation.

In a well known address given by Joseph Smith in General Conference as a eulogy of a member of the LDS Church by the name of King Follet, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of his understanding of the nature of God. He made several statements in this discourse which most Mormons would intuitively agree with, but which are not codified LDS theology. One of the more famous concepts emanates from this statement:

[God] was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

As a Mormon, this is not particularly difficult to accept, since D&C 76, Genesis 1:26-27, or 1 John 3:2 all teach that we are in God’s image, and can be exalted into the same kind of being he is. But within the LDS Church there is no codified teaching which has been raised to the level of scripture or its equivalent about the nature of God before he became God. Other than Joseph Smith’s statements, which he was never able to fully elaborate, we have no inspired teaching of the time before God became God. Even a close examination of Joseph Smith's statement does not shed light that God the Father was anything other than a God, since he cites the similarity of the Father having lived on a world just as Christ lived on this world. Since Christ has always been God, and was God when he lived on the Earth as a man, then even Joseph's statement does not show a time when God the Father was not God. It indicates he went through a process, just as Christ did while here, in order to become the God and Father of our spirits and this existence. It is simply a concept around which much speculation exists. And speculation about doctrine is not doctrine.

From an LDS perspective, the eternal clock starts at the dawn of the creation of this existence which concerns us. Pick a time word, and God and Christ have always existed as divine beings. This is the identical teaching as John 1:1-2:

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

The important thing here is that John 1:1c, kai theos en ho logos, is a clear statement of Christ being the same class or family as God. There is no equation of being. It is a statement of qualitative equivalence. The Word is NOT the GOD. The word is as to his nature like God. Who teaches such nonsense?

Sadly, not enough of the Christian Churches. This passage is actually incredibly valuable in supporting the LDS view of God and Christ being separate and distinct beings. Notice John does not say Christ was with the Father. He uses the word God. So the Word, who is Christ, was with God, and was like God. Doesn’t something which is like something else mean there are two of those somethings? Yes, it does. So here is an explicit statement of there being at least two divine beings.

Here is what Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, on the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, published by Zondervan, wrote:

Possible translations are as follows: “What God was, the Word was”(NEB), or “the Word was Divine” (a modified Moffatt). In this second translation, “divine” is acceptable only if it is a term than can be applied only to true deity. However, in modern English, we use it with reference to angels, theologians, even a meal! Thus “divine” could be misleading in an English translation. The idea of a qualitative theos here is that the Word had all the attributes and qualities that “the God” (of 1:1b) had. (Page 269, emphasis in the original).

Wallace believes Christ and the Father share an ‘essence’, which is not expressed in the passage, but that is his method of harmonizing the very clear teaching of the passage with his beliefs. The passage’s meaning is best understood that God and Christ are separate, and are both divine.

Even the non-Israelites realized there were REAL Gods as part of the Hebrew theology. The Philistines, who would have understood the Israelite religious customs due to their close proximity and repeated contact with Israel, said as they entered battle against Israel:

1 Samuel 4:8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these [are] the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

If you believe I am incorrectly describing original Israelite beliefs, then we can discuss that. But I have provided dozens of scriptures and many scholarly citations, and the primary response has just been “I disagree”. Work with me here. What in these citations are you disagreeing with?

The last point I will address at this time is your question about other real “Gods” having anything to do with this planet. The short answer is in the divine court in heaven, there are many divine beings, as PS 82 and so many other of the references I provided indicate. Even Christ is described as “an angel” (Exodus 3:2, Rev. 10:1) or the Captain of the LORD’s host (Josh 5:13-15). Incidentally, God and Christ ALWAYS looks like a men, just as described in Gen 1:26-27 and Acts 7:55-56. To reinforce this, we see John fall down to worship the angel who appears to him (Rev 22:8-9), who is in form a man, who tells John not to worship him, but to worship God. Those verses make it clear that
1. Men look like God,
2. Angels look like men

So the assignment in Deut 32:8-9 to have other Gods, capital G since they are described as such by the Most High, act as guardians of the nations of the Earth is solidly Biblical. Mormons in general trust there is only one God for our salvation, and he works in concert with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. To what degree He directs the activity of other divine beings is not known, and so I am not going to speculate. But Mormons do believe the process of exaltation has been occurring throughout the creations of God since God began creating, so the roles of divine beings or mighty angels is unclear.

The point of John 10 is simple: If the “Gods” described by Jesus in quoting PS 82 are not real Gods, capital G (though I am sure you know there is no such thing as a capital ‘g’ in Greek or Hebrew) then Christ has no argument against being accused of Blasphemy. If there are not other real Gods designated by scripture, then Christ’s argument is logically indefensible. He argues that calling himself the son of God is a lesser title and not as blasphemous as scripture itself, since his good works prove who he is. If there are no other real gods, his referencing a verse (Ps82) which does not support the existence of other real gods would have no validity. Calling himself the son of God would still be seen as blasphemous.

Your argument that we get to be one with God through Christ’s name does not address the exaltation of mankind, or the sharing of divine power and attributes. I listed them previously, so I will not go through them again. But John 17:11-12 is not self contained. It describes Christ wish that people are one through his name. But John 17:21-23 is discussing that whatever oneness Christ has with God, we will enjoy with God and Christ too. Very different meaning from verses 11-12, and also a future context. Moreover, 1 John 3:2 and Romans 8 make it clear we will be like God when Christ returns.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

By the way, you overlook at several relevant scriptures about men being sons of God like Christ is the son of God.


John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

1John 3: 1 BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Luke 3:38 Which was [the son] of Enos, which was [the son] of Seth, which was [the son] of Adam, which was [the son] of God.

I compare these passages to your statement:
“True believers are children of God. I would say I am a son or child of God, but never "the" son of God.”

I am certainly as much the son of God as my son is the son of Bob, even though I have two sons and a daughter. That is why scripture calls Adam “the son of God”. Contextually there are times when Christ is appropriately uniquely called the Son of God. Like his status as the only begotten of God. But as far as our relationship to God is concerned, that is why he came, to restore us to that relationship.

Since scripture says we will rule, be omniscient, all powerful, joint-heirs with Christ, heirs of God, judge the world, one with God as Christ and God are one, glorified eternal beings, what is left?

God does not know of false gods capable of saving mankind. Such gods do not exist. Isaiah is about idols. Look in just about any commentary if you think I am just blowing this off. I am not. It is simply a distortion of the intent of Isaiah to say he is discussing other exalted beings. As far as we Mormons are concerned, in one sense there is only one God. He is comparing idols to himself. They are not real gods. Context means something.

OK, this is probably not going to really answer anything, but I am trying to be thorough and careful in presenting LDS beliefs. I think you may benefit from reading Father Jordan Vajda’s master’s thesis, completed for the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California, Berkley in 1998. An edition of the thesis is available from FARMS, and is titled “Partakers of the Divine Nature”. At the end of his thesis he makes a straightforward statement (remember, a Catholic priest wrote this):

As chapter three has made abundantly clear, the Mormons are truly “godmakers”: as the doctrine of exaltation explains, the fullness of human salvation means “becoming a god.” Yet what was meant to be a term of ridicule has turned out to be a term of approbation, for the witness of the Greek Fathers of the Church, described in chapter two, is that they also believed that salvation meant “becoming a god.” It seems that if one’s soteriology cannot accommodate a doctrine of human divinization, then it has at least implicitly, if not explicitly, rejected the heritage of the early Christian church and departed from the faith of first millennium Christianity. However, if that is the case, those who would espouse such a soteriology also believe, in fact, that Christianity, from about the second century on, has apostatized and “gotten it wrong” on this core issue of human salvation. Thus, ironically, those who would excoriate Mormons for believing in the doctrine of exaltation actually agree with them that the early church experienced a “great apostasy” on fundamental doctrinal questions. And the supreme irony is that such persons should probably investigate the claims of the LDS Church, which proclaims that within itself is to be found the “restoration of all things.”(Pages 56-57).

Well, at least there is plenty to discuss. Peace

Todd Leroy said...

Are Christians Little gods?

There is a common teaching among Word Faith leaders that we Christians are little gods. They will quote Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34 out of context to "prove" their case.
Mormons quote Psalm 82:6 as well to "prove" their doctrine that they will be exalted to godhood. Chew on that for a minute, the very proof text that word of faith teachers cite is the same as the cultic Mormon Church.
Creflo Dollar goes so far as to say that it is blasphemy if you do not agree that Christian's are little gods. I will give you a some of examples of these quotes from Word Faith leaders; Ken Hagin, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Charles Capps, Casey Treat, and Ken Copeland:

“Your not a sinner saved by grace you sons and daughters of the most high God. You are gods!”
(Creflo Dollar Changing your world, April 17, 2002, LeSea Broadcasting)

"I speak to fig tress! I speak to mountains! I cast out demons! Hallelujah! I raise the dead! Hallelujah! If need be I walk on water! I'm a god of the Most High God!"
(Creflo Dollar, Audio-Clip, "Creflo Dollar: Christian Celebrity or Charasmatic Gnostic?" #0418)

"I'm a little 'g.' I need to start carrying myself like the Most High God! I'm a little god on this planet."
(Creflo Dollar, Audio-Clip, "Creflo Dollar: Christian Celebrity or Charasmatic Gnostic?" #0418)

"You don't have a god in you, you are one!"
(Ken Copeland, he Force Of Love Audiotape, 1987)

"Adam in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh."
(Hank Hanegraaff, "Christianity in Crisis" page 338. Ken Copeland, "Following the Faith of Abraham I,")

"God's reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself...He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even."
(Hank Hanegraaff, "Christianity in Crisis" page 109. Ken Copeland, "Following the Faith of Abraham I,")

“Now Peter said by exceeding great and precious promises you become partakers of the divine nature. Alright, are we gods? We are a class of gods.”
(Hank Hanegraaff, "Christianity in Crisis" page 117. Ken Copeland, "Praise The Lord," TBN February 5, 1986)

"[Man] was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority...God made us as much like Himself as possible...He made us the same class of being that He is Himself...Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God...[The] believer is called Christ...That's who we are; we're Christ"
(Ken Hagin, Zoe: The God-Kind of Life," 1989. pp. 35-36, 41)

"The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth"
(Ken Hagin, "The Incarnation," The Word of Faith, Dec, 1980, 14)

"God came from heaven, became a man, made man into little gods, went back to heaven as a man. He faces the Father as a man. I face devils as the son of God...Quit your nonsense! What else are you? If you say, I am, you’re saying I’m a part of Him, right? Is he God? Are you His offspring? Are you His children? You can’t be human! You can’t! You can’t! God didn’t give birth to flesh…You said, "Well, that’s heresy." No, that’s your crazy brain saying that."
(Hank Hanegraaff, "Christianity in Crisis" page 130-131. Benny Hinn, Our Position in Christ #2—The Word Made Flesh)

"God created man and woman an exact duplicate of himself."
(Hank Hanegraaff, "Christianity in Crisis" page 361. Casey Treat, "Renewing the Mind," page 90, 1985)

"...But He is talking about man. He calls him elohim, created in the image and likeness of God. God duplicated Himself in kind. Man was created to have dominion and authority in the earth. It was Elohim among the elohim...We are the family of God--Elohim among the elohim. Man needs to return to his rightful place and see himself as the Creator created him! They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High, Psalm 82:5-6."
(Charles Capps, "Authority in Three Worlds," page 111)

Let us look at Psalm 82 in context to see what it is saying. Do you agree that we translate the bible in a literal sense, but if the context is speaking figuratively we will do harm to translating it literally.
For example, Jesus said to pluck out your eyes and cut off your hands if they cause you to sin. Does Jesus actually want us to chop off our hands? A resounding no! Jesus is simply telling us how serious sin is and that we should make every effort to avoid it.
When Psalm 91 says that we shall find protection under God's wings is it saying that God is a bird? When David calls God his rock, is God a literal rock? Of course not! They are simply describing the attributes of God so that we can understand, it is called an anthropomorphism.
Let us quote Psalm 82 in full:
"God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations."
What is going on in this verse? The judges of Israel are called god's (Elohim) because they were in a position of God. They ruled matters of life and death, they were appointed by God to rule and judge as Romans 13:1-2 clearly states.
Compare Romans 13:1-2 with Exodus 4:16, 7:1-2. God calls Moses god in Exodus 7:1. Why is that? Well, God explains that it means you are a spokesman for him. Exactly like the wicked judges in Psalms 82. See for yourself what God said about Moses and him being a god, i.e., spokesman for Him:
"And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land, "Exodus 7:1-2.
With this in mind do you see what is happening in Psalm 82? God is actually mocking these judges and telling them, "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." God is telling them that your position of a judge has corrupted your thinking and your actions. Despite your high and lofty view of yourself you shall die like a man! How can a god die like a man? Do you see the contradiction in believing that this verse proves that men are god's? In context this verse actually mocks people for thinking this.
See what God has to say about there being any other gods beside Himself:
"Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any," Isaiah 44:8.

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me," Isaiah 43:10.

"I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me...Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God...Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else," Isaiah 45:5, 14, 21-22.

"To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?...Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me," Isaiah 46:5, 8-9.

In the book of Acts chapter 14 after Paul healed a man the people said, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." Here is a perfect opportunity for the apostle Paul to teach the doctrine that Christians are god's. Let's see what Paul says, "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein."
The apostles were outraged at being called "god's" yet this is what Word Faith teachers preach from pulpits. This was the perfect opportunity for them to teach us that we are god's, instead of doing that they tore their clothes and told them that they were also men just like them.
Why didn't Paul say, "I am God's reflection on the earth! I am just like my Daddy! I come from God stock! I am a little 'g'! I am the Lord your God! I'm a god of the Most High God! I'm a little god on this planet." Doesn't that sound absurd? Well, those are exact quotes from Creflo Dollar.
The Bible warns us not to follow men (Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 118:8), but to test what all leaders teach with scripture (1 John 4:1, Acts 17:11). God even says that he will test us with false prophets to see if we truly love God with all of our heart (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). God even says that some of these false prophets will have signs and wonders that come to pass, thus emphasizing the importance to prove all things with scripture.
Do you truly love God with all of your heart and soul or do you follow man? Is the bible your final authority or man? These are some questions that you might have to wrestle with. I pray that you choose God over man.

JOHN 10:34—Did Jesus advocate that people could become God?
MISINTERPRETATION:
Jesus answered a group of Jews and said, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods.’” Does this mean that humans can become God? New Agers tell us that “we can be the God that Jesus proclaimed us to be: ‘Ye are Gods’” (Spangler, 1978, 47). Mormons also cite this verse to support their view on the plurality of gods (Bruce McConkie, 1977, 24).
CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:
This text should not be used to support the view that we are (or can become) little gods, for such an interpretation is contrary to the overall context. Jesus is not speaking to pantheists (who believe that God is everything and everything is God) or polytheists (who believe in many gods). Rather, he is addressing strict Jewish monotheists who believe that only the Creator of the universe is God. So, his statement should not be wrenched out of this monotheistic context and given a pantheistic or polytheistic twist.
Jesus’ statement must be understood as part of his overall reasoning here which is an a fortiori argument: “If God even called human judges ‘gods,’ then how much more can I call myself the Son of God.” Christ had just pronounced himself one with the Father, saying, “I and My Father are one” (10:30). The Jews wanted to stone him because they thought Christ was blaspheming, making himself out to be equal with God (vv. 31–33). Jesus responded by quoting Psalm 82:6 which says, “I said, you are gods.” So, Jesus reasoned, if human judges could be called “gods,” then why can’t the Son of God be called “God”?
Note that not everyone is called “gods” but only a special class of persons, namely, judges about whom Jesus said, they are those to “whom the word of God came” (v. 35). Jesus was showing that if the Old Testament Scriptures could give some divine status to divinely appointed judges, why should they find it incredible that he should call himself the Son of God?
These judges were “gods” in the sense that they stood in God’s place, judging even life and death matters. They were not called “gods” because they were divine beings. Indeed, the text Jesus cites (Psalm 82) goes on to say that they were “mere men” and would “die” (v. 7). It also affirms that they were “the sons of the Most High,” but not because they were of the essence of God himself.
It is possible, as many scholars believe, that when the psalmist Asaph said to the unjust judges, “You are gods,” he was speaking in irony. He was saying, “I have called you ‘gods,’ but in fact you will die like the men that you really are.” If this is so, then when Jesus alluded to this psalm in John 10, he was saying that what the Israelite judges were called in irony and in judgment, he is in reality. Jesus was giving a defense for his own deity, not for the deification of man.

PSALM 82:6—Does this verse mean that human beings can become gods?
MISINTERPRETATION:
Psalm 82:6 says, “I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High’ ” (nasb). Mormons believe this verse supports the idea that human beings may become gods (Bruce McConkie, 1966, 321).
CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:
There is no evidence for the Mormon polytheistic belief that men are gods in this text. Unlike the word Lord (Yahweh) which always means God, the word “gods” (elohim) can be used of God (Genesis 1:1), angels (Ps. 8:4–6; cf. Hebrews 2:7), or human beings (as here).
This psalm focuses on a group of Israelite judges who, because they exercised life and death decisions over people, were loosely called “gods.” But these judges became corrupted and were unjust. So Asaph, the author of this psalm, said that, even though these judges were called gods, they would die like the men they really were (see v. 7).
Asaph may have been speaking in irony in calling these evil judges “gods.” If so, then there is no justification for calling them “gods” in any serious sense. In any event, the polytheistic claim is without justification, since this verse is uttered in the context of Jewish monotheism, in which it is blasphemous for any mere human being to be called God in a divine sense.
Besides, in Isaiah 44:8, God himself asks, “Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none” (nasb). Similarly, Isaiah 43:10 portrays God as saying, “Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” Clearly human beings can’t become gods.
(Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. 1997. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.)

GENESIS 1:26—Does the fact that we are created in God’s image mean that we are “little gods,” as Word-Faith leaders say?
MISINTERPRETATION:
Word-Faith teachers suggest that the Hebrew word for “likeness” in this verse literally means “an exact duplication in kind” (Jerry Savelle, 1990, 141). Indeed, humanity “was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority. . . . God has made us as much like Himself as possible. . . . He made us the same class of being that He is Himself” (Ken Hagin, 1989, 35–36, 41).
CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:
All Genesis 1:26–27 is teaching is that humanity was created in God’s image or likeness in the sense that a human being is a finite reflection of God in rational nature (Col. 3:10), in moral nature (Eph. 4:24), and in dominion over creation (Gen. 1:27–28). In the same way that the moon reflects the brilliant light of the sun, so finite humanity (as created in God’s image) is a limited reflection of God in these aspects. This verse has nothing to do with human beings becoming God or being in God’s “class.”
If it were true that human beings are “little gods,” then one would expect them to display qualities similar to those known to be true of God. However, when one compares the attributes of humankind with those of God, we find ample testimony for the truth of Paul’s statement in Romans 3:23 that human beings “fall short of the glory of God.” Consider:
1. God is all-knowing (Isa. 40:13–14), but a human being is limited in knowledge (Job 38:4);
2. God is all-powerful (Rev. 19:6), but a human being is weak (Heb. 4:15);
3. God is everywhere-present (Ps. 139:7–12), but a human being is confined to a single space at a time (John 1:50);
4. God is holy (1 John 1:5), but even human “righteous” deeds are as filthy garments before God (Isa. 64:6);
5. God is eternal (Ps. 90:2), but humanity was created at a point in time (Gen. 1:1, 26–27);
6. God is truth (John 14:6), but a human heart (since the Fall) is deceitful above all else (Jer. 17:9);
7. God is characterized by justice (Acts 17:31), but humankind is lawless (1 John 3:4; see also Rom. 3:23);
8. God is love (Eph. 2:4–5), but human relationships are plagued with numerous vices like jealousy and strife (1 Cor. 3:3).
(Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. 1997. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.)

"Two proof texts are often used by the Word-Faith teachers to support their teaching. In Psalm...(you need to listen to this, this is their case here...in Psalm 82:6 God says to the rulers of earth, "You are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High." They quote that all of the time, Psalm 82:6, you might want to turn to it. And we will close with just a look at the two texts they use, and we are going to take it up next week. Psalm 82:6, God says to the rulers of earth, "You are 'gods'; and all of you are sons of the Most High." And so they say, "See, God says we are gods!"
A simple reading of the Psalm however, says something very, very, different than that. If you look at the Psalm it will reveal to you that those words were spoken to ungodly rulers who were on the brink of judgment: ungodly rulers on the brink of judgment. Look at verse 7, (they never want to read verse 7), "Nevertheless, you will die like men; and fall like any one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth." What is this? There is a note of irony. God looks at these rulers and they have been rendering unjust judgments. Back in verse 2 they have been judging unjustly; they have been showing partiality to the wicked. They have been, rather, doing injustice than justice and He says, "Look, in your own eyes you think you are gods, but you are going to die like,"...what? "men." How could you ever rip that 6th verse out of that context and make it an affirmation that a Christian has become a god? Far from confirming their godhood, God is condemning them for thinking they were gods!
Word-Faith teachers will immediately turn to their other favorite proof text, John 10:33-34. Guess what? This is where Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, so if you understand Psalm 82:6 you don't have a problem understanding John 10. "The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy because you being a man make yourself out to be God.'" And then Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your law, 'I said you are gods.'" Don't fail to notice Jesus' purpose for choosing that verse. It would have been a very familiar one to the Scribes and Pharisees. They would have understood that that verse was an condemnation of wicked rulers, and Jesus is simply echoing the irony of the original Psalm. Walter Martin wrote an excellent comment on this, He said, "Jesus mocks the people as if to say, 'You all think you are gods yourselves. What's one more god among you?'" Oh, the irony. You are going to stone me for claiming to be God, you all are claiming the same thing. What's one more god? The sarcasm.
Walter Martin says, "Irony is used to provoke us, not to inform us. It is not a basis for building a theology." Further he says, "It is also pertinent to an understanding of John 10 that we remember that Satan is called the "ruler of this world" by no less an authority than Jesus Christ, and Paul reinforces this by calling him the "god of this age." We can make a god out of anything: money, power, status, position, sex, patriotism, family, or as in Lucifer's case--an angel. We can be our own god; but to call something deity or to worship it, or to treat it as divine is quite another thing. Then it is being by nature and in essence deity. Jesus is not calling them "God" in the true sense; He is saying that you have made a god out of yourselves just like the people in Psalm 82 who felt the blast of God's judgment. God said to the rebellious Israelites in Isaiah 29:16, "You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered equal with the clay" (Isaiah 29:16). Does the clay think it is equal to the potter?" According to the Word-Faith movement, what's the answer? "Yes, if not superior." They have the wrong god."
(Dr. John MacArthur, "Charasmatic Chaos," page 335-336)


Charles Spurgeon On Psalm 82:6-7
1834-1892

Verse 6. I have said, ye are gods. The greatest honour was thus put upon them; they were delegated gods, clothed for a while with a little of that authority by which the Lord judges among the sons of men. And all of you are children of the Most High. This was their ex-officio character, not their moral or spiritual relationship. There must be some government among men, and as angels are not sent to dispense it, God allows men to rule over men, and endorses their office, so far at least that the prostitution of it becomes an insult to his own prerogatives. Magistrates would have no right to condemn the guilty if God had not sanctioned the establishment of government, the administration of law, and the execution of sentences. Here the Spirit speaks most honourably of these offices, even when it censures the officers; and thereby teaches us to render honour to whom honour is due, honour to the office even if we award censure to the officer bearer.

Verse 7. But ye shall die like men. What sarcasm it seems! Great as the office made the men, they were still but men, and must die. To every judge this verse is a memento mori! He must leave the bench to stand at the bar, and on the way must put off the ermine to put on the shroud. And fall like one of the princes. Who were usually the first to die: for battle, sedition, and luxury, made greater havoc among the great than among any others. Even as princes have often been cut off by sudden and violent deaths, so should the judges be who forget to do justice. Men usually respect the office of a judge, and do not conspire to slay him, as they do to kill princes and kings; but injustice withdraws this protection, and puts the unjust magistrate in personal danger. How quickly death unrobes the great. What a leveller he is. He is no advocate for liberty, but in promoting equality and fraternity he is a masterly democrat. Great men die as common men do. As their blood is the same, so the stroke which lets out their life produces the same pains and throes. No places are too high for death's arrows: he brings down his birds from the tallest trees. It is time that all men considered this.

Matthew Henry On John 10:34
1662-1714

Christ's reply to their accusation of him (for such their vindication of themselves was), and his making good those claims which they imputed to him as blasphemous (v. 34, etc.), where he proves himself to be no blasphemer, by two arguments:—
1. By an argument taken from God's word. He appeals to what was written in their law, that is, in the Old Testament; whoever opposes Christ, he is sure to have the scripture on his side. It is written (Ps. 82:6), I have said, You are gods. It is an argument a minore ad majus—from the less to the greater. If they were gods, much more am I.
Observe, (1.) How he explains the text (v. 35): He called them gods to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken. The word of God's commission came to them, appointing them to their offices, as judges, and therefore they are called gods, Ex. 22:28. To some the word of God came immediately, as to Moses; to others in the way of an instituted ordinance. Magistracy is a divine institution; and magistrates are God's delegates, and therefore the scripture calleth them gods; and we are sure that the scripture cannot be broken, or broken in upon, or found fault with. Every word of God is right; the very style and language of scripture are unexceptionable, and not to be corrected, Mt. 5:18.
(2.) How he applies it. Thus much in general is easily inferred, that those were very rash and unreasonable who condemned Christ as a blasphemer, only for calling himself the Son of God, when yet they themselves called their rulers so, and therein the scripture warranted them. But the argument goes further (v. 36): If magistrates were called Gods, because they were commissioned to administer justice in the nation, say you of him whom the Father hath sanctified, Thou blasphemest? We have here two things concerning the Lord Jesus:—[1.] The honour done him by the Father, which he justly glories in: He sanctified him, and sent him into the world. Magistrates were called the sons of God, though the word of God only came to them, and the spirit of government came upon them by measure, as upon Saul; but our Lord Jesus was himself the Word, and had the Spirit without measure. They were constituted for a particular country, city, or nation; but he was sent into the world, vested with a universal authority, as Lord of all. They were sent to, as persons at a distance; he was sent forth, as having been from eternity with God. The Father sanctified him, that is, designed him and set him apart to the office of Mediator, and qualified and fitted him for that office. Sanctifying him is the same with sealing him, ch. 6:27. Note, Whom the Father sends he sanctifies; whom he designs for holy purposes he prepares with holy principles and dispositions. The holy God will reward, and therefore will employ, none but such as he finds or makes holy. The Father's sanctifying and sending him is here vouched as a sufficient warrant for his calling himself the Son of God; for because he was a holy thing he was called the Son of God, Lu. 1:35. See Rom. 1:4. [2.] The dishonour done him by the Jews, which he justly complains of—that they impiously said of him, whom the Father had thus dignified, that he was a blasphemer, because he called himself the Son of God: "Say you of him so and so? Dare you say so? Dare you thus set your mouths against the heavens? Have you brow and brass enough to tell the God of truth that he lies, or to condemn him that is most just? Look me in the face, and say it if you can. What! say you of the Son of God that he is a blasphemer?" If devils, whom he came to condemn, had said so of him, it had not been so strange; but that men, whom he came to teach and save, should say so of him, be astonished, O heavens! at this. See what is the language of an obstinate unbelief; it does, in effect, call the holy Jesus a blasphemer. It is hard to say which is more to be wondered at, that men who breathe in God's air should yet speak such things, or that men who have spoken such things should still be suffered to breathe in God's air. The wickedness of man, and the patience of God, as it were, contend which shall be most wonderful.


Matthew Henry On Psalm 82:6-7
1662-1714

Earthly gods abased and brought down, v. 6, 7. The dignity of their character is acknowledged (v. 6): I have said, You are gods. They have been honoured with the name and title of gods. God himself called them so in the statute against treasonable words Ex. 22:28, Thou shalt not revile the gods. And, if they have this style from the fountain of honour, who can dispute it? But what is man, that he should be thus magnified? He called them gods because unto them the word of God came, so our Saviour expounds it (Jn. 10:35); they had a commission from God, and were delegated and appointed by him to be the shields of the earth, the conservators of the public peace, and revengers to execute wrath upon those that disturb it, Rom. 13:4. All of them are in this sense children of the Most High. God has put some of his honour upon them, and employs them in his providential government of the world, as David made his sons chief rulers. Or, "Because I said, You are gods, you have carried the honour further than was intended and have imagined yourselves to be the children of the Most High," as the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:14), I will be like the Most High, and the king of Tyre (Eze. 28:2), Thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God. It is a hard thing for men to have so much honour put upon them by the hand of God, and so much honour paid them, as ought to be by the children of men, and not to be proud of it and puffed up with it, and so to think of themselves above what is meet. But here follows a mortifying consideration: You shall die like men. This may be taken either, 1. As the punishment of bad magistrates, such as judged unjustly, and by their misrule put the foundations of the earth out of course. God will reckon with them, and will cut them off in the midst of their pomp and prosperity; they shall die like other wicked men, and fall like one of the heathen princes (and their being Israelites shall not secure them anymore than their being judges) or like one of the angels that sinned, or like one of the giants of the old world. Compare this with that which Elihu observed concerning the mighty oppressors in his time. Job 34:26, He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others. Let those that abuse their power know that God will take both it and their lives from them; for wherein they deal proudly he will show himself above them. Or, 2. As the period of the glory of all magistrates in this world. Let them not be puffed up with their honour nor neglect their work, but let the consideration of their mortality be both mortifying to their pride and quickening to their duty. "You are called gods, but you have no patent for immortality; you shall die like men, like common men; and like one of them, you, O princes! shall fall." Note, Kings and princes, all the judges of the earth, though they are gods to us, are men to God, and shall die like men, and all their honour shall be laid in the dust. Mors sceptra ligonibus aequat—Death mingles sceptres with spades.
II. The God of heaven exalted and raised high, v. 8. The psalmist finds it to little purpose to reason with these proud oppressors; they turned a deaf ear to all he said and walked on in darkness; and therefore he looks up to God, appeals to him, and begs of him to take unto himself his great power: Arise, O God! judge the earth; and, when he prays that he would do it, he believes that he will do it: Thou shalt inherit all nations. This has respect, 1. To the kingdom of providence. God governs the world, sets up and puts down whom he pleases; he inherits all nations, has an absolute dominion over them, to dispose of them as a man does of his inheritance. This we are to believe and to comfort ourselves with, that the earth is not given so much into the hands of the wicked, the wicked rulers, as we are tempted to think it is, Job 9:24. But God has reserved the power to himself and overrules them. In this faith we must pray, "Arise, O God! judge the earth, appear against those that judge unjustly, and set shepherds over thy people after thy own heart." There is a righteous God to whom we may have recourse, and on whom we may depend for the effectual relief of all that find themselves aggrieved by unjust judges. 2. To the kingdom of the Messiah. It is a prayer for the hastening of that, that Christ would come, who is to judge the earth, and that promise is pleaded, that God shall give him the heathen for his inheritance. Thou, O Christ! shalt inherit all nations, and be the governor over them, Ps. 2:8; 22:28. Let the second coming of Christ set to-rights all these disorders. There are two words with which we may comfort ourselves and one another in reference to the mismanagements of power among men: one is Rev. 19:6, Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; the other is Rev. 22:20, Surely, I come quickly.
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http://www.myfortress.org/AreChristiansLittleGods.html
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I will be back to discuss Isaiah 45 soon

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

LeRoy,
I really do not care that the Word Faith folks abuse the scriptures in any manner. I have heard Creflo and Benny on many occasions teach "false doctrine" from the cultic trinitarian point of view. No big deal, since they are not led by inspiration.
Secondly, using quotations from Matthew Henry, for example, or any commentator who contends PS 82 is about judges of Israel exalted to "mini-gods" status is just pointless. It requires one to ignore the last 100 years, and especially the last 60 years of very definitive archaeology on the textual context of the use of the term "gods" in PS 82. Frankly, if you can find a primary scholar who has written in the past 30 years on the subject stating the "gods" of PS 82 are judges, then I will give you some free water next time you are out this way. I haven't found any, but who knows. There are lots of psuedo scholars who re-quote Matthew Henry and the like, but the word psuedo means fake, and that is what they are. And so is that research.
Enough for now. Peace, and thanks for the thoughtful efforts at dialog with us cultic Mormons. I enjoy the cultic Trinitarians myself, so it is all good.
Bob

Todd Leroy said...

Church history, the deity of Christ, heresy and cults.

Bob, you may be interested in this biographical sermon of Athanasius:
http://www.desiringgod.org/library/biographies/2005_athanasius.html

And I have a question: Why is it that all pseudoChristian cults deny the deity of Christ?
ie. Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS, The Way International, etc.

Todd Leroy said...

The key portion of the long quote I posted was about the mocking.
"God is telling them that your position of a judge has corrupted your thinking and your actions. Despite your high and lofty view of yourself you shall die like a man! How can a god die like a man? Do you see the contradiction in believing that this verse proves that men are god's? In context this verse actually mocks people for thinking this."

Also in regard to your statement:
"The point of John 10 is simple: If the “Gods” described by Jesus in quoting PS 82 are not real Gods, capital G (though I am sure you know there is no such thing as a capital ‘g’ in Greek or Hebrew) then Christ has no argument against being accused of Blasphemy. If there are not other real Gods designated by scripture, then Christ’s argument is logically indefensible. He argues that calling himself the son of God is a lesser title and not as blasphemous as scripture itself, since his good works prove who he is. If there are no other real gods, his referencing a verse (Ps82) which does not support the existence of other real gods would have no validity. Calling himself the son of God would still be seen as blasphemous."
Bob, why did the pharisees want Jesus put to death? Was it not for blasphemy? I guess they didn't see it the same way he did, OR, he was mocking them.

Todd Leroy said...

About Isaiah 45 and idols. This is Isaiah 45:5
"I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,"

If you say it is about idols, then should it be understood,
"I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no idol;
I equip you, though you do not know me,"
?
Besides God there are no idols? I think there are idols, and God knows that there are idols, so what is there not besides God? Please clarify.

Todd Leroy said...

Peace

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Hi Leroy. I am travelling quite a bit on business, so it may take me some time to respond to various statements. The one I want to comment on very briefly is your statement that God cannot die like men. Jesus did. Not because he was unrighteous, but he nevertheless did die like men. So the statements in PS 82 are not inconsistent with the Biblical message.
Peace

Bob the Anti-Anti said...

Leroy,
If Jesus' defense in John 10 is not about men becoming actual gods after receiving the word of God, then Jesus' argument still does nothing to address the charge of blasphemy for claiming to be the SON of God. Any non-divine person could make the same argument, presumably, since anyone could mock the false righteousness of the Pharisees. That argument misses the direct confrontation of the charge of blasphemy. If, as you seem to be saying, the argument of PS 82 offered by Christ is about wrongly judging, then Christ is STILL guilty of blasphemy because his title as Son of God, as the Jews note, is equivalent to claiming to be another god equal to the god of the OT scriptures. If everyone knew the phrase god in PS 82 as applied to humans actually meant human judges, it still provides no defense for Jesus saying there are more real gods based upon receiving the word of God.

Let me break it down in a logic diagram (as constrained by the HTML tools):

Jesus is accused that his title "son of God"= blasphemy because it means more than 1 true god

Leroy's Argument:
If PS 82= Gods= Judges;
then Jesus citing Ps 82 = Son of God= Judges and not additional real gods;
Result= Jesus has not defended how he can be an actual god.
Jesus has offered no defense of how he could be an actual God, only that a Judge in a certain sense is called a God. But Jesus was not performing any acts of judgement when acused of blasphemy, but of claiming divinity by calling himself "the son of god".

For this argument to answer the charge of blasphemy, it would require us to accept that the self applied title "son of God" is equivalent to "son of an earthly judge".

Jesus' citation of his divine good works as substantiation of his title as "son of God" before referencing PS 82 would further indicate Jesus is explicitly stating he cannot be guilty of blasphemy of claiming divinity if he in fact IS another God.

The "Son of God= Son of Earthly Judges" argument could in fact be used by any person accused of blasphemy, since they could cite the same argument and a claim for divine commission a "calling" to judge people or do anything in the name of God.

Bob's argument:
If PS 82= Gods = real Gods;
then Jesus citing Ps 82 = scriptural support of additional actual true gods
then Jesus is citing other real gods
then Jesus' title "son of God" is not blasphemous, as scripture is supporting other real gods do exist.

This argument can only be used by a divine being, since it requires having a divine nature to apply it to oneself. As noted in my last comment, since we all believe Christ was divine or even The God while on the earth, and he died, then the context of PS 82 having the other gods "die as men" is not a non sequitur statement. If the absolute true and righteous Christ can die as men, then certainly unjust divine beings could also so die like men.

The proof that Bob's argument is correct is two fold:
1. The internal logic of the text. Son of God= Son of God not Son of Earthly Judges.

2. External evidence:
Since around 1970, and the publication of the findings and analysis of the Ebla texts, no student of Hebrew history can claim an interpretation of PS 82 as earthly judges. Thus construing it as "earthly judges" is a self serving anachronism based solely on theological and not textual-historical realities. One can claim it means earthly judges if one cares to, but then we must find another way to somehow interact. The only reason such a conclusion could be adhered to would be because it is founded in faith and not the text itself.

This is a legitimate position to take, but it requires divine revelation to substantiate. It is not unlike the position Mormons took for 130 years about the Book of Mormon describing Christ being born at Jerusalem, or the name Alma being a Hebrew male proper name. Both have since been proven to be correct statements, yet it required Mormons for 130 years to ignore the abscence of support.

The difference in the two approaches is the LDS started from a belief in a text they believed inspired, so they ignored the abscence of evidence. You must believe in a position constructed by men to support a developed theological position, and ignore the direct discoveries contradicting the position in hopes of future evidence supporting a man-made theological explanation of the Biblical text.

I rather prefer the position I am in to yours.
More coming at you soon.
Peace.