[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Can men and women become gods?



by Matthew

An elderly gentleman at my church once said to me, in a voice that suggested that he was about to say something really shocking:

You know, there is a chorus that we sing that I don't agree with. That one with the line 'Among the gods there is none like you.' Well, there are no other gods, are there?


This man can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing that the line he found objectionable was a quotation from Psalm 86:

8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord;
neither are there any works like unto thy works.


I will pass over the question of what is meant by gods in that psalm and quote Psalm 82:

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;
he judgeth among the gods.


2 How long will ye judge unjustly,
and accept the persons of the wicked?
Selah.


3 Defend the poor and fatherless:
do justice to the afflicted and needy.


4 Deliver the poor and needy:
rid them out of the hand of the wicked.


5 They know not, neither will they understand;
they walk on in darkness:
all the foundations of the earth are out of course.


6 I have said, Ye are gods;
and all of you are children of the Most High.


7 But ye shall die like men,
and fall like one of the princes.


8 Arise, O God, judge the earth:
for thou shalt inherit all nations.


This psalm is vitally important in considering the broad use of the term 'god' in the Bible.

G.H. Pember took the view that there are two different uses of the term god in this psalm.

He wrote:

The gods of the second line are angels- in this case, of course, fallen angels- so he called as being agents of God... A similar use of the term may be found in the ninety-seventh Psalm, in quoting from which Paul renders the clause, "Worship Him all ye gods," by "Let all the angels of God worship Him." Earth's Earliest Ages, p.41


Why are angels here called gods? I would suggest it is because they are created to reflect the awesome glory of God, because of their celestial location and because they constiture an hierarchy which exercises authority int he spiritual realm. It is also significant that though they are called gods, they are not meant to be objects of worship. I have argued on this blog that it is the purpose of God to bring men and women, of both the church and the faithful of the OLd Testament into that position of reflecting God's glory and exercising authority in heavenly places. It is the purpose of God to replace the fractured and fallen hierarchy of angelic beings that governed the original creation with a new hierarchy of gods, taken from among the sons and daughters of Adam.

It is significant that our Lord Jesus defended His right to call Himself the 'Son of God' with reference to this Psalm. Thus, His quotation of the Psalm is not a statement of His deity (which is clearly taught in other places), but rather a claim to be a deified created being. Though the Lord Jesus Christ is eternally the Son, the second member of the Trinity, His human nature being of created matter is brough into a relationship of being deified. His flesh is transfigured and transformed so as to reflect divine glory. It is as a man that our Lord has ascended into glory and sat down with all majesty and power in the heavenly realms. There as an human being, the Lord Jesus is recognised by the Father as heir of all things.

The believer is thus, through the new birth, brought into membership of a new divinized amd deified humanity. The Christian shares in the divine life and through faith she can recognise her divine union with Christ and thus access to the power for spiritual living. At the rapture, her union with the Trinune God is realized physically in her body and soul being transformed to be wholly heavenly in character, as are the bodies of angels. The only question then is whether she has attained to the right of heirship in the new hierachy of celestial humanity. This depends upon her service in the sphere of the kingdom of heaven. Those that have laboured most faithfully will receive a marvellous position at the top of the celestial hierarchy, those that have sowed sparingly will reap sparingly and will thus receive a humbler position. Those that forsake the calling of God will fail to inherit the kingdom and the privileges of heirs altogether.

The chief end of man is to become a god, that is one of the Sons of the Most High and to receive all the privileges of this position, namely having all things subject to him. Are you going to be among those who inherit such a great salvation?

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24 Comments:

  • Matthew,
    What would you say to someone who criticised you for this post by saying that this is raw, detestable heresy... akin to the Mormon God-Makers?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, February 03, 2008 6:18:00 PM  

  • What I wrote in this post is Biblical in my view. If this is what Mormons believe then that is great.

    But I think the Mormon idea is a little different. I suppose the main difference is that Mormons believe that deified humans give birth to spiritual children, which is the means by which God the Father creates people.

    I think the problem with Mormonism is not so much that it makes humans into gods, but rather that it reduces God to an human level.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, February 03, 2008 11:40:00 PM  

  • Matthew -

    You said:
    "The chief end of man is to become a god, that is one of the Sons of the Most High"

    I'm not sure you meant to capitalize "Sons" but this would imply deity that only one holds - God.

    Jesus Christ is "Son" because of His deity - He is the only begotten. We may be "sons" but only through adoption.

    I feel Rose hit the nail on the head - your view is exactly the same as what Mormons hold and it is through this view that they deny the one true God - a denial, unless relinquished, by which they cannot be eternally saved.

    In Christ,

    JL

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Monday, February 04, 2008 7:22:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I think that the Psalms that you refer to and Christ's usage of Ps 82 is in need of some further and deeper study. I am convinced that you are on to something.

    I, too, do not believe that Jesus' title, "Son of God" refers to His deity, and I do not believe that He was defending His deity when He quoted Ps 82.

    The premise of your article is right on target.

    The cults take truth and corrupt it. They counterfeit the truths that the Apostles in their writings held dear.

    The unfortunate thing is that orthodox Evangelical Christianity has lost sight of God's intentions and purposes in exalting the pinnacle of His creation, the human race. Exaltation to the right hand of God was on Jesus' mind when He went to the cross (see Phil 2 and Heb 12). He has become our example in that exaltation comes through suffering.

    Now that Mormonism has ripped this most important orthodox Christian doctrine off, counterfeiting it, many are turned off by hearing its truthful articulation from the scriptures. This is most unfortunate and has been a ploy of the devil.

    Mormonism's doctrine has counterfeited the true doctrine of exaltation. They believe that God was once a man, and is now glorified. They posit that men can acheive godhood like unto the God of this world, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby they can rule over their own planet and create spirit babies which will populate their planet by being born into flesh.

    This is far removed from the Holy Scriptures. There is only one God, and no exalted human being will ever become God. Christians have been imparted the divine nature, and through suffering and perseverance can be exalted to celestial heights, like unto their brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Heb 2:10-13
    For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:

    "I will declare Your name to My brethren;
    In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

    13 And again:

    "I will put My trust in Him."
    And again:

    "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."
    NKJV

    Men and women will have to give up their aversion to the considerations of high exaltation and glorification. This aversion has come from trying to run away from counterfeit and cultic doctrines. I understand the aversion to it. But the Scriptures themselves must be examined without bias.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, February 04, 2008 10:54:00 AM  

  • Jon,

    let it be known that there was no capitiling of such letters in the original languages of the Bible. The capitilizing is something that has been added. When the original readers would have first have read "Son" it would have appeared in miniscule characters.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, February 04, 2008 10:56:00 AM  

  • Jon, as Antonio rightly points out, there were no capital letters in Greek or Hebrew, so this means nothing.

    I think it is doubtful that Mormons believe exactly what I have articulated here.

    But I would think that some of the errors as regards other Mormon doctrines are of greater significance.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, February 04, 2008 11:15:00 AM  

  • Antonio, thanks for your very encouraging thoughts.

    You are right that often Satan counterfeits the truth in order to blind believers to its righful articulation.

    God Bless

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, February 04, 2008 11:17:00 AM  

  • Matthew -

    "Jon, as Antonio rightly points out, there were no capital letters in Greek or Hebrew, so this means nothing."

    No argument about the Greek or Hebrew - However, the clear intent of capitalization is a declaration of deity - the one true God, Jesus Christ, the God of Israel.

    In Christ,

    JL

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Monday, February 04, 2008 11:44:00 AM  

  • John, according to whose rule does capitalization indicate deity?

    Is this some resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, February 04, 2008 11:52:00 AM  

  • Jon,

    You may be right. But I do like to question. In English, we often capitalize titles: "The President of the United States," and such. "The Son of God" is a title (and I would argue one that does not denote deity) and as such deserves to be capitalized in an English translation. The same is done with the title, "the Christ".

    The capitilization in our translations does not denote deity but title.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, February 04, 2008 11:58:00 AM  

  • Antonio -

    Good, sound reasoning.

    JL

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Monday, February 04, 2008 5:14:00 PM  

  • I have problems with your premise re the gods.

    There is a cultural aspect that is taking place, as the psalmist is referring to the false gods that are worshiped around him. He is not actually saying that there are many other gods as a statement of fact.

    An idol is a god in the mind of the beholder, and the psalmist is saying that the one and only true God is greater than all those false gods, such as was proved by Elijah, when he confronted the priests of baal.

    In one way we become gods because God adopts us to himself as sons. Yet remember we are only adopted and made in the image of the creator, and in heaven will be refined into a more perfect reflection / copy of the real God.

    Blessings craig b

    By Blogger Craig Bennett, at Thursday, February 07, 2008 3:39:00 PM  

  • Craig -

    Great thoughts!

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Thursday, February 07, 2008 8:04:00 PM  

  • Craig, how would you relate our Lord's quotation of this Psalm to your assertion that calling them gods is not a statement of fact?

    6 I have said, Ye are gods;
    and all of you are children of the Most High.

    Who is the 'I' who calls these people gods? And if these are idols, how does it relate to the statement that they are also 'sons of the most high'?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, February 07, 2008 11:31:00 PM  

  • Good question regarding psalm 82 Matthew.

    However we need to be careful that we are translating the word "gods" correctly. According to a greek dictionary, god's can also be translated as magistrates.

    And I believe that the meaning of magistrate / judges should be understood here, more so than the literal translation of gods.

    This makes sense in light of the meaning of the psalm in that they were not making the correct judgments in favor of those whom it should have fallen.

    In light of the ministry of Jesus, this makes even more sense of the role the priests played in laying heavy burdens upon the poor.

    I believe that when Jesus quotes this psalm in John 10:34 that he is actually rebuking the priests in a way that they really hit home. They would have known this psalm inside out, and that Jesus was speaking of them. Especially when he says that God is speaking of those whom the scriptures were given were gods.

    I think Jesus is actually aligning himself more to the last verse of psalm 82 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;for you shall inherit all the nations!

    Scripture also makes clear that we are made a little lower than the angels and that we will all face judgment, some to receive eternal life in a new body, some to receive eternal death.

    Hope this helps, blessings craig

    By Blogger Craig Bennett, at Friday, February 08, 2008 12:04:00 AM  

  • Craig, I think your suggestion that our Lord was referring to verse 8 is unhelpful. He does not quote or refer to this verse. His comment addresses only the fact that the Psalmist refers to created beings as gods.

    Your last comment suggests that you have abandoned your earlier suggestion that idols are in view. They cannot both be magistrates and idols at the same time, so I assume you now favour the latter interpretation.

    I think Pember's view that they are angels makes more sense of verse 7:

    'But ye shall die like men,
    and fall like one of the princes.'

    These beings should not die like men and they are greater than princes.

    I find it difficult to digest your suggestion that the word 'god' here means only 'magistrate'. It makes no sense of our Lord's comment and it does not deal with the contrast between being called gods and dying like men.

    Surely all magistrates die like men?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, February 08, 2008 4:49:00 AM  

  • G'day Matthew,
    I owe you an apology. When I first commented, I read through the comments first before glancing at your post. It was on that basis that I made the general point about Scripture speaking of idols as gods.

    My 2nd comment was in relation to psalm 82. The Hebrew word translated here as gods can also be translated as rulers, magistrates, judges such as the first verse in psalm 58 translates it as rulers.

    When it comes to the passage in John 10, where Jesus refers to this verse, we must read it in the context of what Jesus is replying to.

    The Jews have been asking him if he was the Christ and to tell them plainly. verse 22.

    He replies that he did tell them about himself, which he did in verses 1-21.

    In verse 25 Jesus says that the miracles speak about him.

    Then in 31 the Jews pick up the stones to stone him, to which Jesus asks for which miracle are they going to stone him for.

    Notice their answer, its because you a mere man, calls yourself God.

    Think about this, Jesus says that His miracles speak of himself, that he does miracles because its what God does. Think through the amazement that His miracles cause and now they are calling him a mere man.

    The Jews are using what is written in the law as an excuse to stone Him Lev 24.16.

    So Jesus uses the technique in contending with them, which is known as a fortiori he agrees with them that the law cannot be broken, and by quoting verse 6 he shows He can legitimately call himself god through the law.

    What He is truly saying is if the unjust rulers can be called gods, how much more can he use the term as Gods special representative.

    Again he says, don't just believe my words, instead believe the miracles I perform, they are not me a mere man doing them, it is God doing them through me.

    In one sense you are right in that we are gods, for God has commanded us to rule His creation justly. But the context has to be small gods, not deified Gods. In heaven we will stand before God as his perfected creation purged from all sin - not as His equal which deification would mean, instead basking in the full realization of His mercy towards us.

    By Blogger Craig Bennett, at Friday, February 08, 2008 2:36:00 PM  

  • Matthew. I like MaCain as well. I posted some thoughts over at Lou's blog. While I agree with your political insights and think you to be very resourceful there as well as wise....I wonder if you perhaps may be confusing a gift you have that should not be applied with the gospel. Just a thought. Did you read Lou's comment over there?

    "I don’t normally mind political discussions, but there is something more important going on here.

    Political elections have to do with the temporal; the Gospel has to do with the eternal. The “Crossless” gospel of Zane Hodges (Bob Wilkin and the GES) is no less a false interpretation of the Gospel than Lordship Salvation is.

    The “Crossless” gospel is as corruptive and non-saving, as far as the lost are concerned, as Lordship Salvation is, just from opposite ends of the theological pendulum swing.

    The omission and addition errors respectively need to be fervently and biblically resisted because neither leads men to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    This passage helps me to keep my head in election years. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” (Prov. 21:1)."

    Well said by Lou. He is right to be holding everyone accountable here. Please consider this.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

    By Blogger Only Look, at Friday, February 08, 2008 4:55:00 PM  

  • I understand that was off topic from this thread, but I just am concerned deeply about this and hoped that this would help you reconsider this position.

    By Blogger Only Look, at Friday, February 08, 2008 4:58:00 PM  

  • Craig
    "In one sense you are right in that we are gods, for God has commanded us to rule His creation justly. But the context has to be small gods, not deified Gods. In heaven we will stand before God as his perfected creation purged from all sin - not as His equal which deification would mean, instead basking in the full realization of His mercy towards us."

    Your objection seems to be to the term deification.

    This term is most often used by the Eastern Orthodox. My own use of deification is similar but not exactly the same.

    When the Eastern Orthodox talk about deification, they are not saying that man becomes equal with God or becomes part of God, which is what I think you fear. They rather mean that man enters into union and fellowship with God, sharing in the divine life and being glorified in Christ.

    I suspect you would be comfortable with this idea.

    Certainly, men and women are created in the image of God. However, this likeness to God will be increased when the saints are resurrected and glorified and receive a position of heavenly glory.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, February 09, 2008 1:18:00 AM  

  • Matthew,
    I think you have explained what you meant very well. I think your post was meant to provoke (in a light hearted way, like you do), but after reading your explanations, I am now glad to say that you are not a heretic. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, February 09, 2008 6:36:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Rose~

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, February 09, 2008 6:37:00 AM  

  • G'day Matthew.

    I like Rose agree a lot more with what you have said through your last post.

    I think there are better Scriptures to use than the ones you provided. For we need to ensure that we do speak truly of what the Scriptures are saying that we use...

    I think you would be better off using the Scriptures that speak of us being finally Sanctified and Glorified in perfection once and for all which would build a stronger case explaining your stance.

    Blessings craig

    By Blogger Craig Bennett, at Saturday, February 09, 2008 9:28:00 PM  

  • Craig, I have referred to such passages in previous posts and I am sure I shall use them again.

    A post which quoted all of the relevant verses on this topic woud be incredibly long.

    I prefer to keep posts reasonably short.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, February 10, 2008 12:49:00 AM  

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