Does the Bible really present its audience with a monotheistic worldview (i.e. only one god exists)?
Before I say anything else, I admit that this question, “Is there really only one god?” sounds both ridiculous and blasphemous. But you know me, I normally ask questions most people don’t ask. So, here we go: Does the Bible really present its audience with a monotheistic worldview (i.e. only one god exists)? The answer to this question is surprisingly – no.
In fact, the Bible reflects the ancient worldview of a god-congested universe. Here are just a few representative texts:
“God stands in the Divine Council; He renders judgment among the gods… I said, “You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.” (Ps. 82:1, 6)
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (ESV, Deut.32:8 following Qumran/LXX version of the Hebrew.)
“Ascribe to the Lord, sons of the mighty (literally from Hebrew sons of gods), ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.” (Ps. 29:1)
“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?” (NASB, Ex. 15:11)
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God…” (ESV, Deut.10:17)
“You shall have no other gods before Me. (NASB, Ex.20:3)
The view of the divine world presented in the Bible is not monotheistic, but rather henotheistic (there exists a multiplicity of gods, but One Supreme God exists above them all). Apostle Paul, whose thinking was very much in line with this very idea (because of his pharisaic idea of the Shema), wrote the following:
“For although there are many that that are called gods in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords) – yet for us there is One God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ,through whom are all things and through whom we exist”. (1 Cor. 8:5-6)
There are other powerful heavenly beings (this is how in Biblical times gods were understood – any god is bigger than any human). Now we commonly refer to them as angels and demons (as well as principalities and powers), but in the Biblical times most people called them gods and/or sons of god/s. Clearly, Moses, Jesus and Paul presume this. They also are in agreement on an even more essential point. While there may be other “gods,” only God Most High, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is worthy to be worshiped, adored and obeyed!
The prophet Isaiah emphasized the oneness of God.
‘Thus says the Lord,’ the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last: besides me there is no God’ (Isaiah 43:10).
He again emphasizes there is only one God.
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides me’ (Isaiah 44:6).
Again God says there is no one but him.
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:22).
Some religions in other parts of the world believe there are thousands and thousands of gods and goddesses, and how do you know they aren’t right? I find the idea rather attractive myself.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of people who believe in many gods and goddesses; I have traveled extensively in those areas of the world. I have also found out that many of them are honestly searching for the truth.
At the same time, as a Christian, my heart goes out to them, because I know they will never find what they are seeking as long as they stay on that road. Only the one true God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, and only He can give us answers to our deepest questions about life and death. The Bible says, “Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” (Jeremiah 16:20).
Why do I believe in one supreme God instead of many gods? One reason is because it is logical. Where did the world come from? No idol could make us, nor could a thousand different gods and goddesses with limited power. Only God could make us—one who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving. As the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
But I also believe in one supreme God because He has revealed Himself to us! He has not left us to guess what He is like; He has shown Himself to us. He did this supremely by coming down to earth in the person of His only Son, Jesus Christ. I invite you to give your life to Christ, for in Him alone “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
The false gods that Scripture speaks about have no substance. It is also evident that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is no hint that the God of the Old Testament is a different personage than the God of the New Testament. Hence the totality of Scripture testifies that only one God has real existence.
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