[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)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thou hast made him a little lower than the gods


by Matthew

Many people may be surpised to know that the word elohim is used in Psalm 8 to refer to angels. A lot of Christians do not realise that there are such things as gods.

This is why Christians who try to argue that the Jehovah's Witnesses' rendering of John 1:1 is objectionable on theological grounds will hit a brick wall:

Christian: How can the Word be a God when there is only one God.

J.W: Ah, but the Bible refers in several places to plural gods.


It has been my contention in a number of posts that the Bible teaches a qualified polytheism. There is only one creator. There is only one all-powerful God who dwells from everlasting to everlasting. However, there are beings that are called gods in the Bible.













I believe that God has created powerful beings called angels or gods. They have been given authority and dominion over the cosmos. Some of them exercise godly rule, while others cause chaos and promote wickedness and engage in spiritual warfare against the Kingdom of Yahweh.

As we are told in Psalm 8, mankind was created a little lower than the gods. Mankind was given charge over the earth, but the gods exercise heavenly rule.

Yet Psalm 8 reveals that it is God's purpose to put all of His works under the control of humanity. This has begun in Christ.

The risen Christ has ascended in heaven and has been given all authority and power over heaven and earth. He is the head of a new heavenly humanity, a celestial aristocracy. Those who are in Him and brought into a new divine relation. Through Christ their humanity is joined to divinity and they share in the very life of God.

The service of the Christian in the present age is meant to determine His ultimate status in the coming kingdom. If we are faithful and ready to suffer with Christ, we shall have a part in ruling over heaven and earth with our Saviour.

Though human beings are lower than the gods, we are to be given the same authority that they have. We are to replace the fallen angelic hierarchy, the principalities and powers. Thus, it is not incorrect to say that the goal of the Christian is to become a god. The glorified Christian is an heavenly being and in her the true likeness of God is realised.

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12 Comments:

  • I think there is something about that verbiage that is just inherently offensive to monotheists.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, August 12, 2008 7:32:00 AM  

  • The Bible is only monotheistic in a creational sense.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Tuesday, August 12, 2008 7:35:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    God creating beings and giving them authority does not make them a "god". In this article you have defined "gods" as beings who have been given authority and who exercise rule (in the case of angels, heavenly rule). Why would you insist on using the theologically-loaded term "god" for such beings? If they can't create, aren't eternal, and aren't worthy of worship, how then can they be said to share in the divine nature and rightly be called "god"? If they have merely been given authority and rule over part of God's creation, how does that make them any sort of "god" as we use the term today, and how could the Bible's use of such a term be considered "qualified polytheism"?

    By Blogger Rachel, at Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:18:00 PM  

  • I agree both with your article and with Rose.

    I agree with you, everything you wrote.

    I agree with Rose that in such a theologically touchy climate that the use of "god" in relation to man is somewhat offensive to most people.

    I will stipulate that such offense is well-intentioned but unnecessary.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, August 12, 2008 9:37:00 PM  

  • Antonio, I think sometimes people need to be offended.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Wednesday, August 13, 2008 4:58:00 AM  

  • Rachel, good questions.

    I think more thought is needed as to why the Bible applies the term 'god' to angels.

    Such consideration would need to consider the use of 'gods' (Psalm 82) in the dispute of John 8.

    "If they have merely been given authority and rule over part of God's creation, how does that make them any sort of "god" as we use the term today, and how could the Bible's use of such a term be considered "qualified polytheism"?"

    I think that is an interesting question, Rachel, because in the mythologies of a number of cultures the majority of gods were not all-powerful or creators. They were more like superheroes. I suppose they were objects of worship, but so are some of the angels (illicitly).

    As regards their posessing the divine nature, I would say that they are itermediaries by which divine power is exercised and mediated.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Wednesday, August 13, 2008 5:08:00 AM  

  • Hello Matthew,

    You're spot on here. In response to Rachel, consider this from the KJV. Exodus 20

    2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

    I would not think it necessary to make the qualification in verse 3if not for the existence of other gods.

    By Blogger Chris, at Thursday, August 14, 2008 11:38:00 AM  

  • Chris you may be right as regards Exodus 20:2.

    I think the montheism objection to the JW rendering of John 1:1 is doomed.

    But of course, that does not prove that it is correct.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Friday, August 15, 2008 1:11:00 AM  

  • Chris,

    What qualification do you see in verse 3 of Ex. 20? I simply see God saying that he is above all, that the Israelites (and us) should worship none but him. Anything or anyone that we worship is a "god", but that doesn't make that thing or person equal to the one true God.

    Matthew,

    I don't see any reason for avoiding the standard response to JWs about John 1:1. For one, if they give the response you mentioned, the simple answer would then be to have them share one of those places and then explain how that is still compatible with monotheism.

    And two, the issue with JWs in isn't so much polytheism as it is the eternal deity of Jesus and his oneness with the Father. That's the main reason why John 1:1 is important to emphasize to a JW.

    By Blogger Rachel, at Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:17:00 PM  

  • I think it would be highly useful to challenge the JW rendering of John 1:1.

    However, a passage like Psalm 8 would be a instant answer to the apologetic claim that there are no 'other gods.'

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at Monday, August 18, 2008 10:06:00 AM  

  • Hi Rachel,

    You said:

    "For one, if they give the response you mentioned, the simple answer would then be to have them share one of those places and then explain how that is still compatible with monotheism."

    John 1 is incompatible with monotheism if you take the view that the Word is eternal. If the Word is eternal, then both the Word of God and God are eternal and exist outside of time and both the Word and God created all that exist outside of themselves. Is this not poly-theism?

    If you take the view, as we do, that the Word is “of” God (after all, isn’t he the Word of God?”), comes from God, was created by God, was “Begotton” of God, was the Son of God, was “with” God in the beginning ( how can you be with a thing and the thing itself?), is in the “bosom” position of God, then you have no incompatibility at all with monotheism.

    How does one reconcile John 1:1 with say Revelation 3, when the risen Jesus talks of “my God” and “my Father”. He is rejoined with his Father, no longer the fleshly perfect man, but again the Word re-taking his place at his Father’s side. The risen Jesus, The Word of God refers to “his God”, “his Father”. If the Word is God, how can he then have a God?

    But all this quibbling is not what the Christian is supposed to do is it? Jesus asked us to have faith in him, to love God whole souled and to love one another. Simple. Maybe not so simple, but we try right?

    So the next time you feel it necessary to debate, even if the so-called “JW” is in a debating mood, just smile, share the good news and have love in your heat for the whole association of brothers and sisters in Christ.

    By Blogger Chris, at Monday, August 18, 2008 10:44:00 AM  

  • Hi Rachel,

    I know this thread is likely dead but if you're still checking back could you give me your interpretation of this scripture in Daniel Chapter 7, particularly in light of your comment about the eternal deity of Christ. Matthew your input would also be welcomed.

    13I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

    14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

    In my view, the traditional Christian understanding of John 1:1 is challenged when considered with this passage in Daniel.

    Peace,

    Chris

    By Blogger Chris, at Tuesday, September 02, 2008 1:28:00 PM  

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